Incandescent vs LED Lighting and Fluorescent Guide – Pro Tool Reviews

April 23, 2022 by No Comments

Lighting has been a big part of what I do professionally for over thirty years. I am a professional photographer and videographer for the Polk Museum of Art in Lakeland, FL. Nineteen of those years were spent as the exhibits manager. An exhibits manager is the person that oversees the installations of the art exhibits in a museum, which includes lighting each work of art. Choosing between incandescent vs LED lighting and fluorescent and knowing the ins and outs of each lamp and fixture has a necessary part of my job…or should I say jobs.

At first, lighting wasn’t nearly as complicated as it is today. You had fluorescent or incandescent and a few other variants for specialized uses like mercury vapor, sodium vapor, halogen (a type of incandescent bulb), etc. When comparing incandescent vs LED lighting, you have a host of new things to learn. We hope this incandescent vs LED and fluorescent lighting guide helps you learn all the important things you need to choose the right products. That goes for your home, office, workshop, jobsite—even your flashlights! We can’t put everything in one article, so check out these articles for more information:

This is incandescent lighting and is the look that LED lights have been trying to achieve for years with colors that are 100% acurate. Even when LED lights could match the look, they used to be high in ultraviolet light, which was damaging to art, fabrics, and carpets. Now LED lamps have finally caught up and are reasonably priced. This photo is of an exhibit I installed many years ago at the Polk Museum of Art

Incandescent vs LED Lighting Table of Contents

Incandescent vs LED Lighting and Fluorescent – Pros and Cons

Just for context, an incandescent bulb is also known as a tungsten bulb. You probably know it best as a plain old-fashioned “lightbulb”. They come in many shapes and sizes. An Edison base or Edison screw base is used with most of these common lamps. Other styles include various sizes of pin-style bases and smaller Edison bases called candelabra bases. For a good size and base comparison chart of the different incandescent vs LED lighting bulbs, go to

CRI – Color Rendering Index

No matter if you’re considering incandescent vs LED lighting, you will often encounter a number called CRI. CRI (Color Rendering Index) is a scale that tells you how well the light renders accurate colors. Natural midday daylight has a CRI of 100 and renders colors faithfully. Incandescent lightbulbs also have a CRI of 100. Anything 80 and above is considered good. Anything in the 50 range is poor. Sodium Vapor street lights (the orange ones) have a CRI of 25.

Early LED bulbs were very blue in appearance. That LED lighting did a poor job vs traditional incandescent bulbs at rendering natural-looking colors. Artists, designers, hair salons, automotive painters, etc. will typically only work in 90+ CRI lighting. Clothing retailers prefer 80+ CRI.

Using a Passport Colorchecker to check my colors when photographing artwork. I use a high CRI flashbulb when taking photos of the art

Color Temperature – The Kelvin Scale

Have you ever purchased a new light bulb but the color it gives off is wrong? Suddenly, one bulb has a different color cast from the rest of the light bulbs. Your new lightbulb looks out of place. The new bulb might be warmer (…….



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