While all backlights perform the same general function, the method in which they light up an LCD panel differs significantly. With a variety of backlight technologies that exist today the list and table below provides an overview of each backlight technology and how they compare against each other:

CCFL

Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lamps (CCFL) are arranged behind the screen. A diffusion panel spreads the light evenly across the LCD panel.

Pros:  Cost, availability
Cons: Thickness, mercury disposal, power consumption, higher weight

Edge-Lit LED

White LEDs are positioned around the edge of the screen. A diffusion panel spreads the light evenly across the LCD panel.

Pros: Ultra-slim depth, lightweight, energy efficient, low heat output
Cons: Limited selection (newer to market), higher cost than CCFL

Back-Lit LED

Full array of individual white or RGB LEDs are positioned directly behind the screen.

Pros:  Lightweight, energy efficient
Cons: Thickness, higher cost than CCFL

 

ModelCCFLBack-lit LEDEdge-lit LED
Depth < 4" < 4"  < 4"
Power Consumption High Low (20-50% less than CCFL) Low (20-50% less than CCFL)
Mercury Yes (~4mg per unit) No No
Heat Produced Moderate Low Low
Cost $ $$ $$$