Light Bulb Lifespan

Light bulbs used to be simple. Not so much today. With the wide variety of light bulb options on the market, some buyers may be confused with what light bulb to buy. Savvy homeowners have made the effort to learn about the different light bulbs being sold in hardware stores around the country.

For these buyers, one of the key considerations to make when selecting a bulb is its average rated lifespan. After all, it makes sense to get a light bulb that’s going to last for an extended period of time, saving you money on replacements.

Here’s what to expect from the different light bulbs commonly found at your nearest hardware store. 

Incandescent Light Bulbs Edison’s classic light bulb has been around for more than a century, and at the time of its invention, heralded a new era of industrialization. What’s amazing is that the incandescent bulb has remained largely unchanged over the last 100 years, but unfortunately that also means it’s been left behind by newer light bulbs.

The process in which incandescent bulbs create light is called incandescence. Basically, it involves heating a metal wire to high enough temperatures to create a glow—light. This process is incredibly inefficient as it creates more heat than light. More importantly, the heat involved in incandescence results in a very short lifespan for the light bulb: just 1000 to 2000 hours. 

Halogens Halogen lamps are basically souped-up incandescent bulbs. To combat the debilitating effects of incandescent, these lamps come with halogen gas, which extends their lifespan. The gas helps preserve the metal wire (tungsten) from falling off before it completely burns out. The halogen gas effectively doubles the lifespan of the incandescent bulbs to anywhere between 4000 to 8000 hours. 

Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) With the gradual phase out of incandescent light bulbs initiated by governments all over the world, CFLs have quickly become the most popular lighting option for many buyers. They’re cheap, have a reasonable lifespan, and can be found everywhere. CFLs have an electric ballast surrounded by mercury vapor. The interior of CFL tubes are coated with phosphorous, which generates a glow in conjunction with the mercury when it’s charged by an electric current. CFLs have an average rated lifespan of 10,000 hours. 

LEDs LEDs reign supreme in the lifespan arena. They’re currently the longest-lasting lighting solution on the market, not to mention the most energy efficient. The solid-state technology found in LEDs makes them closer to electronic devices than light bulbs, and it makes LED bulbs more durable and less susceptible to burn outs. A high quality LED light bulb will boast of an average rated lifespan of 25,000 hours.

 

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