CFLs and LEDs in the Home
So where do various bulbs land when thrown into real world competition? Unfortunately, there are no studies available on Compact Fluorescent Lighting (CFL) or Light Emitting Diodes (LED) bulbs that allow for duplication of their procedures. These studies often corroborate the claims made by the manufacturer (and since the funding sources are often obscured, the study cannot be trusted). Because the life of CFL bulbs is stated to be well over five to ten years, an in-home test might not seem applicable. With LEDs, the life claims are even longer. The only tests than can be done in the home are of the quality variety.
Here are some of the claims made about CFL and LED light bulbs in comparison to traditional incandescence.
Supposed lighting facts include that CFLs are longer lasting and give the same illumination as standard bulbs, and LEDs are even more energy efficient and long-lasting. These claims center around the number of watts used to obtain a certain level of lumens. Although the CFLs and LEDs claim to use less energy and produce the same lumens, this doesn’t equate to the same lux production. What does this mean?
It means that the standard shape of an incandescent bulb is just as important as the mechanism of light production. A standard bulb illuminates spherically and the entire surface area of the bulb is outwardly lit. In a CFL bulb, the coil shape means that half of the light is emitted toward the center of the bulb and not out toward the room. Therefore, even if the same amount of lumens is produced, they are not providing the same lux value. Half of the light never makes it out of the confines of the bulb itself.
An LED is even less efficient for room lighting. LEDs emit a focused beam of light that works only at specific viewing angles; the larger the angle of dispersal, the lower the intensity of the light. To achieve a spherical dispersal new bulbs use mirrors to reflect the light around the bulb or use multiple LEDs. Multiple LEDs increase the wattage needed while mirrors reduce the light intensity. The result is that neither CFL nor LED light bulbs deliver the same lux value as a standard incandescent.
There are other disadvantages to CFLs as well. They can take up to three minutes to reach full lighting potential, and they contain mercury so they are not easily disposed of. This makes them impractical for lighting interior rooms that are used for short periods of time, like bathrooms. The typical stay in the bathroom doesn’t last more than five minutes. If you have CFL bulbs, you will be in a less than optimal lighting situation for more than half of the stay.