LED vs fluorescent kitchen lighting [2023]

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The heart of your home deserves everything best. And the kitchen lighting solutions you choose to install are one of them. Rather than choosing the design of a light fixture, you need to pay more attention to its functionality, efficiency, and sustainability. So here we present you LED vs Fluorescent kitchen lighting and what are their strengths and weaknesses!

led vs fluorescent kitchen lighting

Fortunately, modern lighting technology is catering to the demand for energy savings and using less hazardous materials. The thing is, people aren’t always aware of the pros and cons of different light bulbs so they can choose appropriately. That’s why we’re doing an in-depth discussion by comparing the two frequently used kitchen lights today.

LED lights offer a variety of benefits for both practical and aesthetic purposes. Here are the key points to consider:

  1. In terms of energy efficiency, LED lights can reduce energy consumption by 75%.
  2. Long lifespan, with some models rated to last for over 10,000 hours of use.
  3. Another benefit of LED lights is their versatility. They come in a wide range of colors and can be used in various settings, including homes, offices, and outdoor spaces.
  4. LED lights are also known for their durability, as they are resistant to shock and vibration and can withstand extreme temperatures.
  5. Using LED lights in your home reduces your carbon footprint, as they require less energy to operate.
  6. LED lights are also great for creating unique lighting effects and can be used to enhance the overall aesthetic of a space.
  7. LED lights are also a popular choice for task lighting, as they provide bright and focused illumination that makes it easy to see what you’re working on.
  8. LED lights are also becoming more and more common in street lighting, as they consume less power and last longer than traditional street lights.
  9. Many businesses are also switching to LED lights to save money on energy costs in the long run and also to reduce their environmental impact.
  10. In addition, LED lights are also safe to use as they don’t emit UV rays and don’t contain any harmful toxins.

LEDs for Ambient, Task, and Accent Lighting

Instead of using a single illumination source, the modern concept is combining luminaires, each having a particular purpose. This technique is called layered lighting.

LED lights are energy efficient, surfacing as the best candidate for multipurpose lighting. They can help you achieve a set of goals that’s usually a target of layered lighting.

We’ll be discussing these aspects of LED lighting ahead.

The Differences Between LED Tube Lighting and Fluorescent Tube Lighting

There has always been a rivalry between LED vs fluorescent light. And numerous factors set these two conventional lights apart.

Here’s the basic mechanism by which they operate:

Fluorescent Lights

Fluorescent lights have been a typical kitchen lighting choice for several years. Previously, fluorescent tubes were very popular.

However, later they were replaced by Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) which are comparatively much smaller. Fluorescent lights require mercury to glow.

How does a fluorescent tube work?

led vs fluorescent kitchen lighting popular

The outer glass tube of a fluorescent light is enclosed in a thinner arc tube. This arc tube is filled with inert gas, i.e. mercury, which becomes excited by the electrical charge and produces UV radiation. This ultraviolet light further reacts with the fluorescent coating of phosphor causing the tube to illuminate.

The fluorescent lighting technology uses a gas-discharge type to produce visible light. Hence, it’s said to belong to the High-Intensity Discharge (HID) family. Standard fluorescent tube lights can measure anywhere between 48 to 84 inches in length.

LED Lights

LED, which stands for light emitting diode, is currently the most often used type of lighting. A semiconductor material is used in the manufacturing of LED lights.

In LED technology, the diodes (two electrodes) namely cathode and anode play the major role. These electrodes contain sufficient electrons which cause LED bulbs to glow.

led vs fluorescent kitchen lighting often

When the current flows through the diode, it excites the electrons and as a consequence, it gives off light. However, the current flows in one/single direction. And the light produced by LED bulbs is visible light.

Fluorescent Lamps

Fluorescent lamps, also known as mercury vapor lamps, are seen in both residential and commercial buildings. Though because of the presence of mercury vapors their use isn’t much promoted, yet they’re doing better than incandescent lights.

A fluorescent lamp is made up of three types, namely hot cathode, cold cathode, and electroluminescent.

Fluorescent Lighting Basics

If we try to sum up everything from the fluorescent lighting basics, we can describe it as:

“Gas-discharge, mercury vapor lamp with an omnidirectional light flow, and excessive heat emission posing some serious health hazards to human beings and isn’t an environment-friendly choice.”

What’s the Upside to Fluorescent Lights?

Fluorescents or CFLs haven’t been very celebrated as an optimum lighting option. However, when compared to incandescent lights, they were found more competent in the following aspects:

  • The energy input of traditional incandescent bulbs is quite high in contrast to fluorescent lights and so is the heat emission.
  • The incandescent lighting can’t last for more than 1500 hours which is 10 times less than conventional fluorescent lights.
  • Fluorescent tubes are more efficient in terms of energy use than incandescent bulbs. They can save 35% to 75% more energy than incandescent lighting.
  • The power at which lumens per watt for fluorescent bulbs is 50-100, incandescent bulbs can only produce 20 lumens per watt.

