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3 Important Distinctions Between LED and Incandescent Lamps


Many consumers might not think about the kinds of lights they use, but understanding the different types available can, quite literally, change the way people see the world. More than that, knowledge of lighting technology can save home and business owners thousands of dollars a year.


Two of the most common types of lamps are traditional incandescent lamps, which emit light as a side effect of heat, and LED lights, which give off light as a result of electric currents running through certain materials. They may seem similar, but there are several key ways the two differ.



  • Fragility: Incandescent lamps use traditional light bulbs made of a vacuum sealed glass orb with a filament inside which tend to be fragile. LED lamps' bulbs use a collection of small diodes in a metal casing with glass housing which, if broken, does not cause the light to stop functioning.
  • Death: Incandescent light bulbs "die" at the end of their lifespan, ceasing to work completely. LED bulbs slowly fade over time.


  • Purchase Price: As LED lamps are a result of more recent technology, their bulbs are more expensive. A traditional incandescent bulb may sell for less than five dollars whereas LED bulbs can cost up to four times as much or more.
  • Operating Cost: However, the electricity required to run these different bulbs varies widely. The average annual operating cost of one LED lamp in Australia is about $3.62, but an incandescent equivalent costs around $21.90 to operate annually; six times as much.
  • Lifespan: The average lifespan of an incandescent light bulb is about 1000 hours. An average homeowner might replace an incandescent bulb once or twice a year. LED lamps are expected to last around 25,000 hours.
  • Bulbs Required: Because of radical differences in lifespan, a homeowner can expect to buy over 20 incandescent light bulbs to get the same amount of light from one LED lamp's life.


  • Brightness: Because of the volume of energy used, the average incandescent lamp gives off over twice as many Lumens as an LED lamp making them much brighter.
  • Color: An incandescent lamp has a Colour Rendering Index (CRI) rating of 100, meaning it can portray colours as they appear in daylight. Higher CRI rating is not to say the lamp makes things look better, only that they more accurately recreate colours as rendered by sunlight. Most LED lamps have CRI ratings of around 80.

Major Takeaways


An incandescent lamp works well for those who need bright light from fewer sources that accurately recreates sunlight. However, LED lamps vastly outperform them in terms of associated costs, lifespan, and durability.


Re: 3 Important Distinctions Between LED and Incandescent Lamps

Cheers for the detailed contribution @writingjackie!


Re: 3 Important Distinctions Between LED and Incandescent Lamps

Should also point out that there are vast differences in the performance and reliability of available LED globes.


We've had ones costing $15 each that didn't last a month and also ones that cost $5 that are still going strong after 2 years. It's a bit of a lottery