Monday, March 18, 2013

LEDs vs. CFLs vs. Incandescent Bulbs

As the landscape of bulbs available at your local hardware store or from your supplier continues to shift and settle, it’s worth taking another look at how to compare the options and find the best fit for your needs. The three general choices remain incandescent bulbs, CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps), and LEDs (light emitting diodes). We’ve discussed lumens in the past – the measure of how much illumination is generated from a bulb – and how that standard can be used as a benchmark to compare disparate bulb types. Why is more prominent lumen labeling required, however?

The answer lies in the measure that most of us are used to choosing our bulbs by: wattage. Since LEDs and CFLs operate much more efficiently than incandescent bulbs and halogens, less wattage is necessary to generate the same amount of light, or lumens. A very general rule of thumb is to multiple CFL watts by four to match up with a traditional incandescent, and to multiply LED watts by six or seven. So, a 17 watt CFL and a 13 watt LED will generate about the same amount of light as a 75 watt incandescent.

As you might guess, this lower energy usage translates to lower energy bills. The double-upside of CFLs and LEDs? They last much longer than incandescents – ten times as long for CFLs, and up to fifty times as long for LEDs. These factors offset the higher upfront costs of the newer bulbs by producing long-term savings. With the advances in warmth and light color, especially in LEDs, the benefits of these new options are becoming more and more illuminated.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Added Value with LED Lighting Services

With consumers just beginning to embrace the benefits of LED lighting (aided by continuing price reductions as the technology improves), and businesses a bit more ready to adopt the new technology, one company seeks to further revolutionize how lighting and illumination work. This article describes a startup called Digital Lumens that wants to bring both LEDs and the concept of intelligent lighting control into the mainstream. In addition to carrying out full replacements of a facility’s (like a factory or office) lighting infrastructure, the company will also develop and manage a logic-based lighting plan. This plan will be based around on-and-off hours, normal day and night cycles, as well as intelligent feedback from factors like drawn shades or closed doors.

The outstanding energy efficiency of LEDs, combined with this step-by-step management of energy usage, offers great potential for unparalleled energy savings. Under such a system, the capital investment in hardware (the LEDs), can pay itself back in two years, with a 90 percent savings after that period over the life of the agreement (the initial plan is for 15 – 20 year contracts). According to the article, Digital Lumens has been successful in raising capital so far, indicating that ever-fickle investors believe in the concept. Greener energy and lower bills – what’s not to like?