LED or Incandescent? A Hands-On Comparison

In Lighting by Jenna Wolford

The following is a comparison of LED lights to incandescent flood and “party” lights. I looked high and low for something like this and couldn’t find it anywhere. Lumens don’t mean much too me, I just want to know if it’s a solid investment to replace my inexpensive party lights with slightly higher priced LED lights.

So here it is, a guide that’ll help you decide whether or not you decide to “upgrade” your Halloween lighting setup.

The lights used in this comparison are as follows:

1 red incandescent bulb, 25 watts
1 blue incandescent bulb, 25 watts
1 yellow incandescent bulb, 25 watts
1 green incandescent bulb, 25 watts
1 red flood light bulb, 100 watts
1 blue flood light bulb, 100 watts
1 red LED spotlight, .5 watts
1 blue LED spotlight, .5 watts
1 yellow LED spotlight, .5 watts
1 green LED spotlight, .5 watts
1 red LED flood light, 1 watt
1 blue LED flood light, 1 watt
1 yellow LED flood light, 1 watt
1 green LED flood light, 1 watt

We also photographed a few extras for reference. These include:

1 UV LED spotlight, .5 watts
1 UV LED flood light, 1 watt
1 white LED spotlight, .5 watts
1 white LED flood light, 1 watt
1 infrared flood light, 1 watt

This’ll be mostly photographs, because when you get right down to it, it’s all in how the light looks that’ll be the determining factor. For us, energy consumption weighs in pretty heavily; we’re not necessarily trying to save the world, just trying to not trip a breaker. Here I’ve outlined what I feel are the key differences, aside from visual performance:

Energy useage:

All the party bulbs tested used 25 watts of electricity, and the larger flood lights used 100. The LED flood lights use 1 watt and the LED spots use 1/2 of a watt. The math on this one is pretty easy.


The LED lamps tested are rated to last for 80,000 hours. Westinghouse Lighting rates their colored bulbs lifespan at 2500 hours. If both are accurate within reason, it’d take the equivalent of 32 incandescent, 25 watt bulbs to match a single LED bulb.

Ok, so obviously they’re more efficient and in the long run, probably less expensive, but can they hold a candle to visual light output? This was our question, too.

The first thing I noticed when I saw an LED lamp for the first time was how rich and deep the color was. It wasn’t a tint, it was real color, all over the place.

Here’s Guy setting up for the outside set. Notice he’s clear, like a ghost. He’s already getting into the spirit of the season.


Our first setup takes place outside, with very little daylight left. The first set is incandescent flood lights.

Please note all these bulbs were set back exactly 6′ from the tombstone.

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Now the 25 watt incandescent party bulbs:

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.5 watt LED spotlight bulbs:

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And finally, the 1 watt LED flood lights:

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You can now see what I mean about how rich the color is. The beauty with the LED bulbs is that the color isn’t a paint. The bulbs all look clear. The bulbs in the first picture above are indeed colored bulbs. They won’t chip the same way painted bulbs will.

Now we’ll line them up side by side for another kind of comparison. The lights were all pointed straight up on a dark blue wall. They were placed against the wall.

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I hope this provides you with a sort of working knowledge about what LED’s can do for your haunt and maybe eases some concerns with dropping cash into a product you’re unfamiliar with. Naturally I can’t promise these exact results as I’m not expert nor manufacturer.

For further reference, here’s a shot of white and UV LED spot and flood lights:

THe ultraviolet lights were impressive, to say the least. I’m a ridiculous skeptic and everyone knows painted black lights are crap, but the LED UV’s performed really well.

Take a look at the bulbs and the only black light responsive things we could find: highlighters.

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Ok, one last bulb before I wrap this up. It’s an LED infrared flood. Infrared is just way out of my realm of comprehension, seriously. When it’s lit up, it doesn’t look lit up. My digital SLR could see it lit up, and my Sony handycam on nightshot could REALLY see it. Amazing stuff.

These are used in a situation where lighting is necessary for a camera but excess light visible to the naked eye is not desireable.

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For now, I’m calling this done and complete. I’ll probably look it over when I’ve had some sleep and find 800 things wrong. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at akilleramongus (at) yahoo (dot) com.