Is Switching To LED Bulbs Worth It?
With technology increasing on a daily basis in the area of lighting, we need to address
the choices available to us, the consumer. The subject of LED lighting is a great place
to start. To get a better understanding of this subject, we need to explain exactly what a
“Light Emitting Diode” is. A diode is an electronic semiconductor device, that allows
current to flow in one direction. As it does, light is produced in the form of “photons”.
For many years we were only limited to the color red, and these devices were mostly
used as indicator lights. This is not a new technology after all, but has been around
since 1962. To get the white light needed to get LED technology to the level of
commercial lighting grade, red, blue, and green LED's needed to be developed. We
have arrived at that place today, and now we can enjoy the benefits of this incredible
For many years we have been limited to the incandescent light bulb. Nothing more
than a wire filament, enclosed in a vacuum. This has been the standard since 1879.
Many improvements have been made over the years, but this form of lighting has its
limits. The companion, and slightly better upgrade, is the fluorescent bulb. The
difference between the two is that a gas is ignited inside the bulb, instead of having a
wire filament. The only draw back, is now a transformer is needed, to increase the
voltage to these bulbs. Now we have another component and cost.
The common denominator that both of these types of lighting have to contend with, is
HEAT. Not just in wasted energy, but heat destroys the components, (both lamps and
transformers), and they have to be replaced. LED lighting is virtually heat free.
One of the best uses of LED technology is the street light. Most of our street lighting is
composed of three different styles of bulbs and transformers. They are known as HID:
or High Intensity Discharge fixtures. There is the Metal Halide, that produces a bright
white light. Mercury Vapor, that has a blueish-green shade, and the High Pressure
Sodium, that yields a reddish-yellow light. All of these types may last up to 24,000
hours, but the enemy of heat, ultimately takes a toll. The bulbs alone have a cost range
from $8.00 for a 400 watt lamp, to $80.00 plus, for 1000 watts. The transformers alone
start at over $100 each.
We can retrofit our street lights with LED lighting, for around $100 for the entire fixture,
(plus labor). The lifetime for this fixture is estimated to be 10 to 15 years, (no LED has
been in service this long, to confirm this data). That is two to four times the lifetime of
HID lighting. The cost of energy for a 901-milliwatt LED is about .48 per hour.
Compared to a standard HID fixture that uses $1.00 per hour. A savings of millions of
dollars a year in energy costs, and is better for the environment. Another feature is
when a HID lamp goes out due to power loss, it takes around 20 minutes to cool down,
and to warm back up. A LED comes back on instantly. This is a major safety feature,
when light is needed right away.
How does this help me at home, you ask?
The incandescent bulb, and the florescent, we
have available today have limits. The compact florescent contains high levels of
mercury and radiation. Something we were told was good for us, has many dangers.
LED technology is safer, cleaner, cooler, and lasts much longer than conventional
Are the costs comparable?
A LED bulb costs more than an incandescent or florescent
bulb up front right now, but the long-term benefits outweigh the price. LED lighting is
the future, and other means of lighting will soon be phased out. The price to get a
regular bulb will continue to be higher, as production, and customer demand change.
Like any technology, the price will drop dramatically, as we find better ways to produce
Make the switch to LED lighting today. You will be glad you did.