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Comparing LED and CFL bulbs and making the right choice

There are numerous energy- and money-saving advantages to ENERGY STAR® qualified LED and CFL light bulbs. But by learning how they stack up against each other—and how they meet your needs—you’ll be better equipped to buy the best bulb for you.

LED and CFL bulbs go head-to-head

Some key differences to know when choosing either LED or CFL bulbs for the different areas of your home:

  • LED bulbs are generally more expensive than comparable CFL bulbs.
  • LED bulbs can also be used in either motion-sensor or photo cell fixtures that automatically turn lights on at night, a great fit for dependable outdoor safety.
  • Light from LED bulbs tends to cast in one direction, making them well-suited for fixtures such as ceiling lights, floor lamps, wall sconces or bathroom vanities. Diffusing filter options are available, but they may not cast light evenly in all directions.
  • Light from CFL bulbs tends to cast in all directions, making them better suited for fill-light fixtures like table lamps. But because their light is less directed, they are less desirable for task lighting fixtures such as desk or reading lamps.
  • CFL bulbs use mercury vapor, which is potentially harmful if exposed. LED bulbs do not.
  • CFL bulbs give off a moderate amount of heat, while LED bulbs are cool to the touch when lit.

Check out our LED and CFL bulb FAQs for more in-depth info.

Consider your lighting needs

You understand your energy-efficient lighting options and are ready to buy some bulbs. But you also need to examine your specific lighting needs when choosing which type of LED or CFL bulb is the one for you.

Things to think about:

  • How are you using the bulb?
  • What wattage is the bulb you are replacing?
  • What color temperature do you want?
  • What price are you happy with?

Time to choose

With your energy-efficient lighting options and lighting needs in mind, it’s time for the rubber to meet the road.

At the store, check the packaging on LED and CFL bulbs for a “Lighting Facts” label (see image below). This table provides you with essential details such as watts, brightness and color temperature, as well as estimated yearly operating costs and bulb disposal tips.

Lighting Facts Label 

Use the “Lighting Facts” label to choose the LED or CFL bulb that best meets your lighting needs, and start saving money and energy today.