Where are Fluorescent Lights Commonly Used?

Besides having residential applications, fluorescent lighting is widely used in:

  • Warehouses
  • Retail spaces
  • Hospitals
  • Schools
  • Offices
  • Cafeterias

Why Are LEDs Better Than Fluorescents for High Bay Lighting?

LEDs are ideal for high bay lighting in terms of immense light intensity, highly focused illumination, and even light distribution over large areas. They are specifically designed to spread light throughout the room from taller ceilings and are particularly used in commercial buildings.

What Are Fluorescent Vapor Tight Lights?

Mostly, in manufacturing facilities in an industry where exposure to humidity, dirt, and dust is higher, vapor tight lighting is preferred. This type of lighting is both sealed and gasketed to keep water and dust at bay.

led vs fluorescent kitchen lighting humidity

Vapor tight lights are available in both fluorescent and LED lighting. However, a single fluorescent vapor tight fixture may contain up to three fluorescent lamps.

If you’re concerned about the damage caused by a humid and dusty environment, you should look for this type of light. Because of their application, they’re widely known as ‘wet location’ lights.

One of the drawbacks associated with fluorescent type vapor tight lighting is its sensitivity to temperature fluctuations. This results in decreasing its efficiency when subjected to a cold/wet environment.

Besides that, the performance of fluorescent vapor tight fixtures rapidly reduces. Moreover, it contains more than one lamp in each fixture, consuming more energy and proving costly.

Fluorescent Lighting: What’s The Issue?

The disadvantages of fluorescent tubes outweigh the advantages, making fluorescent lighting much less desirable.

The Use of Hazardous material

Both mercury and phosphor are hazardous materials that are utilized in the manufacturing of fluorescent bulbs and tubes. Therefore, using these lights poses a serious threat to human health by increasing exposure to mercury vapors.

Waste Disposal Issues

Since the tubes contain mercury inside, they also present waste disposal issues once the light’s life ends. Improper disposal lets the mercury gas escape and enters the environment which will be dangerous.


Fluorescent lights are omnidirectional, producing light in a 360-degree angle. However, in this case, light needs an adequate supply of reflecting surfaces (accessory parts) to redirect the light. And lacking those reflecting plates will ultimately decrease the luminous output.

Wasted Light

If you don’t need to fully light your kitchen, this omnidirectional fluorescent lighting is of no use. It lacks the ability to focus light at a certain point and causes a significant amount of wasted light.

LED Lighting: What Are The Benefits?

An interesting fact that’s associated with the benefits of LED lights is they can be used to grow indoor plants. So if you’re fond of gardening, we’ve got you a way.

However, these aren’t the normal LED lights you have in your living room or kitchen. Rather they’re available as LED grow lights producing the light spectrum in the range suitable for plant growth.

LED Lamps

LED lamps have proven a showstopper in both aspects of style and practicality. They’re available in a variety of designs and have multiple uses to perform. You may have a reading LED lamp or one hanging at the top of your kitchen island for a classic appeal.

led vs fluorescent kitchen lighting variety

LEDs for Task Lights

Task lights are required to illuminate specific areas or angles where a task has to be done. Their main characteristics are that they should have increased brightness and focused illumination. The exceptional focusing property and efficiency of LEDs make them the most appropriate task light.

LEDs for Accent Lights

LEDs have also become a popular choice for accent lights. The goal is to direct light on a particular area where you have a decorative item or furniture for aesthetic purposes. An LED light will draw attention to that corner.

What are the Upsides to LED Lights?

There’s a huge list of benefits one can achieve by installing LED lights. We’re listing the top of them for your understanding:

  • Has an average lifespan of 10 years.
  • Best lighting available in terms of being the most energy efficient.
  • Performance (calculated by light output) is highly improved among all competitive lighting alternatives.
  • No damage occurs due to the frequent switching as happens in fluorescent tubes.
  • Produces instant lighting by reaching its maximum illumination levels without any delay.
  • Easy to operate even on low voltage without being affected.
  • Channels the light by directing it to a desired or specific location and fully illuminates the area.

Reasons to Use LEDs

We’ve briefly looked at the several reasons that LED lighting gives us to opt for it, here’s another interesting fact to know.

The lumen to wattage ratio

A light source is considered efficient if it’s producing more lumens with less wattage usage. And that’s what LED light bulbs do. Compared to any other lighting, their number of lumens is greater for the same wattage.

Color temperature

The color temperature of a lamp sets the tone of light. It shows how warmer or cooler the light will appear in terms of glow. Luckily, LED lights offer more variety and help you find the right option.

Energy Efficient

It’s estimated that 25% of the world’s energy consumption depends on the lighting. However, we can remarkably reduce it by 75% if we replace all lights with LED bulbs because there’s no other lighting technology that can beat the light emitting diodes in saving energy.

LED technology is far better than fluorescent and incandescent because of converting its maximum energy into light. Less energy, i.e. less than 5%, is produced as wasted heat, while all of it is achieved at a very low power consumption.

