The Battle of the Bulbs


We've devoted many a post to the virtues of both compact fluorescent light bulbs and LED bulbs over traditional incandescents, and even pointed to attempts to "Ban the (Incandescent) Bulb." The folks at, though, have taken the battle of the bulbs a step further, and created a handy spreadsheet (in MS Exel) that lays out the facts of each bulb choice side-by-side so you can easily see the benefits and drawbacks of purchasing a particular bulb type. Among the details they note:

  • LED bulbs are, by far, the best choice for energy efficiency. Even with a comparatively high upfront cost, their frugal use of electricity and long life end up creating the biggest savings over the long run. The drawbacks: that high upfront cost (the bulb they tested runs just under $55), a slight loss of brightness, and "a very direct field of light" which makes them less than ideal for standard floor and table lamps.

  • CFLs look like the best choice for all-around lighting. They're relatively cheap (PD paid $2.98), very energy efficient, and useful in just about any fixture.

  • Traditional incandescents have one advantage: they're cheap to buy. Their short lifespan and energy-hogging means you end up paying through the nose in the long term, though.

This is a great resource to keep nearby when it's time to buy new bulbs, proving once again that conservation isn't just a virtue -- it also makes a difference in the household budget. Incandescent vs. CFL vs. LED Light Bulb Challenge