Over the last 5 years, LEDs have soared in popularity. Governments around the world have been promoting use of LEDs in order to save electricity, and the environment. However, since they are still a relatively new lighting product, the general populace has its reservations about them, especially when it comes to price. The often-asked question is, “how much do LEDs cost compared to traditional light bulbs?” There is no straight answer to it, since price of an LED depends on a lot of factors.
Price of an LED depends on:
1. The listed life-expectancy and warranty termsGood LEDs will always have their life expectancy listed as 20,000 hours or above. In addition to that, good brands will have fair warranty terms. Quality translates directly to a higher price, although you end-up saving in the long run. We will come to that in a bit. However, there are LED brands out there that do not give you long-term warranty, give you LEDs with not-so-great lumen output, or just mediocre life-expectancy. Such LEDs are always cheaper, although they may not be a better buy.
2. How big is the brandBig brands have the capital to undertake voluminous manufacturing. Higher volumes lead to lower pricing, which is why, you will always find branded LEDs slightly cheaper than LEDs from small companies.
3. Added features
LEDs can come with a whole range of features, such as dimmability, mood lighting etc. Any add-on features increase the cost of the final product.
Let's take a simple caseFor purposes of calculation, let's take the case of a standard LED that costs $10 and has a life-expectancy of 20,000 hours. Let's compare that to a standard incandescent bulb that costs $1.
A 100W incandescent bulb gives the same output as a 11-14W LED. On an average, you are charged around 15 cents per KW hour. Thus, if you use a 100W incandescent bulb for 1,000 hours, you will be paying $15 in utility bills (15*0.1*1000/100).
On the other hand, by the same calculation, an LED will cost a maximum of $2 for 1,000 hours of operation.
Let's take the life-expectancy of the two types of bulbs into account. An incandescent usually lasts up to 1000 hours. Thus, a 100W incandescent bulb will cost $1 per 1,000 hours. An LED bulb, on the other hand, can last for 20,000 hours. Thus, an LED with similar lumen output will cost you about $0.50 per 1,000 hours.
Taking the above figures into account, the total cost of ownership for an incandescent bulb comes out to be $16 per 1,000 hours; while the same for LED is $2.50 per 1,000 hours.
Even if you take the difference in purchase cost between the two ($9), you will easily recover that cost with an LED in a little more than 500 hours of operation. Then, there is the added cost of labor in the case of incandescent bulbs. Typically, you will use about 2,000 hours of light in a year. Thus, you will need to replace your incandescent bulb twice in a year, which means you will incur extra labor costs. An LED bulb on the other hand will last about 10 years, on average.
The next time you are thinking you are better off with incandescent bulbs, take all of that calculation into account before you loosen your purse strings.