Dec 1, 2010

Science Scene - CFL or LED?

Not yet made the transition from incandescent to compact fluorescent, no worries - LED is on the horizon.

For years we have been watching as LED technology has improved and the cost of LED replacement bulbs has gotten lower and lower. Compact fluorescent bulbs have become commonplace, which has been instrumental in saving energy and lowering electricity costs for millions of consumers. But still, we've been waiting for LEDs to reach the point where they start being widely used. And now, it looks like that point may be here.

By the middle of 2011, a new 12-watt LED bulb from Osram Sylvania is scheduled to be available from all Lowes stores.

The Osram Sylvania Ultra A-Line LED bulb produces 810 lumens. This compares quite well with a standard 60 watt bulb (the one I checked is listed at 830 lumens). The LED bulb uses 12 watts, versus the 60 watt incandescent, wich is an 80% energy savings. And the LED bulb should last 25 times as long as a conventional bulb.

The biggest remaining question will be consumer acceptance. Does the LED bulb provide an adequate distribution of light, without the "hot spots" and dim areas characteristic of some earlier LED bulbs? And, is the color rendering of the LED good enough to make it an acceptable substitute for an aincandescent bulb? The A-line bulb has a color temperature of 2700 Kelvin and a color-rendering index (CRI) of 91. (An incandescent bulb has a perfect value of 100.) Most fluorescent bulbs have a CRI ranging from the low 50s to the high 80s, so the quality of the light should be quite good.


  1. Cost is going to be a big factor here. CFLs are already giving us equivalent light to a 60W bulb at 13 watts consumption, so the cost savings in electricity will stay the same. Sure the lifespan of LED will be 3-5 times that of CFL, but with CFLs already lasting 2-5 years, most people aren't worried about thinking that far ahead. If LEDs continue to be significantly more expensive than CFLs, I don't think people will buy them.

  2. It all comes down to cost. Not many are ready to sacrifice money for the planet. Not in my area anyway.

  3. Upon a second reading, I think the subtitle is all important. Those who have not yet given up their incandescent bulbs cam make a greener choice with LEDs. CFLs are not the most ecologically friendly product there is.

  4. As the prices lower the LED bulbs are looking better and better-something about mercury being in the CFL bulbs always kept me from buying them.

  5. I thought this was going to be about the Hamilton Tiger-Cats... :0(

  6. Ken, we have a mix(of all three) right now, with most being CFLs. The only incandescent bulbs we have left are for our recessed lights and some utility lights, but those don't get turned on. Most of our flashlights are LED and our night lights are as well. Once our CFLs begin to fail I'd like to replace them with LEDs.


Tell Me What You Think, Don't Make me go Rogue on you :o)