LED vs CFL vs Halogen


Lighting can contribute to over 30% of a households total electricity bill. By replacing inefficient halogen and incandescent light globes with energy efficient and cost effective LED lights, you will reduce your electricity bill and your carbon footprint.

This article will provide an LED comparison to Halogen and Compact Fluorescents (CFL) and prove why LED is the clear winner.

Incandescent and Halogen Lights

Incandescent lights are the most commonly used form of lighting. This includes the standard everyday light bulbs and halogen downlights. On the offset, they are inexpensive to buy but their lifetime running costs quickly add up.

An incandescent light creates light by running electricity through a filament, which heats up and then literally glows white-hot. It is a very inefficient way of creating light as 90% of the electricity used is turned into heat with only 10% being turned into light.

Incandescent lights are very dangerous and are a fire hazard with halogen lights being responsible for many household fires. The filaments in halogen lights rise up to 2,500°C and the bulb up to 500°C. The temperature at which paper will ignite without a spark or flame is 230°C, so if there is any insulation touching the light fitting a fire can easily start.

Because incandescent emit so much heat, your cooling system needs to work harder to compensate amounting to extra costs in energy bills. The lamp life of an incandescent is only an average of 1,000 hours making regular replacement necessary which wastes money on maintenance costs.  It is also very impractical in hard to reach places such as high ceilings.

The most simple alternative to halogen lights is to replace them with the more efficient IRC lamps. They are virtually identical to standard halogens, only the bulb has an Infa Red Coating that reflects some of the heat back into the filament. Lamp life is extended by up to 4,000 hours and will save up to 30% of energy in comparison to a standard halogen. Although the fire hazard still remains and much greater energy savings can be achieved with other options.

Compact Fluorescent Lights

Compact fluorescents have come a long way from the flickering, unflattering light they once were. They are now available in a wide range of light temperatures, are longer lasting than incandescent lights and are more energy efficient. CFL's have a lamp life of about 10,000 hours and use approximately 80% less energy than an equivalent incandescent.

CLF's use gas, mercury particles and phosphor to create light. The gas becomes excited by electricity, and when combined with mercury particles, produces invisible ultraviolet light. The UV light then hits the white phosphor coating inside the bulb causing it to fluoresce and emit white light. There is circuitry inside the base of the light that stops it from flickering like in old fluoro lights.

Most CFL's have a charge up time usually using about 5 times the bulbs wattage rate for roughly 10 minutes, making them inefficient for areas where fast switching is needed and where lights are frequently switched on and off. They also take around 30-45 seconds to reach full light output from a cold start.

The main issue with CFL's is the large amount of energy and materials that go into manufacturing them. Fluorescent tubes can contain up to 15mg of mercury that is an extremely toxic element, especially dangerous to pregnant women, babies and children. One fluorescent tube contains enough mercury to pollute 30,000 litres of water. It is essential that all CFL's and Fluorescent tubes are recycled appropriately.

LED Lights

LED is an acronym for Light Emitting Diode. Diodes are semiconductors, which will conduct energy in only one direction. LED lights and tubes use diodes instead of gas or heated filaments to produce light making them the most energy efficient lighting option available. See a detailed explanation of the
benefits of LED lighting. Please use our Energy Saving Calculator to calculate the saving you could be making on your energy bill.