LED vs. Incandescent Lighting

Whether you are planning for outdoor lighting, patio lighting, or any DIY project around your home or backyard it’s incredibly important to know the differences between the two major types of bulbs that are available on the market right now: incandescent and LED lights. Each bulb has their own unique upsides and downsides, as well as popular situations and uses, which are good to know and understand when you first begin your lighting plan. Luckily for you the experts here at LED Holiday Lighting have all the information on when, where, and why to use either LED light strings or incandescent bulbs.

Incandescent Lighting

What Are Incandescent Bulbs?

So what exactly is an incandescent bulb and what is the difference between them and LED lighting solutions? Incandescent lights produce light by heating a wire filament to a temperature that results in the generation of light. The metal wire is surrounded by a translucent glass bulb that is either filled with an inert gas or evacuated (a vacuum).

Why Should I Buy Incandescent?

Incandescents are astonishingly cheap to manufacture, and accordingly, they’re really cheap to purchase (typically a dollar or two). Still, the incandescent light is your classic light bulb. You could say it’s the record player of the lighting world – popular in the 70s (and certainly still used frequently), however they have been replaced and outmatched by a more energy-efficient style. As of January 2014, the United States no longer manufactured or imported the bulbs, according to USA Today. The typical incandescent bulb lasts about 1,000 hours, while a 15-watt CFL bulb lasts 10,000 hours and a 12-watt LED bulb lasts 25,000 hours. However, incandescent bulbs are widely available and adaptable to a large range of voltages, light outputs, and current (working well with both AC and DC power). They are the cheapest light on the market. Additionally, incandescent lights have a notoriously good ability to render color. The color rendering index (CRI) for an incandescent bulb with a color temperature of 2700K is 100 (a perfect score). As color temperature rises the CRI ratings drop off only slightly but typically remain above 95 (considered an excellent rating).

Why Would I Not Want The Cheapest Bulbs In The Market?

There are three major negatives to owning incandescent lighting currently that may make it easier to opt for quality LEDs over cheap incandescent bulbs:

  1. Incandescent lights have the worst energy efficiency on the market. Incandescent lamps have efficiency ratings around 10 lumens/watt. Unfortunately, most of the energy they consume (~90%) goes into generating heat.
  2. Incandescent lights have the worst lifespan on the market. The average bulb lasts around 1,200 operating hours. This means that even though incandescent bulbs are cheap to purchase, you would have to purchase a whole lot of them (50-100) to equal the lifespan of a single LED. Overall that means high maintenance costs.
  3. Lastly, incandescent lighting is an omnidirectional light source. These types of bulbs produce light in 360 degrees, creating a large system inefficiency due to at least half of the light needing to be reflected and redirected to the desired area being illuminated. So, although they will produce warm color, the light will need to be directed manually towards your target area in order to efficiently light your space.

Where And How Should I Use Incandescent?

Common applications for incandescent lighting include residential and interior lighting. It is most commonly used in lamps or hallway lighting, accent lighting, and occasionally within chandeliers.  It is typically not used in outdoor environments, for large organizations, or private or public events because of its short lifespan and poor energy efficiency.

LED Lighting

What Are LED Bulbs?

LED actually stands for Light Emitting Diode. A diode is an electrical device or component with two electrodes (an anode and a cathode) through which electricity flows – characteristically in only one direction (in through the anode and out through the cathode). Diodes are generally made from semi-conductive materials such as silicon or selenium – solid state substances that conduct electricity in some circumstances and not in others (e.g. at certain voltages, current levels, or light intensities). When current passes through the semiconductor material the device emits visible light. It is very much the opposite of a photovoltaic cell (a device that converts visible light into electrical current).

Why Should I Buy LED?

There are four major advantages to LED lighting:

  1. LEDs have an extremely long lifespan relative to every other lighting technology (including LPS and fluorescent lights but especially compared to incandescent lights). New LEDs can last 50,000 to 100,000 hours or more. The typical lifespan for an incandescent bulb, by comparison, is 1-5% as long at best (roughly 1,000-1,200 hours).
  2. LEDs are extremely energy efficient relative to every other commercially available lighting technology. There are several reasons for this, including the fact that they waste very little energy in the form of infrared radiation (heat), and they emit light directionally (over 180 degrees versus 360 degrees which means there are far fewer losses from the need to redirect or reflect light).
  3. Very high light quality when compared to incandescent lighting. LED bulbs are able to achieve typically the same amount of color rendering as incandescents at double the efficiency while also not giving off excess heat.
  4. Very low maintenance costs and hassle. Once you set your lights you can almost forget about them! Your energy bill will thank you, and you’ll save tons of time without having to change burnt out bulbs.

Where and How Should I Use LED’s?

The first practical use of LEDs was in circuit boards for computers. Since then they have gradually expanded their applications to include traffic lights, lighted signs, and more recently, indoor and outdoor lighting. The revolution of LED “lightscaping” has become a craze with homeowners all over the country, with LED lights and strings becoming cheap enough and beautiful enough to help elevate the look of your home exterior, garden, or living space. If you are more in the market for commercial decoration, LED Christmas lights are a wonderful solution for gymnasiums, warehouses, schools and commercial buildings. They are also adaptable for large public areas (which require powerful, efficient lights over a large area), road lighting (which offer significant color advantages over low and high-pressure sodium lights), and parking lots.

Hopefully now with your new knowledge on just what the differences are between LED and incandescent lighting, you will be able to plan and execute your next lighting project with ease and confidence. Knowing when, where, and why to use each of these unique set of lights and bulbs is a skill that will not only help you to create some really cool designs at your next event, but will also save you time and money! Visit our website to shop our wide selection of premium LED Christmas lights  and commercial Christmas lights.

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