LED Lights vs. Bulbs: Which Illumination Option Is Better?

When designing a lighting system, most people often wonder which is better, LED lights vs. bulbs.

 Well, each light source has its advantages that may suit a particular application or system.

On the other hand, they may have shortcomings that may convince you to go for the other. 

For instance, most new buildings have LED lighting systems, with engineers shying away from traditional bulbs. Why is it so? Read on to find out.  

How LED Lights Outshine Traditional Bulbs 

LED lights outshine traditional bulbs like incandescent bulbs and fluorescent lamps in almost every regard. 

First, they are significantly more energy-efficient, leading to lower electricity consumption and, consequently, lesser energy bills. 

Second, they have a longer lifespan of between 50,000 and 100,000 hours.

 On the other hand, traditional bulbs last less than 10,000 hours. 

Third, they are more durable as they don’t have a lot of glass surface area.

 The material that covers LED bulbs is plastic diffusers to diffuse the bright light. 

Fourth, LED bulbs have the ability to produce directional lighting. 

Consequently, they are productive and highly efficient in applications that need one to focus light in a particular direction. 

Comparing the Durability and Performance of LED Lights and Bulbs

An illustration of the major light bulbs

(An illustration of the major light bulbs)

LED Bulbs

LED bulbs are efficient light sources that convert as much as 95 percent of electrical energy to light.

 In contrast, they produce as much as 20 times more lumens per watt than incandescent bulbs.

 In other words, if you feed both bulbs with 5 watts, the LED will be 20 times brighter than the incandescent lamp. 

Furthermore, they are very durable, with high-quality ones lasting more than 50,000 hours. In other words, they will last 17 years if you turn them on for 8 hours a day. 

Additionally, some with Ingress Protection (IP) waterproof ratings can last long, even when submerged in water.

Incandescent Bulbs

Incandescent bulbs have a tungsten filament that must get hot to emit light. 

Therefore, it consumes a lot of energy, with its electrical power-to-light conversion ratio falling below 10 percent. 

In other words, it converts as much as 90 percent of electrical power to heat, with the remaining 10 percent turning to light energy. 

Additionally, they have a special gas mixture to ensure that the metal doesn’t oxidize. 

They are also very delicate, with a glass cover that can easily break, rendering the bulb useless. 

On durability, incandescent bulbs have terrible life spans, lasting an average of 1,000 hours.

Fluorescent Lamps

A fluorescent lamp on a ceiling

(A fluorescent lamp on a ceiling)

The fluorescent lamps can last as long as 10,000 hours of service with proper ballast and bulbs. 

They are moderately expensive but are easy to install and use. 

On the downside, they do poorly in cold weather and take a long time to achieve maximum brightness. 

Moreover, they are easy to break as they have a long glass structure. 

Calculating the Financial Benefits of LED Lights vs. Traditional Bulbs

A calculator and money on a table

(A calculator and money on a table)

LED lights are very durable, with high-quality ones lasting over 50,000 hours.

 Additionally, they consume less energy than traditional light sources like CFLs and incandescent bulbs. 

Here, we calculate your financial expenditures when using LEDs vs. traditional bulbs. 

First, we take the average lifespans where an LED lasts 25,000 hours, a CFL lasts 10,000 hours, and an incandescent lasts 1,200 hours. 

Second, we take the energy consumption average per bulb with LEDs consuming 8.5 watts, CFL 14 watts, and incandescent using 60 watts. 

Third, we factor in electricity the bulbs use over 25,000 hours in terms of Kilowatt-hours (kWh). The LED will use 212.5, CFLs 350, and incandescent 1,500 Kilowatt-hours. 

Fourth, we factor in the market price of $0.10 per kWh, with LEDs taking up electricity worth $21.25, CFLs using $35, and incandescent bulbs $150. 

Fifth, we calculate the number of traditional bulbs to match one LED. From our first point, we can see that we’ll need 2.5 CFLs and 21 incandescent bulbs.

Additionally, we see that the total cost of the LED bulbs will be $5, CFLs $5, and incandescent bulbs will cost $21 (each costs $1). 

Therefore, the total cost to have an LED bulb is $26.25, CFLs will come in second at $40, and lastly, incandescent bulbs cost $171. 

Remember, the above figures may change depending on your location, the current market prices of the bulbs, and the units of electricity.  

Advantages and Disadvantages of LED Lights

LED lamps emitting blue light

(LED lamps emitting blue light)


  • The high energy efficiency of between 80 and 95 percent
  • Long lifespans, with most lasting between 50,000 and 100,000 hours
  • Robust and resistant to shocks, vibration, and external impacts
  • LEDs provide instant illumination when you switch them on, as they don’t have warm-up times
  • They are versatile, as they have many color options
  • LEDs are environmentally friendly as they consume less energy and last longer.


  • LEDs have higher upfront or installation costs than other light sources
  • They are sensitive to excessive heat as they work best in areas with good ventilation 
  • LEDs with dimming properties may be challenging to use or pair with older dimmers


What light is brighter than LED?

Generally, LED lights produce the brightest light of all artificial light sources if we keep the watt per lumen constant. 

For instance, a 5-watt LED bulb will be brighter than a CFL consuming the same power. 

But that doesn’t mean all LED bulbs are brighter than most traditional ones.  

When buying one, consider the lumen per wattage and compare it with other light sources to know the brighter one.   

What kind of light makes a room brighter?

Generally, you should use light sources that blend gray and blue lights, as they are best for dark rooms. 

Regarding less dark rooms, we recommend using light sources that mimic sunlight. 

Such include CFLs, incandescent, fluorescent, and LEDs producing white light. 

How can I protect my eyes from LED lights?

It would be best if you protected your eyes from LED lights since they cause eye discomfort and temporary blindness in extreme cases. 

From experience, different people have varying tolerances to lights, and you may find that even less bright ones cause eye discomfort. 

If you fall into such a group, installing diffusers to reduce the light intensity reaching your eyes would be an option. 

When you feel uncomfortable, you can use an accompanying remote to reduce the intensity of lights reaching your eyes.

 Besides, if you work extensively with LED screens, we recommend using anti-glare coatings on the screen.  


Traditional light sources are getting less popular as more people adopt LED lighting systems.

 Those still prefer traditional bulbs are shifting to more efficient forms like CFLs. 

The reason is that the world is fast adopting energy-efficient systems ranging from home appliances and electronics to electric vehicles (EVs). 

Moreover, if you’re incurring massive electricity costs, it is time that you shift over to LEDs.