LED versus CFL?

Compact fluorescent lights have been around for many years, and their energy saving properties have been touted by the Government, energy companies and green organisations alike, but how do they compare to the new kids on the block – LED lights?

LED lighting has been around for only a few years and it is considerably more expensive, so which bulb should you have in your home?

Its time for LED vs. CFL… let battle commence!


CFL energy saving bulbs are pretty cheap. They can cost as little as £1 each, so it is hard to compete with them on price alone. LED’s vary wildly, but you won’t find a quality bulb for under £5.

Winner: CFL

Energy Usage

CFL’s are much more efficient than incandescent, sometimes up to 7 times so. That can all add up to some pretty big energy savings when you think about replacing all the bulbs in a property. LEDs are also very efficient; in fact in almost all cases they outperform their CFL counterparts.

A 40w Incandescent bulb is comparable to a 12w CFL bulb, which is equivalent to a 6w LED – so the LEDs get a small victory here.

Winner: LED

Quality of Light

This is quite a complicated one. There are three things that determine the quality of light produced from a source. The Lumens, which is the brightness, the colour temperature, which determines the colour of the light (e.g. warm white found in homes or cool white found in offices) and the colour rendering which determines the actual quality of the light.

Colour rendering is a measure of the ability of a light source to reproduce the colours of various objects faithfully in comparison with a natural light source. This is measured on the colour rendering index (CRI) which is a scale of 0 – 100, with natural light being the best and therefore 100.

While CFL bulbs may achieve a maximum CRI of 85, LEDs can hit 90+ so while colour temperature and lumens is comparable between the bulbs, when it comes to CRI there is only one winner!

Winner: LED


When it comes to dimmability, you can get dimmable CFL and LED bulbs, although for both you will need the dimmable variety and a special dimmer switch that has the correct transformer. Dimmable bulbs cost a little more for both CFL and LED.

A Draw!

Warm-up Period

CFL’s are notorious for having a long ‘warm-up’ time. It can take minutes before they reach full brightness, which is really annoying if you are only in the room for a minute. LEDs don’t have this problem – they are either ‘on’ or ‘off’ and provide instant light from the moment they are switched on.cfl bulb

Winner: LED


CFL bulbs tend to give a rated lifespan of around 10,000 hours. LEDS claim up to 50,000 hours, so it is clear that whilst being more expensive, the LED will be around for a lot longer. This of course depends on the quality of the bulb – if you buy a cheap, substandard LED, the lifespan will be considerably less. Only go for bulbs with a lengthy guarantee.

Winner: LED

Environmental Credentials

CFL bulbs use a small amount of mercury – this is a really dangerous element that you don’t want to come into contact with. Not only is it bad for us – it is a neurotoxin and if it gets into the natural environment it can be bad news for wildlife. CFL’s must be recycled in order to avoid this from happening and you need to be careful if you happen to break one! LEDs don’t have this problem, so another win for the LED here!

Winner: LED


Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so we will call this one a draw too, although when I was in the shops the other day I did come across this little beauty!

A Draw!

CFL 1 : LED 5 ( + 2 Draws!)

Led bulbs

We think the winner is fairly clear. Whilst the CFL is certainly a better option than a traditional incandescent, the LED is far better still. While both are guaranteed to save you money on your electricity bills, when replacing incandescent counterparts, LEDs offer that extra bit of quality, durability and performance, which makes them TheGreenAge’s number one choice for bulbs.

Think we missed something? Do you have a different opinion?

Comment below to get your voice heard…