As we learned a couple weeks ago, the obvious and hidden costs associated with purchasing and operating a lighting system factors into the Total Cost of Ownership, or the true cost of a light bulb. This week, I will explain the cooling and labor maintenance costs associated with lighting systems. These costs differ according to bulb type; therefore bulb type should be the most important factor to consider when purchasing new bulbs.
The first bulb type to consider is incandescent. According to Merriam-Webster, the word incandescent means “to produce bright light when heated”. In this bulb type, an electrical current is passed through a metal filament in the bulb. The electricity heats the filament until it glows, just like a hot iron rod does when exposed to a flame. Unfortunately, unless you are using your lamp as a heater, this energy is wasted every time you turn on the light. In fact, approximately 90 watts of a 100 watt bulb escapes as heat and only 10 watts actually generates light.
What’s more, halogen incandescent bulbs produce twice as much heat as standard incandescent bulbs. If you live in a warm climate, your air conditioning and lighting systems could be at odds with one another. This brings us to the first unexpected cost that lighting poses: increased cooling costs. Upgrading your lighting system to one which produces less heat is one way to save money on your utility bill.
One Bulbs.com customer, the Grand Canyon Association (GCA), realized these savings when it replaced halogen track lighting in two of its facilities with LED bulbs. After the GCA’s Verkamp’s Visitor Center and Kolb Studio replaced 218 halogen bulbs, the buildings saw an 84% decrease in energy consumption. In part, this is because the new LED bulbs operate at 95 degrees, a much lower temperature than the 220 degrees that the old halogen bulbs were operating at, resulting in reduced cooling costs.
Many retailers featuring jewelry, clothing or products know firsthand how much heat these halogen light bulbs can put off- often times requiring year round cooling. By switching from halogen to LED, retailers can save hundreds of dollars every month in cooling costs.
LED bulbs are the most energy efficient bulbs on the market today because they produce light in a radically different way than their predecessors—through the play of electricity throughout a semiconductor. Because of this technology, LEDs are able to convert more energy into visible light and waste far less energy in the form of heat and UV radiation. They also don’t have a filament to burn out, helping LEDs last anywhere from 25,000 to 50,000 hours—that’s up to 50 times longer than incandescent bulbs. This brings us to the second, hidden cost within total cost of ownership, installation and maintenance costs.
Though changing out a single light bulb may take a homeowner 15 minutes at most, when a building has over 200 bulbs, lighting maintenance quickly becomes both labor-intensive and time-consuming. Someone needs to be paid to keep track of each of these bulbs and to spend the time replacing them when needed.
So, how much does lighting maintenance really cost? Let’s assume that the individual responsible for changing these bulbs earns $12 an hour and that it takes approximately 15 minutes to change a bulb. Replacing a single bulb would cost $3 (for 15 minutes of labor). However, though it would only cost $3 to change a single LED, during that time 50 incandescent bulbs will have burned out. At $3 per bulb, the labor costs for incandescent bulbs reach $150 (50 x $3).
On a larger scale, if a building has over 200 bulbs, like the Verkamp’s Visitor Center and Kolb Studio, replacing 200 LED bulbs would cost $600 (200 x $3.00). But replacing the equivalent amount of incandescent bulbs would cost $30,000 (200 x $150) for labor maintenance costs alone! As you can see, bulbs with longer expected lives reduce labor and maintenance costs significantly. At the Verkamp’s Visitor Center, the LEDs installed are rated to last 50,000 hours—that’s over 10 years of use per bulb if each is used for 12 hours/day!
Total Cost of Ownership includes far more than just purchase price and operating costs. There is a lot to consider and if you’d like to learn more about Total Cost of Ownership, check out the video above. Next week look for a post discussing the environmental costs associated with your lighting purchases. If you have other questions about a transition to LED or Total Cost of Ownership, please contact one of our certified Lighting Specialists at 888-455-2800.