LED vs Fluorescent: Which is better?

Lighting at your commercial or industrial facility is important and crucial to keeping your operations moving. What you choose to light your building with can make a huge impact on worker comfortability, energy consumption, and the overall look and feel of the facility. You may wonder what are the differences between LED lighting and fluorescent lighting. Read on as we explore LED vs fluorescent lighting and look into the pros and cons of each.


What is fluorescent light?

Fluorescent bulbs are made up of a glass tube that is filled with inert mercury vapor. The inside of the tube is lined with a phosphor coating. When an electrical current flows through the mercury glass, the mercury gas emits ultraviolet energy which causes the coating in the tube to light up, producing visible light.



What is a CFL bulb?

CFL stands for Compact Fluorescent Lamp. CFLs first came onto the market as an energy-efficient alternative to incandescent bulbs. They get their “compact” name from their small spiral shape as opposed to the long tube shape of traditional fluorescent lights. CFLs work the same way as their larger counterparts.



What is LED lighting?

LED stands for light emitting diode. Diodes are composed of two electrodes through which electricity flows in one direction. 

LEDs are made from a semiconducting material. The semiconductor is the key to how they work. A semiconductor has an excess of electrons and holes. When you send an electric current through this material, it excites the electrons in the semiconductor and they give off light as a result.



LED vs Fluorescent Lighting

LED lights are quickly becoming the preferred choice for homeowners and businesses alike. Compared to fluorescent bulbs, LED lights are up to 80% more efficient. Unlike fluorescent lights, LED lights convert 95% of their energy into light and only 5% is wasted as heat; this is all while still using far less power to provide a strong and consistent output at a lower wattage.

In addition, LED lights are also much longer lasting, with some models boasting a lifespan of up to 50,000 to 100,000 hours. This not only saves money on replacement bulbs, but it also reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills. With so many benefits, it’s no wonder that LED lights are the wave of the future.

Both LED and fluorescent lighting are more energy-efficient than incandescent light. An incandescent bulb is what most would consider to be a traditional light bulb. An incandescent lamp is made-up of a wire filament that is encased in glass, which is filled with vacuum or inert gas. Light is produced when an electric current is sent to the filament heating it up until it glows.

Here is a table that outlines their main differences:

A LED vs fluorescent chart that shows the differences between the two lighting technologies.

Which is better LED or fluorescent? Why are LEDs better than fluorescent?

The table above may have given you a few hints as to which lighting option is best. The answer is LEDs. 

LED lighting is the unrivaled choice for any commercial or industrial facility. An LED tube is more energy efficient and lasts longer than a fluorescent tube. An LED lamp is safer due to its lack of toxic materials and is more durable than a fluorescent lamp. 

Is your facility meeting OSHA lighting requirements?

Download our FREE Lighting Reference Guide and find out!

Light emitting diodes are brighter than fluorescent light bulbs and can dramatically increase the light levels at your facility. 


Lastly, LED lighting doesn’t cause headaches, migraines, or other health issues due to flickering or buzzing like fluorescents do. Read about the 16 key benefits of LED lighting here.

LEDs cost anywhere from 40% to 90% less than fluorescents to run. At the same time, LEDs do not generate excess heat, which can add a substantial amount of money to your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) bill. 

LEDs have the longest life span in the lighting industry. The average LED light bulb lasts 6 times longer than the average CFL bulb.

LED bulbs are not as fragile as compact fluorescent lights, and don’t require frequent replacement. Maintenance costs can add up. Consider equipment expenses, such as scissor lift rental fees, and the time and money it takes for an employee or hired electrician to deal with dead bulbs.

Fluorescent light is linked to certain health problems. There is a possibility of exposure to mercury poisoning from the breakage of fluorescent lighting if it is not properly disposed of. Fluorescent lighting cannot be recycled due to its toxicity, while LED lighting can be.

If you’re interested in finding out how LEDs compare to metal halide lights, check out our LED vs. metal halide article here.

 What are the disadvantages of LED bulbs?

The only downside to LEDs, when compared with fluorescents, is the initial costs are more expensive, but costs have gone down considerably over time as the technology has become more established. 

In the long run, LEDs are a definite better investment than fluorescents because they have a longer life span and are much more energy efficient. You will save money on your energy bill and on maintenance costs. If you consider all the extra expenses that go into having fluorescent lighting, you would end up spending more money in the end than if you had gone with LEDs in the first place.

The time it takes to recoup the difference in price after making an initial investment of LEDs is typically just a few months.

There is also a financing option known as Energy-as-a-Service (EaaS) available to you that will make an LED retrofit not only affordable, but will create positive cash flow from day one. Learn more about Energy-as-a-Service here.

How do you decide what type of LED lighting to use at your commercial facility?

Now that it is clear that LED lighting is the best choice for your facility, how do you decide which type of LED lighting to use to optimize worker comfortability and productivity and maximize energy savings? 

It is easy to become inundated with options when you begin to plan a LED lighting retrofit, but you can be assured with proper lighting you will reduce worker mistakes, prevent machinery accidents, reduce employee sleepiness, and decrease your energy consumption.

There are several factors to consider when deciding what type of LED lighting to install in your building. These include how many fixtures you need, how you want the light to be distributed, how bright you want the lights to be, and what type of working environment they will be used in. Take a more in-depth look at how to light a warehouse here.

WattLogic is a commercial lighting company built on finding ways to save our clients energy and money, while reducing their carbon footprint. LEDs in the commercial industrial lighting space are our core competency for a reason. We fully believe in the benefits of LED lighting and want to bring them to as many businesses as possible. Please reach out to us at (800) 834-8737 so we can help find the perfect LED lighting solution for you.

Vanessa Peng

Vanessa Peng

Vanessa Peng is the Marketing Coordinator at WattLogic. As a former television news reporter, Vanessa enjoys creating written and video content for WattLogic and has an interest in environmental issues.
Download our ‘Lighting Reference Guide’ now

Find out what Foot-Candles you need in an office, warehouse, production facility, and more.