Lightbulb Efficiency Comparison Chart

Buying a light bulb for your home or business used to be a simple task. Most bulbs were incandescent, so all you had to do was find the desired wattage and then buy it. Today there are so many light bulb options for your home or your business that deciding which bulb to purchase is no longer straightforward.

The chart below compares some of the major characteristics of common bulb types.

Lightbulb efficiency comparison chart

Lightbulb Efficiency Comparison Chart

Lumens per Watt: Where Efficiency Lives in Bulbs

Lumens per Watt shows how efficient a bulb is at converting power into light. At 10 lumens per watt, a 100 watt bulb is not very efficient. The energy lost is converted into heat, which is why incandescent bulbs are much hotter to the touch than CFL or LED bulbs.

The efficiency of CFL bulbs in converting energy into light falls between that of incandescent and LED bulbs. As LED bulbs continue to improve, CFL bulbs will likely be phased out.

For homeowners, LED bulbs are the most efficient bulbs at converting energy into light. LEDs aren’t always a ‘slam dunk’ though – for commercial buildings, 4’ 0” t-8 fluorescent tubes are more efficient than LED bulbs.

LEDs For the Win

The last three rows in the chart show the important differences between bulbs. Incandescent, florescent, and CFL bulbs don’t have the same lifespan as LED bulbs, so you’ll have to purchase additional bulbs as the old ones burn out. Those extra bulbs cost money. To get 25,000 hours of use from 60-watt incandescent bulbs, you’ll have to spend $12.50 in bulbs, more than the cost of one LED.

The Cost to Operate number provides the best approximation of the total value of the bulb. LED bulbs win this comparison hands-down. Despite the high up-front costs of LED bulbs, their low cost of operation and long lifespan mean that they are a much better investment than incandescent, fluorescent, or halogen bulbs.

For more information on selecting an LED bulb, view this infographic developed by ENERGY STAR.


Lumens: measures the “brightness”, or the amount of light produced by the bulb

Watts: the amount of power consumed by the bulb

Lifespan: measures the typical life of the bulb.

Price per bulb: an approximation based on a recent market survey, and we averaged the prices to round numbers to make the comparisons easier.

Lighting made easy

With all the changes to lighting that have occurred over the past few years, it can be difficult to know where to begin when you need a new light bulb. This infographic from ENERGY STAR explains everything you need to know about how bulbs are rated and can help you make smart decisions the next time you venture down the lighting aisle.


For more information, visit ENERGY STAR’s original post of this infographic.



Energy Tip: Lighting Matters

The truth is, lighting matters. If you have not changed out your old incandescent light bulbs for efficient bulbs, today is the day.

By replacing 10 60-watt bulbs with 10 14-watt LED (light emitting diode) bulbs that burn 4 hours per day, you can save $88 a year. With bulbs that last over 30 years, that is a lifetime savings of $2,700. Compared to the $250 initial cost, this is a very good return on investment.


“If every American home replaced just one light bulb with a light bulb that’s earned the ENERGY STAR, we would save enough energy to light 3 million homes for a year, save about $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent 9 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year, equivalent to those from about 800,000 cars.” – ENERGY

 Things to keep in mind:

  • Smaller wattage means less energy used. Lumens measure brightness while CCT (correlated color temperature) measures quality in terms of whiteness (or warmth). You want fewer watts, equal lumens, and the same quality of CCT.
  • It is possible to save money and maintain the quality of light you prefer in your home. Besides matching CCT, shape also matters when it comes to the effect of the light bulb. Make sure you choose a bulb shape that will distribute light appropriately from your fixture. Not all efficient bulbs are dimmable, but dimmable and three-way efficient bulbs are available.
  • For the best guarantee of savings and quality, purchase ENERGY STAR rated bulbs. If you want some technological advice in selecting and purchasing your new efficient light bulbs, check out the light bulb finder app by Eco Hatchery.