The Difference Between Incandescent, Fluorescent and Halogen Light Bulbs

Lighting, by far, is one of the most important design elements of any room. However, not everyone is up to date on the differences between the various light bulbs available today, such as the traditional pear-shaped incandescent bulbs, newer compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs), and halogen bulbs. Here’s a basic guide on the difference between these three types of light bulbs.

Incandescent Light Bulbs

Currently, incandescent light bulbs are among the most popular light bulbs, if only due to the fact that they’re cheaper than their fluorescent counterparts.

Incandescent Light Bulbs

In an incandescent light bulb, the electricity passes through a tiny wire filament that is encased in a sealed glass bulb. The electricity heats up the filament, resulting in lighting for the room.

Incandescent light bulbs are available in several wattages, sizes, and shapes. This includes light bulbs that are shaped like flames, globes, or twisted candles, as well as the standard pear-shaped light bulb. Furthermore, you can get the bulbs in clear, frosted white, or in nearly every rainbow color.

Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs)

Fluorescent Light Bulbs

Even though the fluorescent light bulb has been around since 1939 (when it was first introduced at the New York World’s Fair, according to Iowa State University), they haven’t been the most popular. Older versions of this light bulb were noisy, creating a buzzing noise, and more importantly, it took a minute or two before they would come on. Today’s newer screw-in varieties (compact fluorescent bulbs) have only existed since the 1980s.

Fortunately, more and more people realize the benefits of a fluorescent light bulb over an incandescent light bulb. Though fluorescent bulbs are more expensive up-front, they use one-fourth of the energy to produce the same amount of light as an incandescent bulb. Therefore, CFL bulbs will cut down on your electric bill.

Furthermore, when comparing two bulbs (incandescent versus fluorescent) of the same lighting capacity, the incandescent bulb lasts an average of 750 hours while the fluorescent bulb lasts around 10,000 hours.

Halogen Light Bulbs

Halogen light bulbs get their name because they are bulbs that contain small capsules of halogen gas. When the light switch is flipped on, the electricity causes the capsule to heat up and produce a bright white light. However, halogen bulbs are generally not recommended for indoor use as they use more energy than a CFL bulb.

Furthermore, this type of light bulb heats up much quicker, becoming much hotter than both incandescent and CFL bulbs, which makes the halogen bulb more of a potential fire hazard, especially when used on table lamps, floor lamps, or ceiling lights.

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About the author
Ben White has written thousands of articles on everything home improvement. He has had the privilege of writing for such websites as the Huffington Post, DeWalt,, HGTV, and many others.

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