The advantage of CFL is its energy efficiency and relatively low cost. A screw base 18 watt CFL produces the same light as a 75 watt incandescent. It will cost $4 to $5 but will last 10 times longer than the 75 watt incandescent. Because of the cold climate, you can’t just buy any CFL and put it in a fixture that gets below freezing in winter.
If you do, the bulb may not come on below a certain temperature. The fix requires that you read the specifications on the box. Look for a minimum start temperature.
Some CFLs will start down to 32 degrees F, others down to 0 degrees F and some will start when the temperature gets many degrees below zero. If you don’t see information on minimum start temperature, keep looking until you do. Low temperature rated CFLs work great in cold conditions, particularly for this application.
LED Flood Light
The advantage of LED is the extra long life, and, they all have no problem coming on in very cold temperatures. In fact, LEDs get more efficient as the ambient temperature gets lower. A 14 watt LED is equivalent to a 75 watt incandescent, so there is a 4 watt advantage in energy efficiency compared to CFL. Where CFL has the big advantage is cost.
The 75 watt equivalent LED bulb will cost at least 4 to 5 times as much as the CFL bulb. You should get 25,000 hours of life from the LED which looks great compared to incandescent but not as great compared to CFL, especially given the cost difference.
Heat build-up in the enclosed fixture, especially on summer nights, could also lower the expected life even though the fixture is outside. LEDs require air flow around the bulb to remove heat from the fins or heat sink. With an enclosed fixture, you will not get air movement to pull heat away from the critical solid-state components inside the bulb.
Why Do LEDs Perform Well in Cold Weather?
Have you gone to switch out an incandescent or fluorescent light bulb, nearly burning your fingertips in the process? As traditional lighting requires heat to power on and create light, the glass bulbs heat up quickly and to dangerous temperatures if touched.
Due to their need for heat to simply power on, traditional light bulbs perform below average when used outdoors, especially in the fall and winter. Some lights may not be able to power on at all in below freezing weather.
However, LEDs allow you to light your outdoor lights and signs year round, even in the below freezing temperatures of winter! Unlike traditional lighting, LEDs are not hot to the touch, as they require far less heat to power. In fact, heat is the enemy of the LED light. Keep reading to learn more about why outdoor LED lighting performs so well in cold weather!
HEAT IS THE ENEMY OF LEDS
Every LED company will tell you the same thing, heat is the death of the LED. While LEDs create significantly less heat than incandescent or fluorescent bulbs, they still create heat. Incandescent bulbs are only 15% efficient at creating wattage into useful light and fluorescents are, at best, 50% efficient.
Today’s LEDs are 85% efficient at turning wattage into light. However, they still create residual heat. In order to protect the diodes, LEDs are created with heat sinks, to pull and store heat away from the light.
What exactly happens to an LED if exposed to too much heat? In summary, it will fail. The LED bulbs will fail if the junction temperature in the light exceeds 185 degrees fahrenheit. The purpose of the heat sink is to make sure the operating temperature does not exceed 185 degrees by pulling the heat away into the sink and then dispersing the heat into the surrounding air.
LEDS AND COLD WEATHER
As we now know heat is the mortal enemy of LEDs, it makes sense that LEDs perform very well in cold weather. First and foremost, the cold, outdoor temperatures naturally help the bulb stay cool.
Secondly, due to the fact that they don’t require heat to turn on, they are instant on in any weather! Lastly, as LED bulbs are created using plastic, they are physically more durable and able to handle sudden temperature changes than glass traditional bulbs!
OUTDOOR LED LIGHTING
Due to LEDs cooler nature, more durable design and long lifespan, they make the perfect choice for outdoor lighting. Whether you need motion sensor security lights, signage lights or lights for unheated shops, LEDs are the best bet on the market. They turn on instantly and last upwards of 15 to 20 years, depending on usage.
For this application, we recommended the CFL option. The appearance of fluorescent illumination, which some people don’t like, is probably not a concern for a security light. The lower initial cost, good energy efficiency and, assuming a low minimum start temperature bulb is used, a relatively long life, suggest a good match for a home or small commercial outdoor security installation.
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