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The Difference Between LED and Halogen Home Lighting

The Difference Between LED and Halogen Home Lighting

With all of us on an energy-saving mission to reduce our household running costs as well as reduce the the impact on the environment, it can be diffiuclt to know what to do to save electricity.  Here at Meteor Electrical Ireland's largest electrical wholesaler, we wanted to put light bulbs to the test and find out what’s better LED or Halogen spotlights? There has been a lot of speculation about these two types of bulbs, some saying LED lightening is too expensive to buy upfront, some saying that halogen bulbs give off too much heat and cost too much to run. So which spotlight is better?

We have outlined what you need to know about LED and halogen light bubs and what is the best for efficiently lighting your home. Find out what spotlight came out on top!

What are Halogen and LED lights?

The traditional light bulbs we all know and love consist of a tungsten filament contained within a glass bulb of inert gas such as argon or nitrogen.  When a current is passed through the filament it gets very hot and gives off light.  The tungsten filament gradually evaporates over a period of time and is deposited onto the inside of the glass bulb, blackening the glass until the filament eventually breaks.  The purpose of the light bulb is to provide light and so any heat given off in the process is wasted energy.  These incandescent bulbs emit a lot of heat, even more so than the light they produce (about 80% heat and only 20% light) and as such are not very energy efficient.

Halogen light bulbs are similar in design to the old fashioned light bulbs.  However they are made from a much smaller quartz bulb inside the incandescent bulb, which is filled with a halogen gas.  This gas (as with argon/ nitro bulbs) chemically reacts with the tungsten vapour and re- deposits the tungsten back onto the filament itself significantly prolonging the life of the bulb whilst maintaining its clarity. Halogen bulbs may have a longer life span than old style light bulbs but they still waste a great deal of energy as heat.  These types of bulbs continue to be available on the market because they are simple to use and cheap to produce. However, they are not energy efficient and radiate a lot of heat. 

LEDs (light emitting diodes) differ from the traditional light bulbs in the way they produce light and unlike standard bulbs they don’t have a filament that will gradually burn out.  Put simply LEDs produce light by passing a current through a semi-conductor. Using LEDs are much more energy efficient than halogen and traditional light bulbs and produce very little waste thermal radiation (only generating about 20% heat and 80% light the polar opposite to the traditional light bulb). Earlier versions of LED bulbs were criticised for being slow to light up, but newer versions of this type of light bulb now light up instantly.  LED lights for the home are a relatively new trend and part of the drive towards making homes more energy efficient, while at the same time reducing electricity bills.  But at a far higher cost compared to other traditional light bulbs is it really more cost effective to switch to home LED lighting in the long run? If so, how much more?

Many governments are in the process of phasing out these types of Halogen light bulbs in favour of more efficient forms of light such as LED lighting. As well as being very inefficient in terms of light generation, halogen bulbs are also non eco-friendly. These types of bulbs burn out quicker than LED alternatives; resulting in a more wasteful product in term of materials that are unable to be recycled. 

GU10 LED Spotlights VS Halogen Spotlights

To work out which light bulb is best for your house and the most cost effective, taking into account upfront costs and running costs, we have compared LED bulbs against halogen bulbs. We have omitted traditional bulbs due to their non-compliance to Eco and energy efficiency.

For this test we have compared 2 spotlight versions of LED and halogen. A GU10 50 Watt halogen lampand a GU10 5 Watt LED lamp.

Cost of Buying and Running LED and Halogen Bulbs Over Their Lifetime


Halogen Bulb

LED Bulb

Cost per bulb




50 Watt

5 Watt

Lifetime hours

1,500 hours

25,000 hours

KWh of electricity used over 25,000 hours



Cost of electricity @£0.15/ kWh



Bulbs needed to last 25,000 hours



Total bulb expense



Total cost (buying and running for 25,000 hours)




The table above shows that for each halogen light bulb that you replace with an LED alternative you will save £197.27 over its lifetime. (NB: This is based on a typical electricity rate of 15 pence per Kilowatt hour and a home LED spotlight lasting 25, 000 hours).

Let’s now look at what this means on a yearly basis.  25,000 hours of light is hard to imagine and although saving almost £200 per bulb over its lifetime sounds too good to be true, what does this actually equate to on a yearly basis and what are we really going to save on our electricity bills? For the following calculations we have made the assumption that each light bulb is used for 8 hours a day, 7 days a week and that this does not change between LED and Halogen.

Cost of Buying and Running LED and Halogen Bulbs Over a Year


Halogen Bulb

LED Bulb

KWh of electricity used per year



Cost of electricity @£0.15/ kWh



Cost of running one bulb for a year




Based on the details above, by swapping to LED lighting in your home you will save on average £19.65 per year per bulb that you change.

A typical 3-bedroom house on average uses 20 GU10 light bulbs and if all of these were changed to GU10 LED lights, it would save you £393 in electricity costs each year, with the initial upfront cost to buy new LED bulbs being £85.60. This means that the expense of changing to LED bulbs will pay for itself after 5 months of being installed and used.

Other Benefits of Swapping to LED light Fittings

As well as being longer lasting and more cost effective LED lighting can be beneficial in other ways too.  LEDs brighten up instantly and are unaffected by frequent switching on and off; they produce a focused beam of light making them suitable for a wide variety of applications such as spot lights, display cabinets and garden features etc; they are compact and durable making them suitable for both indoor and outdoor lighting; and they are very precisely controllable allowing for a very dynamic control of light intensity, color and distribution. GU10 Led bulbs are also available in dimmable and non-dimmable varieties to such many needs.

When to use other forms of Halogen Bulbs

Although halogen light bulbs are not energy efficient compared to their LED counterpart and have been criticised for giving out too much heat, this can work in their favour in some situations. 

Use halogen light bulbs in rooms where you need extra heat; this is especially relevant on building site or during home renovations. Due to the excess heat that is given off, this can be used to warm a room. Halogen lighting also works well as outdoor lighting and features where additional heat is required.

If you are struggling on what light fixture to choose for your home, or for a client’s new build or renovation, call our team on 0845 301 2016 from the UK or 1890 927 871 for Ireland. Shop our range of LED lights for the home and Halogen gas light bulbs online today. To work out how much you can save on your home energy bills by switching to LED spotlights, check out this Energy Calculator.

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