Benefits of LED Lighting

Benefits of Upgrading to LED Lighting

By Leonardo David for Quick Electricity

LED lighting is commonly proposed as an energy efficiency measure when home and business owners want to reduce their electricity bills. However, LED products also save money by reducing the frequency of lamp replacements – they have a much longer service life than the lamps and fixtures they replace.

When you use LED lighting in air-conditioned spaces, the electricity savings are even higher. You are not only reducing the power drawn by the lighting system, but also the heat that must handled by space cooling equipment.

In addition to being efficient, LED lighting provides safety advantages: the lamps themselves are safer to handle, and can operate longer with backup power thanks to their low energy consumption. LED lamps are also capable of restarting instantly after an accidental disconnection; on the other hand, the HID lamps commonly used in outdoor and industrial locations have a restrike time, which leaves the area in the dark for a few minutes.

How Much Electricity Does LED Lighting Save?

Before upgrading to LED lighting, homeowners and companies normally want to know how much electricity they can save with the upgrade. Although LED lighting is almost always a good investment, the exact savings are determined by two main factors:

  • What type of lighting is being upgraded? If the existing lighting system uses old and inefficient lamps, the potential savings of an LED upgrade are higher.
  • What is the operating schedule? LED lighting achieves higher savings in applications where the lamps as used many hours per month. You will not save much by upgrading lamps that are rarely used, but will see a significant reduction if you upgrade area lighting that is used 12 hours per night in a parking lot.

The exact savings from an LED upgrade can only be determined with an inspection of your current lighting system, but the following table can give you an idea of what to expect. The lamp wattage values displayed are typical, but keep in mind they may change slightly depending on the lighting brand and product model.

Existing Lamp or FixtureEquivalent LEDTypical Savings
60 W incandescent bulb10 W LED bulb83%
50 W halogen bulb10 W LED bulb80%
15 W compact fluorescent light (CFL)10 W LED bulb33%
32 W fluorescent tubes, 4 feet long (T8)18 W LED tube43%
450 W metal halide pole light160W LED fixture64%
300 W cobra head pole light100W LED fixture66%
250 W metal halide wall pack50 W LED wall pack80%
1000 W metal halide area light300 W LED area light66%

As you can see, the highest percentage savings are normally achieved when LED lighting replaces incandescent or halogen bulbs, and there are also significant savings when replacing HID lighting. The savings are moderate when replacing fluorescent lights, since the efficiency gap between them and LED is less drastic.

Electricity savings are higher when LED lighting is deployed in air-conditioned indoors or cold storage areas. In addition to the normal savings from reduced consumption, cooling equipment handles less heat from the lighting system.

  • As an example, imagine a commercial building has 2,000 fluorescent lighting fixtures, each consuming 90 watts.
  • They are replaced with equivalent LED fixtures that only consume 50 watts.
  • The lighting system now uses 80,000 watts less (80 kW). Most of this electricity was previously becoming heat, adding to the air conditioning load.
  • Assuming the air conditioner consumes one watt of electricity for every four watts of heat removed, its average power consumption is down by 20 kW.

In this case, 80 kW are saved by reducing the power consumption of the lighting system, and an additional 20 kW are saved by reducing the load on AC equipment. This is a simplified example, but it illustrates the concept; in actual buildings, a consulting engineer must create an energy model to calculate savings.

How LED Lighting Prevents Frequent Lamp Replacements

LED lighting provides additional savings beyond a power bill reduction. Thanks to their long service life, LED products do not require replacements as frequently as older lamp types. A common error when weighing cost and benefit is only considering the electricity savings, but they only tell part of the story. The following table summarizes the service life difference between common lighting types and their LED equivalents:

Type of LightingTypical Service LifeEquivalent LED Service Life
Incandescent bulb1,000 hours25,000 hours
Halogen bulb2,000 hours25,000 hours
Compact fluorescent light10,000 hours25,000 hours
Fluorescent tube (T8)20,000 hours50,000 hours
Metal halide bulb10,000 hours50,000 hours
Sodium vapor bulb18,000 hours50,000 hours

Based on service life, we can conclude that LED products are actually cheaper than the lamps and fixtures they replace.

  • For example, an 8-dollar LED bulb may seem more expensive than a one-dollar incandescent bulb, but consider that its service life is 25 times longer.
  • The LED option seems more expensive if you only compare one bulb, but it is much cheaper than 25 incandescent bulbs!

Replacing lamps in residential and commercial settings is simple, but the task becomes more complex for industrial lighting. Electricians must use a mechanical lift to reach lighting fixtures and replace their bulbs – using a ladder is risky because they carry tools and replacement lamps, and there are few safe spots to support ladders. It is in the best interest of plant managers to reduce the frequency of lamp replacements, and LED lighting provides an excellent solution.

How LED Lighting Improves Safety

The safety advantages of LED lighting start from the installation phase. LED products are normally lighter than the fixtures they replace, making them safer to handle. In addition, LED lamps can be manufactured without glass, which means they will not shatter with impact. Just keep in mind that some LED lamps use glass to preserve the appearance of conventional lighting, so don’t assume all of them are shatterproof!

Thanks to their reduced energy consumption, LED lamps operate at a lower temperature than older and less efficient lamps. As a result, they are less likely to cause a burn if touched by accident. This does not mean you should handle LED products when they are on, since they have voltage, and their heat dissipation fins (heat sinks) get hotter than the lamp. However, the lower operating temperature is a benefit when lamps are within reach and may be touched accidentally.

Another safety benefit applies specifically when HID lighting is upgraded to LED. HID stands for high-intensity discharge, and this lighting type includes metal halide and sodium vapor lamps. While HID lamps have a potent light output, they suffer from a key weakness: the cannot reignite immediately after being deactivated, requiring a cooldown period. This is not an issue if lamps are turned off when they are no longer needed, but they can leave a large area without lighting for several minutes if they are switched off by accident. For example, the risks are very high if the area being illuminated is a factory with heavy machinery, or a parking lot at night. Since LED lighting can restart immediately after accidental disconnection, it removes this risk.

Types of LED Lighting Upgrades

LED lighting upgrades can be classified based on how much the existing lighting system is modified:

Type of UpgradeDescription
RelampThis is the simplest and fastest type of LED upgrade. The existing lamps are removed from their bases, and replaced with LED lamps designed for the same base and power supply.
RetrofitThe existing fixtures are preserved, but their internal connections are rewired. If the fixture uses a ballast to control current, it is often bypassed to use an LED lamp with a built-in power controller.
Fixture ReplacementThe entire fixture is removed, including the housing and mechanical supports. The new fixture is designed exclusively for LED lighting, with an internal geometry that is designed to maximize lighting efficiency. Fixture replacements are the most expensive LED upgrade, but they also tend to achieve the highest efficiency.

The best option changes depending on budget and project conditions. For example, a relamp can be a good option to upgrade the lighting in an office with minimal disruption. On the other hand, if you are planning a major renovation, a full fixture replacement allows maximum efficiency. The entire area will not be usable anyway during the renovation, so nobody is affected by the disruption of an extensive lighting upgrade.

You can get even greater benefits from energy efficiency measure by combining them with a favorable tariff. Reducing your kilowatt-hour consumption is great, but the savings are even higher if you switch to a cheaper electricity plan. At QuickElectricity.com you can compare the options available in Texas, and choose the best option according to your electricity needs.