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LED Blacklight vs Fluorescent

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Have you ever been indecisive when it comes to the type of lighting you need for an occasion or purpose? Well, this is a possibility because there haven’t been many clear discussions about LED blacklight vs fluorescent. The guide will help you find the best option for your specific needs.

LED Blacklight vs Fluorescent

By observation, both LED blacklight and fluorescent produce quality lighting. However, if your knowledge of blacklight is not up to date, you could still confuse the two. Below is a detailed comparison, giving similarities between the two and a verdict on which one is the best for your specific needs.

Fluorescent bulb

LED Blacklight

LED UV blacklights use Light Emitting Diodes to produce UV light that illuminates fluorescent colors and materials.

Most blacklight LEDs sources range on the wavelength of between 385 to 400nm. Individual LEDs of 365nm are relatively expensive. This wavelength is relevant and is the best spot when creating the optimal blacklight effect. Blacklight with wavelength peaking at around 365nm will cover the whole bulb spectrum.

You have a choice to specify the wavelength of light you wish to emit when you buy an LED blacklight. 

What Wavelength is Ideal for LED Black Light?

The wavelength of LED blacklight is specific. LED backlights set at 365nm are 20% more efficient than those that are 405nm. Light set at 365 nm is almost invisible. Because of this, users who don’t know better don’t always feel satisfied with their output.

Fluorescent Blacklight

Fluorescent lamps are low-pressure mercury-vapor gas-discharge lighting appliances that produce visible light using fluorescence. The functionality of the fluorescent lighting system depends on the chemical reaction inside the casing. 

They use a simple process where an electric current passes through a gas to excite the mercury vapor. The mercury inside fluorescent emits UV light (short, medium, and long). This UV light then illuminates the phosphor powder coating on the inside of the lamp/tube emitting white fluorescent light. 

Every fluorescent light tube or lamp has this phosphorus powder. The average luminous efficacy of a fluorescent lighting system is between 50 to 100 lumens per watt.

What Wavelength is Ideal for Fluorescent Black Light?

The phosphorus in these fluorescent tubes converts the ultraviolet light to long-wave ultraviolet light. The coating on the blacklight fluorescent tubes filters any wavelength above 400nm. Fluorescent lamps require a ballast to regulate the electrical current through the ballast factor.

Types of Fluorescent Lights

 The following is a list of some common types of fluorescent lighting:

  • Linear fluorescent tubes
  • Fluorescent bent tubes
  • Fluorescent circline tubes
  • Compact fluorescent lamps (CFL)
LED blacklight

While they use the same technology to produce light, they are different in form, size, and configuration of CFL. Fluorescent blacklight fixtures use the same technology and fashion. The only difference is that blacklight uses phosphorus to produce UV light in place of white light.

Similarities between LED Blacklight and Fluorescent Blacklights

There are some few similarities as follows:

Ultraviolet Light

Both LEDs and Fluorescent blacklight fixtures emit light in the ultraviolet range. However, radiations are only on the UVA levels.

UVA radiation is the safest of all three UV spectra (UVA, UVB, and UVC). However, they still have some harmful effects on humans. While UVA does not cause sunburn because of the low energy level, it can accelerate skin aging by damaging collagen fiber. It can also destroy vitamins A found on human skin.


Both blacklights cause fluorescence that has many practical uses. They are commonly used to authenticate banknotes, oil paintings, and antiques.

The papers that most countries use to print banknotes have a unique fluorescent symbol embedded in them. In addition, these papers do not contain any brightening agents. This feature makes commercially available materials of this nature only fluorescence in blacklight.

We also use blacklights in theme parks, hospitals, and research facilities, night clubs, and other day-long and night long events.

Differences between LED Blacklights and Fluorescent Blacklight

Both types of light contrast in some ways as shown below;

Life span

LED appliances ‘live longer’ than fluorescent blacklights. An average LED light lasts between 50,000 hours to 100,000 hours. This difference is roughly 75 to 90 percent longer than fluorescent blacklights. During this long life, LED appliances require less maintenance and are less involving.

