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LEDs beat fluorescent efficiency? Not so fast

Lighting manufacturer Precision-Paragon put together a comparison of energy-efficient LED and fluorescent lighting technologies on its website that should help clarify tradeoffs between LED and fluorescent lighting.

The company first looked at the idea of replacing an incandescent 60-W light bulb with an LED or compact fluorescent (CFL) version using currently available technologies. The CFL and LED bulb offer nearly identical energy-efficiency and lighting performance. The differences between the two technologies begin in the price of the bulbs themselves. The CFL bulb used in the comparison costs just $0.86 per bulb, while the LED equivalent costs $45 for a single bulb. Of course, the LED bulb is expected to last three times longer than the CFL bulb. So the higher price might be OK in applications that are tough to access, says the company.

The company also compared energy-efficient replacement options for a 250-W metal-halide fixture in a parking-garage, both of which it makes. The LED-based QPD fixture is currently approximately six times more expensive than the fluorescent-based SIH - pricing that reflects averages across the industry, says the company.

In terms of pure efficiency, the fluorescent fixture produces 90 lumens of light per watt, compared to the LED fixture's 79 lumens per watt. The comparison also noted specific advantages of LED-based fixtures, such as their ability to distribute light more evenly than other lighting technologies. That might come in handy in situations like a parking garage that requires a specific minimum light-level distributed evenly through the entire structure. There lower-wattage LED fixtures might work as well as an equivalent fluorescent lighting system, because fluorescent lights tend to “puddle” light.

All in all, the company concludes that in some situations, the features of LED-based fixtures might add enough efficiency to a system to overcome the disadvantage created by their initial cost. In other situations, fluorescent fixtures will still be the more affordable and more efficient.

The entire comparison is available on [P2]'s blog:

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