LED to Incandescent Comparison

About: i like to tinker.

Is it worth it to replace your cheapo inefficient incandescent with pricier LED lights that run on a fraction of the power?

Step 1: In the Name of Energy Conservation...

...And money conservation!

The house we bought has traditional bulbs throughout and some light switches activate a huge array of bulbs that kill my wallet every time they are switched.

I've decided to replace all the bulbs in the house with LED equivalent as funds allow. My friends have been curious regarding the price, light output, energy usage, and longevity. As far as light output, I hope this "ible" sheds some light on the situation.

Most lights in my house have been replaced with Cree branded LED lights. The bathrooms have 50w globes I've been anxiously waiting to replace with something that has similar light output. Since the bulb itself is exposed, trying to find an LED bulb that was just as aesthetically pleasing while it was off as when it was on has been a challenge. So far Cree hasn't put out anything that I would replace the globes with.

Step 2: The Competitor

While in my local Home Depot I noticed a new display of GE bulbs that were unique. The 60w equivalent bulbs (actual power 10w) came in three packs for just over 9 bucks. Color balance was "soft white" with a Kelvin of about 2850 degrees. I've learned my lesson in the past with cool white bulbs, they are usually too cool so I stick with the "soft white" or "warm white" when replacing bulbs inside the house.

Step 3: POWA!

The fixture in question has 6 bulbs with 50w bulbs in place. 50w X 6 = 300w

Replacement LED bulbs are 10w each. 10w X 6 = 60w

That's a 5X difference in energy usage!

But ... how bright are they?

Step 4: One to One

Traditional on the left, LED on the right, FIGHT!

With an equivalent power rating 10w higher for the LED I expected the LED to be a little bit brighter. It ended up being a lot brighter.

This image was edited so you can see the light difference on the ceiling and wall behind the fixture.

Step 5: Old School Vs New School

Both photos were taken at the same exposure (200 ISO 1/10 @ f7.1) White balance was set for 5000K, which is about the color of daylight.

The color of the light for the LED is just a little less warm than the incandescent but it is much brighter.

Step 6: Conclusion

So far very happy with the results.

I won't feel guilty using my bathroom lights anymore as it uses about the same energy for the full array as it did for just one of the old bulbs.

The shape of the GE "stik" bulb throws light out very evenly. It is very similar to the globes they replaced which is exactly what I was looking for.

As the price of LED bulbs come down they become the logical answer to replacing your aging bulbs as they fail. I like the Cree bulbs as they are made in the US and seem to be made well. The oldest Cree bulbs I am using are outside and have been running 8-12 hours a night for the last year. No failures so far. These GE bulbs are made in China, the column that lights up is plastic, but they seem pretty well made.

Is it worth it? Just the first year of potential savings on this one fixture more than pays for the bulbs I purchased! The savings calculator I used was here: http://creebulb.com/learn/cool-tools/savings-calculator

** this image white balanced to 2850K. Your eyes/brain adjust to the warmth of the bulbs and eventually they would look like this to you in real life.



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    7 Discussions


    3 years ago

    This is a very nice comparison, and great photos. The great thing about modern LED lamps is you can get the same or more lumens (illumination) while using much less power, and the lamps last a VERY long time.

    Regarding the question about CFL life: for ALL types of fluorescent lamps, the number of STARTS has ALWAYS been the single greatest factor determining life. They are best suited for situations where they are turned on and then left on for many hours. In fact, many (most?) CFLs actually count the number of starts and will stop working afer some arbitrary number. One I replaced recently was specified at 10 000 starts so using it in a place where it was turned on & off a dozen or more times a day was not really smart of me.

    1 reply
    J to the TGraeme_P

    Reply 3 years ago

    Thanks for the info regarding CFL starts. I knew there was some limiting factor to CFLs other than their inability to be used in enclosures.


    3 years ago

    Feit Electric makes a small globe bulb that works nicely in that style of fixture. Spare bathroom in this house has a 6 bulb fixture. Replaced all 6 CFLs ( which failed quite often due to cycling of the electronic ballast and looked horrible ) with the Feit globes. If anything it is now a bit too bright but they have been working fine now for a year+ with instant turn-on and no failures.

    Now, if someone will make a Large Globe ( G40 ) LED bulb that doesn't look horrible I will be a happy camper.


    3 years ago

    I suppose something should be said for cost. My attic bulb is incandescent because I am only up there a few times a year for maybe a half-hour each time. To do a comparison you should include reasons for not using LED bulbs in some situations vs incandescent.


    3 years ago

    Very informative, I liked it.

    Could you do a comparison of LED to compact florescent?

    1 reply
    J to the TJRV31

    Reply 3 years ago

    I'll see if I have any new ones laying around that I can compare to. I've had bad luck with CFLs. They take a while to warm up and I never really found one in the color temp that I liked. They gas so you aren't supposed to use them in an enclosure. Also, the 100w equivalent CFLs are huge!

    Thanks for checking out my 'ible!


    3 years ago

    Just an FYI: The problem I have had with these SAME bathroom fixtures when I switched to CFL was that bathroom lights tend to be turned on for only a few minutes, many times a day, shortening the lifespan of the bulb as compared to incandescent. I ended up switching back to incans for this very reason. You may find this to be true with LEDs also, as I had similar problems with halogen bulbs in different bathroom fixtures. Halogens and Fluorescents seem to prefer being on for long periods of time. Obviously, burning halogens for long periods of time is even pricier than incans!