Beginning next year, traditional incandescent light bulbs (that’s right, Thomas Edison’s invention from 1879) will start to disappear from store shelves in an effort to save energy, reduce waste and use more environmentally-friendly products. Consumers will have two options moving forward: compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs). While both of these applications are starting to catch on, many people are left asking themselves, which do I chose?
CFLs use about one fifth of the energy that incandescent lamps do and last up to five times longer, while LEDs are two to three times more energy-efficient than CFLs and about 10 times more efficient than incandescent bulbs. Furthermore, according to most leading producers of LED lighting products, the 50,000-hour lifespan – which is not referring to when the lamps dies, but when it is at 70 percent of its original light output – of one of its LED lamps is 40- 50 times the life of a typical incandescent bulb and five times the lifetime of an average compact fluorescent lamp – which are rated until dead, not at 70 percent of original output. The manufacturer calculated that if one of its lamps were used for six hours every day, it would last for nearly 23 years! But what does this mean for you as a small business owner?
Not only will you be using less energy, but you’ll cut electrical bills and reduce maintenance and replacement costs for lighting. Just think about how many times you’re replacing lamps each year. Are you hiring an electrician each time? Let’s say you’re currently using the popular Par 38 incandescent lamps throughout your office burning 75-watts each for a normal eight-hour day. If you’re lucky, these will last 2000 hours, which means you’ll replace them on average twice a year. Think about the cost of the lamp itself, energy bills and maintenance fees. When you add everything up, you could be spending approximately $450 annually for just one incandescent lamp. Now, replace the Par 38 75-watt lamp with a 12-watt LED. You’ve immediately cut on energy costs and you won’t even think about replacing that bulb for 15 years.
While small business owners have an important decision to make in the coming years when it comes to their lighting, it’s important for everyone to keep the environment in mind and take proactive steps to make our Earth a cleaner and better functioning place to live. Before taking the plunge, here are five things to keep in mind to ensure you’re taking the right steps:
1. Hire the right team. Working with the right LED experts to help with your retrofit process is key. It pays to go to professionals with a proven track record of success and a vast selection of excellent quality products from various vendors. A history of successfully completed projects is also important.
2. Compare before and after. Ask for a detailed energy audit so you know exactly what you’re putting out in terms of your lighting. This will also help you to compare how much energy and money you’re saving once the LED lamps are in place.
3. Consider all options. LEDs are advancing by leaps and bounds every day. Take the time to work with your LED expert to determine the best color, brightness, design and application for your space. Also available are lamps with dimming capabilities.
4. Do your research. There are significant federal tax incentives and local utility rebates available for qualifying LED retrofit projects – some that can cover anywhere between 30-100 percent of the cost of your project!
5. Be sure the price is right. Remember that cheap is never better, but you can also over pay for a product. With so many on the market right now, seek the advice of an expert who can walk you through all of the different LED products and determine the best fit for your needs.
About the author: Marcel Fairbairn, a veteran in the automated lighting business, is the president and CEO of LED Source®, a franchised provider of LED lighting that specializes in full scale evaluations and retrofits in residential, commercial and entertainment venues. For more information, please visit www.ledsource.com.