You know what I hate about Daylight savings time? It gets dark by 4:30 and I have to turn my lights on. Not only do I dislike the “unnatural light,” but I hate how my electric bill increases. Flicking the switch pains me. When Home Depot asked me to review their EcoSmart LED recess lights, I was ecstatic but cautious since most LEDs project a directional light rather than an over all ambient light. And there is the price.
What about the LED Light-washing Marketing Claims?
First, let’s get to basics. Why is everyone so excited about LEDs? According to Underwriters Laboratories,
“LEDs produce more light per watt than incandescent bulbs, making them exceptionally energy efficient. In fact, many LEDs use up to 90 percent less energy than an incandescent bulb to produce the same amount of light. Looking ahead, the energy efficiency of LEDs is expected to rival the most efficient light sources by 2010”
Saves money. No mercury. Long lasting. What is not to love? But, how many box store LEDs provide that shocking blue/white light, burn-out before their time, or just don’t give you the right type of light? As many of my loyal readers know, I like lighting, and salivated when LLF in 2007 introduced their recessed LED light bulb. (LLF is now owned by Cree.) Beautiful but pricey. Um, still pricey 2 years later, although prices have fallen.
But is the hype true? The Lighting Facts sponsored by the Department of Energy, is a manufacturer voluntary program to assure and improve the quality of LEDs. Anyone who manufactures, sells, or provides information about LEDs, can take the pledge “to evaluate LED product quality by using the Lighting Facts label.” See their current partners. According to the website:
“Lighting Facts® showcases LED luminaire manufacturers who commit to testing products and reporting performance results according to industry standards. For lighting buyers, designers, and energy efficiency programs, the Lighting Facts label provides information essential to evaluating products and identifying the best options.”
This is a great site for us consumers. You can look up products and retail institutions to see who took the pledge. Before you buy any LEDs, look for the lighting facts label on the packaging for some added peace of mine. (See here for more information about the lighting label.)
The lighting facts label for the EcoSmart bulbs are listed here.
Specification for us Geeky Lighting People:
What are the lighting specifications for my 60 watt equivalent bulb?
- Actual Color Temperature (K) : 3000 K
- Assembled Depth (in.) : 4.66 in
- Assembled Height (in.) : 4.66 in
- Assembled Width (in.) : 3.78 in
- Average Life (hours) : 50000
- Bulb Diameter (In.) : 3.78
- Bulb Length (In.) : 4.66
- Commercial/Residential : Commercial/Residential
- Dimmable : Yes
- Energy Star Compliant : No
- Indoor/Outdoor : Indoor/Outdoor
- Item Package Type : Cardboard Container
- Item Weight : .99 lb
- Light Bulb Base Type : Medium
- Light Output (lumens) : 725 lm
- Manufacturer Warranty : 5 years
- Number in Package : 1
- Wattage (watts) : 15 W
So, How Affordable Are They? What’s the Price?
So, when Home Depot comes knocking and tells you that they are selling affordable recessed LEDs made by Lighting Science, a company that I know, you listen. Now, I am not going to persume that I know what is affordable for everyone, so here are the prices for the LED recessed lights:
A 40 watt equivalent, par 20: $24.97 (18 watt)
A 75 watt equivalent, Par 38: $44.97 (18 watt)
A 60 watt equivalent, Par 30: $39.95 (15 watts)
Note, on Lighting Science ‘s website, they say the bulbs are equivalent to a halogen bulb rather than an incandescent bulb. See here for more EcoSmart LED lights offered at Home Depot.
Which One Did I Test?
My recess lights can handle up to 75 watt bulb. But, just to give you some background, I have an automatic Lutron dimming system in the house. Although the dimming system automatically reduces my electrical consumption by 10%, it does not work with florescent lighting. So, I have been waiting with bated breath for an affordable LED solution. Right now I have 65 watt bulbs in 6 inch cans in a 10 foot ceiling. Although my ceiling is dotted with recess cans like a chocolate chip cookie, I still can’t see well in the space. The ceiling height does not help.
Home Depot offers a 75 watt comparable LED, as mentioned above, but they were too big for the cans. Hence the “par 38” number. Sadden, I opted for the 60 watt comparable LED, and prayed that the light of the LEDs would help my tired eyes.
Do the Math.
I decided to figure out how long it would take to get my money back based upon my usage. Let’s say I put one of these babies in my family room which gets a lot of use (and abuse.) I figured I turn on those lights 6 hours a day.
LED vs Incandescent:
65 watts (the incandescent bulb)-15 watts (the LED bulb)=50 watts difference per hour.
50 watts x 6 hours a day x 365 days= 109500
109500/1000 watts = 109.50 kilowatts
109.50 x 16 (winter rate) cents per kilowatt =$17.52 per year. (Note, my rate increases to 21 cents in the summer.)
Payback 2 years give or take a few months compared to an incandescent bulb.
What about comparing it to a fluorescent dimmable bulb?
An EcoSmart 15 watt bulb costs $9.97. It lasts 8000 hours.
EcoSmart LED bulb last 50,000 hours and costs $39.97.
LED last 6.25 years longer.
The break even point is 4 years without taking into account the fluctuation in price of the fluorescent. Then there is the environmental cost of the fluorescent’s mercury content. Many people throw away their CFL without properly recycling them. Remember, Home Depot takes back CFLs.
Was I Disappointed?
Hmm. I think I am going to keep you on pins and needles. In my next post, will be the Big Reveal. And a Giveaways for four lucky winners! You will be begging me to say, “Move that Bus.” (Um, like on Extreme Makeover.)
- Would you buy one of these LEDs at the prices noted above?
- For you geeky lighting people (I love you, people!) what do you think of the specs?
- Have you tried these lights in your house?
- EcoSmart LED Reveal and Giveaway. Move that Bus!
- LightFair 2009 Lites Up NYC!
- LED Expert Gives his Two Cents About LED Use for Home and Biz
- A LED That Shines Above the Rest
- LED Buying: Road Map to Get Beyond the Marketing Hype