LED Buying Guide

It’s been 13 years since Congress passed the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA), which mandates strict energy standards designed to improve long-lasting, cost-efficient light bulbs. And now, with so many lighting options on the market, walking down the lighting aisle is a lot more complicated and overwhelming than it once was. Howard Sperling is breaking down the world of LEDs and making the process of buying light bulbs for your home and business much easier.

Types of Lightbulbs Available

Over the years, most people have familiarized themselves with incandescent lightbulbs but with new energy-efficient bulbs now on the market, it’s easy to get the different types mixed up.


  • Average cost: $3-$20
  • Average wattage: 4W to 22W
  • Average lifespan: 20,000 hours

When an LED lightbulb is switched on, electrons and electron holes come together, releasing energy in the form of protons. Compared to incandescent lightbulbs, this lightbulb uses a fraction of the wattage, which drastically reduces energy costs in the long run. LED lightbulbs also last an average of 20,000 hours, which when broken down, can give you decades of use.


  • Average cost: $2-$20
  • Average wattage: 9W to 52W
  • Average life expectancy: 10,000 hours

Before LEDs became a popular lighting option, most people switched from incandescent bulbs to CFLs. CFL bulbs use between one-fifth and one-third of the energy of incandescent and offer a white output. The downside of CFLs is that they do contain trace amounts of mercury (3-5 mg on average). If a CFL falls and shatters, it’s recommended to open a window for 10 minutes to let the air out.


  • Average cost: $1-$10
  • Average wattage: 40W to 150W
  • Average life expectancy: 1,000 hours

While incandescent bulbs were not banned as part of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, they have increasingly been phased out across the United States. When walking down the lightbulb aisle, you’ll see less incandescent and more LED options.


  • Average cost: $2-$15
  • Average wattage: 29W to 72W
  • Average life expectancy: 1,000 hours

Halogen lightbulbs are very similar to incandescent bulbs, but with a little bit of halogen gas surrounding the filament that helps reuse the burned-up tungsten. This gas isn’t considered hazardous waste, unlike the mercury in CFLs. Since halogen bulbs are low-cost and are similar to incandescent, they are a popular choice when replacing incandescent lightbulbs.

How many lumens do I need?

When replacing old bulbs, most people get caught up on wattage and when talking lumens, they get lost. The following figures will help you better understand how bright a bulb is.

  • 40W – 450 lumens
  • 60W – 800 lumens
  • 75W – 1,100 lumens
  • 100W – 1,600 lumens


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