So you think LEDs are the best, most energy-efficient lighting option? The answer isn’t always black and white. Those are the findings of a recent product comparison by Precision-Paragon, which makes both LED’s and fluorescents.

The company’s examination started by looking at one of the most commonly used light bulbs in the home, the 60-watt incandescent. The comparison found that an energy-efficient LED and a compact fluorescent (CFL) provided nearly identical levels of energy-efficiency and performance – but the CFL costs just $0.86 per bulb, while the LED is a whopping $45. The LED bulb is supposed to last three times as long, however, so the study suggested that the LED could have the advantage when used in a hard to reach place.

image via Precision-Paragon

In terms of high wattage lighting found in industrial or commercial spaces, the comparison examined the energy efficiency of replacing a 250-watt metal-halide fixture, one that could be found in a parking garage. There, the winner in both price and efficiency was the fluorescent bulb, which is six times cheaper than the LED and offers 90 lumens of light per watt, compared with the LED’s 79 lumens per watt.

The comparison concluded  that the more efficient choice often depends on the situation. In some cases, the features of LED-based fixtures might add enough efficiency to overcome the high cost. And sometimes, fluorescent fixtures will still be the more affordable, more efficient choice.

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