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A light-emitting-diode lamp is a solid-state lamp that uses light-emitting diodes (LEDs) as the source of light. Since the light output of individual light-emitting diodes is small compared to incandescent and compact fluorescent lamps, multiple diodes are used together. LED lamps can be made interchangeable with other types. Most LED lamps must also include internal circuits to operate from standard AC voltage. LED lamps offer long life and high efficiency, but initial costs are higher than those of fluorescent lamps.
General purpose lighting requires white light. LEDs by nature emit light in a very small band of wavelengths, producing strongly colored light. The color is characteristic of the energy bandgap of the semiconductor material used to make the LED. To create white light from LEDs requires either mixing light from red, green, and blue LEDs, or using a phosphor to convert some of the light to other colors.
The first method (RGB-LEDs) uses multiple LED chips each emitting a different wavelength in close proximity to create the broad white light spectrum. The advantage of this method is the fact that one can adjust the intensities of each LED to "tune" the character of the light emitted. The major disadvantage is the high manufacturing cost, which is important in commercial success.
A fluorescent lamp or fluorescent tube is a gas-discharge lamp that uses electricity to excite mercury vapor. The excited mercury atoms produce short-wave ultraviolet light that then causes a phosphor to fluoresce, producing visible light. A fluorescent lamp converts electrical power into useful light more efficiently than an incandescent lamp. Lower energy cost typically offsets the higher initial cost of the lamp. The lamp is more costly because it requires a ballast to regulate the flow of current through the lamp.
While larger fluorescent lamps have been mostly used in commercial or institutional buildings, the compact fluorescent lamp is now available in the same popular sizes as incandescents and is used as an energy-saving alternative in homes.
A compact fluorescent lamp (CFL), also known as a compact fluorescent light or energy saving light (or less commonly as a compact fluorescent tube [CFT]), is a type of fluorescent lamp. Many CFLs are designed to replace an incandescent lamp and can fit into most existing light fixtures formerly used for incandescents.
Compared to general service incandescent lamps giving the same amount of visible light, CFLs use less power and have a longer rated life. In the United States, a CFL has a higher purchase price than an incandescent lamp, but can save over 30 US$ in electricity costs over the lamp's life time. Like all fluorescent lamps, CFLs contain mercury, which complicates their disposal.
CFLs radiate a different light spectrum from that of incandescent lamps. Improved phosphor formulations have improved the subjective color of the light emitted by CFLs such that some sources rate the best 'soft white' CFLs as subjectively similar in color to standard incandescent lamps.