Question: How much longer does an LED last than an incandescent or CFL light bulb?

What is the payback period?


Lifetime of Incandescent Light Bulbs, CFLs and LEDs

An average incandescent light bulb lasts between 1000 and 2000 hours, or about 42 to 84 days (if they are on 24 hours per day).

Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) last about eight to fifteen times longer than incandescent light bulbs. ENERGY STAR rated CFL must have a rated lifetime of 6,000 hours or greater, though the average lifetime for an ENERGY STAR CFL is 10,000 hours.

Light emitting diodes (LEDs) last between 25,000 and 100,000 hours. ENERGY STAR rated LEDs last 35 to 50 times longer than incandescent light bulbs and 2 to 5 times longer than fluorescent lighting.

Payback Period of an LED

The payback period of replacing an incandescent light bulb with an LED will depend on the cost of electricity in your area and the cost of the LED. The payback period will be shorter if the price of electricity is high or if the cost of the LED is low.

Let’s say electricity in your region costs $0.10 per kilowatt hour (kWh). You replace a traditional 60 Watt (W) incandescent light bulb with a Phillips EnduraLED 12 W LED (learn more here), which is an ENERGY STAR rated equivalent.

ENERGY STAR rated LEDs must use at least 75% less energy than incandescent lighting. The Phillips EnduraLED 12.5 W LED is actually shown to be about 80% more efficient than the 60 W incandescent light bulb (since 12.5 W is about 20% of 60 W).

If you use the incandescent light bulb 3 hours a day, it will use 180 Watt-hours per day (60 W x 3 hours). If you do this 7 days a week for 365 days a year, it will use 65,700 Watt-hours per year, or 65.7 kWh (divide the Watt-hours by 1,000).

At $.10 per kilowatt hour, the incandescent lamp would cost $6.57 to run for 3 hours a day for an entire year.

Since the LED uses about 80% less electricity, it would cost about 80% less to run 3 hours a day for one year. At $.10 per kilowatt hour, the 12.W LED would only cost about $1.37 per year. This is a savings of $5.20 per year.

On Amazon, the Phillips 12.W EnduraLED costs about $30. At a savings of $5.20 per year, it would take about 5.8 years for the LED to pay for itself (if it were used for 3 hours per day).

Since the Phillips EnduraLED lasts 25,000 hours on average, it would last about 22.8 years if it were used for 3 hours per day. This means the LED would last 17 years beyond the payback period.


imageClaire Moloney

A recent graduate of Cornell University, where she studied Environmental Science and concentrated in Sustainable Development. Her interest in green building and LEED stems from her project-based coursework at Cornell, where she proposed design strategies for sustainable developments in Helena, MT and Ithaca, NY. Claire also exercised her passion for sustainability and energy conservation through extracurricular activities at Cornell, such as Solar Decathlon, Lights Off Cornell and Sustainability Hub. For the last three summers, she worked on energy projects at a town government, including an on-site hydrogen station and EECBG-funded activities.

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