Monday, August 27, 2012

LEDs Can Be a Bright Idea

All of us want to save energy.  Not only is it good for the environment, it is good for our wallet.  One of the ways many have chosen to reduce electrical consumption is to use high efficiency lighting in their homes and businesses.  Making the right choice on which light bulb to buy is complicated and, if you make the wrong choice, expensive.

Walking into Home Depot or Lowes in search of a replacement light bulb can be intimidating.  There are standard incandescent and fluorescent tubes, CFLs, halogen and most recently LEDs.  Each package is emblazoned with claims of tremendous efficiency, brightness, long life and warm colors.  Which bulb is really the most efficient and which one will really save money? As most often is the case, there is no easy answer.  The best choice must be based on how the light bulb will be used.

When Compact Fluorescent Lamps or CFLs first came out many people rushed out and bought them since they are very efficient.  A CFL rated at 7 watts could provide the light output of a standard 60 watt incandescent bulb.  Soon, however, some of the less than desirable qualities of this technology became apparent.  Early CFLs provided very harsh white light and were not able to be dimmed.   While these issues have been addressed, some CFL applications result in very short bulb life.

Using a CFL in a bathroom or other location where the light is turned on and off often will result in very short bulb life and any money saved will pale in comparison to replacing the lamp.  Since the light in a bathroom is used intermittently, a regular incandescent light may well be the best choice. 

For sure the new line of LED lighting provides the most promising of the new technologies.  LEDs can provide various color, be dimmed, operate giving off little heat and use minimal energy.  The lamps last for years.

Right now the prices are still very high but are coming down.  You can expect to pay about $20 for a 12 watt LED bulb that will replace the standard 60 watt incandescent in your living room lamp.  While this may sound like a lot to pay for a single light bulb, over the 20+ years of service you can expect from a single LED bulb it will use a fraction of the energy of traditional lighting.


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