Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A bright idea...

What if... we all bought LED Christmas lights to save money and the environment?

I am basically going to rant about how "energy efficient" LED lighting, at this time in history, does not save you any money. This is going to get geeky and nerdy so now is the time to bail if you can't relate.

What is an LED?
LED stands for "light emitting diode". A diode is an electronic device that only allows current to flow in one direction, basically converting AC into DC. In the process energy is released in the form of light.

LED's use about 80% less electricity when compared to old
incandescent Christmas lights. Why?, because incandescent "traditional" bulbs lose a lot of energy in the form of heat and non-visible light. But is there really a savings to you in your pocket when all is said and done? I think not... and here is my reasoning and math.

Lets start with lighting the same house with the same length of lights.
  • One hundred feet of old bulbs gives you about 100 bulbs and costs about $28.
  • One hundred feet of LED's gives you about 280 LED's and cost $52.
You pay $24 more for the LED's. You have more lights, but they're not as bright.

They claim 80% saving, not sure if it is LED versus bulb or light per foot. We will favour the LED and make it per foot.

Lets calculate the cost of running each string on a yearly basis. We will assume 5 hours of operation per day for 4 weeks, or 140 hours per year. We will also assume an energy cost of 5 cents per Kilowatt/hr. Told you if was going to get nerdy.

  • Bulbs are 5 watts or 500 watts total (100 bulbs) for a cost of 2.5 cents per hour or $3.50 cents a year.
  • LED's save you 80% which translates to $.70 a year operating cost.

So you save $2.80 a year. It cost you $24 more to buy the LED's so the break-even point is 8.6 years. This is the best case scenario. If we assume the 80% is a bulb versus LED comparison or 100 bulbs compared to 280 LED's to light the same house the operating cost goes up to $1.96 a year and the break-even point goes up to 12.3 years.

We could guess on how the price of Hydro is going or guess more or less yearly usage but the fact of the matter is you are not really saving a lot of money. I know very few people that have the same Christmas lights for 10 years.

You may think you are saving energy by purchasing these lights. I on the other hand disagree. They had to build a factory and machining to make this stuff, more trucks haul it around and people are throwing away good old light systems just to say they are using energy efficient LED's Christmas lights.

I love the season I love all the lights, but just like Christmas, it's a feel good thing. If it makes you feel good to have LED's go for it, but don't delude yourself into thinking you are saving the environment.

Point of interest:

NOMA claims the LED's will last 200,000 hours. So at my estimated use of 140 hours a year they will be around for 1425.6 Years. What a useless statistic. At least you can will them to your great great great great great grand children. To bad the Sun's UV will break down the plastic insulation way before then.


What if... we all switched to LED only lighting???


At December 13, 2006 2:58 PM , Blogger Bernie said...

You made me laugh out loud.

At December 13, 2006 3:56 PM , Blogger Asher Hunter said...

Interesting point. I'd love to see a similar post about the value of energy efficient bulbs. How much actual money do they save?


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