I would like to know the advantages and disadvantages of CFL and LED bulbs.

Is LED bulbs makes eye strain?

  • Some LED bulbs could cause eye strain, because of the flickering effect. There is this Youtube channel that tests all kind of bulbs, but I can't find it now. May 27, 2015 at 8:06

1 Answer 1


LEDs are better in almost every way other than price:

LED Pros:

  • Lower power consumption
  • Longer bulb life, especially if the light is turned on and off frequently (which is hard on CFLs).
  • Generally better color quality, although this varies from bulb to bulb for both LEDs and CFLs. CFLs usually have a CRI around 70-80, and LEDs are usually 80-90+. (See footnote on light quality).
  • LEDs have no problem starting when cold, unlike CFLs.
  • Generally LEDs power on fairly quickly. Some CFLs take several seconds, and may not reach full brightness for a minute or two.
  • More compact
  • More durable and recyclable.

CFL Pros:

  • Somewhat cheaper
  • Most can be used in enclosed fixtures. Generally LEDs are not supposed to be used in enclose fixtures because they do not tolerate the high heat buildup well, although some bulbs advertise as OK.

Light Quality Measurement Footnote

Light quality can be somewhat subjective but there are generally two measurements that are useful:

  • The "color temperature", measured in degrees Kelvin, which ranges from a warm red (2500K) to bright white (4000K) to bluish daylight (5000K+). Desired color temperature is really a matter of preference. Virtually all bulbs print the color temperature on the packaging.
  • The other measurement is the "Color Rendering Index" (CRI), which measures how well the light lets you see various colors. The index goes up to 100, with 100 being perfectly optimal light. CRI is not always printed obviously but usually you can find it if you look or search online. If you've ever been in a commercial building or hospital and the overhead lights make everything look bluish-green, that's because of a poor CRI (old fluorescent tubes have a CRI around 50, although new fluorescents are usually 70-80). Yellow streetlights have exceptionally poor CRI, around 20 or less, which is why it can be so difficult to identify the color of your car under these lights.
  • I don't know that LEDs have better color quality intrinsically. They are very bright/cool blue-white light. But newer ones do have filters and/or colored bulbs that soften the light up and make it warmer in hue. Something to be aware of and check specifically when you're buying LED lights, though. May 12, 2015 at 19:53
  • @Craig: I don't know what you mean by "intrinsically", both LEDs and CFLs have changed & improved quite a bit since their respective introductions. If you look at commercial-available LED bulbs today the CRIs tend to be higher than CFLs, and certainly the best LEDs are higher than the best CFLs. Both LEDs and CFLs come in a range of color temperatures, so that's pretty much up to the buyer to choose. I think it's a mistake to conflate color temperature with CRI.
    – Hank
    May 12, 2015 at 20:00
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    I just mean that the blue (white) LEDs themselves produce extremely bright blue-white light, generated by a quantum well electrical effect. I guess I was being a little geeky. LED's for lighting have come a long way and they're finally getting over the final hurdle, which is price. There's just no way $47 light bulbs make sense. But now that they're getting down into the $10 range they're making a lot more sense, and between chemical doping and colored filters, the color temperature is finally into a range that humans can bear for long periods of time. I LIKE LEDs. Honest. May 13, 2015 at 4:04
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    I've never been a big fan of CFLs, from the high cost, to the mercury, to the uber dim light most of them produce. Now what I want to see with LEDs is more offerings in the "equivalent to 100 Watts" category (which would actually draw, what, maybe 10 Watts?). I like to be able to see around a room and read things without straining my eyes when I turn the lights on. ;-) May 13, 2015 at 4:06

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