LED light bulb comparison of Lumens (C) Daniel FriedmanGuide to LED Light Bulb Types & Choices for Lighting Fixtures

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Guide to selecting & installing LED type light bulbs used in building light fixtures - LED building lighting options

.Our page top photo of four types of Edison-base LED light bulbs (lamps) illustrates some of the LED bulb options for conventional indoor or outdoor lighting fixtures.

Most LED bulbs of this type include warnings about use limitations such as suitable or not for damp locations and a requirement for use only in open light fixtures. This article series details guidelines for selecting and installing interior lighting to meet the requirements for different building areas.

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Choosing & Installing LED Bulbs & Light Types for Buildings & Light Fixtures

What are the properties of LED light bulbs for lighting fixtures & buildings?

Figure 5-22: (C) J Wiley, S Bliss

As manufacturers ramp up production quantity prices of LED lamps can be expected to fall. In 2012 we paid as much as $35.00 for a quality LED type light bulb used to replace an incandescent, halogen, or compact fluorescent bulb.

Life Expectancy & Wattage Advantages of LED Light Bulbs

The life expectancy of all types of light bulbs has seen tremendous improvement since the 1920's and 1930's when Phoebus cartel, including ELIN, GE, Osram, Tungsram, and Phillips controlled light bulb life and prices by penalizing its members if they made a bulb that lasted more than 1000 hours - about 10 months for a bulb left on for 3 hours a day.

Today, GE's 13-W A19 LED bulb, equivalent in brightness to about a 60-watt incandescent bulb, is expected to last 25,000 hours - about 20 years by GE's estimate. [2][3]

Beyond a longer life, LED bulbs offer lower electricity costs over the life of the bulb and significantly for some applications, lower wattage and cooler operation for an equivalent light output as the incandescent (and some flouresencent) bulbs that they can replace. The lower wattage and temperature mean that when desired we can often and safely obtain a greater total light output from an existing light fixture without exceeding its rated bulb wattage and temperature.

For example, the GE 13-Watt (60W) A19 Omni Directional, dimmable light bulb mentioned above uses less than 1/4 the wattage (13 watts) as the 60-watt bulb that it can replace.

Extending this logic, a Phillips PAR 38 LED flood light that produces light at a brightness roughly equivalent to a 120W incandescent light bulb draws just 19.5 watts! Our TABLE of LED BULB PROPERTIES shows the comparable brightness and wattage of LED bulbs and the traditional incandescent bulbs that they can replace.

In January 2013 we purchased similar capacity bulbs for under $15.00 and other LED replacements for standard light bulbs were under $10.00 and promised cutting energy savings over incandescent (or some halogen) light bulbs by a factor of ten and increasing life by about a factor of ten as well..

The savings in energy use and expected life, depending on bulb model, can be substantial and costs are expected to continue to fall.

At left our photo shows mini track light fixtures that we converted from halogen to LED lamps. The halogen bulb is on the right is a GE-made BAB/CG constant-color 20W, 12V, MR 16 flood lamp rated for three year life. .

  • LED Bulb Availability - in most parts of the world at least some LED type bulbs are available from home & building suppliers, hardware stores, etc. as well as by ordering on-line. But not everywhere. And even when a type of LED bulb is available, in some communities you may find that choices of wattage and lumens are limited unless you can order for delivery from an online supplier.
  • LED Bulb Base or connector type - available in just about every type of connector base;
  • LED Bulb Brightness - expressed in lumens. Larger lumens numbers mean that the bulb emits more light than a lower-lumens numbered bulb. Our table below illustrates typical lumens ratings for various LED bulbs.
    Watch out: two LED light bulbs may look just alike but have significantly different light output levels.
  • LED Bulb Color temperature - The color temperature of light output from LED bulbs includes both warm shades and bright cool whites. Color temperature of bulbs (lamps) is explained
    at Bulb Color Temperature and CRI for Indoor Lights and at Bulb CRI SCALE Rates & Definition
  • LED Bulb Cost - About $10. U.S. for an LED light bulb that is equivalent in brightness to a 40-watt incandescent bulb. This price is considered a "tipping point" at which more consumers will consider changing to LED light bulbs. [1] For details see
    our Table of Current LED Bulb Prices & Features for building light fixtures.

