How to calculate the cost of LED lighting.
May 9, 2011 7:37 PM   Subscribe

How to calculate the cost of LED lighting. Or... renting my apartment, LED lights, energy conservation and fiscal sense. Please help me!

Hi, I'd love some advice. I live in Tokyo in a rented apartment. The place comes with dimmer switches on most of the main lights in most of the rooms. Incandescent bulbs here cost about 360 yen and use 60 watts. I looked for fluorescent bulbs but none work with dimmers afaik. Panasonic is making an LED light bulb (Panasonic LDA8L-A1/D) that uses 7.6 watts, works with dimmers, puts out light equivalent to a 60 watt incandescent but costs 3300 yen. I bought one- it's very cool (both the technology as well as it's cool to the touch even when lit.)

As we all know, all of us in Tokyo and Northern Japan are in an energy-conservation mode post-March 11 quake, so there is that benefit as well (to going to LED.)

If I owned my own home, it would be simple- the cost of LEDs (even at 10X the price) benefits from almost a 10X lowering in usage of electricity.

But I rent. And there's no way I can imagine needing all of these LED dimmable bulbs at a future house.

I'm struggling with how to calculate whether I should continue to buy incandescent or start purchasing LED bulbs as the incandescent fail? My lease goes on for 2 more years.

Any advice would be appreciated!
posted by gen to Home & Garden (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Oh I forgot to mention how many light fixtures we have.

8 - dining room
14 - living room
4 - bedroom 1
4 - bedroom 2
posted by gen at 7:39 PM on May 9, 2011

Response by poster: One more important figure. Panasonic claims that these EverLED bulbs last for 19 years or 40x an equivalent 60 watt incandescent.
posted by gen at 7:41 PM on May 9, 2011

Response by poster: Sorry one more clarification (not really relevant but...) the Panasonic LDA8L-A1/D (which I have tried and like) is a 40 watt-equivalent bulb that uses 7.6 watts. That's the only one they make that is dimmer-switch compatible. It may put out less light than a 60 watt incandescent but it's hard for me to tell the difference.
posted by gen at 7:44 PM on May 9, 2011

Best answer: There are plenty of dimmable CFL's in the US — Japan is a modern place, I'm sure you'll be able to track some down.

Currently, LED's sometimes make sense for lights that you turn on/off often (think pantries, bathrooms, closets, etc) but do not yet make sense for every-day usage. In addition to lasting X hours, CFL's also typically have a limited number of on/off cycles, thus CFL's are best used in areas where the lights are going to remain on for 15+ minutes at a time.

The amount of light LEDs output for the dollar spent is only going to significantly improve in the next several years. If you buy these first/second generation LED bulbs, the quality of the ones out in just a few years will likely tempt you to 'upgrade' before realizing the long-term cost savings.

I'm the the process of re-lighting a house with something like 100+ bulbs, for now, a combination of halogen (bathrooms & closets etc) & cfl (main areas). Next cycle? LEDs.

If you are really interested in spending money to save money, you'd be surprised with how much motion sensor switches make a difference in the amount of time lights stay on (do not combine with CFLs...)

Earlier generations were promised jet packs, I've been waiting for LED lighting since sixth grade. I'm 30 now. It's going to take a bit more time. Sigh.
posted by mmdei at 8:11 PM on May 9, 2011

Response by poster: There are plenty of dimmable CFL's in the US

Great- I'm glad to hear that. So basically I should consider dimmable CFLs and wait on the LEDs.
posted by gen at 8:19 PM on May 9, 2011

Best answer: My strategy would be to replace the lightbulbs that you use for the most hours with dimmable CFLs or LEDs, and keep the rest as incandescent. When you move, take the pricey bulbs with you to your next place.

How much do you pay for electricity? How many hours is each bulb on each day?
posted by fzx101 at 8:34 PM on May 9, 2011

Best answer: Dimmable CFLs definitely exist, I use them in my home. One thing about them I've noticed is they have a smaller "range" and tend to cut out (fade to off) a bit sooner and more sharply than incadescents, but otherwise they do the trick - lower electric use, longer lasting, and not so expensive that leaving them behind would be such a big deal.

The other thing about LEDs is that I've read some concerns about the reliability of currently available consumer-level LEDs - maintaining performance over lifespan, etc. Considering what a step up in performance I found with second-gen CFLs over the first ones I bought (which nevertheless did last a very long time), I'm feel like it is a wise move to wait a bit on that technology.
posted by nanojath at 8:50 PM on May 9, 2011

So LED may not have the pay back right now. But they still use half the energy of fluorescent. They also don't have the mercury issue. And there light is better. More white. Cleaner. There is some doubt about the intensity over time. But if i could afford it, I would replace my lights with LED as they burnt out. Lights that i use a lot, say kitchen lights, I would replace now.
posted by ihadapony at 9:52 PM on May 9, 2011

Nanojath — I had that same problem until I found out that the 900w dimmers that were installed in the 80's for the incandescent lights were pretty useless when the net wattage for my CFL's were now just 120w. You might want to swap out your dimmer for one with a lower range.
posted by mmdei at 10:22 PM on May 9, 2011

Response by poster: How much do you pay for electricity? How many hours is each bulb on each day?

1) good question- will check

2) I suppose the dining room/living room ones are on the most at maybe 5 hrs./day max.
posted by gen at 11:05 PM on May 9, 2011

Response by poster: Lights that i use a lot, say kitchen lights, I would replace now.

Kitchen is CFL so that I won't touch/change, but yes.
posted by gen at 11:06 PM on May 9, 2011

I have mostly CFLs in my house, including dimmable and 3-way varieties and have been happy with them. If you decide to try LED's look very closely at the light output. I have 1 fixture I put LEDs in because it is a pain to reach and the lights are much dimmer than the equivalent incandescent the package compared it to. I had compared the light output in lumens listed on the package and expected this, so it is not really a problem and I look forward to possibly never having to change those lights again, but I would not use LEDs throughout the house yet. Every time I look at them they get brighter though, so I will certainly use them more in the future.
posted by TedW at 10:16 AM on May 10, 2011

I went through a patch of trying to find nice CFLs and I thought I had them. Short, blueish white, 100W equivalent... Until they started burning out in about 1 year. So now I have some $40 LED bulbs in a few places but to be honest, I'm not optimistic about them either. I'm sure the promised lifespan is a fat lie but I won't know for 10 years. The claims for CFL were baloney and I bet the ones for LEDs are baloney too.

If you want to save money, wait. If you want to save energy, just unscrew a few. It sounds like you have way too many anyway.
posted by chairface at 1:47 PM on May 10, 2011

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