Every father in the history of fatherhood has complained about kids leaving the lights on. Electricity costs money (and contributes to our carbon footprint). So with the price of kilowatt-hours rising, will the 100 watt LED bulb be the best thing to happen to dads since CFLs?
LEDs have been around for decades. They are used to light up cell phones, watch faces, digital clocks and televisions. They are used in bright clusters for large outdoor TV screens, billboards, and newer traffic lights. These tiny LEDs last longer, require less maintenance, and use less power than incandescent bulbs.
Replacing halogen bulbs with LEDs in traffic lights has the potential to save cities millions of dollars in energy costs every year. However, high prices and low luster have kept LEDs out of most homes. But technological advances in manufacturing are slowly bringing prices down and brightness up, potentially adding a new viable option to the eco-friendly lighting market.
The “Brighter” Future of LEDs
Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) are illuminated by electrons moving through a semiconductor material. There are no filaments to burn out like in an incandescent bulb. They use approximately one fifth to one sixth of the energy required to power their halogen equivalent, thus resulting in substantial savings.
One huge hurdle for the LED home market has been heat, which severely depletes a LED’s longevity. In May, all the major manufacturers launched prototypes of new 100 Watt equivalent LED lamps that finally broke through the heat barrier.
At the 2012 Light Fair industry conference in LasVegas, Sylvania, General Electric, and Phillips released their brightest home LEDs yet. Some of these new “cooler” LEDs will flood your house with 100 watt (equivalent) pure white light, three hours a day for 23 years.
LEDs Make Sense
From an earth-friendly, energy-saving perspective, LEDs make perfect sense. 100 Watt LEDs may eventually start to give compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) a run for their money in the eco-market. They last up to ten times longer and do not contain any mercury or other toxins.
But just like CFLs when they first hit the market, LED technology is expensive.
How many dollars does it take to change a light bulb?
It seems like a no-brainer. Change the bulbs, pay less money, decrease your carbon footprint. Done. The problem lies more in dollars than sense.
While manufacturers are working diligently to bring the cost of 100 Watt LEDs down to within tens of dollars of the one dollar incandescent bulb, right now you’d have to take out a second mortgage to re-fit all the lamps in your house. A 100 watt equivalent will run you about $45.00 a bulb.
However, you could start saving money and energy right away by replacing one or two bulbs at a time. To make Dad happy, I’d suggest starting with the lamp that gets used (or left on) the most. If your house is anything like mine, it’s the one over the kitchen table.
At just four hours of usage a day, changing to a 100 watt LED will save you about $12 by the end of the year. If that same light is on for eight hours a day, you save $24… and so on.
Your investment in LEDs will vary depending on brand and brightness. Here are a few good options.
Shopping For LEDs
Maxxima Dimmable BR40 LED Bulb – Cool White – 100 Watt Equivalent: 100 Watt equivalent (the only one currently available). The brightest on the market, and it works with a dimmer. However, it has a bluish tint which can distort the color of whatever it illuminates. It uses 10 Watts per hour and can light up rooms well for reading or general use. $44.99
Aluratek 10W A19 Cool White Dimmable Led Bulb: 75 Watt equivalent. Bright, white, focused light is what you will get from this bulb. This type of light would do well in a garage, kitchen or play room where you want to see clearly but not necessarily soften the mood. $28.34
Philips Dimmable LED 12.5 Watt Bulb: 60 Watt equivalent. While not as bright as a standard 75 or 100 watt bulb, it is reasonably priced and casts a nice, yellow light pleasant for areas where super-bright isn’t necessary. It is reasonably priced, and dimmable. $24.99
We can expect to see bright, but still expensive, 100 Watt equivalent LEDs from industry leaders like GE and Sylvania sometime this fall… Just in time to hit Dad’s holiday wish list!