    By January 2012, LED light bulbs were still priced at 20 times a comparable (in light production) incandescent bulb and at about ten times a comparable (or a bit brighter) Halogen or Compact Fluorescent light bulb. However as reported in The New York Times, prices were falling as both production and marketing of LED light bulbs increased rapidly, marking "all the growth" in bulb sales. [1]. The Times reported that the the sale of A-type LED light bulbs will outsell incandescent bulbs in North American in 2014.

    A plot graphing the lifetime cost of an LED bulb against other bulb types must consider purchase cost, operating cost, and replacement cost. Given the availability of equivalent color temperatures and features, when those curves cross one would expect the sale of other bulb types to remain low.
  • LED Bulb Dimmable features - If you need to use a bulb with a dimmer switch check your LED bulb specifications; not all LED bulbs work with dimmers.
  • LED Bulb Estimated Energy Cost (annual) - given on the bulb package is the manufacturer's estimate of estimated annual energy cost for the particular bulb. Comparisons among bulb types of similar brightness and design can be impressive. A 400-lumen mini flood GU10 halogen bulb with an estimated annual energy cost of $6.02 U.S. can be replaced with a 320 lumen mini flood GU10 LED bulb that has an estimated annual energy cost of $0.72 U.S. - about one tenth of the halogen bulb's energy usage.

    LED bulb brigtness in lumens and energy costs are at
    our Table of Current LED Bulb Prices & Features. Lighting efficacy (effectiveness or brightness) and lighting efficiency (light output for watt of energy input) are detailed

    at Lumens, Definition, comparisons
  • LED Bulb Flashing capability - not all LED lighting supports automatic rapid on-off flashing, while some models are specifically designed for that purpose. Many other bulb types do not support rapid on-off flashing or may have a short life in that application. However advances in compact fluorescents include a cold-cathode fluorescent also suitable for on-off flashing and providing low heat output.
  • LED Bulb Functions, electronically controlled - some LED light bulbs offer a variety of electronically-controlled special features such as color changes, dimming, or automatic on-off switching. Contol of LED bulbs may be throuigh a home automation system, a persona computer, smartphone, or a smart room-thermostat (e.g. the Nest Thermostat), and may be effected wirelessly using bluetooth.[2]
  • LED Bulb Heat-output - it becomes quickly obvious that most LED lamps operate at lower temperatures than incandescent and halogen lamps. This feature is important where heat from lighting can be a problem in a building or where heat build-up in an enclosed light fixture is troublesome.
    Watch out : However be sure to read the specifications on the LED bulb as well, since some products indicate "not for use in enclosed fixtures".
  • LED Bulb Location Usage - permitted in dry only locations or permitted in damp or wet locations; in some cases bulbs permitted in damp or wet locations include an instruction that outdoors in wet or unprotected locations the bulb position must be with the screw-in connector base facing up so that water will not accumulate in the light bulb socket.
  • LED Bulb Life expectancy - varies widely - read the bulb package. But typically LED light bulbs are rated for much longer life expectancy than other bulb types, with the greatest difference between LEDs and incandescent bulbs. Typically an LED light bulb will have a ten year life expectancy.
  • LED Bulb Type - the number of types, including specialty bulbs, can be overwhelming, though manufacturer catalogs offer a bit of help in choosing the right LED bulb for your purpose. LEDs are available in a huge range of sizes, base types, bright nesses, color temperatures, dimmable, and suitable for indoor and outdoor use in dry or damp locations.
  • LED Bulb Watt equivalent - this figure is given on most but not all LED bulb packages as two figures: the actual wattage drawn by the LED bulb and the wattage that would be drawn by an equivalent (in light output) incandescent bulb. We illustrate these light bulb wattage comparisons in our table below.
  • LED Bulb Warm-up Speed - LED bulbs appear to reach their full light output brightness (and thus operating temperature) very quickly, or immediately for practical purposes. In contrast, compact fluorescent bulbs can be slow to warm up and thus slow to reach full brightness, requiring several minutes in some cases. Reaching full brightness output quickly can be important for example, if you want to switch on a light in order to dart into a dark room to look for something needed elsewhere.

LED Bulb Brightness - Measured in Lumens

OK so in the photo at below left I'm using LED flashlights to make a more general point about LED bulbs & lights: Not all LED bulbs, even LED bulbs that look alike, are all equally bright. But you will see that both brightness and light pattern can vary significantly among LED bulbs, flashlights, and light fixtures.

