Science Project on "What Is the Difference Between LED Lights & Incandescent Lights?"

By Daniel Pinzow
Zedcor Wholly Owned/ Images

Studying the differences between light emitting diodes (LEDs) and incandescent light bulbs is fascinating due to the amount of energy emitted and conserved by both brands. As Americans become more environmentally conscious in an attempt to reduce electric bills, it is also important to know the differences. Comparisons can easily be made through several simple science fair projects.

Comparing Brightness

Students can easily take a 60-watt incandescent bulb, an LED lamp with several bulbs ranging from 1.5 to 12 watts, and a light meter to compare brightness. First, a student should take the light meter reading 1 meter from the incandescent bulb, and record the measurement. Next, the student should record light meter measurements of several different LED bulbs from the same distance to see which bulb produces the same amount of light. Ensure that only one lamp is on at a time when conducting this experiment. You should see that the LED light does not require as much wattage to produce the same amount of light, demonstrating that LED bulbs conserve energy more effectively.

Heat Emission

Incandescent and LED bulbs both produce excess heat, which is classified as wasted energy. To perform an experiment comparing the amount of heat emitted, place a chocolate bar wrapped in aluminum next to a 60-watt incandescent bulb and its LED equivalent simultaneously to see if it melts. Check the chocolate bars every 10 minutes to determine their condition. You should see that the incandescent bulb melts the chocolate bar more thoroughly than the LED light. Therefore, the incandescent bulb produces more heat as electrical energy is converted wastefully.

Electric Bill Comparison

This is a long-term project; ensure that you have four months to work on this, preferably during a time of the year where air conditioning is not extensively used (because that is a variable that can skew your results). For the first two months, use only incandescent bulbs for your light fixtures. For the third and fourth months, use only LED bulbs for your light fixtures. Compare the electric bills. You should have two electric bills if your company bills you bimonthly, and four bills if your provider charges monthly. You should see that the LED bulbs saved you money since they used less electricity (1.5 to 12 watts per LED bulb as opposed to 60 to 100 watts per incandescent bulb).

Book Test

Place an incandescent bulb and an LED bulb about three meters away from a book. Poll as many adults and children as possible with the question, "Which bulb makes the book easier to read?" Ensure that only one light bulb is switched on at the same time. The LED light should win the poll, but you might see a surprise because most Americans are used to reading under incandescent lights and go with what is familiar.

About the Author

Daniel Pinzow served as an urban science teacher for several years. He has expertise in a variety of subjects, ranging from biology to chemistry to history to sports. In addition, he has worked extensively in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) after-school programs.