Green Energy Times has had a number of articles on light emitting diodes (LEDs). LEDs can be used for lighting in homes and businesses, for street lights, for flashlights, for vehicle headlights, and more; and in every instance we have seen, they have important advantages. In August of 2018, G.E.T. ran an article, “Cool Ways LEDs are Helping the Planet” on their generally superior lighting for specialized circumstances ranging from architectural highlighting to museum displays. An article in April of the same year, was “Product Preview: LEDdynamics™ Gro-Lights,” which examined their use for indoor gardening.
We live in a time when things change very quickly. For example, costs for photovoltaic (PV) modules have been declining so fast that any information on their prices that is as old as a year should be regarded as very possibly obsolete. It happens that the technologies of LEDs and PVs are very similar, so an improvement for manufacture for one of them could be reflected in an improvement for the other.
Ian Pahl, the renewable energy specialist at Sol-Air since 2006, serving the regions surrounding Lake Sunapee and Kearsarge, New Hampshire, recently sent us a summary of updates he thought we should pass on to our readers. They include some observations that we believe are definitely worth taking into account.
Pahl started by saying something we knew already: The energy consumption of LEDs, relative to the amount of power they consume, is very low, and that means people can save a lot of money by installing them. But he went on. It is not so well known, but important to consider, that LEDs outlast just about any other kind of light people would use. An incandescent light might have to be replaced 25 times in the lifetime of an LED, and that means big cost savings. And it is not just the cost of the lights that is important, it can also be the cost of physically making the switch which can be significant when tall ladders or lifts have to be called into service.
Pahl also points out something that is actually pretty obvious, once you think about it, but could slip by a person easily. Calculations of the sizes of solar arrays to provide power to specific sites always should take demand into account. By installing LEDs, that demand can be decreased considerably, and this would reduce the size and cost of the solar array. It is important, for that reason, that the first step in designing many solar arrays should be to upgrade lighting systems first. In some cases, the size of the solar array could be reduced by as much as 40%, and that reduction is reflected by a reduction in cost.
Peter Salvitti of Efficient LED Lighting Systems, with which Sol-Air partners, also had suggestions Pahl passed on to us. He has been quoting linear fixtures that go into warehouse spaces lasting up to 160,000 hours. He also pointed out that the technology is constantly improving, with prices being reduced and new products coming online.
At one warehouse project, after incentives, the LEDs were so much more efficient than the previous lighting system that a customer cost of $6,400 produced annual savings of $3,990. This means the estimated payback period was 1.6 years, for a return on investment of over 62%.
In some cases, LED lights are not only more efficient, in terms of energy used, but they are also brighter. Pahl told us, “Another project at Henniker Farm and Country Store shined so bright, some of their crew said they didn’t even have to keep all the lights on!”
Salvitti observed, “The real question is why aren’t more businesses making the switch? The key factor here is because we all get comfortable with our day-to-day lives, and lighting is typically always an afterthought.”