LED light bulbs have traditionally taken last place to the traditional incandescent light bulb and the now conventional fluorescent light bulb due to their higher retail prices and lack of availability. However, as LED light bulbs become more available and affordable, consumers are beginning to realize the innumerable benefits they have to offer.
The lifespan of current white LED light bulbs, for example, is approximately 100,000 hours. That translates into more than eleven years of continuous operation. In contrast, incandescent light bulbs have a lifespan of approximately 5,000 hours which translates to a less than one year of continuous operation. Similarly, fluorescent light bulbs have a maximum lifetime of about 20,000 hours or two and a quarter years of continuous use. However, these estimates do not account for cycling lights on and off.
Unlike the incandescent and fluorescent light bulb, the lifespan of LED light bulbs is not affected by turning it off and on several times per day. Therefore, when calculating the true cost of ownership for a traditional light bulb one must include the cost of replacement bulbs, labor, and time needed to replace them. Business owners must pay special attention to these issues as maintenance costs can add up quickly.
Another commonly overlooked feature of LED light bulbs is their cost efficiency as a result of their ability to emit more light per watt of energy. At the atomic level the LED (light-emitting diode) releases photons, energy that emits light, as a result of moving electrons. Incandescent light bulbs are not as efficient because they produce light by passing electric current through a filament thereby increasing its temperature to a level that yields visible light.
Fluorescent light bulbs are more energy efficient than incandescent light bulbs as they pass electric current through a mercury film emitting ultraviolet light that is then absorbed by a phosphor shell causing it to glow. The incandescent and fluorescent light bulbs, however, lose more energy when producing light compared to LED light bulbs due to their inferior process of producing visible light.
Perhaps more importantly, though, is the fact that contact with broken incandescent or fluorescent light bulbs increases risk of injury due to potential burns or exposure to mercury. Also of note, LED light bulbs are traditionally produced with a plastic shell as opposed to glass that increases their durability and reduces the chance of cracking.
Consumer reviews have highlighted these and other benefits of transitioning to LED light bulbs. For instance, the LED light bulb provides more light to a room and is easier on the eyes compared to other light bulbs.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency has recognized the LED light bulb as an Energy Star light bulb as they have met standards for starting time, lifetime, and consistent performance. Based on usage of six hours per day, independent cost estimates suggest that LED light bulbs provides a saving of $150 and $2 compared to incandescent and fluorescent light bulbs, respectively.
As the purchase price of LED light bulbs continue to decline due to decreased production costs, the difference in cost of ownership will continue to grow shifting more consumers to make the switch.