Figure 5-22: (C) J Wiley, S Bliss LED light bulb comparison of Lumens (C) Daniel Friedman

Take a look at the Lumens rating provided by the bulb manufacturer. At above right we show two LED light bulbs intended for ambient indoor lighting: mini floods from EcoSmart (at left in the photo) and Phillips (at right in the photo). Both of these are GU-10 base mini floods that can be used to replace halogen type GU-10's used in track lights or similar fixtures.

The cost, brightness measured in lumens, estimated annual energy cost, and watt-equivalent bulbs vary among LED bulbs that may otherwise (out of the package) look a lot alike. There is no single right or wrong LED bulb - pick the one that meets your needs for brightness, energy consumption rate, life expectancy (I'm old so I'm not sure I should be buying 25-year-life bulbs). .

Replacing Halogen-type Bulbs with LED Lamps

LED light bulb feature comparisons (C) 2013 InspectApedia

The LED lamp (bulb) shown in my hand at left is a 20-Watt GU10 type used as a mini-flood or spot in individual light fixtures or in track lights. We like this Ecosmart bulb it's bright, at 320 lumens.

We replaced 50-watt 430-lumen Halogen bulbs with this LED version for a 10x reduction in annual energy cost.

A second advantage of the much lower wattage requirement of the LED bulb was that we could install additional track light fixtures in the same lighting track to provide more area illumination without overloading and without overheating the lighting circuit.

Our photos below offer a subjective comparison of the appearance and relative apparent brightness of the LED mini flood with a 5.3 base bulb (at the left in each photo) and a halogen GU 5.3 base bulb in the same track light fixture (at the right in each photo). This LED bulb was about as close as we could get to the brightness of the origial halogens.

Figure 5-22: (C) J Wiley, S Bliss LED light bulb comparison of Lumens (C) Daniel Friedman

Watch out:similar -looking LED-based GU10's are also available but in lower lumen ratings - which may be disappointing if the level of illumination is a concern and you fail to notice the lumen rating of your replacement bulb before purchasing it.

Examples of Warm-Color-Temperature LED Lamps in Conventional Lighting Fixtures

In the table lamp and bulb photos below you can observe that LED bulbs used in conventional lighting fixtures can offer soft and warm color temperatures similar to incandescent lighting, overcoming an objection to the color temperature some fluorescent bulb types.

LED light bulb feature comparisons (C) 2013 InspectApedia LED light bulb feature comparisons (C) 2013 InspectApedia

Warm Temperature Compact Fluorescent Bulbs Compared with Bright White LED Bulbs

LED light bulb feature comparisons (C) 2013 InspectApedia


The photo at left makes clear, however, that many modern bulbs used in building lamps or light fixtures are available in a wide range of color temperatures.

The bulb at far left is a "warm-color-temperature" fluorescent bulb, while the bulb at the right side of our photo is an LED lamp made by Phillips and offered in a bright-white color temperature.

Table of Current LED Bulb Prices & Properties for building light fixtures

The three most-common LED light bulb brands we find (in 2012-2013) in building supply stores in North America were Ecosmart, General Electric, and Phillips. A wider variety of bulb manufacturers, brands, and bulb types is quickly found online. The following table compares the key features of various types of LED light bulbs used for building lighting & light fixtures.

Table of LED Bulb Prices for building light fixtures

Image LED Bulb Type Replaces Energy Use & Annual
Energy Cost
Price 1 Typical Application Comments

LED floodlight bulbs

LED PAR38 Floodlight bulb specs PAR38 LED Flood Light Bulb 90W Incandescent 18W   REplace Incandescent, halogen, compact fluorescent flood light bulb type Par38 in downlights, open floodlights, outdoor floods Phillips
Ecosmart LED floodlamp, Edison Base BR30 LED Flood Light Bulb, Edison base 75W
14W $ ? Replace standard incandescent, halogen, or compact fluorescent bulb used in floodlight fixtures; review indoor/outdoor & damp location ratings Ecosmart, soft white, reflector bulb, Open spotlights & recessed ceiling lights
  BR30 LED Flood Light Bulb, Edison Base 75W incandescent flood 14W
  Replace standard incandescent or halogen, compact fluorescent, flood light bulb in open floodlights or downlights Ecosmart, soft white
Par20 LED Floodlight, Ecosmart PAR 20 LED Floodlight Bulb, Edison Base 50W 8W   Replace standard incandescent or halogen, compact fluorescent, flood light bulb in open floodlights or downlights Ecosmart
4-Inch LED Downlight - Ecosmart 4-inch LED Downlight bulb 65W Incandescent 9.5W   Replace other bulbs in this wattage range used in downlights Ecosmart, soft white

