LED vs. Fluorescent: The Comparison of Two Lighting Giants


Have you ever wondered about the difference between LED and fluorescent lights? Or are you confused about using LEDs vs. fluorescent for your lighting project?

In truth, both technologies offer great lighting options for private and public environments. But, lighting goes beyond visibility, as it often impacts comfortability, overall look, and energy consumption.

So, which of these lighting giants offer the most benefits? Read on to explore a head-to-head comparison of LED and fluorescent lights, and learn more about them in detail.

Are you ready? Let’s kick off!

LED Lighting

What is a Light Emitting Diode (LED)?

LED Lights

LED Lights

The light emitting diode (LED) is one of the most common and versatile electrical components. Each LED has two electrodes (cathode and anode) that allow current to flow through the component–usually in one direction.

Additionally, LEDs consist of semiconducting materials like selenium or silicon. Sometimes, LEDs come from solid-state substances only conductive in certain conditions, like specific voltages or current levels.

Also, excess electrons get excited when current passes through the semiconductors. And the result is the generation of light from the LED.


  • LEDs have long life spans & energy efficient.
  • They produce high-quality lights.
  • It saves money and time because the LEDs rarely need maintenance. 
  • LEDs offer directional lighting.
  • You don’t need several accessory lamp parts to install LEDs.
  • LEDs also have a small size factor, allowing you to save more space.
  • LEDs have more color and customization options.
  • There’s no cool-down or warm-up period with LEDs.


They come with expensive upfront costs.

Fluorescent (or CFL)

What is a Fluorescent Light?

Fluorescent Lights

Fluorescent Lights

Fluorescent bulbs are gas discharge lights under the high-intensity discharge (HID) family. They generate light by transforming ultraviolet emissions. Also, the conversion occurs inside a tube,  generally 48 to 84 inches long. This tube also has a fluorescent coating that gives a bright white feel.

Additionally, the conversion process is more complex than LEDs. The bulb starts by creating ultraviolet radiation from the electrical charge running through the inert glass mercury in the bulb. And these lights need some ignition to work, usually a voltage pulse or a third electrode inside the bulb.

Moreover, previous fluorescent bulbs needed some warm-up time to convert the internal gas into plasma. But that’s not the case anymore. Now, we have quick-start fluorescent lights, which cut down on the “warm-up period.”

However, fluorescent lights are not very efficient. Hence, they require more energy to operate as they heat up. 

Although fluorescents have a ballast that helps balance voltage requirements, it’s not very useful for older bulbs.

Eventually, the bulb dies out once the voltage goes beyond the voltage fixed by the ballast.

Note: CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Lights) are fluorescent lights with smaller tubes. Their primary purpose was to replace the standard and larger fluorescent bulbs.


  • Fluorescent lights have low up-front costs.
  • They’re pretty easy to install.
  • Fluorescent lights have a more straightforward product selection.
  • They can last for extended periods.


  • Fluorescents are not environmentally friendly.
  • They don’t last as long as LEDs.
  • Fluorescent bulbs are more prone to fading and color variation.

Where is LED Commonly Used?

LED Tubes

LED Tubes

LEDs weren’t always as big as they are today. In truth, computer circuit boards were their first practical use. However, things are different now, and LEDs have found their way into several applications like lighted signs, traffic lights, outdoor & indoor lighting, etc.

Also, they offer great lighting for warehouses, commercial buildings, gymnasiums, and schools.

The best part is that you can also use LEDs for broad public areas that need efficient and powerful lighting. Other areas where LEDs are adaptable are roads and parking lots.

LED vs. Fluorescent

Fluorescent tubes

Fluorescent tubes

Let’s compare these two lighting options and find the one with more benefits.

LED vs. Fluorescent: Lifespan

LEDs have a great life span when compared to other lighting technologies. They can last anywhere between 50,000 to 100,000 hours or more.

In contrast, fluorescent bulbs can only last for about 10-25% of an LED’s total lifespan. In other words, these bulbs last for about 20,000 hours at their best.

LED vs. Fluorescent: Cost

Unfortunately, LEDs have a pretty expensive up-front cost. However, it makes up for this by being highly cost-effective in the long run. In other words, you’ll spend a good amount on the installation but less on maintenance and repairs. 

