Types of Light Bulbs and Their Pros and Cons

There are many definitions used to describe light, e.g., in physics, light is defined as electromagnetic radiation that can be detected by the human eye.

Here, we shall simply define light as a medium of illumination that makes sight possible. Light helps humans and animals to see.

Light can emanate from a natural source like the sun or artificial sources like electricity emitted by light bulbs. Since the invention of the first light bulbs in the 19th century, there has been significant improvement in the efficiency, quality of light, density, and energy conversion in the light bulbs currently in use. The light bulbs are available in different shapes, sizes, voltage, and material.

Common types of light bulbs and their Pros and Cons

  1. Incandescent bulbs– They are the oldest and broadest category of bulbs consisting of an airtight glass enclosure with a filament of tungsten wire inside the bulb through which an electric current is passed. They are widely used in households and commercial lighting for portable lightings like table lamps, car headlamps, and flashlights, as well as for decorative and advertising lighting.


Pros of Incandescent Bulbs;

  • They are able to emit all and warm colors of light, which makes them look good.
  • Halogen incandescent bulbs can operate at very high temperatures for an extended period of time. They produce more light compared to other incandescent bulbs using the same amount of power.
  • It is a warm source of light.
  • It is less expensive since its cost of manufacture is low.
  • It switches on immediately

Cons of Incandescent Bulbs;

  • They waste a lot of energy as most of the electricity used to create illumination escapes in the form of heat.
  • Its energy is inefficient with high operating costs.
  • The bulbs are very fragile thus should be handled carefully.
  • They are not the best to use during summer as they emit a lot of heat, which may be uncomfortable.
  • They have a short lifespan.


  1. Fluorescent Lamps– In a fluorescent tube, the electric current passes between cathodes, existing mercury, and other gasses, which are filled inside the tube radiating energy. A phosphorous coating on the outside converts radiant energy into visible light.


Pros of Fluorescent Lamps;

  • They are more energy-efficient than incandescent bulbs. They produce light using lesser energy input.
  • Longer operational lifespan. A fluorescent lamp typically has a lifespan that is 10 to 20 times more than the incandescent bulbs.
  • Better light diffusion and distribution. They are bigger light sources and readily diffuse light that results in better distribution of illumination in a particular area.
  • Less heat emission due to their efficient energy consumption
  • Comfortable to use during summer.


Cons of Fluorescent Lamps;

  • Expensive- Fluorescent lamps are more costly than incandescent bulbs due to their high cost of manufacture. However, they are economical, given their long lifespan and energy efficiency.
  • Health and Environmental hazard- A broken fluorescent lamp is susceptible to chemical leakage like mercury that can contaminate the environment and affect the health of exposed organisms, including humans.
  • Easy Degradation- Lamps that are frequently switched on and off rapidly age due to erosion of the electron-emitting surface of the cathodes. This shortens their lifespan.
  • Not a better alternative than LED lamps


  1. Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL) – They work on the principle of fluorescent lamps. They consist of multiple tubular loops filled with mercury and has a resemblance to the incandescent bulb.


Pros of Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL);

  • Cost-Effective- Given their longer lifespan, low energy consumption, CFL lamps are more cost-effective than incandescent bulbs.
  • Efficient – CFL lamps are more efficient than incandescent bulbs. They use less energy to produce the same amount of light as incandescent bulbs.
  • Has longer lifespan than incandescent bulbs
  • Versatility

Cons of Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL);

  • Not all CFL lamps can be used with dimmer switches. Its energy is inefficient with high operating costs.
  • Contains mercury- While the bulb is in good condition, it does not pose any threat. However, if the bulb is broken and not disposed-off well, it may cause a great health hazard to people as well as animals.
  • They cannot hold up to frequent switching. Like the fluorescent lamps, frequent switching on and off shortens the lifespan of CFL lamps.


  1. Halogen Lamps: -These are improved versions of incandescent bulbs where tungsten filament is wrapped with a compact transparent envelope in the bulb and filled with a small amount of halogen-containing inert gas.


Pros of Halogen Lamps;

  • They are more energy-efficient than incandescent bulbs. They produce light using lesser energy input.
  • Compact size- The small size and varying shapes of halogen lamps make them an excellent choice for smaller fixtures.
  • Bright- It produces clear light that makes a room seem larger and colors extra bright
  • Dimmable- Halogen lamps dim very well, making them a good choice for homes, bars, and restaurants where varying light levels are needed.


Cons of Halogen Lamps;

  • Halogen lamps emit a lot of heat. They can be very uncomfortable working under the kitchen, workspace, or in elevators.
  • Short lifespan. Although halogen lamps have a longer lifespan than an incandescent bulb, the lifespan is still relatively low.
  • Expensive- Halogen lamps are more costly than incandescent bulbs and sometimes require a low voltage transformer.
  • Sensitivity- Halogen lamps cannot withstand impacts such as minimal vibration. They easily break.


  1. Light Emitting Diode (LED) Lamps: -This is a semiconductor device in which electricity is applied to a negatively charged diode resulting in an inflow of electron and release of a photon. The photons combine to emit light from the diode. It is the most modern light lamp and is available in different specialized varieties, e.g., LED Grow Lamps, which have a full spectrum designed to aid in photosynthesis, allowing plants to grow with little or no sunlight. Led Grow Lamps are ideal for indoor and greenhouse farming. They are readily available at ledlightexpert.com.

Pros of LED Lamps;

  • LEDs can be switched on and off at a frequency faster than a human eye can detect.
  • They are more energy-efficient than all other types of bulbs. They produce light using lesser energy input.
  • LEDs light well in cold weather.
  • It has a longer lifetime than the other types of bulbs.
  • They offer design flexibility due to their small sizes.
  • They have dimming capability.


Cons of LED Lamps;

  • Expensive- LED lamps are more costly to purchase.