Which High-Efficiency, Low-Energy Bulbs Should You Buy?

Australia has gradually been phasing out incandescent bulbs, and consumers now have a choice between CFL and LED bulbs. The new terminology surrounding these bulbs can be quite confusing, and it's sometimes difficult to know what to choose.

CFL Bulbs

Compact fluorescent light bulbs are filled with gas and have a fluorescent coating inside them that, when charged with electricity, glows and gives off light.

According to LivingGreener, you can reduce your energy costs by as much as 80 per cent when converting from incandescent to CFLs. Although CFL bulbs are generally not suitable for use with dimmer switches or for instant bright light, they are friendly on the eyes and can be purchased in a large number of fitting types and shapes.

LED Bulbs

LEDs are electronic devices that, when electricity flows through them, emit light. LED bulbs for use in domestic applications are typically made up of a large number of LED lights.

Lumens and Colour Temperatures

While incandescent bulbs use watts as their measurement of power, CFLs and LEDs use lumens. A lumen is the measure of how much light the bulb gives off. Here’s a rough conversion to give you an idea of the lumens per watt for a typical incandescent bulb. The exact number will vary by the brand and quality of the bulb.

  • 100 watt: 1,300 lumens
  • 75 watt: 930 lumens
  • 60 watt: 720 lumens
  • 40 watt: 420 lumens

The colour temperature of CFLs and LEDs is measured in degrees kelvin and ranges from 2,700 k to 6,000 k, and can be warm white (2,700 k), natural white (3,000 k), cool white (4,000 k), or daylight (6,000 k).

Points of Comparison

CFLs are typically cheaper than LEDs, but as LED technology advances prices are dropping. It's important, particularly as far as LEDs are concerned, to buy good quality bulbs, as there are many on the market that don't last long at all. For example, interior quality LEDs may flicker when dimmed or change colour as they age. Read labels carefully, check the lumen output and find out what guarantee period is offered. Finally, see if the bulbs are certified by, say, Lighting Council Australia. In general, while CFLs may be cheaper, LEDs will last a lot longer.

Good quality LEDs last for many hours longer than CFLs, 25,000 hours as opposed to 10,000 hours. However, poor quality LEDs may work out more expensive in the long run because of their higher initial cost. You might opt for CFLs in locations where you don’t mind changing the bulb more frequently, but if a light needs to be installed in a hard-to-get-to position, an LED is definitely the right choice. Good quality LEDs are more dependable than CFLs, so if you can handle the initial cost, they’re always a good choice. Additionally, CFLs emit slightly more heat than LEDs, so the latter will help you save on cooling bills; your air conditioner won't need to work quite so hard to keep your home comfortable.

Making a Decision

When you're deciding whether to purchase CFL or LED bulbs, a number of factors need to be taken into account such as price, length of life and where the light is to be installed. For more information on high-efficiency, low-energy bulbs, check the links above or give us a call.