Funny about Money

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. ―Edmund Burke

Going over to LED Lighting

IncandescentLightbulbMy neighbor Will, an engineering type who loves numbers, decided to switch out all the lights in his house to LEDs. In his enthusiasm, he created this incredible spreadsheet analyzing the Great Changeout and comparing wattage and other aspects. The thing is fairly elaborate, so I’m going to upload it as an Excel file:

Will’s House Lighting

The file has two spreadsheets, so check out the tabs at the bottom when you open it.

Will says he figures his utility-bill savings are about $25 to $30 a month. I asked him how he came to that conclusion — by comparing power bills, or by calculating energy use based on the lights’ wattage — and whatever got into him to engage this potentially pricey project. Here’s what he says:

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Savings are based on watts consumed compared from beginning 2008 until now. The average is $30 a month, with the change of bulbs and Levelor black-out blinds on the sunny side of the house.

Actually I started incandescent, then went to CFL (Compact Florescent Lights), and am still moving to L.E.D. bulbs as I find ones cheap enough and that fit my purpose both in color and fixture.

CFL’s now come in blue/green and warm white. They take longer to charge up, when cold, and to come up to full brightness, which is annoying in  the winter time.

Flickering: Incandescent bulbs flash on and off at a rate of 60 times a second. CFLs flicker like the charged gas they have inside. But L.E.D. bulbs are constant narrow-band light…no flicker….no UV, no attracting bugs,

The cost per bulb is listed on the sources tab of my sheet, as well as where to get them.  I try to keep to around $19 to $25 a bulb.

I have been changing them out a chunk at a time. I plan to do the rest of the PAR 30 lamps this year.

In the candela type bulb, I have only been able to find a good CFL equivalent. So far none of the L.E.D. versions have  met my specifications.

The original 60-watt incandescent were cooking my fan lights. So they got changed to CFLs right away, to prevent a fire hazard.

I did the spread sheet because about ten people were asking for the information and I found myself rewriting it over and over. I figured I’d do this spreadsheet to save me the time.  Since I was already doing the research for myself I figured I’d share and save others the hassle of figuring out all the engineering crap you have to wade through in order to understand these.

It seems many L.E.D. bulb manufacturers want you to pay for all their engineering, so the bulb is like a hundred bucks. And they wonder why no one wants to buy it.

It sort of like those stereo speaker ads from the 70s and 80s.  “Big sale! Pair of 200 Watt speakers for $49.99!” But the problem was it was a big lie.  They were actually thinking 100 watts per speaker, that being maximum peak power rating, so after you calculated the RMS value, they were actually 50-watts speaker. With today’s L.E.D. bulbs you CAN NEVER GO BY THE INCANDESCENT EQUIVALENT ON THE PACKAGE…they are either lying or don’t know their product. 🙂

If I replace the rest of the bulbs to L.E.D, I will have gone from over 3000 watts usage to below 700 watts, and that’s just in bulbs. I may use LightKiwi BR30 bulbs for outside motion safety lights. I’m currently using 75-watt incandescents, but these LightKiwi bulbs are only 11 Watts each.  $24 from manufacturer’s web page or when on sale at Newegg .

Now if I can just get the hamsters to power the a/c in the summer I’ve got it made. 😉

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You can see what other mischief Will has been up to by going to his central website and exploring from there.


Incandescent bulb: Gluehlampe. KMJ, alpha masking by Edokter. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
LEDs: Commercially available LED lamps (“light bulbs”) with Edison (screw-type) base. Geoffrey.landis at en.wikipedia. Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.


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Author: funny

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  1. When we moved into the house in 2007, I put CFL bulbs in just about every light socket I could. I don’t really know how much it’s ‘saved’ on the electric bill since we pretty much started off from scratch with those bulbs, but I can say that it was only around late last year (5.5 years) before we actually had any that started to burn out.

    Considering you can get CFL bulbs on average for $1-2, I’m still not mentally to the point where I can drop $10-20 on a LED bulb.

    • I’m oversensitive to the way the darn things look. Hate the light they emit!

      The church replaced the incandescent bulbs in the handsome hanging lights in the sanctuary with these GAWDAWFUL fluorescent monsters. They make the inside of the church, which was truly beautiful, look like a tomb — that blue light washes everything out and now when those lights are on, the place is just hideous.

