LED Lightbulbs - Reached the right price

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by vrDrew, Mar 23, 2013.

  1. vrDrew macrumors 65816

    Joined:
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    Midlife, Midwest
    #1
    I've been keeping an eye on low-energy use lighting for my home for some time now.

    About five years ago I began a somewhat disappointing experiment with compact fluorescent bulbs. Not only were they more expensive, but they didn't produce very good light, they took a while to reach full brightness, and - most annoyingly - they seemed to burn out fairly quickly.

    Now, however, it looks like decent LED bulbs are reaching an acceptable price level, at least here in the US. Home Depot, for instance, is selling 40W equivalent LEDs for less than $10 each. While that seems like a lot, if you consider they are supposed to have an almost 30 year lifespan, and use roughly 1/10th as much electricity - then it starts to make sense.

    The performance of these bulbs seems excellent. I bought a "bright white" bulb for bedside reading, and the lower watt-equaivalent warm white for the other applications. The light is excellent, comparable to a good quality incandescent, IMHO.

    I calculated that my five most-used bulbs were on an average of 6 hours per day each. Five times 60 watts times six hours = 1.8 kW x 0.08 cost = $52/annual electricity cost for incandescents.

    Replacing these bulbs with LEDs (average 9 watts) brings my annual cost to burn these lights down to roughly $7.78 - saving me almost $45 per year, and giving a investment payback period of about 18 months.

    Add in the convenience of knowing that (theoretically, at least) I ought never need to replace a burned out lightbulb, and it starts to look like a pretty good deal. The only downside, if there is one, is that I'll have remember to pack and ship my lightbulbs the next time I move.
     
  2. Shrink macrumors G3

    Shrink

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2011
    Location:
    New England, USA
    #2
    While I would agree that LEDs are an improvement over the CFLs I'm currently using, your calculations are based on a 40w equivalent bulb. That's a very low light bulb, and I'm considering LEDs, but need higher wattage equivalent bulbs. I haven't done any of the calculations (better said, I'm incapable of doing the calculations!!:eek:), do you see similar savings in higher wattage equivalents...say 60w and 75w equivalent LED bulbs?
     
  3. Kissaragi macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2006
    #3
    I love LED bulbs, if your replacing halogens then they can save a lot of money. Our kitchen went from 400w to 32w.
     
  4. balamw Moderator

    balamw

    Staff Member

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    Aug 16, 2005
    Location:
    New England
    #4
    I try to keep abreast of these developments too, I've got LED candelabra bulbs in one fixture we keep on a long time every day and I am much happier with them than CFLs.

    As Shrink says I'm still holding out for the promise of a good 60-150 W replacement bulb, though in many cases I'd be willing to replace the whole fixture and not just the bulb since that can eliminate the problems with removal of heat from LED bulbs.

    I think in the not too distant future we may have some kind of household wide DC bus for running devices that want relatively low DC voltages and not 120-240V AC.

    B
     
  5. Mac'nCheese macrumors 68030

    Mac'nCheese

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  6. Kissaragi macrumors 68020

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    Nov 16, 2006
    #6
    Some are, some arnt. You have to be careful.
     
  7. vrDrew thread starter macrumors 65816

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Midlife, Midwest
    #7
    Absolutely. (Pardon my "back of the envelope" calculations.)

    I bought a 60w equivalent for bedside reading - with a very bright 5000K light. This bulb, plugged into my trusty Kill A Watt meter is drawing less than 10 watts. Based on my average (for this particular bulb) of three hours daily use it is saving me 3x 50 x 365 x $0.085 = $4.65 per year in electricity. The cost of this LED bulb was somewhat higher - $14, versus the $9.97 for the cheapest ones. But it still brings the payback period to comfortably under three years - especially if you take into account that I was replacing my incandescent bulbs once or twice per year.

    I live in a place with relatively low electricity costs: $0.085 kw/Hr. versus $0.1147 nationally. The higher your electricity costs, and the more hours per day you use the bulb - the greater the savings and the faster the payback. A couple of bulbs in a guest bathroom that get used used, at most, twenty minutes per week? A long, long time to pay back your investment. The floor lamps and sconces that light up your living room: relatively quickly.

    A couple more notes on LED bulbs.

    One, specialty fixtures, such as a the 6" downlight I'd need to illuminate my breakfast table, are still relatively expensive, and therefore difficult to justify on an energy/use basis - especially as I only spend twenty minutes a day using it. Also, most of these bulbs are for inside use only.

    You can spend a great deal on LED bulbs: The Apple Store is selling a Phillips "Hue" starter pack that contains three (3) multicolored LED bulbs that you can control with your iDevice for $200. Interesting, but I'm not that into trying to impress my friends.

    LED bulbs can be used with conventional dimmers and timers, although in some cases they may not work exactly as expected due to line noise, neutral-ground integrity, etc.
     
  8. Shrink macrumors G3

    Shrink

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2011
    Location:
    New England, USA
    #8
    Thanks so much for taking the time to provide your terrific response to my question.

