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Why LED lights are better than Fluorescent lights even when lumens per watts are the same

By on April 22, 2016

The light-emitting diode (LED) Lights is environment friendly and more secure than fluorescent because it works at much lower temperatures. An incandescent bulb gives off more energy as heat rather than light, something to do with the resistance of a Tungsten filament, therefore LED is considered better than fluorescent even when the lumens per watts is the same. But is this the only reason, especially to answer that LED is a better option comparing on same lumens per watts?

But before we discuss this any further, let us look at this interesting table – The table below shows the amount of brightness in lumens one can expect from different wattage light bulbs. We can clearly see that the LED bulbs require much less wattage than the CFL or incandescent light bulbs, which is why LED bulbs are considered as more energy-efficient and long lasting than the other types of bulb.


Table 1 – Amount of brightness for different category of bulbs

Incandescent Watts               CFL Watts LED Watts                Lumens (Brightness)
40 8 – 12 6 – 9 400 – 500
60 13 – 18 8 – 12.5 650 – 900
75-100 18 – 22 13+ 1100 – 1750
100 23 -30 16 – 20 1800+
150 30 – 55 25 – 28 2780

Source: http://eartheasy.com/live_energyeff_lighting.htm

Now, there is another chart which compares the lumens per Watt of different light appliances include LED and incandescent bulb (Linear Fluorescent). It is clear from the table that the LEDs use less power (watts) per unit of light generated (lumens).

Chart 1 – Lumens per Watts Vs. different category of bulbs

Source: https://www.mge.com/saving-energy/home/lighting/lumens-comparison.htm

The light bulb efficiency is measured in terms of lumens per watt—the amount of light produced for each watt of electricity consumed. More lumens per watt mean more light for your money. A close look at the chart will tell us, that the lumens per watts are nearly the same for both the light bulbs.

Brief introduction of LEDs vs. fluorescent light bulbs

A LED is a semiconductor device that emits visible light when an electric current passes through it. Presently, the LED technology is advancing rapidly, with many new bulb styles available. Initially more expensive than other category of bulbs say the CFLs and of course the incandescent bulbs, LEDs bring more value since they last longer. Also, the price of LED bulbs is going down each year as the manufacturing technology continues to improve and the government is also providing subsidy to its sale.

Let us divulge some basic information on the fluorescent light bulbs also. Technically speaking, in the fluorescent light bulbs an electrical gas discharge is maintained in a tube (with a thin layer of phosphor on its inside surface). The gas, which is often a mercury vapor, emits ultraviolet radiation causing the phosphor to fluoresce. A CFL, or compact fluorescent, is simply a miniature version of a standard fluorescent light bulb, and they screw into standard lamp sockets, giving off light that looks similar to the common incandescent bulbs. These CFL bulbs fit in standard light sockets without any adaptor and not like the big fluorescent lighting we associate with the industrial lightning or street lightning.

Answering the main question posted at the top of the article

Now, coming to the main question posted at the top of the article – Why LED lights are better than Fluorescent lights even when lumens per watts are the same?

To answer this, we must understand that these LEDs provide a unidirectional flow of light (or emit light in a particular specific direction only) but the incandescent and CFLs emit light in all directions, they have a spread of 360 degree. Typical beam angles (or spread) for LEDs, available in the market are in the range of 15, 30, 45, 60 and 100 degree and for general illumination, it is 120 and 180 degree. In fact, the most common LEDs available for general illumination are with a beam angle of 120 degrees or more, and they can be treated as any other CFL lamps. Now the spread (we are also call them beam angle) is directorially proportional to division of light (lumens). More spread in case incandescent and CFLs will cause more division of lumens, and naturally causing less brightness. In incandescent and CFLs, the light with a much higher beam angle gets distributed. Thus, if our requirement is for spot lightening (a concentrated light for a limited space); more number of these bulbs will be required to be installed, requiring greater power. Therefore, LEDs being unidirectional will produce a lot of brightness compared with any type of fluorescent lights even though the lumens per watts are the same.

Other advantages of LEDs over fluorescent lights:

  • Last longer — LED bulbs last up to several times (10 times) more than the compact fluorescents, and far longer than typical incandescent bulbs.
  • Durable – since LEDs do not have a filament, they are not easily damaged or become useless, say on falling circumstances.
  • Cool – LEDs produce 3.4 btu’s/hour, compared to 85 for incandescent bulbs. So they do not cause heat build-up.
  • More efficient – LED light bulbs use only 2-17 watts of electricity (1/3rd to 1/30th of Incandescent or CFL).
  • Cost-effective – although LEDs are initially expensive, the cost is recouped over time and in better savings. The cost of new LED bulbs has gone down considerably in the last few years and is continuing to go down. Today, there are several new LED light bulbs for use in the home, and the cost is becoming less of an issue, even the Indian government both at centre and state are providing subsidies.

Even these days the government is also acknowledging such benefits. As per news report published in September 2015, the Indian union power minister, Mr. Piyush Goyal, announced “13.46 million bulbs have been distributed so far and the government has set the target of 700 million bulbs in the next two years and nine months”. We will cover the subsidy to the LED bulbs in great details, in some other article.

Sources of Information:

  1. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/fluorescent+lamp
  2. http://eartheasy.com/live_energyeff_lighting.htm
  3. http://www.forbes.com/sites/trulia/2014/04/25/led-vs-cfl-which-bulb-is-best/
  4. http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/light-emitting-diode-LED
  5. http://cleantechnica.com/2011/09/01/led-vs-cfl-which-light-bulb-is-more-efficient/
  6. http://www.dnaindia.com/money/report-power-ministry-to-soon-put-up-tariff-policy-for-cabinet-nod-says-piyush-goyal-2124096

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  • Neehal Mapkar

    Hi abhishek…need some help from you..
    Can we use LED T5 tube in T5 28w tubelight fixture with electronic ballast?

