USA TODAY – LED Bulbs Pay Off in the Long Run
THEY COST MORE NOW, BUT LIGHT-EMITTING DIODES ARE SHINING BRIGHTER AND LASTING LONGER THAN TRADITIONAL LIGHT BULBS.
(Photo: Photo: Cover photo by Odessy Barbu/Getty Images)
- LED bulbs can last up to 25 times longer than traditional 40- and 60-watt bulbs.
- Inefficient 100-, 75-, 60- and 40-watt bulbs won’t be sold in the U.S. after 2014.
- Forecasters say LED prices will drop as the technology improves.
If the next light bulb you buy is an LED, it may be your last.
The technology behind light-emitting diodes has advanced to the point that the bulbs can replace traditional 40- and 60-watt light bulbs and last up to 25 times longer.
“You’re going to see people say, ‘I’m taking my light bulbs with me to my new home,'” says Bill Nottingham of Nottingham Spirk, a Cleveland-based industrial design company that’s working on LED lighting technology.
Traditional light bulbs are on the way out. The U.S. mandated a phaseout of the most common wattages of incandescent bulbs; inefficient 100-, 75-, 60- and 40-watt bulbs will not be sold after 2014.
And the future looks bright for the LED market. Now old-school manufacturers like GE and Philips and younger players like Feit Electric, Cree and Elite are battling it out for shelf space in the lighting sections at big-box stores.
WHAT’S WRONG WITH MY OLD BULBS?
Dating back to Thomas Edison, incandescent light bulbs mostly produced heat instead of light. Over the last two decades, halogens and compact fluorescents have improved the energy efficiency of bulbs. But they’re no match for LED technology. LEDs last up to 10 times longer than compact fluorescents while providing the same amount of light. And, unlike other bulbs, LEDs put off only a small amount of heat and rarely break.
SOUNDS GREAT. WHAT’S THE CATCH?
In a word: price. While an eight-pack of incandescents costs about $3 at the local big-box store, a single LED bulb can cost between $20 and $50. The high price tag may make it too expensive to outfit your entire home with LEDs at once. But while you’re making the switch, test out bulbs from different manufacturers to see what works best for you.
Forecasters expect prices to drop as technology improves. “As you see price points drop to the $8 to $10 range, you’ll start to see some real adoption there,” says Joe Gullo, a former GE lighting executive who’s now leading Rambus, an LED designer. “That’s probably four to five years out.”
SO WHAT SHOULD A CONSUMER DO?
Know that LEDs are getting better and cheaper all the time—and, no matter the price, they’re a good investment. They’ll save you money on your electric bill and the cost of buying new bulbs. Plus they open you up to some neat uses of wireless technology: Imagine dimming your lights from an iPhone app instead of a wall switch.
“LEDs are ‘chip-on-board’ products; you can control LEDs without even using a light switch. [You’ll be able] to turn your lights on and off remotely. You can decide what type of light temperature you want in your home. This is the next generation,” says Mark Voykovic, The Home Depot light bulb expert.
This article is excerpted from USA TODAY Green Living magazine. The special publication contains articles on sustainable living, green products, DIY projects, and people and companies helping to save the planet. Get an eco-friendly version for your tablet or computer at zinio.com/usatodaymags.