Overall, an LED lamp is 80% more efficient than a fluorescent or incandescent bulb. Moreover, it consumes less energy and makes a more sustainable and eco-friendly lighting solution by reducing CO2 emissions.

Bulb Life for LED Lighting Much Longer

Compared to both incandescent bulbs and fluorescent tubes, the life expectancy of LED lighting is far greater. A new, high-quality LED light can last for 50,000-55,000 hours minimum. This lifespan can go up to 100,000 hours and above in more efficient bulbs.

Whereas for a fluorescent bulb, the least it would last is around 10,000-15,000 hours. It’s also estimated that the lifespan of one LED bulb is equivalent to 6 fluorescent light bulbs. Hence, we can say that LEDs have the best lifespan among all types of lights.

What’s the Difference Between Fluorescent and LED Lights?

We’ve already discussed the light emitting mechanism of both lights. However, it’s not the only difference they possess. There’s more to it which we’ll discuss in the following points.

Lumens, Watts, and Energy Use – LED Lighting vs Fluorescent Lights

While talking about the light output of LED vs fluorescent, it has been observed that LED takes the lead. It means that the average of lumens per watt for LEDs is far greater than that for fluorescent or other types of light.

When compared, the lumen output of LED was found to be 120 lumens per watt, while for CFL it was 75 lumens per watt on average. The energy, or power supply, was the same for both.

Lifetime Cost

LED lights don’t only save you on power bills but also cut down your other energy expenses. Since an LED light doesn’t burn like its alternates, you won’t have to change it frequently as in the case of fluorescent and incandescent lights.

It has also been found that if LEDs are kept running 12hrs a day, they’ll still last for 8-10yrs. Similarly, in contrast to one LED lamp, you might have to use 4-5 fluorescent tubes in the same duration.

The Wattage Equivalent Scale

Wattage has been previously used as a criteria to calculate the luminous intensity or power of light. However, now it has been replaced with lumens. Therefore, to choose the right type of tube lighting, you should know the conversion of watts to lumens.

Warm Up Time

If your light source needs a warmup period before it lights up the entire room, you aren’t using the optimum type of light. All types of fluorescent light fixtures, whether new or old, have a warmup time before they fully glow.

Warmup time is the time light fixtures take before achieving their max light level. The longer the time is, the greater the energy loss will be.

Unlike fluorescent, LED lighting neither has a warmup nor cool down period, making them the perfect choice for lighting applications.

Maintenance Costs

There’s also a significant difference between the maintenance cost of both light sources. Again, LED is the winner for staying functional for a longer time, more durable, and low maintenance.

The fluorescent light is more fragile and vulnerable to breakage. It also starts flickering and the tube is blackened at the corners when it is about to run out.

On the other hand, LED lights are made from robust materials and are termed solid-state lights. Running LEDs can be 50% to 90% cheaper than fluorescent ones.

Heat Emissions

The expected heat emission in LED lighting is almost negligible as compared to fluorescent and incandescent bulbs. Therefore, more energy is utilized to convert it into light, increasing the light output as well.

With little to no heat being generated, it also saves on your energy bills. AS fluorescent bulbs produce excess heat, you’ll need a more efficient air-conditioning system resulting in increasing your power bill.

CRI – Color Rendering Index

The color rendering index is one of the many attributes to determine the light quality. It’s measured on a scale of 0-100. It tells how fairly the luminaire will show you different color objects compared to the natural light.

The CRI of a fluorescent tube can be anywhere between 60-80, while that may go up to 90 and beyond for LEDs. And lights with CRI above 90 are considered better.


LED lighting is designed according to the latest technology and meets all the standards of appropriate kitchen lighting. A kitchen is a place where you need more light with consistent supply.

Therefore, if you’ve yet to switch to LED lighting, now is the time.

Ariel Path

With over three decades of experience in food manufacturing and kitchen design, I bring a wealth of knowledge to the table. My expertise spans across various aspects of the culinary world, from kitchen appliances to cooking techniques, food selection, and promoting a healthy lifestyle. My ultimate goal is to educate and inspire you in creating your dream kitchen, where functionality meets aesthetics. As a trusted source, I strive to provide valuable insights and guidance to make your kitchen remodel an enjoyable and successful experience. Together, let's transform your space into a culinary haven that reflects your unique style and meets your specific needs. See more details here.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Avatar photo
    Sophia Scott

    This was informative, but I’m wondering about the cost of switching to LED lighting. Can you provide more information on the financial benefits and drawbacks of using LED lights in the long term?

    1. cropped ariel path
      Ariel Path

      Thank you for your question. While the initial cost of purchasing LED lights may be higher than traditional lighting options, they have a significantly longer lifespan. They use less energy, leading to significant savings on your electricity bill in the long term. Additionally, many utility companies and local governments offer rebates and incentives for switching to LED lighting. It’s important to consider the total cost of ownership when comparing LED lights to traditional options and consult a professional to determine the best option for your specific needs.

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