LED Lights Vs. Incandescent Lights – Which is the Best?

For many decades, people only had one choice when it came to lighting bulbs – the incandescent bulbs. This soon changed with the introduction of CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs, which were marketed as a cheaper and a more energy efficient option. However, it was the entry of the LED light bulbs into the market that completely revolutionized lighting technology.

Initially used for as indicator lamps in electrical components and for background lighting in various electronics, LEDs have since become (perhaps) the most popular and preferred lighting bulbs. The main reason for this is their numerous advantages, which range from energy saving capabilities to long lifespan, durability, and more. Many people (for example, government institutions, environmentalists, LED lighting lobbyists, and others) have also been campaigning heavily to have the consumers switch from conventional lighting technologies (incandescent and CFL lights) to LED lights.

LED VS. Incandescent light

However, despite the several advantages LED lights to have to offer, and their ever-increasing popularity, many people still use conventional lights. You will be surprised to find out that some of these people (and a good number by that) use incandescent light bulbs. This begs the questions, why are people using incandescent light bulbs? Are they better than LED light bulbs?
Well in this article, we will take a look at both the LED and Incandescent lighting technologies to determine which of the two is the best.

LED lights

LEDs (light-emitting diodes) uses a two lead semiconductor diode as the light source. When the diode, a p-n junction diode, is activated with a positive and negative charge respectively, the energy band gap of the semiconductor diode emits light. This process is referred to as electroluminescence. As already stated, these semiconductor diodes were used for basic applications. However, as LED technology improved over the years, they began being used for lighting purposes.

Advantages and disadvantages of LED lighting

To understand which is the best lighting technology (between LED lighting and incandescent lighting), you must first understand the advantages and disadvantages of each. Below is a look at the advantages and drawbacks of LED lights.

1. They have a high energy efficiency

LEDs are one of the most energy-efficient sources of lighting. They draw a very small amount of power and they have a high light output (up to 135 lumens per watt). Unlike other lighting sources (CFL and incandescent lights), LED lights also produce very little heat, and thus nearly all the power they draw is converted into light. On top of that, LED lights have a directional lighting capability, which helps to reduce light and energy wastage.

2. A longer lifespan

Unlike conventional lighting, LEDs do not burn or fail, instead, they dim over time. Quality lifetime can, therefore, last for a long time, some up to 50,000 hours. While the LED bulb you buy might not achieve such a long lifespan, you can be sure that it will last longer than incandescent bulbs, which burn out after around 1,000 hours.

3. Highly durable

LED light bulbs are very durable. Their internal components are not delicate (there are no filaments) and thus they are resistant to breakage, vibrations, and even impacts. The design of LEDs also makes them more durable – they do not use glass or quartz on the interior and they are mounted and soldered on a circuit board.

4. Instant-on operation

One of the main drawbacks of traditional light bulbs is that they do not produce full amount of light the moment they are switched on; they require a few minutes to warm up and reach maximum brightness. While this might not be an issue in some situations, it can become very problematic in situations where the lights are being switched on and of constantly. However, with LED lights, you never have to worry about this. Once they are switched on, they will reach maximum brightness instantly.

5. Can be operated in cold temperature

One of the most amazing benefits of LED lights is that they can be operated at low temperatures. In fact, unlike other types of lights, the performance of LEDs increases as the temperature decreases. LED lights are thus ideal for freezers, cold storage rooms, refrigerated display cases, parking lots, building perimeters, and other areas where temperatures can get very low.

6. They produce very little heat

In addition to being operated at cold temperatures, LED lights do not emit heat through infra-red radiation. Therefore, LED lights are very cool to the touch, which minimizes the risk of burn accidents. The fact that LEDs do not emit heat also makes them ideal for places that need to be kept cool, for example, cold storage rooms, freezers, and refrigerators, food processing facilities, etc. LEDs are also perfect for textile factories and exhibit rooms, where infra-red radiation can degrade the quality or writings of fabrics.

7. Environmental friendly

LEDs do not contain mercury or other toxic chemical substances that are used in the manufacture of conventional light fixtures. They also don’t emit UV radiation, which is not only harmful to the environment but can also be toxic to human beings. Therefore, LED lighting technology is the top environmental friendly lighting technologies, as LED lighting fixtures cause minimal to no harm to the environment when they are disposed of.

Another thing that makes LED light fixtures environmental friendly is the fact that they come with designs that are easy to recycle. Therefore, instead of throwing them away, you can recycle LED light fixtures and reduce the damage caused to the environment.

8. Controllability

Another amazing benefit of LED lights is that they are controllable, at an affordable price. While it would take several hundred dollars and a lot of design work to make conventional light fixtures controllable, LED lights can be easily controlled. For example, LED light fixtures can be connected to lighting control system, which can allow you to control the level of brightness they offer, the color of the light, when they come on or off, etc.