Further, most manufacturers offer a warranty on their LEDs. So, you can rest assured that you won’t have lighting problems for a few years.

On the other hand, you won’t spend a fortune to buy and install fluorescent bulbs. However, they aren’t as durable as LEDs and are prone to damage and errors. So, you’ll need an extra budget for maintenance and repairs. 

Also, fluorescent manufacturers offer warranties, which usually apply during replacements of lamps and ballasts.

LED vs. Fluorescent: Lumens

Fluorescent bulbs are powerful enough to generate light to cover a wide area. But LEDs produce similar lighting with less energy. Plus, LEDs offer more light options compared to fluorescents.

LED vs. Fluorescent: Health

Fluorescent bulbs degrade over time until they eventually flicker out. Also, they usually experience color fading and variation. Hence, different stages of the bulb’s life will generate different light levels.

Flickering Fluorescents

Flickering Fluorescents

Eventually, the bulb will have dark corners and offer inconsistent lighting.

Contrarily, LEDs don’t experience any form of degradation. Instead, they continuously output impressive light levels until they reach their life span.

LED vs Fluorescent: Functionality

Although you can easily use LED tubes in place of fluorescent lamps, they both have different internal functions. Fluorescent bulbs utilize ultraviolet gas that ignites with a high voltage to generate light.

In contrast, LED tubes have rows of LEDs emitting photons visible to the human eye. Also, they have low-voltage power supplies and an LED driver. Plus, the tubular shapes allow for the easy connection of LED lamps to existing lighting sockets.

LED vs. Fluorescent: Power Consumption

Power consumption with fluorescent lights is pretty different. If a new fluorescent bulb outputs 150 watts, it’ll need more power to output that same 150 watts as it ages. Thus, the older the bulb gets, the more power it consumes, making it less energy-efficient.

On the other hand, LEDs are incredibly energy efficient. They don’t need a lot of power to generate light levels similar to fluorescents. Plus, the power consumption stays the same as the bulb ages.

LED vs. Fluorescent: Environmentally Friendly

The energy efficiency of LEDs makes them environmentally friendly. Plus, they don’t need gasses or toxic substances to emit light.

One primary concern about fluorescents is the toxic mercury metal in all the bulbs. No doubt, manufacturers have reduced the level of mercury in these bulbs. But the bulbs still have traces of mercury.

LED vs. Fluorescent Tube Comparison Chart

LED vs. Fluorescent tube Comparison Chart

LED vs. Fluorescent tube Comparison Chart

Which is Better: LED or Fluorescent?

Man Changing Lights

Man Changing Lights

LEDs are unrivaled when it comes to lighting any private or public space. It has more energy efficiency and life span when compared to a fluorescent tube. Also, it’s a safer option because it doesn’t need toxic materials or gasses.

That’s not all. LEDs also generate brighter and more quality light than fluorescent and don’t emit excess heat. In addition, they don’t cause any health issues associated with flickering or buzzing fluorescents.

How do you Choose the Best LED Lighting for your Commercial Facility?

LEDs Lighting Commercial Building

LEDs Lighting Commercial Building

Different types of LED lighting are available, but choosing one can be tricky. Indeed, picking the right choice can help you optimize productivity and comfort. Also, it curbs poor visibility and reduces energy consumption. Here are some tips that can help:

Before you make a choice, consider some of these factors:

  • How many fixtures do you need?
  • How will you distribute the light?
  • Where do you plan on using the lights?
  • How bright do you want the lights?

Answering these questions will help you choose the right LED to install in your building.

Final Thoughts

LED Ceiling Lights

LEDs and fluorescent lighting are better and more energy-efficient than incandescent bulbs. But when it comes down to environmentally friendly factors, LEDs win the brawl. For example, LEDs are generally more durable than fluorescents and won’t burn your hands when you touch them.

They also don’t contain any toxic materials and won’t flicker or buzz unless there’s something wrong with the connection or electrical system. Plus, LEDs are more cost-effective than fluorescent bulbs as they require little or no maintenance.

While fluorescents need some warm-up time, LEDs can turn on instantly without delay. And the lights generated from LEDs are bright enough to replace fluorescent bulbs.

Do you have any questions? Feel free to contact us.

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