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LED lights do not generate significant heat. They do not require a gas-filled or vacuum medium. Nor do they activate through a gas like fluorescents. They are solid state and operate because of the special properties of certain crystals. Most lighting technologies require electrons to move through a high-resistance medium to produce light, either by heating a wire (in the case of incandescent light), or (in the case of fluorescent light) by the electrons impacting mercury vapor in a tube. 

In the fluorescent lamp, the interaction of electrons and mercury vapor produce ultraviolet light. A fluorescent powder on the glass emits visible light when exposed to the ultraviolet light in the tube.

Efficiency Comparison

Fluorescent light is more efficient than Edison's old-fashioned incandescent lights because in the incandescent light most of the electrical energy is converted into heat, not light. Fluorescent lights require a "ballast" system to keep the flow of AC electricity constant.

A constant flow of electricity through the mercury gas is essential to keeping up the light level, and the voltage of a current through a gas will fluctuate if not regulated. The ballast keeps the light level constant. An LED light uses direct current. AC current is typically converted into DC like a battery to operate the LED light.

The only thing the lamp has to do is to keep an electrical charge on the crystal which serves as a lighting element. The crystal will light up when it is electrically charged. There is no need for a current be maintained through a metal or a gas medium.

A 60-watt incandescent bulb, a 15-watt fluorescent bulb and a 9.5-watt LED light will produce the same amount of light at roughly the same color temperature (the way it looks). The fluorescent light is 75 percent more efficient than the incandescent light (more light per unit of electric power). The LED light is 80 to 85 percent more efficient than the incandescent light. 

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Cost of Use

The average incandescent light lasts between 1,000 and 1,200 hours of continuous use. The 15-watt fluorescent lasts about 8,000 hours. According to consumer reports, LED lights can last anywhere between 20,000 and 25,000 hours.

While you can still purchase a 60-watt incandescent light, the cost is about $1.00 per unit. Fluorescent lights can cost as little as $3.37 each. LED lights are priced around $6.50. Of courses prices vary so these calculations are approximate. 

  • The incandescent light cost would total about 8 cents per hour to operate over its working life.
  • The fluorescent light would cost about 4 cents per hour over its working life.
  • The LED light would cost about 3 cents per hour over its working life.

Lighting prices are continuously changing, but the relative cost of lighting using fluorescent and LED lights over the working lives of the units is clearly substantially lower than incandescent lamps. The cost advantage of LEDs over fluorescent lights is less evident.


Compact fluorescent lamps have evolved into convenient forms for household as well as business lighting. They do have the disadvantage of slow starting because the action of the ballast system which is contained in the base of the fluorescent bulb. Fluorescent bulbs also employ mercury vapor which makes them a form of hazardous waste. Compact fluorescent lamps have to be carefully recycled.

LED bulbs are not considered hazardous waste because the lighting element is a small crystal which is not hazardous in itself. However, LED bulbs do contain unfriendly metals like lead. Even though LED lights can be disposed of in ordinary landfills, the do contain small amounts of lead and arsenic which are toxic. 

MultiSite LED are experts in multi site/multi location lighting rollouts. We leverage the combined volume of hundreds of projects to reduce overall cost, and provide a program that allows savings to pay for the conversion to LED lighting. Please contact us to learn more.

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