Shedding Light On LED Lights: Leaders In Cost & Performance
In this era about driving attention to energy efficiency, few, if any, are going to argue a case against the benefits of using LED lights.
But replacing burnt-out incandescent bulbs with LEDs is no simple undertaking, especially when it comes to price. LED bulbs, built using emitting diodes, although certain to last longer than the Edison-style incandescent bulbs and demand less electricity, are not what you expect to find in the nearest neighborhood bargain basement store
Another incandescent replacement is the compact fluorescent light, or CFL, which contains mercury , a toxic chemical. Aside from how best to dispose of toxic bulbs when they burn out (recycling these seems to be a myth), the biggest knock on CFLs involves the overall, less attractive light they provide when compared to the old-fashioned incandescents.
The Transition To LEDs
While LEDs today are far less expensive now than they used to be, they still cost considerably more than a 4-pack of the old incandescents, which are being discontinued. To this point, Holly Johnson adds, “And while prices for LED light bulbs were astronomical when we first covered this topic just a few years ago — upwards of $100 for one bulb — you can now pick up a cheap, 60-watt-equivalent LED light bulb for less than $5.”
While Johnson's staggering price of $100 may seem unreal to some readers, a $50 tab per bulb was not uncommon that long ago. Today, the average is below $10 a bulb, even though certain LED brands cost more.
How LEDs Work
LEDs have traditionally been used in small electronic displays. According to the Lighting Research Center , LEDs are semiconductor diodes, electronic devices that permit current to flow in only one direction. The diode is formed by bringing two slightly different materials together to form a PN junction (Figure below). In a PN junction , the P side contains excess positive charge (“holes,” indicating the absence of electrons) while the N side contains excess negative charge (electrons).
LED Lifespan Makes The Difference and can be dimmed
Ultimately, what puts LEDs above incandescent bulbs and CFLs is how long they can last. According to Consumer Reports , LED light bulbs can last anywhere from 20,000 to 50,000 hours (up to 5 1/2 years), or up to five times longer than any comparable bulb on the market. Just don't break them or expose them to water.
Buying Energy Star Certified LED Lights
Here's the lowdown on what ENERGY STAR certification means: Strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Lighting products that have earned the ENERGY STAR label deliver exceptional features, while using less energy. Saving energy helps you save money on utility bills and protects the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
According to Energy Star, these certified bulbs
Use about 70-90% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs
Last 10 to 25 times longer
Save $30 to $80 in electricity costs over each bulb's lifetime
Meet strict quality and efficiency standards that are tested by accredited labs and certified by a third party
Produce about 70-90% less heat, so it's safer to operate
Can cut energy costs associated with home cooling
These factors stack a pretty impressive reasons for using LEDs.