How Do LED Lights Save Money?

LED technology is at the forefront of modern lighting, and there are many good reasons why. LEDs generate a great deal of high-quality illumination. They render color extremely well. They emit little heat or UV radiation. They can be easily managed with most modern lighting controls, like motion sensors, timers, or photocells.

LED lighting can also help businesses save money on their operating costs. How is this possible, even though the price of a typical LED bulb is a bit higher than older options?

It’s all about efficiency, durability, and longevity.

LED’s Efficiency Leads To Big Energy Savings

From the beginning, it was clear that LED lighting would eventually be the most energy efficient option on the market. And in some cases, it’s not even close. Consider these numbers:

  • LED lighting uses 75 percent less electricity than incandescent bulbs.
  • LED lighting is slightly more efficient than fluorescent lighting at the source. LEDs are far more efficient at the system level (a difference of 20-25 watts per lumen).
  • LED lighting is also a bit more efficient than metal halides, but also wins out at the system level (20-25 lumens per watt better).

You may be confused about the difference between source and system efficiency. Why does LED’s efficiency advantage widen once scaled up?

It has to do with how LEDs emit illumination compared to older fixture options. By virtue of their engineering, LED bulbs emit directionally, while metal halide, fluorescent and incandescent light bulbs all emit omnidirectionally. LED light can be aimed, in other words, while metal halides and others cannot. With their omnidirectional design, older lighting fixtures waste a lot of power illuminating the ceiling and other things that don’t need illuminating. As such, less of that light goes to where it’s actually needed – down at ground level where people and products are.

But because LED fixtures can be aimed, more of that LED illumination reaches its intended target. Less energy is needed for the same amount of light, and that means less waste and lower energy bills.

LED Lighting Comes With A Longer Lifespan, Which Reduces Replacement Costs

LED lighting’s other major cost-saving advantage is its extended lifespan. A quality LED light bulb typically has an L70 rating (how long it takes before the lamp loses 30 percent of output) of around 50,000 hours. Commercial and industrial properties fitted with LED lighting can expect nearly 10 years of quality illumination if the lights are operated for 16 hours a day.

Compared to LED fixtures, older lighting technologies don’t last near as long. A fluorescent tube, for instance, has an L70 mark around 20,000 hours. A high-pressure sodium lamp also lasts around 20,000 hours before it also drops 30 percent of its output.

The situation is even worse for metal halides, which may hit their L70 threshold around 5,000 hours.

LED’s longevity advantage means big cost savings for facility owners. The longer your lamps last, the less money your business has to spend on replacements – along with the work needed to replace those lamps.

LED Light Bulbs Also Require Minimal Maintenance

This follows the previous benefit to an extent, but LED’s low maintenance engineering needs more attention. LED fixtures, once installed, require close to zero maintenance during their operating life.

LED lamps are durable, built on solid state circuitry that can take the occasional bump without sustaining damage. Contrast this with fluorescent, CFL, and incandescent bulbs, which are built with sensitive components like filaments, electrodes, or pressurized gas chambers. As such, LED lamps are far less likely to fail during installation or maintenance because the technician knocked them just the right way.

Further, LEDs don’t rely on ballasts to operate. Ballasts are a common failure point for lighting systems, so with LEDs you’ll be replacing fewer secondary components as well as fewer lamps.

Less maintenance means less money spent on maintenance crews and system components. A win for the bottom line.

Bonus Benefit: Disposal Costs For LED Bulbs Are Also Minimal

While the above cost-reduction benefits are the most noteworthy, LEDs also save companies money when it is time for disposal.

LED fixtures require minimal levels of toxic materials. This is mostly in the form of heavy metals, but the amount is so low that LEDs are not considered a hazard if disposed of using a main disposal stream. You don’t need special considerations for disposing spent LED lamps.

That’s not the case for some other forms of lighting, such as fluorescent lighting. Because fluorescent tubes contain a significant amount of mercury, which is extremely toxic, they must be recycled or disposed of using special means. In the end, this means your organization will spend more money to meet these enhanced disposal procedures.

Add It All Up And The Average Cost Of An LED Bulb Is Much Less

It’s clear that the operating cost of LED lighting systems is much less than older options. However, you may still have concerns about the upfront costs of LED lamp. If you do, it’s worth noting that a brand-new, from-scratch solution is not the only LED lighting option. Many manufacturers have pushed retrofittable LED lamps to the market that are reliable and designed to work with existing ballasts and other system components.

In short, if your company wants the efficiency and longevity advantages of LED lighting, but not the cost of installing a completely new system, you can have it.