LED Lights – Home LED Incandescent Replacements
LED Lights – Home LED replacement bulbs are getting more cost effective as well as finding their way into big box stores. While many are custom designed for under cabinet lights to closet lights that are battery powered, there are many on the internet that can be had for what CFL's were a few years ago. They use up to 1/10 the electricity of an incandescent, and last 10 times as long. Compared to an incandescent bulb, an LED will last up to 100 times as long – up to 100,000 hours of use. Comparing the electricity used, you'll be saving a lot over a twenty year period. At Eight hours a day you'll spend:
40W Incandescent Light $ 59 in replacement bulbs (59 bulbs)
$ 467 in electricity (0.2 / KWh)
Total: $ 526
CFL 40W Equivalent Bulb $ 15 in replacement bulbs (5 bulbs)
$ 105 in electricity (0.2 / KWh)
Total: $ 120
LED 40W Equivalent Bulb $ 0 in replacement bulb (still working)
$ 51 in electricity (0.2 / KWh)
Total: $ 51
A difference of $ 475 from an incandescent, and a difference of $ 69 from a CFL. CFL's still have some advantage at first cash outlay, though the LED bulbs will pay for itself (considering approximately $ 20 for a bulb) in four years compared to CFL's, and keep on going. It'll pay for itself as a replacement of an incandescent in less than a year!
What Do You Need?
There are two types of "Edison Base" screw in LED bulbs available current: Spot / Flood, and Globe.
The Spot / Flood type are directional: they only send light out in a flashlight-like pattern. These are great for recessed lighting, for floodlights, or for lighting up a specific area. These are best as "top down" lighting, where the bulbs are illuminating from the ceiling. The reason for this is that the electronics that power the LEDs produce heat, which – if the bulb was illuminating towards the ceiling, the heat cooks the LEDs and shortens their lifespan. When pointed down, the fixture itself acts as a heatsink, drawing the heat away from the LEDs.
If you're replacing a bulb in a room lamp like a torchier, you'll want the "globe" variety. These LED fixtures shine their light more like a convetional bulb in every direction, and are better suited for floor lamps and overhead lights, especially the overhead lights where they do not screw in vertically, but screw in at an angle and take advantage of a Reflector.
Two Configurations – Benefits and Drawbacks
There are two different configurations of LED bulbs available too, and they've both got their advantages and disadvantages:
Large Cluster LED Bulbs – these have more than ten LED's within the unit, and look like some of the UFO's in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, except the light is all white. The advantage here is cost: they're much easier to manufacture inexpensively. The disadvantage is that every LED is a possible point of failure: for each LED, there are two solder joints that can go bad, along with the conversion circuitry inside.
Single or Small Cluster LED Bulbs – these bulbs use more expensive LEDs that deliver more lumens per LED (more light). Their main advantage is that there are fewer points of failure: a five LED cluster only has ten points of possible failure outside of the driver circuits, where a reasonable bulb will have 120 points of failure for a 60 LED cluster or more! The disadvantage is that they're more expensive to manufacuture due to the cost of the individual LED's, and the circuitry inside has to be more precise.
What Should I Get?
You have to weigh out the cost vs. The possibility of failure, and where the bulb going to do you the most good. Night time outdoor floods make the most sense and are worth the cost, especially if they're on all the time. Indoors, the light that's always left on in the hallway is the one you'll most likely want to replace. Also, you have to be sure it fits! Just like CFL's, the LED replacement bulbs may not fit in the fixture you'd like. Be sure you can compare the shape and size of the bulb so you know it'll fit: otherwise you'll have some expensive LED Edison base bulbs lighting up your cell, or other places that they're badly used, just because they fit ! Another factor to consider is the light output – if it 'equivalent to a 15 watt bulb, you're not going to use it in a hallway. Get at least a 40W equivalent for these areas, preferably more.
Replacing one 40W bulb with an LED equivalent will pay for itself in less than one year, and you've got up to 19 more years to reap the rewards! Think of replacing five bulbs: the first year costs you about $ 100. The second year you've saved $ 100, in five years you've saved $ 500, in ten you've saved $ 1000, etc.
Once LED bulbs reach $ 10 per bulb, there will be a major shift towards solid state lighting. Until then, parting with $ 100 in this economic environment is doubtful, despite the cost savings long term.