According to the U.S. Department of Energy, LEDs (light-emitting diodes) are one of today’s most energy efficient and rapidly developing technologies. The selection has increased and prices have come down, but is it time to switch all of your lighting to LEDs? Let’s examine your options.
There are many benefits to LED lighting. LEDs burn very cool and emit very little heat unlike incandescent and halogen bulbs. There is no fragile filament like an incandescent to deal with and there is no mercury involved as with a CFL (compact fluorescent light, the “swirly” bulb). LEDs are compatible with most systems. They screw in just like incandescents and other models can replace halogen bulbs.
All light bulbs will have to meet new energy standards which take effect 2012-2014. A 100 watt traditional bulb will be replaced by a bulb that uses 74 watts or less to produce a similar amount of light. An energy efficient halogen incandescent lasts about three times longer than a traditional incandescent. The annual energy cost of an energy efficient halogen incandescent is around $3.50 per year.
Suppose we chose the CFL equivalent. The CFL lasts about ten times longer than a traditional incandescent and costs about $1.20 per year in energy.
An LED uses nearly the same number of watts (12.5-13W) as a CFL (13-14W) to replace a 60 watt traditional incandescent. An LED’s annual energy cost is around $1.00 per year.
However, an LED lasts 25 times longer than a traditional incandescent and twice as long as a CFL. This is a big benefit if you’ve got high ceilings and don’t want to contend with a burned out bulb. And who hasn’t dealt with a burned out bulb on a set of Christmas lights? LEDs might be your answer.
It appears that LEDs use the least amount of electricity and last the longest, but there’s a catch. Right now, an LED (60W equivalent) can cost anywhere from $10-30 per bulb while you can find a CFL as low as $1-2 per bulb. The cost of an LED varies greatly depending on several factors. You’ll want to pay very close attention to those factors. Learn more at the right.
Even at this price, the U.S. Department of Energy says that an LED will still save money compared to a traditional incandescent in the long run because LEDs last so long.
Now let’s assume you have 30 bulbs to replace. At $10-30 per LED, would you want to spend $300-900 to replace all of your bulbs? Upgrading all of your lights in one shopping trip may be a little too overwhelming. Consider replacing them one at a time or watch for prices to come down. Right now, CFLs still offer the lowest overall cost.
CFLs have decreased in price considerably in the past few years. LEDs will drop as well. The U.S. Department of Energy says that LEDs are still in an early stage. Prices of LEDs are expected to come down as more products are introduced to the market.
Now that you’ve learned about prices and efficiency, you’re ready to shop, right? Hold up! There are several factors to consider when choosing a light. These are things to consider regardless of the type of light you’ll be purchasing: bulb brightness (lumens), color (°K or kelvin), watts (energy consumption), application, and the bulb’s life expectancy.
New lighting is now required by the Federal Trade Commission to include a “Lighting Facts” label which makes it easier to compare. Watch for this label on packaging.