LED Light Bulbs for Lighting Fixtures, Table & Floor Lamps, &c, standard Edison base

A19 LED light bulb - Phillips A19 LED Light Bulb, Edison Base
medium base A-Shape
60W Incandescent 12W   Replace standard incandescent bulb in open or enclosed light fixtures, table lamps, wall sconces, Edison-base type track lights Phillips, soft white;
A19 LED light bulb - Phillips A19 LED Light Bulb, Edison Base 1100 Lumens
medium base A-Shape
$2.05 / yr
Replace standard incandescent bulb in open or enclosed light fixtures, table lamps, wall sconces, Edison-base type track lights Phillips, soft white; 22.8-year life
A19 LED light bulb - Phillips General Purpose LED light bulb
EC5 A19
60W Incandescent 13-14W   Replace standard incandescent bulb in open or enclosed light fixtures, table lamps, wall sconces, Edison-base type track lights Cool White
Suitable for damp locations
Phillips general purpose LED light bulb 800 Lumens (C) Daniel Friedman General Purpose LED Light Bulb
800 Lumens
60W 10.5W
$1.26 / yr
  Replace standard incandescent bulb in open or enclosed light fixtures, table lamps, wall sconces, Edison-base type track lights Phillips
Phillips general purpose LED light bulb 40W equivalent (C) Daniel Friedman General Purpose LED Light Bulb 40W 8.6W $9.95 Replace standard incandescent bulb in open or enclosed light fixtures, table lamps, wall sconces, Edison-base type track lights Ecosmart, Phillips, Bright White,
  General Purpose LED light bulb
450 Lumens
  6W     Ecosmart, Bright White

LED Mini Floods MR 16 & GU10 Base twist-lock bulbs

Phillips MR-16 LE mnii flood bulb Mini Flood LED
435 Lumens
35W Halogen MR16 bulb   $24.97 Mini floods, track lights, using MR16 base bulbs
Pin type base, not GU10
Phillips MR 16, LED, dimmable, 22.8 year life, white light
Mini Flood LED GU10 base Phillips lamp Mini Flood LED GU10 MR16
200 Lumens
20-50W Halogen GU10 mini flood (typically 400-430 lumens) 3W
$0.48 / yr
$22.97 Mini floods, track lights, using GU10 base MR16 bulbs Phillips, Ambient LED Indoor Flood GU10, dimmable,
GU10 LED mini flood (C) Daniel Friedman Mini Flood LED GU10
320 Lumens
25W & other Halogen GU10 mini flood (typically 400-430 lumens) 6W
$0.72 / yr
$19.97 Mini floods, track lights, using GU10 base MR16 bulbs Ecosmart, brilliant white; 12-V Halogen 50W MR126 GU 10 bulbs are about $3.50 / bulb;
GU10 LED mini flood (C) Daniel Friedman Not LED
Mini Flood CFL GU10
20W Halogen GU10 mini flood (typically 400 lumens)



  Mini floods, track lights, using MR16 GU10 base bulbs Feit Ecobulb Plus, bright white GU10 7 year compact fluorescent bulb, compare w/ Feit 12-V Halogen MR11 35W GU10 base are about $2.95 / bulb. For longer life keep compact fluorescent bulbs on for at least 15 minutes at each use; do not work with dimmers; not for exposure to weather;

Candelabra type LED light bulbs

Candelabra bulb, LED Deco LED #1 Medium Base#12 Candelabra 25W
- W
$0.42 / yr
  Replaces standard incandescent bulb with standard Edison base used in candelabras Phillips, dimmable soft white, 22.8 year life,
Candelabra bulb, LED BA9 Accent LED, #1 Candelabra 15W
  86 Lumens Phillips, white life, clear finish, bent tip 18.3- year life, saves $28.60 in energy costs (over life?)


1. Prices from Home Depot Stores, Poughkeepsie, NY May 2012, Home Depot Stores, Celaya, Mexico, Novermber 2012, & other sources if noted

2. Annual energy cost estimate for each of these light bulbs is based on an assumed usage of 3 hours per day and at an electricity cost of 11-cents per kWh. Actual energy cost for any electrical device depends on local energy rates, usage, and possibly other factors


Industry & Trade Associations for Lighting and Related Components in or on buildings

  • American Lighting Association www.americanlightingassoc.com
  • Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industries www.awci.org

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