Difference Between CFL and LED

Both CFL and LED are sources of light. CFL stands for Compact Fluorescent Lamp, and LED stands for Light Emitting Diode. CFL has been in use for a long time, whereas; LED has recently come into the limelight. There are differences between these two. LED and CFL have their own advantages and disadvantages.


The main difference between CFL and LED is that CFLs need much electricity to start initially. Hence they take time to light up, whereas LED’S light up instantly. The CFL tube contains a small amount of argon and argon vapor. LEDs work on the principle of the p-n junction diode.


CFL was created as an alternative to incandescent bulbs, which consumed a lot of energy and was very less efficient than a LED. A CFL contains a tube containing argon and mercury vapor. A ballast helps the CFL to turn on and then regulates the current flowing through it. CFLs take time to be completely lit.

LED stands for light-emitting diode. It is made from a p-n junction diode. LEDs light up instantly. LEDs are efficient and can be available in various colors just by changing the number of impurities inserted in the p-n junction. LEDs have completely changed the world in recent cars. They are nowadays used everywhere.

Comparison Table Between CFL and LED

Parameters of ComparisonCFLLED
Life SpanIt is less long-lasting compared to a LED.It is more long-lasting compared to a CFL.
EfficiencyIts efficiency is from 40-60 percent, depending on the type of bulb.Its efficiency is from 70-90 percent, depending on the type of bulb.
Environmental factorsIt is less eco-friendly, and it is difficult to dispose of CFL bulbs.It is eco-friendly and can be easily disposed of.
Alternative toIt was invented as an alternative to the incandescent bulb.It was invented as an alternative to CFL bulbs.
Energy ConsumptionIt conserves less energy compared to CFL.It conserves more energy than LED.

What is CFL?

CFL stands for the compact fluorescent lamp. A CFL is a great energy-saving lamp compared to filament bulbs. CFL has ballast which drives the electricity through a tube containing argon and mercury vapor. These help to generate invisible light, which excites the phosphor, which hence emits visible light.

CFLs require time to start so as to evaporate the gas present in the tube. CFLs have been slowly exciting in the markets, with the coming of LEDs. CFL has various advantages over an old-style incandescent bulb and could easily replace it in the market.

Incandescent bulbs major disadvantage is that it emits heat. A 75-watt incandescent bulb can get heated up to 330 degrees, whereas a CFL of 15 watts would be as efficient as a 75-watt incandescent and would only produce heat up to 100 degrees. A CFL converts 100 percent energy to 55-70 percent light energy, and the rest are lost as heat. This, when compared to an incandescent, is four times more efficient.

A CFL’s need for voltage increases over time. It also gets affected by cold weather as it increases the initial starting period. Hence a CFL needed a better replacement.

What is LED?

LED stands for Light Emitting Diode. It is a semiconductor device working on the principle of the p-n junction. LED has completely changed the modern world. LED is a good alternative to both incandescent bulbs as well as CFLs in many different ways.

LEDs are cost-effective and long-lasting. A LED can last longer than CFL bulbs. A normal CFL has a lifespan of about a thousand hours, whereas a LED can last for 50 thousand to 100 thousand hours depending upon its use. This means one does not need to replace an LED until 6-12 years, which is a very long time.

A LED has an efficiency of 60-80 percent that means it can convert 60-80 percent of the received energy to light energy. This is very high efficiency compared to CFLs. LED is an eco-friendly option as it has no problem related to its disposal. The amount of heat and UV rays a LED releases negligibly. It only releases 10 percent of energy received to heat which is almost null compared to the rest.

LEDs also provide instant on and off features and do no flicker or make noise during their start. Hence LED has several advantages over other alternatives in the market.

Main Differences Between CFL and LED

  1. CFL has a shorter lifespan compared to that of a LED. CFL has a lifespan of about a thousand years, whereas LED has a life span of 50 thousand and 100 thousand hours.
  2. CFL was an alternative to incandescent light bulbs, whereas LED can be an alternate choice to both incandescent bulbs and CFLs.
  3. CFL requires more time to initially start, whereas LEDs light up instantly.
  4. The disposal of CFL bulbs can be a huge problem as they contain mercury which cannot be easily disposed of; however, LEDs are an eco-friendly option as they are easily disposable.
  5. CFLs are less efficient compared to LED. A CFL converts 40-50 percent of the total energy to light energy, whereas an LED converts 60-90 percent of total energy to light energy depending upon the type of bulb being used. This also decreases the amount of heat produced by the LED.


Over the years, CFL and LED had covered the entire lighting industry. CFLs were a great alternative to the old-style fluorescent incandescent bulbs. It had more efficiency and life span compared to the old-style bulbs. One of the disadvantages of CFLs was that they did consume more voltage with passing the time. Hence a CFL may not be a good choice when seen in the long run.

LED is, however, the best alternative, and the fact that it has now occupied the lighting industry alone cannot be ignored. However, science and technologies are always growing, and hence a 100 percent effective medium may replace LED when expected in the future.


  1. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09593330.2013.829858
  2. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/8101720/
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