Lighting Education

Bulb Type

There are 6 main types of light bulbs that have unique characteristics: LEDs, CFLs, Linear Fluorescents, Incandescents, Halogens and HIDs.

What is the Difference between Bulbs?



  • LED = Light-Emitting Diode
  • Highly energy-efficient
  • Ideal for saving energy and money
  • Very long life - can last anywhere from 10 - 36 years depending on lifetime hours
  • High-performance technology
  • Extremely durable
  • Mercury-free
  • Best value over the life of the bulb
  • Alternative to incandescent, halogen and CFL light bulbs


  • Traditional and most-commonly used type of light bulb
  • Various specialty and decorative shapes and features
  • Mercury-free
  • Shortest lifetime of all light bulb types


  • White, bright light
  • Longer lifetime than incandescent bulbs
  • Available in energy-saving Eco-halogen technology
  • An energy-saving alternative to incandescent
  • Lower initial cost than LEDs or CFLs, but lower long-term savings


  • CFL = Compact Fluorescent Lamp
  • Energy-efficient
  • Ideal for saving energy and money
  • Long life - can last up to 9 years
  • Contain mercury

Linear Fluorescent

  • Typical in commercial applications
  • Available in energy-saving technology
  • Contain mercury
  • Long life - some linear fluorescent bulbs last over 10 years


  • HID = High Intensity Discharge
  • 3 types: Metal Halide, High Pressure Sodium, Mercury Vapor
  • Typical in high lumen applications, such as outdoor security lighting, parking lot/parking garage lighting, and roadway lighting