LED vs Fluorescent lights for industrial and commercial use.

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LED lighting and fluorescent lighting are just two of types of lighting technologies which are available to reduce energy consumption and save on energy costs. Both have advantages and disadvantages which will be discussed in this article. One key area that they differ significantly betwen them is the initial cost to purchase. Comparing LED lighting and fluorescent lighting requires taking a good look at key product specifications, like the energy consumption, the lumen output, and product warranty.


 LED lights are light emitting diodes, also called solid state lights. The light is generated by electrons releasing energy when passing through the diode which is designed to emit released energy in form of light. Different types and composition of minerals or materials, are used to produced diodes and to change the color of the emited light.Generally the LED lights are found either as single diode or as a cluster of diodes to create shining surface of the light bulb. An Led tube light is usually built using many diodes installed in the linear configuration.

Fluorescent lighting comes in two primary types: Fluorescent tube lighting (T12-T8-T5) and the CFL (compact fluorescent lighting) in a variety of bulbs and lamps. Fluorescent lights can range in size, power consumption and lumen output. The construction is mostly the same, all are made from a glass tube filled with gas. A fluorescent lamp or fluorescent tube that is gas-discharge lamp so that it uses electricity to excite mercury vapor. The excited mercury atoms produce short-wave ultraviolet light that then causes a phosphor to fluoresce, producing visible light.

Life span

Depending on quality and purity of materials used, LED lighting can last anywhere between 60,000 and 100,000 hours of continuous operation before needing to be replaced. During the lifespan, lumen output or light intensity stays above 70% of the original output. the Warranty is usually 5 years and should cover the light intensity factor. The remaining 70% of life the light output will deteriorate gradually depending on the environment where the LED is installed.

Fluorescent lighting can last around 10,000 hours before needing to be replaced. The light intensity however changes after about 3000 – 5000 hours. The ends of the tube become darker and the quality of light is changingc and Flickering and loss of light intensity is not covered by its warranty. You would have to replace the average fluorescent tube 6 to 10 times to equal the lifespan of one LED tube light. the Warranty for the tube lights is not clearly defined.

Energy Consumption

LED light bulbs use about half the energy of fluorescent lighting, about 16 watts of power for LED tube versus 32 or 40 watts of fluorescent T-8 or T-12 tube. Both types of light don’t produce a significant amount of heat however the fluorescent tube builds more heat then a correctly designed LED Tube. In addition to the light source, energy is also consumed by driver or power supply of the LED lights and by ballast of the fluorescent lights.

Lighting Ability

LED tube lighting is ideal for directional lighting. The viewing angle for LEDs is usually 120 degree from the face where the diode is installed. Depending on the reflector used the light can be further dispers to achieve 160 or 180 degrees viewing angle. Fluorescent tubes emit light all around and are dependent on the construction of the reflector of the fixture where the tube is installed. The Better quality the reflector is, the more light is directed to the desired area. In the event of a LED tube light is used , the light is automatically directed to area where the bulb is pointed.

Initial lumen output is greater for the fluorescent tubes, however it quickly diminishes and becomes comapable with the LED tube output. The quality of light the fluorescent tube has is poor and they frequently start flickering after a short period of time. LED tubes commonly produce about 1600 to 1700 lumens for a 17 – 18 Watt LED tube. This however depends on the type of lens or difuser used in the LED Tube. LED Tubes with a clear, transparent lens will release 1800 lumens and spread the light 120 degrees, and the same tube with frosted or milky type of lens will release 1500 lumens and will spread the light 160 degrees. Lumen output measure is not the only thing  to look at when making a decision on purchase.


Both types of lighting are energy efficient when compared to traditional incandescent bulbs. LED technology costs more up front than fluorescent lighting. It is important to find out if there are incentive programs that promote a specific light source and what would be the amount of it, if such incentive if available. These incentive programs can significantly reduce the cost of LED lights and are available usually through energy distribution companies.

LED tubes and LED lighting in general is more environmentally friendly because there is no hazardous content. Fluorescent tubes contain mercury and are not a environment friendly product. LED tubes are fully recyclable and usually are part of the take back program of the manufacturer.

Over longer time LED lights can significantly lower the energy cost, maintenance and disposal fees. Another consideration is the durability of the LED tubes and the voltage on which they can operate. LED tubes are more durable than fluorescent tubes due to their compact size and materials used to build them. LED’s can be powered with batteries, solar pannels and conventional power sources. They work with 120 or 347 volts installations.


Characteristic Fluorescent LED’s
Energy consumption Good Best
Life Span 10,000 – 15,000 Hrs 60,000 – 100,000 Hrs
Warranty depending on manufacturer 1 year 5 years
Up front cost $ 200 per fixture $ 310 per fixture
Cost of installation per fixture $ 65 $ 45
Recyclable No Yes
Disposal cost Yes No
Capital asset increasing value of the property No Yes
Durability Poor Excellent

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