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I am considering LED lighting. Is the cost worth the savings at this time?

966ysx7TeF | Posted in Energy Efficiency and Durability on

I am renovating a 100-year-old home entirely, and I’m buying electrical supplies right now. Are LED recessed lights worth it? Or should I buy standard recessed light fixtures and buy LED bulbs later?

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  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    Right now, the best LED lamps have approximately the same efficiency as the best CFLs, but they cost about 10 times as much. Although LED lamps should last longer than CFLs, you won't see any savings from switching to LEDs -- unless the labor cost for changing out a lamp is very high (for example, if the lamp is on a hard-to-reach billboard).

    If you decide to install reflector-style CFLs in your downlights, you may want to read this document from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory listing the make and model numbers of the best reflector-style CFLs.

  2. Adam Flowers | | #2

    I'm going to have to respectfully disagree with the previous post. And yes, I sold lighting products at one point in my career. That being said, the top notch LED recessed lighting manufacturers - Cree or Halo, to name a couple - make superior products when compared to CFLs. To be specific, these are not light bulbs, but LED-designed recessed lights. Obviously you have the longer rated life (50,000 hours in a reputable LED compared to maybe 10,000 in a CFL), but there are a couple of other aspects worth considering. The top notch LED lighting products will be dimmable, while that feature is very costly on CFL products. And light quality (Color Rendering, Color Temperature, direction of light, etc) will be noticably better under an LED fixture. While CFLs are far more efficient than incandescents, they still convert 20-30% of their energy into heat, so there's the cooling load consideration. And to drive this point home, LEDs do not contain mercury, so no disposal concerns.

  3. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #3

    You wrote, "While CFLs are far more efficient than incandescents, they still convert 20-30% of their energy into heat, so there's the cooling load consideration." The same can be said of LEDs -- which is why all of the LED products I have reviewed include cooling fins like those on a Harley-Davidson.

  4. 966ysx7TeF | | #4

    I appreciate all the replies. I am in a situation in that I purchased this house as a bank owned default. It was in such disrepair that I had it gutted entirely and had to do extensive reconstruction. Since there is no heat ( and none when I purchased it) or drywall the banks will not loan me a dime so I am proceeding slowly and do not have substantial funds for too many extras. I am going to use standard recess cans and hope to use LED bulbs down the line.

  5. user-659915 | | #5

    My two cents: minimize your use of recessed can lights altogether. They are the least efficient lighting format regardless of lamp type - in most situations, incandescent, LED and CFL all deliver better performance in other fixture styles such as ceiling mount, pendant,track and floor and table lamps. They are also a common source of air leaks into attics, so if you do use them you need to be obsessive about air-sealing.

  6. Svs5nBrCkD | | #6

    To answer your question, it is really a matter of your budget. The cost of ownership is always going to be better with LED as the best CFLs are $10-15 and a good LED is now only 2x the price. You must also consider use or "burn time" and if instant on at full lumen output and color temperature are concerns. Also you should look into the available rebates and if it is listed with the Design Lighting Consortium or DLC for prescriptive rebates I if it's commercial work.

    I am the founder and owner of a company engaged in the manufacture, sales and marketing of LED products. I can tell you the only reason to go with CFL if if you just don't have the funds.

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