Here is an interesting cost comparison between LED, CFL and incandescent. I have not checked the numbers but they seem pretty accurate. They clearly show that over the life of the bulb it makes a lot of sense to buy LED.

What the numbers do not show are the quality. I’ve tried a lot of the LEDs on the market and they still lack the quality of an incandescent. One of my colleagues says he saw a blind test where people preferred CFL lighting over incandescent and I can understand that. Some of the CFL’s available now are really great.

But the LEDs I’ve tested still have issues. The multi diode with refractory lense ones are the best but they still feel very white “spotlight”. They are getting damn close, though. And for an increasing number of home applications they are by far the best choice.

Sort of on a tangent, one of the clear benefits of using good LEDs in a Brooklyn brownstone that has old electrical wiring is that they decrease the electrical load on the house. This means less runs down to the basement to switch the circuit breaker back on!

When Eco Brooklyn does a green renovation on a Brooklyn brownstone one of the first things we do is address the electrical load on the house. Energy star appliances, timers, dimmers, LEDs or CFLs all reduce the load directly. Insulation, passive solar heating, and good air design reduce the load indirectly since you don’t need the electric heater or air conditioner as much.

Anyway, below is a great breakdown of costs from

Cost Comparison between LEDs, CFLs and Incandescent light bulbs

LED CFL Incandescent
Light bulb projected lifespan
50,000 hours
10,000 hours
1,200 hours
Watts per bulb (equiv. 60 watts)
Cost per bulb
KWh of electricity used over
50,000 hours
Cost of electricity (@ 0.20per KWh)
Bulbs needed for 50k hours of use
Equivalent 50k hours bulb expense
Total cost for 50k hours
Energy Savings over 50,000 hours, assuming 25 bulbs per household:
Total cost for 30 bulbs
Savings to household by switching
from incandescents

“LED light bulbs will eventually be what we use to replace incandescent bulbs – CFLs are a temporary solution to energy-efficient lighting. The reason LEDs have not yet displaced CFLs from the market are twofold: the first generation LED bulbs had a narrow and focused light beam, and the cost of the LED bulbs was too high.

Recent developments in LED technology, however, have been addressing these issues. LEDs have been ‘clustered’ to provide more light, and mounted within diffuser lenses which spread the light across a wider area. And advancements in manufacturing technology have driven the prices down to a level where LED bulbs are more cost-effective than CFLs or incandescent bulbs. This trend is continuing, with LED bulbs being designed for more applications while the prices are going down over time.

The ‘sticker shock’ of the new LEDs remains a deterrent to their widespread acceptance by consumers. The following comparison charts illustrate the value of the latest LED bulbs when compared with CFLs and incandescents for overall efficiency as well as cost-effectiveness.”