What fun! Lets open up the Czars mailbox to see what you all have to say.
First up, we have Mark Spahn, of West Seneca, New York, with some questions on our lightbulb guide.
Thank you, your Czarosity, for [your essay]. The side-by-side comparison is well laid out, and the explanation of the pros and cons is clear.
With one Grrrrr!-causing exception:
[LEDs] cost a lot, but they reduce your electric bill by a fifth over regular bulbs. For every LED bulb you buy, you will cut your electric bill by about $4.
Thus for the same luminosity as an incandescent bulb, the cost of electricity for an LED bulb is reduced not to a fifth but only by a fifth. So an LED bulb costs a hundredfold more than the incandescent bulb it replaces but still consumes 80 percent of the electricity the incandescent bulb consumed. Doesn’t sound like a very good tradeoff.
And that last sentence is very ambiguous: you save $4 in electricity per LED bulb, but over how long a period of time? Per day? Per year? Over the 30-year lifetime of the LED bulb? In the latter case, $4 over 30 years in electricity-cost reduction is a saving of only $4/30 year = 13 cents per year.
And you spent an extra $50 – $0.50 = $49.50 on the bulb to save $4 in electricity.
Doesn’t sound very smart.
— Mark Spahn (West Seneca, NY)
P.S. The per-day saving calculation comes out to $4/(30 year * 365 day/year) = 365 micro$/day.
Why the 365 in both the denominator and the quotient?
Mysterioso! Consult your numerologist.
Thanks, Mark! Yes, you were right about the unfortunate ambiguity that resulted from hasty typing. The Czar will now clarify.
Based on some consumer studies the Czar glanced at, the amounts vary. But they seem to hover around this idea: a standard 60-watt incandescent bulb costs you between $5 to $8 per year to operate. A 10W LED bulb costs about $1 to $1.40 per year to operate. The Czar should have said that substituting one standard incandescent bulb with a single LED bulb could reduce your monthly electric bills cost for that bulb to one-fifth of what you would otherwise pay. This is why the Czar does not write for some nice publication like National Review or the Boys Life.
Regarding the overall economics, the LED comes out pretty much indisputably on top. A standard bulb costs 50 cents as its capital expenditure, but its operating expenditure is 4 cents a day, assuming you pay $5 per year per bulb. Since this bulb lasts about a year, you pay $5.50 as the total cost of ownership: 50 cents for the bulb, and $5 over the life of the bulb.
And LED, conversely, has a capex of $55 or so each, and a daily opex of a penny. Given this bulb can last at least 30 years, the total investment is 30 years times $1.40 per year plus $55, or $97. Yes, that sounds badbut remember that you are replacing a standard incandescent once a year for 30 years. The total cost of that light with incandescent bulbs over 30 years swells to $165 (that is, 30 times $5.50), whereas the LED is $97 (one times $97).
Hope that helps. It did for long-time super-loyal minion and heir to Tahiti ScottO, who says:
Most wise and terrible majesty,
I read your post on light bulbs with much interest. Our manor house was built not 15 years ago, and is riddleder, replete with 60-watt (incandescent) ceiling-recessed flood lights. Thank goodness only one is in the 12′ ceiling, and it is on a switch that isn’t turned on very often. That one may be a prime candidate for replacing with a halogen bulb, even if the current bulb is still good. It can be saved to replace a burnout.
Isn’t it true that the LED elements are comparable in size to incandescent or halogen elements? If so, I see no reason an LED 3-way bulb would be much of a challenge. Perhaps you could enlighten us (no pun intended)?
Anyway, you are of course spot on about the cheap Chinese CFLs. I’ve had a success rate, of sorts, of 50%. I bought a two-pack for a lamp on my desk. One failed in about 3 months; the other is going strong 2 years later.
Many thanks for the great information.
Many thanks for just taking our word for it. You raise a couple of questions therein.
First, remember that your ceiling-recessed flood lightscan lights, probably, in the trade parlanceare likely 50-watt or 65-watt incandescents and should be available for a while, although it is clear that they are on their way out, too. Depending on the manufacturer of your cans, these may not be instantly replaceable. You may need an adapter kit to retrofit an LED into the existing can, which is pretty easy to do with a ladder. And these can even be dimmable LEDs, but they cost well over a hundred bucks each (and include a bulb). Just beware. On the plus side, they may already be LED ready!
Check out a 10-watt LED dimmable equivalent with a standard screw-in fixture. This is what the Czar should probably be using over his 65-watt GE Reveal incandescents with the warm yellow light he likes. These run about $30-40 each and last 25,000 hours, producing a healthy 5000K in temperature. But dont run out and buy them yet: do some easy research. Find out what type of bulbs you use now, and Google them to find the LED equivalent. We would not want you to replace nice, soft lighting with monstrously bright, stark white lights. Theyll work, but you might not like the results and you just dropped a couple hundred bucks on your entire room.
On that note, the Volgi did go with LEDs in the kidss playroom because the lights were potentially within reach of little hands. He reports they have worked perfectly.
Also, ScottO asks about the size of the LEDs; yes, those indeed are intended to fit standard screw-in bases, although the Czar really has no idea how long those will be around. Eventually, we might see easier snap-in lights like you get with car headlights these days. You should have no trouble for the immediate future grabbing LEDs as your bank account tolerates.
The Mandarin, by the way, points out that multi-way CFLs are available and he even has some that work pretty well. Contact him for more information. Or just swing by the Castle.
Божію Поспѣшествующею Милостію Мы, Дима Грозный Императоръ и Самодержецъ Всероссiйскiй, цѣсарь Московскiй. The Czar was born in the steppes of Russia in 1267, and was cheated out of total control of all Russia upon the death of Boris Mikhailovich, who replaced Alexander Yaroslav Nevsky in 1263. However, in 1283, our Czar was passed over due to a clerical error and the rule of all Russia went to his second cousin Daniil (Даниил Александрович), whom Czar still resents. As a half-hearted apology, the Czar was awarded control over Muscovy, inconveniently located 5,000 miles away just outside Chicago. He now spends his time seething about this and writing about other stuff that bothers him.