People are creatures of habit and oftentimes, venturing into something new seems intimidating, especially when we talk about technology. Even though LED lighting is not a new concept, the technology has been taking off in recent years and is currently experiencing its fastest growth in history.
LED lights have taken a slower growth path compared to traditional lights. Their price, in the beginning, made them practically unfeasible but today the prices of LED lighting are lower than ever.
With an increasing number of LED lighting products being introduced to the market, what do businesses and consumers need to know to make the right buying decision?
How are LED lights different from traditional lights?
Incandescent and halogen lights create light by heating the filament inside the bulb and 90% of the energy they use is wasted to generate heat.
Compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs use only 30% of the energy they require on generating heat. However, with CFLs, an electric current is driven through a tube that contains argon and mercury vapor. Mercury is a toxic material which requires special care when disposing and can pose a safety hazard if the bulb breaks.
LED lights provide the safest and most efficient lighting option. LEDs use only a tiny fraction of energy in generating heat and don’t produce heat in the form of infra-red or UV radiation. Most LED bulbs have a heat sink in the base from where the heat is dissipated into the air allowing LED lights to remain cool. Plus, they are primarily created from shatterproof materials so there is no concern of breakage.
How efficient are LED lights?
The best LED lights on the market exceed the efficiency of CFL and HID light sources by far. In most cases, they can reduce energy consumption by up to 90%. On average, LED lights are the most efficient light source today.
A 60W incandescent bulb obviously uses 60 Watts. The CFL equivalent uses between 13 and 15 Watts and the LED equivalent uses only 6-8 Watts. This difference is even more significant when we talk about the kW/Hour used on a yearly basis. An average Incandescent bulb uses 3,285 kW/Hour. The average CFL light uses 767 kW/Hour and the average LED: 329 kW/Hour . Moreover, the longer you use LED, the difference keeps on increasing.
How long do
LED lights last?
High-quality LED lights have an expected lifetime between 30,000 and 50,000 hours. Just to compare, average incandescent lights last up to 1,000 hours, average CFL lights between 8,000 and 10,000, while the best-quality fluorescent lights can last up to 30,000 hours.
How much money can you save if you convert to LED?
If you’re planning to switch to LED lights, you’re probably eager to learn about the cost benefits. While this can vary widely based on the LED products you choose and your application, we created a table comparing the average lifespan, use of electricity, cost of electricity and the total operational cost of traditional bulbs compared to LED lights so you can get an idea.
Here we compared high-quality LED lights, high-quality CFL lights, and the incandescent lights. The difference is obvious. Switching from incandescent lights to LED in a home will save $278 per bulb over 23 years. If we take into consideration that the average home has approximately 40 light bulbs, this amounts to $11,120 USD in 23 years!
With CFL lights, the difference isn’t so drastic but savings would still amount to over $1,100 in 23 years. Plus, there is no risk of exposure to UV or mercury and LED lights do not require special disposal.
Do LED lights generate the same light output?
The main unit for incandescent bulb light output is wattage. Thus, the more watts a bulb has, the brighter it would be. However, that's not the case with LED lights, as they generate the same or greater light output by consuming up to 10 times less energy.
Today we focus on lumens to measure brightness, while wattage is more suited to measuring energy usage. Since LED lights generate higher light output than incandescent lights and use fewer watts, this also means more lumens per watt.
Incandescent lights normally produce 10-12 lumens per watt, CFL lights: 50-60 lumens per watt and LED lights start at 70+ lumens per watt. Many commercial LED lights are capable of generating 120+ lumens/watt or more!
What is CRI?
Another important indicator of the quality of light is the Color-Rendering Index (CRI). This is a measurement of how a light source renders the color of objects, compared to an ideal or natural lighting source. CRI is measured on a scale between 0 and 100, with 100 representing natural daylight. This means that the higher CRI rating gives a truer color rendering and appearance. Some LED lights even have CRI values of 90 or higher.
High-CRI LED lights are a smart choice for industrial and commercial lighting or office spaces since poor lighting can often lead to headaches and eyestrain. LED technology provides a crisp and bright light which comes close to the natural daylight. This can lead to a better mood and morale, especially on dark, winter days.
Are LED lights environment-friendly?
LED lights are, without doubt, the most efficient light source of today with a positive impact on the environment. LED lights emit less carbon dioxide. Let’s assume there are 30 light bulbs in a workspace. If those lights are LED, the average yearly emissions of CO2 will be 451 pounds . Meanwhile, the yearly emissions of CO2 from 30 CFL lights would be 1051 pounds, and from 30 incandescent lights - 4500 pounds. This means that by switching to LED, CO2 emissions can be decreased by a staggering 95%.
Where can LED lights be used?
LED lights are versatile and can be used in almost any application where incandescent or fluorescent lights were once used. It’s really simple to “retrofit” existing fixtures for LED lights in any application, since LED lights come in different variations, from durable, waterproof, outdoor area lights to ambient under-cabinet kitchen lighting, replacing traditional lights with LED lights.
Are there any rebates or incentives if you use LED?
In the US, there are a variety of incentives being offered by energy utilities and local, state and federal governments. Consult the DSIRE website (Database of State Incentives for Renewals and Efficiency) for a comprehensive list of incentives available in your region.
Additionally, the Energy Efficient Commercial Building Deduction, known simply as Section 179D of The Energy Policy Act of 2005 allows tax deductions based on the energy efficiency of commercial buildings. The highest possible deduction is $1.80 per square foot. The deduction involves new commercial and municipal buildings, retrofitted buildings, and LEED buildings.