LED vs Fluorescent (including CFLs): the case for LED light bulbs in Kenya


Increased lifespan

LED bulbs last more than 5 times longer than fluorescent bulbs. Fluorescent bulbs burn out after about 8,000 hours of use while LED bulbs do not burn out but rather their light output decreases by 30 percent after about 50,000 hours of use. Frequent switching on and off can also have drastic effects on the lifespan of fluorescent bulbs while having no effect on LED bulbs .

Increased bulb durability

Fluorescent bulbs are made of fragile glass while LED bulbs are usually made of plastic-like materials which make them more durable. This is especially important when moving from house to house as it give you one less fragile thing to worry about.

Increased quality of lighting experience

Some fluorescent bulbs do not light up instantly as they take some time to attain full brightness. Fluorescent tube light bulbs require ballasts (starters) to start and operate. Minor faults in some of these ballasts can produce an irritating humming sound. Fluorescent bulbs sometimes have flickering issues that can also be extremely irritating. LED bulbs do not have such issues.

Reduced exposure to hazardous materials

Fluorescent bulbs contain mercury which is hazardous to your health and the environment. Small quantities of mercury in each bulb will eventually make the high use and disposal of CFL bulbs a health and environmental issue. Also having a fluorescent bulb break in your house is not something you want – as a precaution.

Slightly more energy efficiency

Both LED and fluorescent light bulbs, are more efficient than the more common incandescent light bulbs. However, LED bulbs consume upto about 50 percent less energy than fluorescent bulbs, including CFL bulbs.

Slightly less electricity costs

This slight increase in efficiency also brings about a slight reduction in electricity costs. Different types of bulbs consume different amounts of electricity to produce the same brightness or the same amount of light. A recent popular way to indicate the amount of light produced by modern bulbs, such as LEDs and CFLs, has been to equate their light to a similar amount of light from an incandescent bulb of a particular wattage rating. These modern bulbs are more efficient and their efficiency is constantly improving. In addition, different manufacturers produce the same type of bulb to produce the same amount of light but with different levels of energy efficiency. This makes it difficult to relate wattage ratings and the amount of light a bulb produces. In Physics, the amount of light is actually measured in lumens (lm) and this is becoming the new standard of communicating the amount of light produced by all types of bulbs.

For example, a 13 watt CFL and a 6 watt LED can produce the same amount of light: about 800 lumens. For every hour of use, a 13 watt CFL bulb uses 0.013 kWh or more commonly 0.013 units of power while a 6 watt LED bulb uses 0.006 units per hour – that is a small saving of 0.007 units per hour per bulb.

Kenya Power as of October 2015 charged between Ksh. 12 and 21 per unit on average for consumption between 50 to 1500 units with the costs increasing rapidly immediately after 50 units; this being inclusive of the monthly fixed charge and taxes. Therefore, the 0.007 units per hour represents financial savings of about Ksh. 0.08 to Ksh. 0.15 per hour per bulb. These are small savings that can only now be considered because CFL and LED bulbs nowdays have similar purchase prices.

Increased flexibility in lighting applications

Light has a colour temperature: the yellowness to blueness of light. This colour temperature range is measured in Kelvins (K) with the lower the Kelvins the more yellowish the light and the higher the Kelvins the more blueish the light. Both Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) and LED bulbs come in a wide colour temperature range: 2,700 K to 6,500 K. At about 2,700 K, the colour temperature of light is referred to as ‘warm white’ or ‘soft white’ and its appearance is yellowish. At about 4,100 K, the colour temperature is referred to as ‘cool white’ or ‘natural white’ as the light has no discernable colour other than white. ‘Daylight’ is used to refer to blueish light from bulbs rated 5,000 K as the light emitted is similar to daylight during a clear blue sky at noon.

Some fluorescent bulbs are sensitive to both low temperatures and humidity. This makes them unsuitable for outdoor lighting applications. Most LED bulbs work well with dimmers while the same is not true with fluorescent bulbs. It is expensive to dim fluorescent bulbs and the results are usually poor.

Both fluorescent and LED bulbs come in a variety of different shapes and sizes: candle or flame tip, globe or bathroom light, tube light etc. However, LED bulbs have slightly more variety which can increase with time due to the inbuilt flexibility of LED technology.


Check out some of the LED light bulbs currently available for sale in Kenya. If you have bulb holders not in use in your house or place of work, this is the perfect opportunity to buy and use LED bulbs to see their benefits for yourself.