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CFL vs. LED June 9, 2008

Posted by smooregasbord in Eco/Green.

No one would argue that a CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) is way more energy efficient than the old incandescent bulb.  They typically give the same level of light as the incandescent bulb while using less energy and having a longer life.  However, these CFLs do have minor drawbacks.  It was only last year that manufacturers developed CFLs with the ability to be used on a dimmer switch.  The range of a dimmable CFL is not quite as wide as that of an incandescent bulb.  Of course, it’s hard to beat a 0 – 100% range.  The other drawback is related to the mercury content found in a CFL.  Most people do not realize that CFLs contain mercury.  While the amount is small, if released, it can be dangerous to the environment and to human health.  Since mercury is only released when the bulb is broken, this is certainly something to keep in mind if one is broken in your home.  However, most of the time it is broken while in transport to a landfill or once it arrives at a landfill which is why proper disposal is important.  Light bulbs, including CFLs, should be disposed of at your local recycling center.  You can go to Earth911 to find out more information or locate the recycling center that’s closest to your home.

The mercury content is certainly not a reason to avoid using CFLs. These are still some of the most energy efficient bulbs on the market. However, there is something new on the horizon. An article in Sunday’s Washington Post discussed the developments that are being made with LEDs (light-emitting diodes). The article tauts that not only do LEDs last anywhere up to 10 times longer than CFLs, they are also difficult to break and work well with dimmers. There’s gotta be a catch, right?! Yep, and that catch is cost. One bulb can run anywhere from $20 to $100, yikes! In addition, diodes typically cast light in only one direction like a spotlight. Developments are being made in that arena, too, with LEDs that have diodes casting in multiple directions…these are the bulbs that sit on the pricier end of the spectrum.

CFL or LED. Both have their drawbacks, but in the end they’re both great eco choices!


1. breenormurn - May 20, 2009

Super information! Will definitely visit soon.

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