Incandescent vs LED Lights: All You Need To know

The incandescent vs. LED lights debate brings to life one of the best comparisons regarding home lighting.

Many don’t realize that each option is unique in design and composition, making them ideal for unique applications. 

For example, incandescent lights involve the traditional solution that produces light and heat by allowing current through a filament.

With incandescent lights, most energy is converted into heat rather than useful lights, thus making them less energy-efficient. 

Then we have LED lights which generate more light and limited heat by allowing current through a semiconductor.

Therefore, we can declare LEDs more energy-efficient and versatile than incandescent.

However, this doesn’t mean that incandescent lights aren’t useful or have any benefits. 

Today’s article explores incandescent vs. LED lights comparisons, highlighting the similarities, differences, and pros/cons. 

What Are Incandescent Lights?

As the name suggests, these are the traditional lighting technology that emits light due to heating.

In short, current passes through a thin tungsten filament and, thanks to the resistance created, become hot, thus producing light.

And you’ll notice that the filament is inside glass protection to eliminate cases of oxidation. 

Generally, incandescent light emits warmth and yellow like the sun’s natural light.

But since a larger portion of energy comes out as heat, these lights are inefficient compared to modern options like LEDs.

Nonetheless, incandescent lights still find application in different use cases like automotive lighting, commercial areas, and home lighting. 

What Are LED Lights?

LED lights suspended

(LED lights suspended)

LED lights are a more modern technology than incandescent ones, involving current passing through semiconductors to produce light.

In short, there is an emission of light upon the recombination of electrons and electron holes.

What’s interesting about LED lights is they convert most energy into light with minimal heat emission.

Therefore, we consider LED lights more efficient than incandescent lights. 

Surprisingly, LED lights provide a variety of colors that are easy to control or dim.

Slowly by slowly, LED lights are replacing incandescent light in different applications like automotive and home lighting.

We even have special LED lights we call LED grow lights that support indoor plant gardening. 

Pros and Cons of Incandescent Lights

Luminous incandescent lamps

(Luminous, incandescent lamps)

First, incandescent lights are cheaper to design and buy than most modern options like LEDs.

Also, they’re more commonly available than the LED light options. 

However, you’ll find these lights less efficient than LED. Surprisingly, they convert a more significant portion of their energy into heat rather than light.

Moreover, incandescent lights aren’t as long-lasting as LEDs since they last only about 1,000 operation hours. 

Pros and Cons of LED Lights

LED lights are becoming more popular since they offer more energy efficiency and a longer lifespan than incandescent lights.

You should expect them to last an average of 50,000-100,000 operating hours, translating into 5-10 years.

We can attribute their high energy efficiency to the more energy converted into lights as opposed to incandescent lights that emit more heat. 

Unlike incandescent light, which emits light at 360 degrees, LED lights have a directional emission, thus saving energy.

And although they have a higher initial cost, they make up for it with a lower maintenance cost. 

However, LED lights have a higher sensitivity to heat which might affect performance. 

Incandescent vs. LED Lights: Differences

Light bulbs hanging

(Light bulbs hanging)

Energy efficiency: While incandescent lights waste most energy into heat, LEDs convert most energy into light.

Therefore, you’ll find them more efficient, thus consuming less power. 

Lifespan: Expect LED lights to last 50,000-100,000 operating hours, translating to 5-10 years.

However, incandescent lights have a lower lifespan of about 1,000 hours. 

Light quality: While LED offers cool and warm lights in various color options, incandescent lights are yellowish and warm.

Moreover, you can customize LED lights to meet your specific requirement. 

Environmental impact: LED lights emit less carbon and heat energy, thus being more environment-friendly than incandescent lights.

We can attribute their less carbon emission to using less power and emitting little greenhouse gas

Cost-effectiveness: Although you might buy LED lights more expensively than incandescent ones, they’ll consume less power, thus being cost-effective in the long term.

Their extended lifespan means you’ll incur fewer replacement and repair costs. 

Versatility: You’ll find LED lights in different sizes and shapes, thus flexible in installation and design.

You can use them in outdoor, specialty, and commercial lighting.

However, incandescent options aren’t as flexible as LEDs and experience limited application. 

Incandescent vs. LED Lights: Similarities

LED light technologies

(LED light technologies)

Despite the differences highlighted above, LED and incandescent lights present various similarities.

Illumination: LED and incandescent lights will offer sufficient illumination in different settings. 

Compatibility: Fortunately, if you’re currently using incandescent lights, you can replace them with LED lights since they sometimes share sockets and fixtures.

Therefore, you’ll find it easy to make replacements and installations. 

Instantaneous lighting: When you turn on LED or incandescent lights, they provide almost immediate illumination.

There is no delay or warm-up time. 

Dimming capabilities: in both lighting options, you can apply dimmer switches to adjust the light intensity to your preferred levels. 

Lighting applications: The application cases for these lights are almost the same and include residential, industrial, and commercial uses. 


Which Is Better, Between Incandescent and LED Lights? 

LED lights offer better features and benefits than traditional incandescent lights.

First, LED lights provide limited environmental impact and improved lifespan.

Moreover, they’re more energy-efficient and will provide a versatile lighting option.

Furthermore, they emit less heat energy, meaning most energy goes into light production. 

Generally, using LED lights will save you more energy costs and replacements.

Still, incandescent lights offer top performance; you can use them when LEDs aren’t unavailable. 

Can you use incandescent and LED lights interchangeably? 

We can’t say for sure that incandescent and LED lights are interchangeable.

The two have different electrical requirements, with incandescent lights using more current and wattage.

On the other hand, LEDs need special drivers to function effectively.

Therefore, in most cases, you’ll find LED sockets and fixtures incompatible with Incandescent light options. 

However, you might also come across some LED and incandescent lights with compatible features, thus interchangeable. 

Final Remarks

There is not much we can say about the incandescent vs. LED lights comparison.

As mentioned, incandescent lights are the common traditional lights that give light by allowing current through the filament.

On the other hand, LED lights emit light by recombining electrons and electron holes. 

But generally, LED lights offer better performance regarding energy efficiency, environmental impact, and durability.

Therefore, expect to save a lot in energy bills if you implement LED lights in your home.