We just recently blew in a nice thick layer of insulation in our attic to decrease our energy usage and even out the temperature across the house. Prior to this we have been replacing all our lighting with LED for these reasons.
- They use less energy
- They last a lot longer
- They create almost no heat (which is very beneficial in the Texas Summer)
We have about a dozen or so of the miniature halogen GU10 fixtures throughout the house. These are very similar to the ubiquitous MR-16 bulbs that have been popular for decades, but fitted with a bayonet mount. Some are on dimmers and some are not. We like the color and style of these lights, but they use a lot of juice and create a lot of heat. But we really like the look.
All this changed after we blew in 14″ of insulation, though. The problem with the halogen bulbs is they generate a lot of heat. After you bury them with a thick layer of insulation, this heat really starts to build up – and they overheat and shut down to protect themselves. This is at best a royal pain and at worst a potential fire hazard.
This is where the search for an acceptable LED replacement started. I went through several products that were not acceptable. They were either far too dim, or the wrong color (some were actually yellow) or just cheap and subject to failure. One batch I received, though very reasonably priced, were a mix of white and yellow looking bulbs (mostly yellow) which is great if you want to look sallow and jaundiced, but not what we wanted in our kitchen. If we do a zombie themed Halloween party, we may put those back in, just for the effect…
What it comes down to is that LEDs use a lot less wattage for the same number of lum
ens of light as halogen. A 50 watt halogen bulb is pretty bright. Some manufacturers state their 4 watt LED bulb is equivalent to a 50 watt halogen. Not in my experience. Some say their 5 watt bulb is the same. Not what I found. The 6.5 watt bulbs are touted as a replacement by some vendors. Not in our application. And then there is the color temperature. Light temperature is measured in degrees Kelvin, with daylight falling somewhere between 4,000 and 6,000 degrees Kelvin. “Warm” lighting is somewhere in the 2,700 to 3,000 range, but this depends a lot on the design of the LED filtering employed in each manufacturer’s bulb. This is still an emerging industry and it seems to me there is a significant lack of consistency at this time.
The bulbs we finally settled on are the ones below. They are robustly constructed with excellent heat sinks and cooling, rated at 8 watts and 5,000 Kelvin for a daylight color and I really like them. They are a very white daylight-looking light, as bright as a 50 watt halogen or better and dimmable.
The heat sink assembly and bezel are a medium gunmetal gray and the bezel is ventilated to allow for airflow and cooling. It is a very nice look. These are also a 60 degree wide beam, which is a floodlight rather than a spotlight. This is perfect for our needs. If you need something more narrow like a spot, these are the wrong ones.
We finally found the ones we like and I recommend them highly. They are more expensive than halogen, but they use less energy and last a LOT longer. Amortizing in the initial cost with the effective lifespan of roughly 20 years, you are spending roughly 65 cents per year while you save a bundle on energy.
- First of all, energy is billed in Kilowatt Hours (KWH). This is 1,000 watts in use for 1 hour.
- (10) 100 watt bulbs or (20) 50 watt bulbs on for one hour would be 1 KWH
- Lets say you are paying 9 cents per KWH and have 10 of these in your home.
- That’s 500 watts you are using or 1/2 KWH.
- Let’s say you have them on for 5 hours a day.
- That amounts to 2,500 watts or 2.5KW.
- Multiply that by .09 and you get .225 or roughly 22 cents per day.
- Multiply that by 365 days and you have $82.13 in energy annually for just these 10 bulbs for 5 hours a day
Let’s do the same math for LEDs.
- At 8 watts time 10 bulbs that’s only 80 watts.
- Multiply that by 5 hours and you get 400 watts, not even half a kilowatt.
- Multiply that by 365 and you get 146 kilowatts
- Multiply that by .09 and you have $13.14 per year.
It’s a pretty significant savings, especially when you factor it in over the 20 year lifespan.
Let’s just say you’re saving $60 per year
Over 20 years, that’s a $1,200 savings.
I don’t know if this is worth it to you, but it sure is to us.
Single bulbs are $12.99 each (sounds expensive, but they last about 20 years)
Six packs are $59.99
You can also get these same bulbs in 2700 Kelvin (warm white)
But what about your conventional ceiling cans?
For retrofitting conventional downlight floods (or uplights) these are excellent. We use them for our exterior architectural lighting.
You can order these in both 5000 K (daylight) and 2700 K (soft white) depending on your requirements. These are dimmable just like a conventional incandescent bulb. We use the 5000 K bulbs for our architectural lighting because we WANT it to look like Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Bright white light is exactly what we want for our purposes. In addition to architectural lighting this also makes for a nice deterrent for the criminal element, as it’s like freakin’ daylight out there 24 hours a day – and the cost is ridiculously low with LED bulbs. We have our entire exterior lighting system controlled by a photocell and it works flawlessly.