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CFLs vs. Incandescent: The Battle of the Bulbs

CFLs and Incandescent bulbs both produce light, but in two very different ways.

Incandescent: Incandescent bulbs produce light through heat. Electricity runs through the filament inside the bulb. Since this filament is thin, it resists the electricity. The result of this resistance turns the energy into heat. The heat turns the filament white hot, producing the light that glows.

CFL: CFL bulbs work a little more like an intense science experiment. Bear with us as we turn a little nerdy on you. CFLs use electrodes and different gas vapors to produce ultraviolet photons. These photons hit the phosphor coating inside of the tube and this phosphor creates visible light.

One bulb lights through heat, the other through electrodes. This core difference means that CFLs are much more efficient since they don’t produce as much heat. This makes fluorescent bulbs four to six times more efficient than incandescent bulbs. That’s why you can buy a 15-watt fluorescent bulb that produces the same amount of light as a 60-watt incandescent bulb. Not only that, but CFL bulbs last longer than incandescent bulbs. Up to 25 times longer!

Not only are CFLs more energy efficient and longer lasting, they also help the environment come out ahead. If you’re saving energy by using CFLs, then you’re pulling less electricity from the power grid. This reduces the amount of coal that must be burned, which reduces emissions of greenhouse gases. In a single year, the use of CFLs over incandescent bulbs removes as much greenhouse gas pollution as taking 2 million cars off the road. That’s a lot of cars.

So there you have it. We say CFLs win this Battle of the Bulbs.