Incandescent vs. Fluorescent vs. LED Light Bulbs

Posted on September 24, 2013 in General Information

At Aamsco Lighting, we’ve watched light bulbs evolve and have always kept up with the latest lighting trends for medical, commercial, industrial, and home décor lighting. That’s why we offer bulbs like incandescent, fluorescent, and LED – but what exactly are the differences between these three?


A traditional incandescent light bulb usually has a life span of about 1,000 hours, while a fluorescent bulb lasts about 9,000 hours. LED light bulbs take the cake, however – they last about 50,000 hours. That means if you turn on a light bulb every night for six hours, it would take about 5 months for an incandescent bulb to burn out, 48 months (or 4 years) for fluorescent bulb to burn out, and 269 months (or 22 years) for an LED bulb to burn out.

Wattage Comparison

One of the most common incandescent bulbs that is used is a 60-watt bulb. To achieve the same brightness as a 60-watt bulb, you would only need a 13-15-watt fluorescent bulb or a 6-8-watt LED bulb.

Environmental Impact

Neither LED light bulbs nor incandescent light bulbs emit mercury vapor, which is considered toxic to the environment. Fluorescent light bulbs, however, contain mercury. When it comes to CO2 emissions, however, incandescent bulbs cause the most because of amount of electricity they use.


Taking into consideration the cost of electricity in relation to the wattage of the bulb, we have an example: If electricity cost $0.10 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) and you kept a bulb burning for 30,000 hours, an incandescent bulb would cost you $180; a fluorescent bulb would cost you $39, and an LED bulb would cost you $25.

How They Work

When it comes to a traditional incandescent light bulb, electricity runs through a wire inside the bulb and heats it up. When it’s hot enough, it glows. A fluorescent light bulb uses gas inside the bulb to light up: when electricity runs through it, it excites a mixture of gases, which are transformed into light. In an LED light bulb, light is generated when electricity runs through a diode.

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