What Is the Difference Between a Regular Light Bulb and an LED Bulb?

Regular incandescent bulbs use roughly six times as much electricity as LED bulbs. LED bulbs can last almost 50 times longer than incandescent bulbs and are typically more expensive than incandescent bulbs, though the gap in price is continually narrowing, as of 2015.

Incandescent bulbs emit light from a filament heated by electric current to the glowing point. As a result, 90 percent of the energy emitted by incandescent lights is released in the form of heat. Only 10 percent of the energy is emitted as light. Because the filament is placed under such intensely hot conditions, the bulbs burn out relatively quickly.

LED is an acronym for light emitting diode, a semiconductor technology that produces comparable light to an incandescent bulb. A built-in circuit in each LED bulb converts 120 volts of alternating household current to a lower voltage, direct current necessary to power LEDs. LED light is directional; however, engineers have refined bulb construction to create lights that are comparable to incandescent lights in brightness, color and omni-directional light emission.

As of November 2015, a 60-watt incandescent bulb costs about half as much as an equivalent LED bulb. However, given that the LED bulb only uses 8.5 watts of energy and has the potential to last almost 50 times longer than the incandescent bulb, using the LED bulb can save a consumer a significant amount of money over the course of the LED bulb's life.