Only ten years ago a 60w incandescent lamp could be picked up from an electrical wholesaler for 26p. Even now an Osram branded 50w halogen GU10 can be obtained from the same wholesaler for about £1.20. However, the trade price for a ‘good’ GU10 LED replacement from Philips, Osram or Aurora is somewhere around the £20 mark.
This is not an easy sell. In current austere times, £20 light bulbs, notwithstanding the possibly vague understanding of the benefits, are seen by many homeowners and businesses alike as an expensive luxury. However, the initial product price is only one component of the total ‘cost of ownership’ which also includes the running costs and any maintenance costs. Furthermore a fair comparison of light sources will also take into account life expectancy.
Everyone, of course, understands that using energy costs money, but how many people can calculate or even guess how much it costs to run an individual lamp? How many people or business owners actually know what they pay for their lighting electricity consumption?
It is precisely because most of us do not consider the cost of running individual lamps that the total cost of lighting is so high. Indeed, in the UK, depending upon your choice of commentator, lighting accounts for between 16% and 24% of all domestic electricity usage. Let’s look at this in detail then. Presuming twenty GU10 down lights running for 5 hours a day and the cost of electricity to be 10p per kilowatt hour, using three different lighting types:
- 50w halogen = 50p a day / £3.50 a week / £14 a month / £168 a year
- 11w Compact fluorescent = 12p a day / 84p a week / £3.36 a month / £40.32 a year
- 6w LED = 6p a day / 42p a week / £1.68 a month / £20.16 a year
So we’re starting to get an idea that the more expensive lamp…..doesn’t actually cost as much as the cheaper lamp!
About three years ago my colleague and I had a meeting at a business park inLondon. As we sat in the meeting room a maintenance guy came in to replace a lamp that had blown. He climbed up his step ladder, ascertained which lamp he needed and went to the stores, which we later discovered were on the other side of the park. Nearly twenty minutes later he returned with the lamp, re-erected his step ladder and climbed to the top to discover he’d picked up the wrong lamp. Fifteen minutes later he returned, just as we were finishing our meeting, with the correct lamp.
The whole process, of changing just one lamp had taken over forty minutes and guestimating a maintenance contractors’ charge, had cost something like £12! To be honest, his timing couldn’t have been better as we were at the time discussing the park’s inefficient light sources and maintenance costs.
So the point is, changing light bulbs incurs a cost and whilst this cost is usually ignored or not even considered by homeowners… (don’t they value their own time?!), it is much more significant in commercial environments using in-house maintenance staff or outside contractors and if it’s going to cost £12 to change a light bulb you don’t want to be doing it too often!
Here-in lies another advantage of the newer light sources: both CFL and particularly LED have significantly longer life expectancy than either incandescent or halogen lamps. Consider the fact that the stated life of the average GU10 halogen is 2000 hours, whilst the stated life of many branded GU10 LEDs is 50,000 hours and it’s clear. If both lamps last their full stated life you will change the halogen lamps twenty five times during the life of the LED alternative!
A Full Cost of Ownership Example
Ok, so that’s the background, now let’s look at a real life cost of ownership comparison between a 6w LED and a standard 50w GU10.
In the example above we have assumed:
Electricity Cost – 10p per kilowatt hour
Lamp life: Halogen 2000hr / LED 50,000hr
Usage: 5 hours per 7 day week
Maintenance cost – £1 per re-lamp
We can see that we would save £9.32 a year if we used the 50,000 hour, 6w LED version and it would repay its initial higher cost in 1.8 years. In use for 1820 hours a year it would therefore last for over 27 years saving a whopping £256!
This article was written by Lightbulb World, who have been supplying the electrical industry and home owner alike for over 25 years. Light Bulb World stocks over 2000 different light bulbs covering all applications, from domestic kitchen lighting to commercial display and industrial hi-bays.