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LED Lights Vs CFLs

Incandescent light bulbs are now being replaced by compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) all over the world. They are economical, use less electricity, and are better for the environment - but before you rush out and buy a whole box of CFLs for your property, don't overlook the advantages of using LEDs instead. LEDs have a variety of benefits attached to them which make them an attractive proposition for those wishing to save some money while having reliable lighting for their home or business.

How do LEDs and CFLs work?

Before we can understand why LEDs are a great choice compared to CFLs, we have to know how each works.

LEDs: Although they are only gaining popularity now as a real alternative to CFLs, LED lights have actually been around for decades, it is only with a reduction in cost that people are now buying them en masse. LED stands for Light Emitting Diode. They come in all sizes big and small, and can be used in a variety of different situations. Each LED is made up of a solid material called a semiconductor. When electricity is passed through the semiconductor, the atoms inside release energy in the form of visible light. It is a simple, durable design with few drawbacks.

CFLs: Compact Fluorescent Lights work in a similar way to a standard fluorescent tube. The only difference is that the glass tube has been coiled many times allowing the fluorescent light to take up an area as small as an incandescent bulb. Compact fluorescent lights have one metal fitting through which the electricity flows. This differs from older fluorescent tubes which have two metal caps at each end. Inside the coiled glass tube is a mixture of argon (a inflammable gas) and mercury (a type of metal). The inside of the coiled glass is coated with phosphorous powder. When electricity is passed through the metal fitting it travels along a piece of tungsten metal. This acts as an electrode, transmitting the electricity into the gas and mercury. Mercury atoms now begin to vibrate, producing energy in the form of ultraviolet, invisible light. This form of light then interacts with the phosphorous coating causing it to glow, producing the light that we see.

The Benefits of LEDs Vs CFLs

Now that we know how both CFLs and LEDs function, we can take a look at the advantages which LEDs provide. These include:

1. Low Temperatures:

LEDs produce almost no heat, converting most of the electricity into light. CFLs, while producing less heat than a normal incandescent bulb, still emit a large amount of heat. LEDs therefore reduce the risk of fire and accidental burns on contact.

2. Mercury:

CFLs contain mercury - they have to otherwise they wouldn't work. This might be great for producing light, but it does no favours for the environment. If a CFL is not disposed of correctly, the mercury can be released in vapour form endangering any person or animal who inhales it. LEDs do not contain mercury, and as such are far better for the environment.

3. Colour:

Most CFLs come with limited colour profiles. They are normally blue/white, or tinged with yellow. This light can appear stark, and is why most people have to use a variety of lampshades in order to diffuse the light slightly to improve appearance. LEDs can be bought in many different colours which is one of the reasons they can be used in so many different situations.

4. Energy:

LEDs use far less energy than CFLs. This might surprise people as CFLs are often marketed as "energy saving bulbs". While this is true, when compared to LEDs there really is only one winner. LEDs will reduce electricity bills substantially while providing all of the light you need.

5. Mains:

Most CFLs need to be hooked up to a mains supply in order to work. LEDs on the other hand do not require this. They can be powered with something as small as a watch battery. This makes them perfect for decorative or temporary use, and when used outside it circumvents any worries about having a mains supply outdoors, even when weather-proofed.

6. Variable:

LEDs can be bought in variable forms which means that one bulb can in fact be set to a number of different colours, or to alternate through several colour profiles over a set period. Perfect for Christmas decorations!

7. Size:

While CFLs have been coiled to save on space, they cannot hold a candle to the space busting size of an LED light. Most LEDs are very, very small, and are therefore perfect when used as downlights, as they do not protrude from a ceiling in the same way as CFLs do.

8. Longevity:

CFLs can last for an impressive 10,000 hours, but LEDs dwarf this number, working for as long as 60,000 hours! This cuts down markedly on spending time and money replacing them.

9. Dimmers:

LEDs are more pleasing to the eye when used in conjunction with a dimmer switch. CFLs are stark and cold, but LEDs can be set to a variety of light levels mimicking the warm glow of a candle or the bright light of a halogen bulb.

10. No Glass:

LEDs often contain little or no glass. This means they are far more durable, can take a knock or two, and will not leave tiny pieces of glass on surfaces for children or animals to stand on, should one be broken.

LEDs quite clearly have a number of key advantages over CFLs in terms of price and performance. They can be used in almost any lighting situation, and should last for much longer than their fluorescent counterparts.