    So now I have another question (no good deed goes unpunished!!:p): where did you get the 60w equivalent. I have looked about, but I'd being buying a pig in a poke. Since you hasve experience with this, I will impose upon your patience and goodwill to ask where you bought your 60w equivalent LEDs?:D
     
  9. samiwas macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2006
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    #9
    I use hundreds of the Philips MR16 lamps in museum exhibitions I light (I use pro EnduraLED brand, but the consumer MasterLED brand is the same thing). They are absolutely wonderful. Great light, very bright, and dimmable. For the most part, I use 7w versions, which replaced the 50w lamps I had been using. And I have to dim them down to like 30%.

    Of course, these aren't going to replace 6" recessed cans, but I imagine that the 6" replacements are also very good.
     
  10. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

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    Mar 2, 2008
    Location:
    Always a day away
    #10
    The only experience I have with residential-grade LED lighting is a pair of night light bulbs I bought some time ago. Each one lasted six weeks, and I paid ten dollars for the pair. They're going to have to do a LOT to convince me to spend any more money on them - that's worse than the CFL's I vowed never to buy again.
     
  11. balamw Moderator

    balamw

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    New England
    #11
    Wow. That's pretty crappy.

    I've had some LED nightlights for 6 years this week. (Had to check). They run all the time and use far less energy and produce more light than the 7W incandescents they replaced.

    They are $13 for a 4 pack and $3.59 ea. http://www.maxximastyle.com/led-nig...or-package-of-4-led-night-lights#.UU9v7qU5PDM

    B
     
  12. LuxoJunior macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2013
    #12
    Same here. Been running LED lights in closets and laundry room that stay on a lot. Also have 3 LED bulbs always on in the kitchen for night-light. Recently moved to Hue bulbs and will be using those in everything I can in the future.
     
  13. ijohn.8.80 macrumors 65816

    ijohn.8.80

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2012
    Location:
    Adelaide, Oztwaylya.
    #13
    We just recently outfitted the entire home with these, except for one old fluorescent tube that still remains in play. We swapped out 60-75 watt equivalent compact fluorescent globes for 12 watt rated LED's that only draw 10 watts and a few desk lamps received 7 watt lamps. I was amazed at the difference of EMF's from them as compared to the compact fluorescents using my magnetometer. We were all getting headaches sitting at our desks using the compact fluorescents in our lamps, I thought I would check the EMF's out of curiosity. The levels were off the scale, almost... and they were very close to our heads. The LED's are barely registering at all. Not a headache between us all since the change. Initially we had the 5000K lamps, but she who must be obeyed made me change the lounge room and dining room ones to a warmer frequency (3500K).
     
  14. samiwas macrumors 65816

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    Aug 26, 2006
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    #14
    Most likely, it was some off-brand nightlight using really cheap LEDs. Also, how long ago was this? LED technology has come a long way in just the past few years.

    The MR16s I have in the museum exhibits have been running for several years for around 10-14 hours every day. We've had two replacements out of several hundred LEDs.

    Eww...I'd make you do the same thing. 5000K in living spaces is awfully cold. Even 3500k is still pretty cool, but generally OK. I'd go down to 2700k for real warmth. But of course, it's all personal preference.
     
  15. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

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    #15
    It was two years ago. Off-brand or not, I expect a product that promises long life to give me more than a month and a half. The incandescents I bought to replace them (at 99 cents for four bulbs) are still going strong.

    Like I said, my beef is with residential-grade products. I specify LED products for my clients (commercial and institutional) without issue, but they have much deeper pockets and commercial energy codes to follow.
     
  16. samiwas macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2006
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    Atlanta, GA
    #16
    I agree with you there. They certainly should last much longer than that. I would say that the fault is with the manufacturer, and not LEDs in general. Although, I have been having some flickering issues with some store-brand MR16s I am using. Most likely more an issue between the electronic transformer and the lamp.

    I think as long as you buy a residential-grade product from a manufacturer that also has a pro brand, you are probably OK. If you buy Lites R Us brand LEDs, I wouldn't expect much. But Philips or GE? I think they will live up to expectations.
     
  17. shinji macrumors 65816

    shinji

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2007
    #17
    I've replaced most of the bulbs I have with LED's, except for 60 watt candelabra base dimmable decorative "flame" bulbs which are in a chandelier that came with my apartment. I have not been able to find an LED replacement anywhere, just lower wattage replacements.

    Do these even exist in LED form? Because nobody has them.
     
  18. Roller macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2003
    #18
    The closest I've found are these, but I don't know for certain how their light output compares to the 60W incandescents I have in our foyer chandelier now. I would love to replace them with 30,000 hour bulbs because we have to hire someone to do it. There are similar bulbs on Amazon, but I'm looking for 2,700K output. LED bulbs are still pricey, so they make sense in places where they're on for long periods and/or where frequent replacement is a problem.
     
  19. balamw Moderator

    balamw

    Staff Member

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    Location:
    New England
    #19
    Not well given the site's description: "Light output comparable to 25~30 Watt incandescent bulbs." :p

    IMO, this is the particular type of application where a retrofit bulb makes no sense. It would be far better to redesign the chandelier as a DC device with a single AC/DC converter / controller at the ceiling and not have the inefficiency of the AC/DC conversion in each bulb.

    B
     

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