No, not all light bulbs are the same. Are there really differences in light bulbs, and what are they?
In the past, incandescent bulbs were the most commonly used lighting source. They emit light by heating a metal wire filament to a high temperature until it glows. The science behind these bulbs is relatively simple, making them easy to manufacture and distribute at a low cost. However, the amount of heat wasted to produce light in this form has an impact on monthly electric bills. Its short lifespan of 1,000 to 2,000 hours and high energy consumption make it the least efficient of the three lighting types. Average cost of a 60 watt incandescent bulb is less than $1 dollar.
CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) are glass tubes containing phosphor gas that glows when heated. The benefit of this type of lighting is that is doesn’t require the high heat that a filament does, so less energy is consumed to make light. While these lamps cost a bit more than a standard bulb, the longer lifespan of 6,000 to 15,000 hours and the lower energy usage makes up the difference economically. Flashing, slow lighting time and the fact that mercury is present in the lights are the biggest complaints reported in regards to CFLs. The flashing effect, as well as the slow startup time has been corrected by replacing the older electromagnetic ballasts that charged the gas, with electronic ones. Mercury content is still a concern, but proper handling and disposal will keep the bulbs safe to use. CFLs use one fifth the energy of incandescent bulbs and cost on average between $1-$3 dollars.
LEDs (light emitting diodes) use electroluminescence as a lighting source. Basically, electrons are stimulated and reset to emit photons. A photon is simply a basic unit of light, so it’s safe. The biggest hindrance has been the high cost of production, which is slowly being reduced as new materials are being found to support this clean light source. LEDs burn cool and have a lifespan of 25,000 to 100,000 hours of usage. This simply means lower energy consumption and longer utilization. LEDs use up to one tenth less energy than incandescent bulbs, but they are still quite pricey, starting at $28 dollars a bulb and higher.
Clearly, there is a monumental difference in light bulbs. Knowing the differences will help with energy conservation and in reducing monthly utility costs when choosing a lighting source for your home or office. Choose wisely.
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