Energy Efficient Lighting – The Lamps

This is part one of a two-part miniseries on energy efficient lighting. 
In this article, we're going to look at the lamps. In the second 
article, we'll explore some options for controlling those lights, aka, 
lighting systems.<br><br>But, you've got to start with the source of illumination... the lamp or bulb. Hubbell Lighting

Steve Maurer, IME

This is part one of a two-part miniseries on energy efficient lighting. In this article, we're going to look at the lamps. In the second article, we'll explore some options for controlling those lights, aka, lighting systems.

But, you've got to start with the source of illumination... the lamp or bulb.

No doubt we're far down the road from the first commercially viable incandescent bulb. The Wizard of Menlo Park, Thomas Alva Edison, may not have invented the first light bulb in the late 1870's... but, he definitely developed the most practical.

Consider this.

His carbonized bamboo filament bulb could last over 1,200 hours (pretty much the same as today's filaments). However, I recently installed an LED wall fixture with an expected service life of over 100,000 hours.

Even though a mainstay of electrical lighting for decades, the incandescent bulb is the least energy efficient. Unfortunately, they've been around for so long that many folks misunderstand the terminology.

For example, many people equate the wattage of the bulb with its brightness. When incandescents ruled the earth, that was understandable. However, watts are a measurement of power consumption, not light output. The proper term for light output is the lumen.

Take the lowly 60-watt incandescent bulb, compared to lumen-equivalent compact fluorescents and LEDs. Wattage comparison: 14 watts for CFLs; 10 watts for LEDs Kilowatt hours of electricity used over 50K hours:

  • Incandescents – 3,000 KWh for an estimated energy cost of $300.
  • CFLs – 700 KWh for an estimated energy cost of $70.
  • LEDs – 500 KWh for an estimated energy cost of $50.
Even when you add in the higher acquisition cost of LEDs over incandescents, the total cost over 50,000 hours is $2143.75 for LEDs as opposed to $8,812.50 for those old-fashioned, energy-gobbling "standard" bulbs.

In other words, by switching 25 bulbs in a household setting over to LEDs, a savings of almost $6,669 is possible over 50,000 hours or between 17 and 34 years of use.

During that period, you'll likely need just one LED... but, you'll change 42 of the incandescents. For an old geezer like me, that means less time on a ladder — my arch nemesis — in a commercial or industrial scenario.

Point is, if you're interested in saving money on your energy bill, LEDs are definitely the "light wave" of the future.

In the next article, I'll show you some of the lighting control systems that squeeze even more cash from your utility bill. And, if you have teenagers in the house, you easily understand how they help... even on a commercial level.


Photo courtesy of Hubbell Lighting