Pros and Cons of Incandescent Bulbs

In your home, you have dozens of light fixtures: ceiling fixtures, bathroom lights, kitchen lights, various lamps and perhaps even under cabinet lights or pendant lights. With so many different lighting fixtures, chances are you’ve also got an incandescent bulb or three. Incandescent bulbs have many pros and cons, which should be taken into consideration when you need to replace a bulb and find yourself contemplating between the latest and greatest in light bulb technology or going back to the trusted incandescent bulb.

Incandescent Bulb

The incandescent light bulb is better known as the “traditional” light bulb. It is the exact design (though the shape of the globe has changed slightly over the years) that Thomas Edison first created. This traditional bulb works in a very simple way: when you screw the bulb into a light fixture and flip the switch to ‘on,’ the metal filament is heated with electricity. When heated, the filament produces a bright glow inside the vacuum sealed glass bulb.

Energy Efficiency

The incandescent light bulb produces a significant amount of heat. In fact, as much as 95 percent of the electricity used to light the bulb is wasted via heat.

According to Energy Star, a government run program, switching to a more energy efficient bulb, such as the compact fluorescent bulb (better known as the CFL) can save as much as 75% of the energy normally wasted by an incandescent bulb.

Energy Efficient


The average incandescent light bulb lasts for up to 1,000 hours. It is the least energy efficient bulb and also has the shortest lifespan.

A CFL bulb can last up to 10,000 hours. An LED bulb can last between 80,000 to 100,000 hours. Low pressure sodium bulbs can last up to 16,000 hours while high pressure sodium bulbs can last up to 24,000 hours. Meanwhile, fluorescent or tubular lights can last up to 20,000 hours and halogen light bulbs can last anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 hours. Each and every one of these bulbs listed uses less energy and can be used in any of your ceiling light fixtures, bathroom lights, kitchen lights and various lamps with no additional adjustments necessary. Simply purchase the new bulb and swap it out with your incandescent bulb.


The only true benefit to incandescent light bulbs is that they are inexpensive to make and as a result, their initial purchase price is significantly less than more energy efficient bulbs. However, if you stop to look at the real cost of an incandescent bulb, you may find that it makes more sense to switch to a CFL, halogen or LED bulb for your light fixtures instead. Since the lifespan of an incandescent is significantly shorter, though you might spend more money upfront on another variety such as a CFL, you’ll save more over the long run due to energy efficiency. In fact, since a CFL can last up to 10,000 hours, you will go through 10 incandescent bulbs in the single lifespan of a CFL.

Furthermore, the cost of using an incandescent bulb is significantly more than that of using a CFL bulb. For example, over 8,000 hours an incandescent bulb can cost almost $50 to run. Meanwhile, a CFL bulb will only cost around $12 to run over 8,000 hours. That’s a savings of more than $35 with a single CFL bulb. That doesn’t include the fact that during those 8,000 hours, you’ll have to pay to replace the incandescent bulb 7 to 8 times.

Traditional Light

So, next time you stop at the store to pick up some light bulbs for your lamps or ceiling fixtures, consider switching to a CFL or other form of energy efficient bulb. They will last longer than the traditional incandescent light bulb, save energy and in the long run, save money.

Images (1, 2, 3)

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Kristen is an avid design blogger who loves DIY projects. She gets her inspiration from fashion and music. Connect with Kristen, or find more home decor inspiration from Arcadian Home on Google Plus!

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