CFL versus LED Light Bulbs

Are LED Light Bulbs the Next Generation CFL Marketing Hype?

By Mark J. Donovan

For years compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulb manufacturers have touted their CFL bulbs as much more energy efficient and cost effective than the tried and true incandescent light bulb. Their argument has been that even though CFL light bulbs are much more expensive than incandescent light bulbs and contain, albeit small amounts of Mercury, that the energy cost savings they produce outweighs these negatives.

More recently some of the same light bulb manufacturers have also begun to heavily market Light Emitting Diode (LED) light bulbs.

LED light bulbs, vs CFL bulbs, are solid bulbs that are designed to save even more on energy costs. LED lights are the same types of lights that have been used in electronics and instrument panels for years. As with CFL bulbs, LED bulbs are priced much higher than incandescent bulbs, and even CFL bulbs. But again, LED bulbs are marketed as saving you even more money on your utility bills than CFL bulbs, over the life of the bulb.

Manufacturer’s of LED bulbs claim they last tens of thousands of hours and use only a fraction of the energy required of CFL bulbs. With these two simple facts they market that the effective overall cost of owning and operating LED bulbs is much less than both incandescent and CFL bulbs.

They may be correct in their assertions, however there were many similar claims made with CFL bulbs. Almost everyone who has purchased CFL bulbs, however, has pretty much been disappointed with them.

The CFL bulbs either are too dim, take too long to get to full brightness, or have a dramatically shorter lifespan than advertised due to turning them on and off too frequently. Then there is the concern on what to do with them if they break or no longer operate.

LED bulbs are also much more expensive than CFL bulbs, with a single bulb easily costing $20 to $60 or more. Consequently it would be of no great surprise to learn that LED bulb manufacturers may be over-hyping the energy cost savings potential in order to convince consumers to shell out that kind of cash for a light bulb.

In addition, most LED bulbs are of the lower wattage variety, e.g. around 15-25 watts and they typically consist of a number of LED elements per bulb to even achieve these wattage ratings. Moreover in some LED bulb designs the light has been known to be somewhat directional. Also, some LED light bulbs have been known to cause radio reception interference.

There’s no doubt LED bulbs are much more durable than incandescent and CFL light bulbs since they are of solid construction. This is one of the main reasons why in recent years they have begun to show up on Christmas trees.

And admittedly the technology has come a long way from the original LEDs we found in electronic consumer equipment. Also, their prices should continue to fall over time with improved cost reductions in their manufacturing and higher volume sales.

But that said, as with CFL bulbs, only time will tell how much money LED bulbs will really save on energy bills, and how long it will take to recoup the costs of these very expensive bulbs. In my humble opinion, at their current prices most homeowners would unlikely stay in the home long enough to recoup their costs, and thus the investment in them seems highly suspect at this time.

For help on building a new custom home, see’s New Home Construction Bid Sheet. The New Home Construction Bid Sheet provides you with the knowledge on how to plan a custom home building project, and what to look for when hiring contractors for your new home construction. It also includes a detailed cost breakdown table and spreadsheet for estimating your own new home construction building costs.

Related Information

Additional Electrical Wiring Resources from

Free Home Addition Price Quotes with No Obligation!

Fill out our 3-5 minute quick and easy form, and receive a free price quote on a house addition from one of our prescreened and licensed home addition contractors. This process is free and there is no obligation to continue once you receive your house addition price estimate.