Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Evolving Lighting: An LED bulb under $10

As we noted previously in this space, old-school incandescent bulbs create 90% heat and just 10% light.  That's awful for a device that is built to do one thing: produce light! 

CFL bulbs are much more efficient, creating just 35% heat and 65% light.

The new LED bulbs produce 10% heat and 90% light. 

It isn’t difficult to see which is most efficient.  And on top of efficiency, LED bulbs are rated to last 20 years or more.  The big drawback with LED’s, however, has always been the price tag. 

When we first started buying LED bulbs 18 months ago, the price tag for a 60W-equivalent bulb was $40 or more.  If you wanted an LED bulb that was equivalent to a 40w the cost was $25.  That buys a lot of CFL bulbs, right?  Well, with (slightly overblown) concerns about mercury exposure from broken CFL bulbs and the relatively short lifespan of CFL vs LED, we want all the bulbs in our home to be LED!  But the cost of replacing the all the CFL’s in our home with LED’s (over $650 at that time) was pretty steep to upgrade only 10% of our energy usage (lighting typically uses 10-12% of a home's overall energy consumption). 

Well, the cost of replacing light bulbs just dropped significantly.       

Last week, we saw something we haven’t seen before: a 40w-equivalent LED bulb for $9.98 at one of the big box stores.  We bought a couple and put them in our almost-always-on traffic areas around our home.  There is no difference that we can tell in the 'warm color' of the bulb (measured in Kelvins) and we are looking forward to the savings.  With an estimated operating cost of .90 cents per year, the savings will start piling up quickly!  Time to stock up.