Replacing All Your Lights With LEDs

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led-light-bulbs-last-longerCan you really nag someone into learning to turn the lights off? You can, but at what cost? At first it’s just an irritant to you – the payer of the bills. Then, it becomes an irritant to the whole family, as you follow the “offenders” from room to room while slowly turning into a curmudgeon that scarily reminds you of the crazier of your two parents. Why let that happen? Install LED (Light Emitting Diode) lighting and end (or at least slow down) the battle now.

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LED lighting is expensive! There’s no doubt about that. We converted our home to 100% LED lighting (with one exception – see below) and spent about $350 – and that price was buying everything through Costco! We went directly from incandescent to LED, as neither of us liked the light quality that compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) put out and also didn’t like that there is mercury content in them.  They took a long time to get to their final brightness and it seemed stupid to turn on the lights before you need them just to let them “ramp up” to full capacity – such as the triple lights over the sinks needed to shave or pluck something.

The LEDs we chose put out a light very close to sunlight. Also, the LEDs were rated at lumens that should have made them slightly less bright, but we think they may be a bit brighter, which to me means the incandescent lights may have been over-rated. We do have one fixture with multiple lights that takes about one second to produce light once the switch is turned on – which is weird since it’s the only one that does that, but we have heard the same story from many people we have talked to about LEDs. Almost every light in our house is on during each and every day. Some of them are on for only a few minutes (in the closet to find shoes) and some of them are on for hours at a time (back porch light that comes on at dusk and goes off at dawn).

I didn’t want to count the usage for every single light (I am too ADD for that), so here’s what the minimum savings break down to :

Original Incandescent Lighting

(a) Back porch at 40 watts, on a minimum of 8 hours a night,
(b) Desk lamp in two home offices, 100 watts each, on about 4 hours a night,
(c) Bedroom light, 100 watts, that for some reason (still unknown to me) stays on at least 4 hours a night

(a) (365 days)(8 hours/day)(0.040 KW) = 117
(b) (365 days)(8 hours/day)(0.100 KW) = 292
(c) (365 days)(4 hours/day)(0.100 KW) = 146

Total per year at 15 cents per KWH = 555 x .15 = $83.23 a year just for these 4 lights!

With LEDs

(a) is now 9 watts
(b) the two desk lights are now using 15 watts each
(c) the bedroom light is now also just 15 watts.

(a) (365 days)(8 hours/day)(0.009 KW) = 26.30
(b) (365 days)(8 hours/day)(0.015 KW) = 43.80
(c) (365 days)(4 hours/day)(0.015 KW) = 21.90

Total per year at 15 cents per KWH = 92 x .15 = $13.80 a year – much better!

We live in southern California where the weather is beautiful and the electricity is a bit pricey. Until the writing of this post, we had NO idea how expensive it was to operate just a few light bulbs for a year. It will take a few years for the bulbs to pay for themselves (around 5) but, if they last even half as long as advertised, we will be quite happy with them. We really like the savings, and the LED lights have encouraged me to quit being such a light nazi (you know exactly what I mean).

The One Exception

As I mentioned before, we tried to convert every light in the house, but we have two fixtures in the kitchen that each require two fluorescent tubes. We had purchased LEDs from Amazon that were configured as a replacement for fluorescent tubes. They were about $50 each!) Essentially, they were a strip of copper with LEDs affixed every few inches inside a frosted plastic tube. They also required a bit of “remodeling” to the original light fixture, as no ballast was required, and the wiring is a bit different. There are very few options out there for fluorescent tube replacement and these went back, as they were pretty terrible. Right out of the box, some of the lights didn’t work and the diodes that did work gave off a weird glow that made everyone look slightly “grey” – so back they went. This was more than a slight hassle due to having to uninstall the fixtures from the recessed area, reconfiguring the fixtures, reinstalling them, testing the lighting, uninstalling everything for a second time, reconfiguring them back to their original configuration, then installing them again.  Our plan is to replace the fixtures with multi-light fixtures that will take the more standard size bulb.

We’ve been living with the LEDs for about 2 months and are quite happy with the result.


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