Is LED Worth the Difference in Price Over CFL



Walking through the aisles of your favorite store, you’ll notice the price difference in LED (light emitting diode) vs. CFL (compact fluorescent).  You’ve asked yourself the primary question:  Is LED worth the difference in price over CFL?  Is it?

Is LED Worth the Difference in Price Over CFL?

At Home Depot, I recently purchased a four pack of LED bulbs at $19.97.  A pack of four CFL soft whites at Home Depot is $6.97.  Home Depot estimates that the CFL will cost $1.69/year with a lifespan of 9.1 years (109.2 months).  Meanwhile, the LED bulb will cost (expected) about $1.08/year with a lifespan of 22.8 years (273.6 months).

Per bulb, in the four packs, each LED bulb costs $4.99.  Similarly, the CFL costs $1.74.  The difference per bulb is $3.25.  Can the energy savings make that cost back?

At $.61/year difference, only 5 years, 3 months, and 29(ish) days are required to recover that cost.  (These estimates are computed based upon a 11c/kWh rate even though the average in Georgia, my state, is closer to 12c/kWh according to this site.)  Consequently, after 5 years and 4 months, you’re saving energy.  This is the 64 months mark–10 months past half of the life of the CFL and slightly less than 20% of the life of the LED bulb.

This calculation presumes that the lifespan of the two bulbs is the same and they aren’t.  The lifespan of the CFL is estimated to be 10,000 hours (according to the Home Depot site) and the lifespan of the LED bulb is expected to be 25,000 hours.   So, at the end of the first 10,000 hours, you’ll have to buy another bulb if you opted into the CFL.  Disregard what might happen with prices of bulbs; if you bought the above four pack of bulbs then you’ve set the price you’ll pay for that bulb.    You’ll spend $1.74 @ 2.5 times for an expenditure of $4.35.  Now, with $.64 difference, 13 months of usage will account for the difference in terms of energy savings.  Ultimately, you save $.64 for 21.8 years which is $13.95.

You can watch my video about this discussion, right here.


The mathematics are clear:  the LED bulb is cheaper over its lifespan.  As energy costs increase, this difference becomes more drastic.  At $5 per bulb, you can almost buy 3 more LED bulbs with the savings.  You can absolutely save money by replacing every CFL or incandescent (especially these!) bulb with an LED bulb.

The only dilemma with this kind of purchasing policy is that there will always be something more efficient or cheaper.  Companies market their newer, better technology because they make money.  You may not always save.

Many also have some concerns over the Mercury content in CFL bulbs and this site does a good job of summarizing the quantity contained in the CFL–regardless of personal perception.   Although people can dispose of their bulbs at many stores, this doesn’t negate the potential of breakage of the bulb.  You may have to clean one up; use precaution.  LED bulbs have no Mercury content.

Now, with some hazard concern of CFLs and with the computed energy savings, the LED bulbs are no-brainers.  Good luck with your purchase.

If you have any thoughts you want to share, if my math doesn’t make sense, or if you have questions, please share them in the comment section, below!