    • https://www.bijlibachao.com Abhishek Jain

      You need to remove the ballast for LED tubelight. LED has its own drivers and does not need ballast. It just need wires connected at two ends.

    • Neehal Mapkar

      Thanks abhishek for your valuable help..

  • Manik

    Thanks for providing great information on lighting and use of LED.. I have a question as i am planning to buy LED for my house
    My requirement is to buy LED pannel or downlights that go in the ceeling.. I compared the technical factor such as lumens, Beam angle and Power factor for Compact, Osram and Phillips… They are approximatly the same for all three but Compact is the chepest with phillips costliest.. Not sure what is teh diffrence can you let me know how would you rate Compact LED lights? This will help me buying decission

    • https://www.bijlibachao.com Abhishek Jain

      Hello Mr Manik,

      Osram is like BMW of LED lights. If you get them at reasonable rates then they are the best LED lights. There are several factors that you can look at while buying LEDs that we have listed on these articles:



      These two articles provide a lot of information on how to select LED lights.

    • Manik

      Thank you for the help

    • Trapdaar

      I strongly advise you to NOT buy LEDs. Why?

      1. Because although LED lamps are supposed to last for 5+ years, in practice they last only 2-3 years. In particular Philips is a low quality LED lamp. Just google for ‘The great LED lightbulb rip-off’ in google.
      2. Although LEDs consume less electricity than tubelights, in practice they will be more EXPENSIVE than tubelight. This is because LED lamps cost Rs. 100+, while a tubelight is Rs. 40 only. There is a difference of Rs. 60, and LED lamps do not last long enough to make up for that deficit.
      3. Additionally, a bulb just does not provide as good a light as tubelight.

      Conclusion: Dump LED lamps, go for tubelights + electronic ballast.

  • Antonio Barbosa

    Fluorescent tube with an electronic ballast should be comparable to an LED bulb. There is not much difference between them.

  • Pra Deep

    Sir could you please tell me why can’t govt of india ban incandescent bulbs which were banned in nearly 25 countries and also which consumps 6 to 7 times more power than LED’S????

    • Trapdaar

      Because that would be a silly thing to do. Tubelights are far better that LED bulbs in every respect. Why not ban LED also and force people to use only tubelight?

    • Anjan Banerjee

      Banning Incandescent Bulbs in domestic sector? Why? Don’t you think, such a ban is a move against the rights preserved for Indian people by constitution.

      Apart form this ,your argument is unclear to me, “why can’t govt of india ban incandescent bulbs which were banned in nearly 25 countries”. Are we aping foreign countries. There are so many good things that we can learn from so called 1st world countries, like stringent quality control, best material quality, excellent craftsmanship etc etc etc.

      Coming back to the point;
      1) For a million of year Humans are associated with light and heat. Sunlight is associated with heat, Bonfire at night, lit by cave dwellers were associated with heat. Till nineteenth century light sources were basically fire, until when men discovered incandescent bulb. But such bulbs are source of heat too. So human brain has been naturally designed to perceive a source of light as a source of heat too. So light without heat is incomplete. It is not easy to perceive but imagine sunlight with moonlight coldness. If we miss the warmth associated with light it can trigger several kinds of mental disorders which are yet to be discovered.
      2) Incandescent bulb emitted light contains full visible spectrum, which closely resembles the natural light source (The Sun). LEDs and fluorescent bulbs have incomplete spectrum. LEDs spectrum is mostly a mixture of three base colours to create an illusion of white colour. So colour rendered by LED bulbs may suppress some colour while enhance some, So colour tone as perceived under LED illumination is not real or natural.
      3) Bright and concentrated LED light cause eye strain, aggravates migraine. T12 and T8 tubes have far better light distribution and are far more superior in terms of room lighting. Incandescent bulbs have warmth in colour that creates a cosy atmosphere.
      4) A very small percentage of electricity is wasted (or used) by incandescent bulbs in domestic sector (do a research yourself). Govt can stop using bulbs in their places and can ask MNCs too, but it can’t issue a ban on use of bulbs in domestic sector, because it is my choice what I will fix in my room and certainly not the choice of Parliament.
      5) It has been heard that banning of Incandescent bulbs in foreign countries is certainly not a move to save nature and electricity, rather it is fully driven by hungry companies who want more profit & profit margin is less for incandescent bulbs.
      6) LED bulbs are not cost effective when used in places like closet, bathroom, stairs, where they are not used more that 15 minutes a day, or for points which are occasionally used.
      7) Although companies claim that LEDs will last for >15000-20000 hours, but there is not evidence against their claim. Also companies provide only 1 year warranty. If they were confident about the quality of their products then they would have provided 5 years warranty (like old electric fans, refrigerators, from 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s were verbally guaranteed for life, mechanical devices like sewing machines, clocks had life warranty.

      I hope this clears your doubt.

    • https://www.bijlibachao.com Abhishek Jain

      Hi Pradeep,

      Good question. However I do not have answer to that. We need to collectively ask this to the government.

    • IAF101

      I think it would be something to do with the cost factor as poor people would not be able to afford LED bulbs yet.

    • https://www.bijlibachao.com Abhishek Jain

      Well several state governments have run programs for poor to replace incandescent at low cost with CFLs (at Rs 10 or so). BEE had launched Bachat Lamp Yojna. Currently many states are running programs for LEDs (giving LEDs in the range of Rs 100-200 … as low as CFLs). However these programs get limited success as they are not implemented to perfection.

    • Pra Deep

      Thank you for your reply sir