September 1, 2009

CFLs vs. LEDs - The Green Path to Lighting

A lighting question we've all had recently is whether CFL's (Compact Flourescent Lights) or LED's (Light Emitting Diodes) is the better choice for the eco-conscious consumer. This choice is predominantly based on personal preference, for they each have their pros and cons. LED's only offer directional light, which is better for use as a reading light, accent lighting, or motion lighting. CFL's however, offer omni-directional lighting similar to that of traditional condescent bulbs. LED's significantly benefit the environment in that they emit a low heat output while lasting about 60 times longer than regular bulbs and 10 times longer than CFL's. CFL's also contain high traces of mercury, which if are disposed improperly or broken can release toxic fumes into the atmosphere.

Now let's get down to everyone's favorite portion, costs. This is where trouble comes into paradise. Up to this point in the article, everyone may have had their minds set on LED's as a lighting choice due to its sufficient benefits for the environment. But, at an astronomical 50$ a bulb, compared to a 3$ CFL bulb, the consumer in all of us would certainly diminish the environmental concerns and go for the CFL. Again, this choice is all based on personal preferences. Certainly the LED's upfront costs are higher, but they last much longer, save more energy, and can be properly disposed of afterwards. On the other hand, CFL's are much cheaper, last longer than traditional bulbs, and can exhibit lighting for entire rooms. Unfortunately, they contain high traces of Mercury, a highly toxic gas.

A good option is to use both LED's and CFL's for their specific lighting strengths. For exterior spot lighting, reading lighting, or recessed can lighting use LED's so they last longer and create excellent intimate light for that area. For everyday household lamps and room lighting fixtures use CFL's. Fortunately, the price of LED's will diminish in the future as more research and testing is done on them. Soon they will be the prime lighting choice for all structures and residences due to their environmentally concious benefits. To find out more information on these two light bulbs including cost comparisons and life spans, please visit the Chic Ecologist.