Remember those red faced digital watches of the 70’s and how everyone thought it was such a technical marvel how the red LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) lit up to show the time? Who would have thought at the time that LEDs would eventually compete with incandescent and fluorescent lights for a place in our homes as energy saving light sources with fixture lifespans in excess of 8 years. Colored and white LED light sources are commercially known as solid state lighting and have now begun to make inroads into home lighting applications. We’re going to take a look at the three best ways that solid state lighting or LED lights can be used around your home for energy savings and aesthetics.
The first obvious energy saving application for the home can be found in the outdoor illumination of your home. Regular incandescent bulbs that normally soak up sixty watts or more to floodlight or spotlight the exterior of a home can be replaced with an LED light bulb fixture consuming a minimal 5 to 10 watts of energy. How about a 90 watt equivalent floodlight being replaced by a 13 watt LED fixture? Of course, the volume of sales are not yet high enough to bring down per unit costs of LED fixtures to a level so that it becomes a no-brainer decision to use them. LED light fixtures, especially in the higher power outputs (60 watt equivalents and up) run in the $25 to $150 range depending on fixture type, light output, efficiency , spread, and hue of the light it produces. However outdoor home lighting is not so demanding an application and so the less expensive, lower quality but higher powered LED light fixtures may be used for this purpose. Then there are the lower voltage/wattage equivalent LEDs (40 watts and under) which tend to be the most cost effective with prices starting at $8 to $12 and power consumption running from 2 1/2 watts to 8 watts. These are well suited to the second group of uses that we’ll discuss for LED light fixtures in the home.
Smaller areas in the home like hallways, foyers, bathrooms, and kitchen areas can effectively utilize the lower voltage LED fixtures that provide the 15 to 35 watt equivalent and are in the more affordable range of $15 to $25 and consume between 3 watts to 5 watts, a significant energy savings. Many of these fixtures will screw into the standard Edison screw based sockets. When you couple the energy efficiency to the approximately 8 year life of the fixtures you can see that the savings can add up.There are less expensive LED fixtures to be had however these may have a lower level of illumination, or a narrowness in the cone of the illumination, or the light color may be too blue and cold looking. These may be too unattractive for some who prefer the more yellow toned, warmer white LED lighting in their hallways and foyers. This leads us to the third group of LED lighting applications in the home whose narrower light directionality can be put to better use.
The third best way to utilize low voltage LED fixtures is in areas where low level but concentrated lighting is required. Reading lights and desk lamps are perfectly suited for LED fixtures that won’t break your budget. Fireplaces, paintings on a wall, indoor potted plants, and fish tanks are all areas that can be lit with lower voltage LED lighting that is concentrated and focused. LED light fixtures come in a range of white light hues from the steely bluish white (that can be unflattering to skin tones) all the way to a pure yellow light. So you can bathe your wall paintings in a more yellow toned LED light and use the more bluish white type of LED fixture for your fish tank to bring out the vibrant colors of your tropical fish.
As discussed, there are many Solid State (LED) lighting fixtures whose cost, energy savings, and long life make them a good fit for low power applications throughout the home like simple task lighting, night lights, desk lighting, led flashlights and for smaller areas of the home. The higher quality and higher powered LED lights are still not cost effective for your average home budget. However with advances in LED lighting technology, increasing scales of LED light fixture production, and rising energy costs, we can see a future where there will be an appropriate LED lighting fixture or LED light bulb for practically every lighting application in the home resulting in dramatic energy savings and environmental benefits for the planet.