Optics 101

Energy-Efficient Lighting – Using Less Energy to Produce the Same Brightness as Incandescent Lighting

Types of Energy-Efficient Lighting
Compact Fluorescent Lights
Buyers Guide to Compact Fluorescent Lights
High Efficient Fluorescent Lamps
Light Emitting Diodes


Using electricity to generate lighting is a major consumer of energy. A massive amount of energy can be saved by using energy-efficient equipment. Currently, commercially available energy-efficient lighting can save up to 75 percent the energy used to light homes.

The initial cost of these energy-efficient lighting typically costs more than traditional lighting such as incandescent lighting. However, the significant energy savings and a longer bulb life can more than cover these initial costs. As energy-efficient lighting technology becoming more popular, their prices will fall.

Types of Energy-Efficient Lighting

The types energy-efficient lighting includes:

  • Compact fluorescent lighting
  • High efficient fluorescent lamps
  • Light emitting diodes (LEDs).

Compact Fluorescent Lights

Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL) are energy efficient, long-lasting substitutes for incandescent light bulbs. Compact fluorescent lights are available in a number of configurations for different applications, including recessed, sconce, wall mounted and ceiling mounted fixtures. Compact fluorescent lights employs efficient fluorescent lamp technology and can be shaped like standard incandescent bulbs.

Incandescent light bulbs generates light by using a tungsten filament. These tungsten filament will eventually breaks, this causes the lamp to burn out at about 1,000 hours. On the other hand, compact fluorescent lamps use mercury vapor and a phosphor coating which can last over 10,000 hours. As stated earlier, compact fluorescent light bulbs do cost more than incandescent bulbs initially, but they can last for years without being replaced, avoiding annoying bulb replacements.

Compact fluorescent lamps are up to four times more efficient than incandescent light bulbs. Compact fluorescent lamps uses about 2/3 less energy than standard incandescent bulbs. Compact fluorescent lamps can give the same amount of light while using less energy and can last 6 to 10 times longer. For example, an 18 watt compact fluorescent lamp provides the same light output as a 75 watt incandescent light bulb.

Buyers Guide to Compact Fluorescent Lights

When buying compact fluorescent lights to replace incandescent bulbs, compare the light output, or Lumens, instead of watts. Watts is a term which is used to refer to the amount of energy used, not the amount of light generated. The table below shows the difference in power used between compact fluorescent lamps and to generate the same amount of light.

Incandescent Watts
CFL Watt range
Lumen Range

High Efficient Fluorescent Lamps

Recent advances in fluorescent lamps and electronic ballasts have created the opportunity for significant energy savings when replacing any prior generation of fluorescent lighting. Linear fluorescent lighting systems can be upgraded by installing high performance T8 lamps and electronic ballasts in the existing fixtures or by installing new T5 or high performance T8 lighting fixtures.

High efficiency or high performance fluorescent lighting offers higher efficacy levels, longer lamp life, and longer warranties than their standard counterparts. High performance T8 systems are available in varieties that operate at different wattages. High performance T8 systems operate more efficiently than standard T8 systems. When selected carefully, Super T8 systems can provide dramatic savings when compared with other fluorescent technologies.

High efficiency Fluorescent lighting can be installed in areas normally lit by standard fluorescent lights such as kitchens, laundry rooms, basements and garages.

Light Emitting Diodes

LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) are small, solid light bulbs which are extremely energy-efficient. Until recently, LEDs were limited to single-bulb use in applications such as instrument panels, electronics, pen lights and, more recently, strings of indoor and outdoor christmas lights.

Recent improvements in manufacture have lowered the cost of LEDs, which has expanded their application. The bulbs are now available in clusters, from 2 to 36 bulbs, and are popular especially for battery powered items such as flashlights and headlamps. LEDs are also available in arrays which fit standard AC and DC receptacles, lamps, recessed and track lights.

Source: AZoOptics

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