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The choice between incandescent and LED lights illuminates the road to efficiency and safety

Incandescent vs. LED: Seeing the Light

Industry News | 11.03.23 | Carlos Romious

Incandescent vs. LED lights: Which Is Best?
As technology continues to change and shift, fleets within the trucking and intermodal industries must make themselves knowledgeable about the newest technologies in order to operate their equipment at the highest efficiency. The process of choosing between incandescent lighting and LED lighting is a significant decision that must be made when specifying new equipment. Let’s take a closer look at these two common options and see which one is best for your lighting needs.

What Are The Key Differences Between the Two?

Traditional incandescent lighting is a basic low-cost option that utilizes a basic wire filament. While filaments produce a high light output, they are also susceptible to weakening as they are heated, making replacement a common occurrence.  In terms of life span, an incandescent bulb only lasts approximately 1,000 hours before needing to be replaced, so the initial inexpensiveness of the bulb will almost certainly translate into more repair hours and time off the road and in the shop.  An LED lamp, on the other hand, uses light emitting diodes instead of wire filaments to produce light.  This new technology makes them last 10x times longer than incandescent lighting while generating less heat, using much less energy, and lighting up more quickly.  Not to mention emitting a brighter light.  LED’s can withstand the vibrations of the road for a longer period of time and absorb the shock more easily than a traditional bulb.

The difference between incandescent and LED lighting can be significant to truck drivers and owners in terms of safety.  Let’s say that the vehicle operator needs to apply their brake lights. LED lighting responds more quickly and delivers far more focused illumination, as opposed to incandescent lighting which requires a quarter of a second to achieve maximum brightness.

Bulb vs. Diode: Which Is The Best Choice?

Incandescent lighting is best utilized for infrequent usage, inexpensive vehicles, and consumer recreation. In other words, they are not the best choice in the trucking industry.  LED lighting is the better choice because it is geared towards equipment that is in constant use. They are best aligned with higher-cost equipment and can be relied upon in for critical usage equipment.

Considering LED over Incandescent? Here Are the Key Considerations

Our changing world is turning to LED’s and eventually the decision may very well be made for you.  In the meantime, businesses that are looking to make the switch must look at the long-term costs, both in terms of price, time lost from the road, and safety.  A few extra dollars spent in the short term could potentially save a small fortune over the long haul.

If you would like to see a more in-depth discussion about how incandescent and LED lights work, and the advantages and disadvantages of each, we have a video for that. At Peterson Lights and Harnesses, we are here to help make this decision. You can also visit our website to find specific technical information with regard to lighting.

Peterson Manufacturing Company

Founded in 1945, Peterson Manufacturing Company is a world-leading innovator in the design, engineering and manufacturing of a complete line of commercial vehicle/trailer safety lighting and harness systems. With headquarters in the greater Kansas City area, Peterson is a privately held company. An ISO 9001:2015 certified company, Peterson Manufacturing is a key subsidiary of Peterson Corporation, five highly specialized companies and nearly 700 associates working in global transportation-related industries. For more information, visit