      And from the choir loft, they shine right into your eyes. They’re so glaring they hurt.

      I think somehow must have been turned down a little, because after the first day we were exposed to them, they seemed less bright. I wore tinted reading glasses over contact lenses the next time I went in, but I’m just not that fond of sticking pieces of plastic in my eyes anymore. I’d about decided I was going to have to quit the choir, because they made my eyes water and my head ache.

      The jury’s still out on that decision. If the cost of LEDs weren’t so stupefying, I’d offer to buy all new LED bulbs for them. But unfortunately I don’t have that kind of money. Neither, evidently, do they!

      I changed all the CFLS in my house back to incandescents. So what if they cost a few dollars more over a ten-year period? I’d rather light my home with fixtures that don’t uglify the living space and don’t spray me with mercury when they shatter. When the prices of LEDs come down, as they eventually will, I’ll probably change to those. But for the time being, it’s still incandescents for moi.

  2. Thank you for doing the “heavy lifting” in breaking down this CFL vs. LED debate. I’m torn by the arguments for and against. But I am a numbers guy as well and I was at my favorite store ( toys for big boys), Home Depot yesterday and took in the lighting displays. I decided to purchase two packs of the 4-count CFL’s…for…. 97 cents each…that’s less than 25 cents a bulb. Based on this the $20 LED bulbs make little or no sense. I will share that my biggest savings in the rental biz is effecient fridges. The last one I purchased claims to cost no more than $35 a year to run vs. goodness knows what for my 12 year old unit. Another $ saver a timer on the hot water heater. Lighting just doesn’t claim that much of the electric bill in my experience. $19 difference in pricing per bulb buys a lot of electric…IMHO.

    • Yeah, it’s all very ambiguous, isn’t it?

      How much lighting costs a given household must depend on how many folks are living there and on what their habits are. Is everyone in the house the sort who turns the lights off when they leave the room, or does the family like to have all the rooms in the place lighted up? The previous owners of my house liked to use the lowest wattage lights available — the closets were unnavigable with the dim little bulbs they’d installed. 😀 But it worked for them.

      I have many fewer lights than Will does, and I at least try to remember to turn them off when I go out of a room…don’t always succeed, it must be admitted. All the lights outside are motion-sensitive, which means they do come on every time a cat wanders by or the wind blows — but I don’t have to remember to turn them off when I come inside after grilling dinner.

      These LED bulbs are supposed to last some fantastic amount of time. One website claimed they could last 50 years (believe that when you see it!). More credible claims suggest upwards of 5 years. That would push the actual cost of a $20 bulb down significantly, if you use your lighting a lot.

      Here’s a chart that compares costs, CFLs-LEDs-incandescents:
      And here’s an interesting article on another aspect of the question:
      Wikipedia also has a comparison chart, based on number of hours/day of usage:

      My incandescent lightbulbs rarely burn out, but again, I think it’s because I go fairly easy on the lightbulb use in general.

  3. I’ve purchased a few LEDs and have liked them so far. I switched out the three can light bulbs in my kitchen to LED, but I did it over a few months. The front porch light is now LED, too. Some of the fixtures in my house are dimmable and my porch lights have sensors that have them come on at dusk. It wasn’t always easy to get non-incandescent bulbs that worked in these types of sockets, but there are more options out there now.

    I don’t mind CFLs that much. In fact, I sort of like how it takes a while for them to come up to full lighting potential. I have them in the bathroom fixture, for example, and it’s much easier on the eyes in the morning to start out dimmer and gradually have them get brighter. In some applications, though, the CFLs are not that great.

    • Yes, something to that!

      I kept one, count it (1), CFL: in the lamp next to the bed. It definitely is easier on the eyeballs when you wake up in the middle of the night and need to turn on a light!

  4. Looks like I at least got some conversation going. (-;
    There seems to be some confusion on the longevity of the L.E.D. bulbs is that the L.E.D. itself will probably last 50 years or more but it is the power supply, the metal heat sink part, right now at least with current technology, is the current limiting factor. The power supply will probably fail long before the L.E.D. itself will. In fact the only time I have seen an L.E.D. fail is through some sort of physical or electrical abuse of some kind. And I’ve been around a long time. (-;