9. Very cost-effective in the long-term

Perhaps the top benefit of LED lights is that they are very cost-effective in the long term. To start with, LEDs are very energy efficient, using up to 70% less energy compared to other conventional light fixtures. As a result, when you are using LED lights, you can expect your power bills to be significantly lower.

LED lights also have a long lifespan, which means that they rarely get changed. Therefore, when you switch to LEDs, you can expect to spend very little money on the replacement costs of the lighting fixtures. In addition, LED light fixtures to have fewer replacement costs, LED lights to have minimal replacement costs, as they are very durable and resistant to breakage and impact.

Therefore, in the long run, you will end up spending significantly less on LED light fixtures that you would have if you were using conventional light fixtures. This makes them ideal for large premises, for example, factories, warehouses, workshops, learning institutions, hospitals, and others as they help to reduce the operational costs of these facilities.

Disadvantages of LED Lighting

LEDs might have several benefits, but that does not mean that they do not come with their own drawbacks. Below is a look at some of the disadvantages of switching to LED light fixtures

1. High initial costs

LED lighting technology is still relatively new to the market. Therefore, the technology, being premium, is still expensive. The fact that the technology is relatively new means that manufacturers have not had enough time to find cheaper solutions to LED lighting technology. As a result, LED light fixtures to have high initial costs, something that can be discouraging if you are buying several units.

You should, however, note that the high initial cost of LED light fixtures is offset by their huge energy saving benefits and minimal maintenance and replacement costs.

2. Blue light pollution

One of the largest drawbacks of LEDs has to do with cool white LEDs, high color temperature LED light fixtures that emit a high level of blue light. The level of blue light emitted by these cool white LEDs is significantly higher than that emitted by most other outdoor LED sources. As a result, there is concern among various stakeholders, for example, the International Dark S

3. Unsuitable for use during winter season

The fact that LED lights do not produce too much heat might be an advantage, but it can also have its drawback. During the cold season, LED lights cannot offer any form of warmth. Therefore, they are not ideal for use in residential homes or other premises where people are spending a lot of time unless there is a separate source of heat.

Incandescent lights

Incandescent lights are electric lights that use a wire filament. The filament is heated to a high temperature by passing an electric current through it, until a point where it glows with visible light. This process of producing light is referred to as incandescence, hence the name of the light bulbs.

Incandescent light bulbs are the oldest types of the lighting fixture, and they have been around for several decades now. However, despite the onset of new lighting technologies, they have managed to stick around. Below is a look at some of the reasons why:

Advantages of incandescent lights

1. Low initial cost

One of the reasons why incandescent light fixtures are popular is because they are cheap. The light bulbs are very cheap to manufacture due to their simple design. Incandescence lighting technology is also not complicated. On top of that, it has been around for a long time, and as such, incandescent lighting fixtures manufacturers have had a long time to come up with cheap designs.

2. They generate relatively high light output

The amount of light produced by incandescent light bulbs is based on the amount of heat produced by the filament. The higher the heat, the more the light produced. Therefore, with a good quality filament that can be able to withstand extremely high heat temperatures, it is possible to produce a very bright beam of light.

3. They can be dimmed using rheostats

Traditional lighting fixtures are harder to control due to their designs and outdated technology. However, incandescent light bulbs can be able to be controlled (brightness) with the use of a rheostat.

4. Ideal for use during cold weather

Since incandescent light bulbs work through heating, they produce high amounts of heat. During the cold season, the heat produced can be an excellent source of warmth, especially if you do not have a heater in your home/office.

Disadvantages of incandescent lights

Unfortunately, incandescent light bulbs come with several disadvantages, probably more than any other type of lighting fixtures. Below is a look at some of them:

1. Energy inefficiency

The major drawback of incandescent light fixtures is that they are energy inefficient. A vast amount of power drawn by the light bulbs is converted into heat energy. The bulbs also draw a huge amount of power in order to provide enough current to heat the filament. As a result, using incandescent bulbs usually results in high power bills, especially in situations where you are using several units in your premises.

2. A very short lifespan

When the filament of the incandescent light bulb is being heated, the high amount of heat produced provides an ideal environment for oxidation, which can lead to the evaporation of the filament. And while they are protected from evaporation through the use of inert gas, the more the filament is heated, the more vulnerable it becomes. Therefore, incandescent light bulbs have a very short lifetime, and most will only offer a maximum of 1,000 hours, compared to LED lights that can last for up to 50,000 hours.

3.Usually requires cooling the room

Heat is another problem with incandescent lights. Due to the high amount of heat they produce, they are not ideal for rooms that require being kept at low temperatures. Even when used in normal premises, the rooms usually require being cooled down, especially during the hot seasons. This leads to higher electricity bills.


By comparing LED lights and incandescent lights, it is pretty clear that LEDs have the upper hand. They have several advantages and while they come with drawbacks, they are very minimal. Incandescent lights, on the other hand, come with several disadvantages and only a few advantages. Therefore, if you are still using incandescent light bulbs for whatever reason, it is the high time you switch to the new and improved LED lighting technology.