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Consumer Technology Cree LED costs less than $10

Published on February 6th, 2014 | by Guest Contributor

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Understanding Light Bulbs — CFLs vs LEDs



Beginning January 1, 2014, federal legislation mandates that inefficient 40 and 60 watt incandescent bulbs be phased out of the marketplace in favor of more environmentally friendly bulbs. That means the traditional bulb you grew up using will become a thing of the past. The good news is that there are plenty of other, higher efficiency bulbs to choose from, including LEDs, CFLs, and halogens.

Cree LED Bulb.
Image Credit: CreeBulb.com.

High-efficiency bulbs may cost more upfront, but they last longer and will make a difference in your power bill. In fact, a higher-priced LED bulb is an overall better investment when you consider the electric and maintenance savings, which can be a significant cost factor in commercial settings. It’s a shift in thinking when it comes to shopping for bulbs and it equals a greener purchase in the end, both for your planet and your pocketbook.

LED BULBS

While there are many bulbs to choose from, LEDs (light-emitting diodes) are considered the most energy efficient. You’ve seen LEDs in electronics for years, in digital clocks, remote controls and other devices with an on/off indicator light. Now these long-lasting bulbs are being embraced for their versatile commercial and residential applications that can save up to 85% on energy bills.

Though a good quality LED bulb can run as much as $30-40, consider this: you will rarely replace them. Energy Star–rated lights are guaranteed to last 25,000 hours with normal use, or nearly 23 years.

LEDs do not “burn out” like traditional bulbs and can reduce cooling costs since they emit very little heat, and heat is what wastes energy when you’re talking about lighting. This style of bulb is very durable, as it does not have a fragile shell or filament that may shatter, as happened frequently with conventional incandescent bulbs.

CFL BULBS

CFLs, or compact fluorescent light bulbs, are the tubular- and helical-shaped bulbs that use about 75 percent less energy than a traditional incandescent bulb. They are relatively inexpensive, though not as efficient in comparison to LEDs. Their lifespan is about nine years with normal usage and they can save you up to 75 percent on energy bills.

CFLs do contain a very tiny amount of mercury, about 4 milligrams per bulb, which is never released while the bulb is in use or intact. Your local waste collection agency can advise you on proper recycling of these bulbs.

HALOGEN BULBS

Halogen bulbs are another option to consider. They look and perform much like the conventional incandescent bulbs that are being phased out. Their energy savings and longevity does not compare to CFLs or LEDs, though they are still more efficient than the traditional option.

There are more lighting options available to you than ever before, so finding the right retailer is key to making sense of energy-efficient lighting. 1Lightbulbs.com makes shopping easy with its one-stop-shop web site and knowledgeable staff that is available to answer your questions for projects of all sizes. 1LightBulbs.com is a US-based company that deals directly with manufacturers to bring you the best prices and selections on lighting for your home or business.

This article was supported by 1LightBulbs.com

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  • Justice

    ikea is the LED aficionado’s friend. a 400 Lumens bulb is just 4.49$ right now.

  • Topbulb Guy

    One other consideration for LEDs is not to use them in enclosed fixtures, or their life will be shortened, and they’ll start getting dim faster. They need air so the heat they generate dissipates, so use a CFL if you have an enclosed fixture or are using the bulb in a hot garage or something similar.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Some CFLs and some LEDs are designed for enclosed fixtures.

      Some of each are not.

      Check the package.

  • Rick Kargaard

    I just bought 4 LED bulbs. Total cost 60.00 So far I have replaced one 60 watt incadescent in a ceiling fixture that is used possibly 6 hours per day. Estimated pay back is 1.5 to 2 years. This our highest used light. Other high use lights already have CFLs and I am having some difficulty deciding where to use the other three.
    It does, however, seem like a no brainer to slowly switch considering the savings. Savings would be greater where electric rates are higher. Our rates are about 8 cents per KWH currently, not counting delivery costs which don’t vary much with less usage.

    • Bob_Wallace

      I think it makes sense to change out the most used bulbs with LEDs now. Those lights that get turned on only a few minutes a week, not so big a rush.

      CFLs are great buys for the places where they are appropriate.

      And over time the price of LEDs should come down quite a bit. A decade ago CFLs cost about what LEDs cost now. Today one can buy CFLs for less than $1 each.

      • Rick Kargaard

        I agree, Costs should come down. The savings are so great that waiting for a lower price to replace much used bulbs is not a good approach..

        • Bob_Wallace

          LED savings are not great for the light in the guest bedroom closet. The one that gets turned on ten minutes twice a year. Whatever.

          At $8 or more the bulb will probably never pay for itself.

          But since this is a place where the risk of bulb breakage is close to zero it would be an excellent place for a CFL. A <$1 CFL would pay for itself in replacement bulbs. Just a single incandescent bulb replacement would likely make incandescents more expensive than CFLs.

          • Kiwiiano

            CFL life expectancies are affected by the number of times they are turned on and off, so they are NOT advised for installation in, say, security lights or toilets where they are on & off frequently. They are better in situations where they are on for long periods like porches or halls.
            LEDs have no such problem and they will replace CFLs and Halogens as their prices continue to tumble.

            The other thing to remember that when you stumble into the kitchen in the middle of the night and open the frig door, you flood the kitchen with more light than an entire mid-19th century household. Our homes are wildly over-lit. Do you really need to illuminate the entire lounge just to read a book? Or would an over-the-shoulder lamp work just as well? Turning off lights or even removing lamps entirely can be very, very effective.

          • Bob_Wallace

            It’s all relative. If it’s a light that gets turned on many times a day but for only short times then a LED might pay for itself over multiple CFLs.
            Or the better choice might be a CFL now and replace that bulb when it burns out in five to ten years with a then-cheaper LED.

    • A Real Libertarian

      “Estimated pay back is 1.5 to 2 years.”

      Are you including avoided replacement costs for the incandescents in that?

      • Bob_Wallace

        6 hours per day, 365 days = 2,190 hours.

        60 watts for incandescent – 9.5 hours for a LED = 111 kWh per year saved.

        At 8 cents per kWh = $8.85 in one year with no bulb savings figured in. Payback < one year.

        • A Real Libertarian

          Thanks.

  • dynamo.joe

    @$8, it’s hard to beat the Cree bulb you have up there.

    However, I kind of think we need something like the solar leasing options. Even at $8, replacing 40 or so bulbs is pretty pricey. Sort of an “it takes money to make money” proposition.

    • Bob_Wallace

      People with limited incomes could replace some of their incandescents with <$1 CFLs and gradually work in LEDs.

      Put the LEDs where CFLs don't work as well like ceiling cans, outdoors or places where they might get broken.

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