Julian's Science Fair
Projects by Grade Level
1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th
7th 8th 9th 10th 11th 12th
Home Primary School Elementary School Middle School High School Easy Projects Advanced Award Winning

Electricity science fair project:
Compare the efficiency of different kinds of light bulbs

Science Fair Project Information
Title: Compare the efficiency of different kinds of light bulbs
Subject: Electricity
Grade level: Elementary School - Grades 4-6
Academic Level: Ordinary
Project Type: Experimental
Cost: Low
Awards: 2nd place, Canada Wide Virtual Science Fair ($25)
Affiliation: Canada Wide Virtual Science Fair (VSF)
Year: 2012
Materials: 40 Watt Incandescent light bulb, 40 Watt Compact Fluorescent light bulb, 40 Watt Halogen light bulb, 40 Watt LED light bulb, bulb holder, energy consumption monitor, digital thermometer, general lab equipment and safety.
Description: Different types of light bulbs were tested for electric consumption and heat emission (temperature); results were recorded, compared, tabulated and graphed.
Link: http://www.virtualsciencefair.org/2012/nerevn
Short Background

Light Bulb Efficiency

Energy usage for different types of light bulbs operating at different light outputs. Points lower on the graph correspond to lower energy use.

Approximately 90% of the power consumed by an incandescent light bulb is emitted as heat, rather than as visible light.

Luminous efficacy of a light source may be defined in two ways. The radiant luminous efficacy (LER) is the ratio of the visible light flux emitted (the luminous flux) to the total power radiated over all wavelengths. The source luminous efficacy (LES) is the ratio of the visible light flux emitted (the luminous flux) to the total power input to the source, such as a lamp. Visible light is measured in lumens, a unit which is defined in part by the differing sensitivity of the human eye to different wavelengths of light. Not all wavelengths of visible electromagnetic energy are equally effective at stimulating the human eye; the luminous efficacy of radiant energy (LER) is a measure of how well the distribution of energy matches the perception of the eye. The units of luminous efficacy are "lumens per watt" (lpw). The maximum LER possible is 683 lm/W for monochromatic green light at 555 nanometres wavelength, the peak sensitivity of the human eye.

The luminous efficiency is defined as the ratio of the luminous efficacy to the theoretical maximum luminous efficacy of 683 lpw, and, as for luminous efficacy, is of two types, radiant luminous efficiency (LFR) and source luminous efficacy (LFS).

The chart below lists values of overall luminous efficacy and efficiency for several types of general service, 120-volt, 1000-hour lifespan incandescent bulb, and several idealized light sources. The values for the incandescent bulbs are source efficiencies and efficacies. The values for the ideal sources are radiant efficiencies and efficacies. A similar chart in the article on luminous efficacy compares a broader array of light sources to one another.

For a given quantity of light, an incandescent light bulb produces more heat (and thus consumes more power) than a fluorescent lamp. In buildings where air conditioning is used, incandescent lamps' heat output increases load on the air conditioning system. Heat from lights will displace heat required from a building's heating system; generally space heating energy is of lower cost than electricity.

High-quality halogen incandescent lamps have higher efficacy, which will allow a 60-watt bulb to provide nearly as much light as a non-halogen 100-watt bulb. Also, a lower-wattage halogen lamp can be designed to produce the same amount of light as a 60-watt non-halogen lamp, but with much longer life.

Many light sources, such as the fluorescent lamp, high-intensity discharge lamps and LED lamps offer higher efficiency, and some have been designed to be retrofitted in existing fixtures. These devices produce light by luminescence, instead of heating a filament to incandescence. These mechanisms produce discrete spectral lines and so don't have the broad "tail" of wasted invisible infrared emissions. By careful selection of which electron energy level transitions are used, the spectrum emitted can be tuned to mimic the appearance of incandescent sources, or other different color temperatures of white light.

An LED lamp (or LED light bulb) is a solid-state lamp that uses light-emitting diodes (LEDs) as the source of light. LED lamps offer long service life and high energy efficiency, but initial costs are higher than those of fluorescent and incandescent lamps. Chemical decomposition of LED chips reduces luminous flux over life cycle as with conventional lamps.

Because the eye's sensitivity changes with the wavelength, the output of lamps is commonly measured in lumens, a measure of the power of light perceived by the human eye. The luminous efficacy of lamps is the number of lumens produced for each watt of electrical power used. The luminous efficacy of a typical CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) is 5070 lumens per watt (lm/W) and that of a typical incandescent lamp is 1017 lm/W. Compared to a theoretical 100%-efficient lamp (680 lm/W), these lamps have lighting efficiency ranges of 911% for CFLs and 1.92.6%, for incandescents.

Cost Comparison
. Incandescent Halogen Fluorescent LED (Generic) LED (Philips) LED (Philips L-Prize)
Purchase price $2 $4 $4 $20 $25 $50
Electricity usage 60 W 42 W 13 W 9 W 12.5 W 10 W
Lumens 660 570 660 900 800 940
Lumens/Watt 11 13.6 50.8 100 64 94
Color Temperature Kelvin 2700 3100 2700 3000 2700 2700
CRI (Color rendering index) 100 100 82 >75 85 92
Lifespan (hours) 2,000 3,500 8,000 25,000 25,000 30,000
Bulb cost over 10 years 6 hours/day $21.90 $25.03 $10.95 $17.52 $21.90 $36.50
Energy cost over 10 years 5 cents/kWhr $197.10 $137.97 $42.71 $29.57 $41.06 $32.85
Total $219.00 $163.00 $53.66 $47.09 $62.96 $69.35
Comparison based on 6 hours use per day (21,900 hours over 10 yrs)

See also:

Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License and Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.)

Useful Links
Science Fair Projects Resources
Electricity Resources
Citation Guides, Style Manuals, Reference
General Safety Resources
Electrical Safety FAQ
Electricity Science Fair Project Books


Follow Us On:

Privacy Policy - About Us

Comments and inquiries could be addressed to:

Last updated: June 2013
Copyright 2003-2013 Julian Rubin