I bought my first LEDs in 1971 when Dialight sold a “starter kit” of several red devices mounted on plastic transistor-case bodies and topped with translucent epoxy. Not great in light efficiency, but still pretty cool. The LEDs cost about $1 each or about $5.25 today. LEDs have improved and LED light bulbs have started to appeal to many people.
I’ve remarked previously on use of LEDs in traffic signals. Unfortunately the LED replacements don’t create enough heat to melt snow or ice that accumulates on the light shields. This winter I saw signal after signal blocked by snow. Traffic slowed and many drivers used caution, but busy intersections backed up traffic on slippery roads. Not good. That situation seems like an unintended consequence of using low-power lights.
In early May 2010 I received an announcement about Home Depot’s proprietary ECOSMART LED light bulbs. According to the information, an efficient 9-watt A19 LED bulb can replace a 40-watt incandescent bulb for $19.97. Projected life for the LED bulb runs to 22 years or 50,000 hours. But does anyone use 40-W bulbs? The lowest-wattage lamps in our house run at 60W, not counting night lights and lights in a refrigerator or dryer. And we already have long-life CFLs in many sockets.
The manufacturer’s information noted consumers can save $155 in energy cost over the life of the product (about $7/year) and the bulb will pay for itself in less than two years based on energy and bulb-replacement costs. (This saving requires 6 hours/day use, 7 days/ week, 365 days/year at an average utility rate of $0.10/KwH.) Not many incandescent light bulbs here operate that long every day, and electricity costs less, too. When the always-on CFL in the basement goes out, I might consider an LED replacement, but so far a CFL has an advantage–a nondirectional spray of light.
There are places where LED illumination makes sense around a home. Refrigerator lamps are often a pain to replace, so LED bulbs might do the trick, or refrigerator manufacturers could include low-watt LED lamps to start. (I don’t know how the bluish tint of LED bulbs would make food look, though.)
Our clothes dryer takes a 10-W bulb; so that’s also a place for an LED bulb. I don’t want to crawl inside the dryer to replace a burned-out incandescent lamp. And how about an LED light in dishwashers? LEDs can take the heat and the detergent environment. I’d like to see what’s in the back of the dishwasher. So far, though, I can’t justify replacing incandescent or CLF laps with LED light bulbs. –Jon Titus