Incandescent vs LED – Differences

Incandescent vs LED

Incandescent vs LED, Lighting is an important part of outdoor living. In the evening you get a spectacular ambiance, warmth, and a sense of security. When planning for your outdoor lighting, it is important to figure out what type of lamp to go with for the sake of energy bills. Incandescent and LED are the most common forms of outdoor lighting in many homes. Let’s look at their differences, pros, and cons for the right choice.

There are many types of outdoor lights that include spotlights, string lights, garden lights, floodlights, step lights, and many more. Lights enhance night vision, security, and décor in outdoor spaces. Based on technology, incandescent, and LED are the main types of lights we use for brightening landscapes and gardens.

Incandescent Light

Incandescent light is a type of bulb or lamp that produces light when a tungsten filament is heated by an electric current to a given temperature. Conventional incandescent bulbs have a heat-sensitive envelope housing the filament and are usually filled with inert gas. This type of bulb last approximately 1200 hours.


Halogen lamps last longer than conventional incandescent lights but they operate at an extremely high temperature which makes them produce intense color and brightness. In terms of durability, they last approximately 3600 hours.

Incandescent lights pros

  • The lights cost less to manufacture which makes them less expensive to purchase
  • Incandescent lights are good at rendering color and brightness
  • They are available in a large array of sizes and shapes
  • Compatible with dimming

Incandescent lights cons

  • They are energy inefficient – Incandescent bulbs use about 10% of the energy they consume to produce light while the rest 90% of energy is converted to heat.
  • Incandescent lights produce a considerable amount of infrared (IR) and ultraviolet (UV) radiation that usually damages fabrics and artwork furnishings.
  • They have a shorter lifespan – Even though cheaper to purchase, incandescent bulbs are short-lived and it’s a matter of time you will be replacing them.
  • Incandescent lights have a fragile glass envelope and brittle filament wire that easily burst or blow up.
  • They are expensive to maintain due to higher energy costs and short lifespan which leads to frequent replacements

LED lights

LED stands for light-emitting diode. A diode is a semiconductor device with two terminals (an anode and a cathode), through which current flows in one direction only. A semiconductor material like silicon only allows electric current to flow through it only under some circumstances such as certain current levels, or light intensities.

LED lights produce light when current is allowed to flow through its semiconductor material. These are the most preferred forms of lighting today and they can be used in endless applications such as outdoor landscape lighting, automobiles, and industrial setups.

LED lights pros

  • They have a longer lifespan approximating to 50,000 hours. This is 42 times longer than conventional incandescent bulbs and 13 times longer than halogen lights.
  • LEDs have the highest energy efficiency compared to any other type of light. They consume 80 percent less than incandescent lights and 75 percent less than halogen bulbs.
  • LEDs run much cooler without producing much heat, this greatly increases their longevity and makes them an ideal option for cold temperatures.
  • They produce little to no IR or UV radiation that is known to damage fabric and furnishings
  • Light Emitting Diode bulbs do not contain harmful gases or toxins
  • They produce quality and directional light and can be designed to produce a wide spectrum of visible light colors.
  • LEDs are less expensive to operate and maintain due to low energy costs and their longer lifespan which leads to fewer replacements

LED Bulb Cons

  • LEDs are relatively expensive to purchase but the costs are usually recouped by the many benefits they offer.
  • Most the LED bulbs are not dimmer compatible
  • They produce more blue light than incandescent lights. Blue light can affect your sleep quality and it’s also attractive to bugs.

Incandescent vs. LED – Differences

Incandescent Bulb LED Bulb
Cost Cost less to manufacture thus less expensive to purchase Cost more to manufacture thus very expensive to purchase
Efficiency Have the least energy efficiency as more of the energy consumed is converted to heat Are the most energy-efficient lights since they run cool without producing heat
Durability Have a shorter lifespan averagely of 1200 hours Have the longest lifespan of up to 56,000 hours
Safety Produces UV, IR rays that fade or discolor fabric and artwork materials Does not produce ultraviolet or infra-red radiations when operating
Fragility Have fragile glass envelope and brittle filament wire that easily blows up LEDs are not made from fragile materials like glass, which makes them withstand a lot more than incandescent
Colors Incandescent bulbs produce warm yellow glow that may not be seen by bugs They produce bright and directional light attractive to bugs
Maintenance Expensive to operate and maintain due to high energy bills and frequent replacements Less expensive to operate and maintain due to their longer lifespan and fewer replacements

Which is good for the outdoors?

We have seen what makes the difference between LED bulbs and incandescent bulbs. From my observation, LED lights scores higher to qualify as the best option for outdoor lighting. This is mainly due to their high energy efficiencies. However, bright LED light is attractive to insects, you will have to invest in ways of controlling bugs on outdoor lights.

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