With all the new technology available on the market, it can be an overwhelming task for many people to choose what lighting to buy. Nowadays, shoppers can choose between a variety of options, including fluorescent, incandescent, and LED lights. Though decisions can be tougher, the plethora of options gives the consumer more power to determine what will work best for them.

One thing you may have noticed is that LEDs have recently become much more popular. There’s a very good reason for this, and if you’re wondering why that is, we insist that you read on.

If all the options just make you more confused, you can rest assured that we are here to help. Our team of lighting experts at Shine Retrofits spend a good chunk of their time comparing and contrasting the various types of lighting technology available on today’s market, and as a result have a keen sense of the pros and cons of each option.

By taking an analytical approach to shopping for lighting and utilizing a bit of simple math to make calculations, you can make your lighting purchase a much simpler process. For a quick look at how to make smarter lighting choices, you can glance at the Shine Retrofits Guide to Energy Efficiency.

With all that in mind, we’ve taken even more trouble off your hands and done a lot of the dirty work when it comes to comparing lighting technology. Over the course of this article we’ll compare two different types of lighting available today.

To get started, we’ll go over a little bit of basic information about each kind of technology:

Incandescent Lighting

Incandescent lighting technology has been around for quite a while. In fact, it’s one of the oldest types of bulbs, tracing its origin back to the very beginning of electricity. By the late 1800s it had become the standard for commercial bulbs, and is still being used today.

Essentially, an incandescent bulb consists of a wire filament that is heated to such a high temperature that it glows with visible light, or incandescence. Surrounding the filament is a bulb made of glass or fused quartz which protects the filament from oxidation with inert gas or a vacuum. These types of bulbs were the standard for lighting technology for many years, even though they aren’t extremely efficient and convert only 5 percent of used energy into visible light. The rest of the energy is lost as heat due to the nature of the technology.

LED Lighting

LED, or light emitting diode, technology, is a bit newer than incandescent bulbs. It traces its roots way back to 1907, though, when its light source, electroluminescence, was discovered. Though in the next few decades the first LED light would be created, it wouldn’t be until the 1960s that LED bulbs would become widely available to consumers.

Over the last fifty years, scientists have made continual breakthroughs in LED technology, giving us the marvel that is the modern LED bulb currently available to us. These lights boast low energy usage and long life that haven’t been seen on the commercial lighting market before, due to a more efficient way of turning electricity into visible light.

Comparing the Cost

When you go into any buying situation, your first concern is probably going to be the initial cost. And when it comes to comparing various lighting options, there can be quite the spectrum of prices to sort through. That’s very true for comparing incandescent and LED lights, which have very different price points.

Take your standard incandescent bulb, for example. In a study by The Simple Dollar, they found the typical incandescent to be priced at about $1. An LED bulb, on the other hand, could be as much as $8 to buy, which is a significant difference. If you’re buying a bunch of bulbs for your commercial space, you might be tempted to just go with incandescent and be done with it. After all, you could buy 8 incandescent bulbs for the price of a single LED.

There are other factors to consider, though, which will have a big impact on your decision. Read on to find out why you can’t stop at the initial cost of a light.

Energy Usage

Although upfront cost is important, it’s only one part of making your lighting decision. An arguably even bigger factor is energy usage. Since this product will cost you money over its lifetime in order for you to use it, it’s highly valuable to know what the operational cost of each bulb will be for your space.

In that same Simple Dollar study, the incandescent and LED bulbs were put to the test over a length of time. Over 25,000 hours at $0.12 per kWh, the price of the electricity they used were compared side by side. The incandescent bulb, though it cost $1 to buy, would use $180 worth of electricity in that frame of time. The LED bulb, in comparison, would use only $20 during that same exact timespan. Suddenly the LED bulb is seeming like a much better buy.

Bulb Life

Another big factor that should play a part in your purchasing decision is the life of the bulb. Generally, you can depend on incandescents not lasting very long, which explains their cheap upfront cost a little bit more. LEDs, on the other hand, have some of the longest lifespans in the industry.

When you run the numbers on the difference between incandescent and LED bulb lives, you find a huge gap. In that Simple Dollar study, the $1 incandescent bulb had a life of about 1,200 hours, while the $8 LED lasted about 25,000 hours. That means that for every 1 LED bulb, you’ll need the equivalent of 21 incandescent bulbs to operate over the same lifetime. Without even factoring energy usage into the equation, LEDs are easier on your wallet, and when you consider that some LED bulbs last even longer, from 50,000 to 100,000 hours, you might not ever have to replace them!

Initial Cost versus Real Cost

So why is there such a big difference between incandescent and LED bulbs when you make some simple calculations? That’s because we’ve figured out the real cost instead of just the initial cost, which is important to consider when making a lighting purchase.

Although incandescent lights may appear to be cheaper upfront, you’ll end up paying more for them in the long run. If you’re curious about why this is, we can tell you that the difference between the two mainly comes from the higher wattage and more inefficient technology of incandescent lighting.

For example, the incandescent bulb that The Simple Dollar tested was 60 watts compared to a 10 watt LED. When you run the numbers for energy usage, a higher wattage bulb will always cost you more. Buying a bulb with the least wattage for the amount of lumens, or brightness, that you need, is a great way to save money.

If you want to do the math for any of the current lights in your home, or even for products you’re looking at purchasing, you can refer to our Guide to Energy Efficiency, where we provide a step-by-step process to help you save money on your energy bill. That way you’ll know how much a product will cost you and work that into your lighting budget.

Quality Lighting Products

Whatever you decide, Shine Retrofits is here to help you. We have an extensive list of retrofit kits, LED bulbs, and LED light fixtures available for you to purchase, as well as many other lighting options to explore on our website. If you have any questions about our catalog or about which product is right for you, our team of lighting experts are standing by to help you. Call 1-800-983-1315 anytime Monday through Friday, from 6am to 6pm Mountain Standard Time, for help with your purchase. We can’t wait to hear from you!