LED backlights do not flicker at the end of their lifetime. On the contrary, they abruptly stop functioning when they expire. Because of this, it isn’t easy to know when your LED blacklight will stop working. 

Fluorescent tubes, however, will give you several warnings when they reach the end of their usefulness. When they begin to flicker, it is time to replace them.


According to research done by the United States Department of Energy, the amount of light emitted from a 12 watts LED is equal to the amount from 15-watt fluorescent tubes. This comparison implies that LED backlights are more energy-efficient than fluorescent.

Building with lights on

Warm-Up Period

Fluorescent blacklight tubes take some moment before they turn on. When the arc lights, it melts and then evaporates metal salt into the plasma. The emission does not fully glow until the salt evaporates into the device. LEDs blacklights, on the other hand, reach full glow instantly.


LEDs are generally more expensive than fluorescent blacklights. Some LED flashlight manufacturers like Inova make flashlights using 3, 365nm LEDs, and 2 405 nm. With the current market rate, LED blacklights with this power are about 10 to 20 times more expensive than fluorescents.

When To Use Fluorescent Blacklight

Whenever you find yourself in the following situations, you could choose fluorescent blacklights over LEDs.

When You Do Not Need To Switch Your Light On And Off

Fluorescent lights age faster when you regularly turn them on and off. It is suitable for people, companies, businesses, or industries that require 24 hours of blacklight. The burning lives of these fixtures extend when they are continuously on. However, this has a lasting effect on power bills.

When You Want To Install Them inside Reflectors

Fluorescent blacklights use 360 degrees spectra light that they emit when used on reflectors. They are suitable when you don’t have a particular object to focus on; otherwise, they won’t be efficient. 

When You Need a Blacklight of Relatively Cheaper Short-Term Lighting

The initial cost of LED blacklight is relatively higher than that of fluorescent. If you are operating on a tight budget, then you should go for the fluorescent lights. They are, however, very convenient when you need blacklights for short term purposes since they only last for 5000 hours.

If You Like Vintage Lighting

In the 80 and 90s, blacklight fluorescent tubes were the go-to blacklight choices. They used to work better than their closest rival back then, incandescent bulbs. 

That said, manufacturers have tried to be creative with their modeling over the past years to make them more relevant. This makes them a perfect choice if you prefer the old-school way.  

When to use an LED blacklight

If you ever find yourself in these situations, we recommend that you pick LED blacklights over fluorescent lights.

LED lamp light

When You Need Value For Your Money In The Long Run

LED backlights to last longer than fluorescent lighting systems. Their initial purchase price might be a bit higher. However, in the long run, their burn time compensates for this purchase price.

They are also energy efficient since they waste less energy in the form of infrared radiation. LEDs are 1.5 to 3.0 times efficient than their fluorescent counterparts.

When You Need an Instant and Frequent Switching Blacklight

LEDs do not have warm-up or cool-down periods. It is advantageous in terms of emergency or when urgency is needed. They are also naturally directional and are ideal when you need to focus the light on a specific item. 

This factor makes the number one choice in large infrastructure projects like signal lights, alarms, and traffic lights.

When You Want A Safe and Environmentally Safe Option

LED backlights do not have any traces of mercury or hazardous materials that are common in fluorescent lighting systems. This factor won’t give you worries when you accidentally break your LED light lamp

To add to that, the materials used in making these lights are 100% recyclable. LEDs help you reduce the carbon footprints but almost one third. They are a better lighting solution in the fight to conserve our eco-system.


While LEDs are not cheap, they prove to be the more affordable long-term options. They have adapted to market demand to produce some of the best blacklights. However, it is prudent to note that although fluorescent blacklights are old school, some people still prefer them over LED blacklights.