Let’s Get Real: How Long Do LED Bulbs Last and Are They Worth It?

The average electrical bill for an American household is just over $110 per month.

At that price, electricity accounts for 9% of expenditure on housing. Considering the cost is expected to rise, you might be considering ways to save yourself money on your next energy bill.

LED are the longest lasting lightbulbs and they can help save money in both residential and commercial applications. But just how long do LED bulbs last and how are they cost-effective?

We’ll tell you all that and more so keep reading to find out.

History of the LED

The incandescent light bulb was the only choice for lighting a home not so long ago. These types of bulbs have been around for over 100 years. 

Incandescent bulbs work by heating a filament using an electric current. The current heats the filament up enough to produce light.

However, 95% of the electricity applied to the filament is lost as heat – meaning that incandescent light bulbs are very energy inefficient. More efficient alternatives have been released on the market in the last 20 or so years. 

The first alternative to hit the shelves was the fluorescent bulb. While they got their start in commercial and industrial applications, they’ve been adapted for home as the compact fluorescent bulb (CFL).

Today, LED’s are all the rage. While they’ve been around for some time, they’ve only recently seen a reduction in cost that makes them more affordable for the everyday homeowner.

How Long Do LED Bulbs Last?

The lifespan of the average LED bulb is 50,000 hours. That’s true for both tube LED’s, LED bulbs, and even halogen LED’s.

That lifespan is 50 times greater than that of an incandescent bulb. And your average CFL only last 1,000 hours. That means an LED lasts longer than any other bulb you can purchase.

How Much Do LED Bulbs Cost?

The costs for LED bulbs vary widely. And while the bulbs themselves may cost a significant amount, the money they save in the long-term is where you can expect to find your savings.

Below, we’ve broken down the cost-savings you can expect from LED bulbs into 2 categories: residential and commercial applications.  

How do LED’s Save Money in Residential Applications?

At $9 to $25 each, LED house lights are a bigger initial investment than their conventional alternatives. However, they use a fraction of the energy as those counterparts. So what you spend on the bulb is more than covered by the savings on your energy bill.

For example, if you run an incandescent lightbulb for 5 hours a day for 2 years, the cost is about $32. If you run an LED bulb for that amount of time, it’ll cost you approximately $12.

That’s $20 in savings over 2 years. What’s more, 75% of the cost of the LED is the cost of the bulb itself.

How do LED’s Save Money in Commercial Applications?

LED bulbs in commercial applications save you money in the same way as residential applications. That is, they use up to half the wattage of the traditional fluorescent tube lightings. That means a lower electricity bill.

LED’s for commercial use also last longer than conventional bulbs. They’ll last up to 20 years longer than fluorescent lights.

But commercial LED’s have an additional cost saving to consider.

In most commercial lighting where the traditional tube bulb is used, a ballast is required. Ballasts require constant replacement and should only be installed and replaced by a licensed electrician. 

A warehouse may have tens or hundreds or fixtures that require ballasts. Retrofitting those existing light fixtures with LED technology can thus save installation, maintenance, and labor costs associated with the ballasts.

And by installing a motion detector that turns the lights off when the room isn’t being used, the cost savings are even greater.

Things to Consider

If you’re considering switching your lights to LED house lights, think about how long you’ll be living in your current place. LED lights are a good option if you’re planning on staying in your home for quite a few years (because the savings are realized in the long-term). But if you’re planning on moving soon, don’t bother spending the money on expensive bulbs you won’t get the benefits of.

Another thing to consider is whether you need to replace all or just some of your bulbs. Think about how often you use certain lights and whether that’s often enough to see your return on investment. Some rooms may not need a replacement – for example, your laundry room or storage closet.

Other Types of Household Lights

Houses are typically lit with incandescent, CFL, or LED bulbs. But how do the former 2 types compare with LEDs?

Incandescent

These are the cheapest light bulbs money can buy – and for good reason. They consume 6 times more electricity than an LED.

Their lifespan is 50 times shorter than an LED, and their light is not as bright or consistent. Incandescent bulbs are also very fragile and break easily (i.e. need replacing quite often).

CFL

The pre-cursor to LED’s, these fluorescent bulbs made for residential use are far more fragile than an LED. And when they break, they’re dangerous. That’s because they contain mercury which is toxic to human health.

CFL bulbs also tend to flicker. But LED’s are tougher, brighter, and free of any flickers. And while CFL’s used to be cheaper than LED’s, it’s now possible to find LED for less up-front cost.

Fluorescent Tube Lights

When it comes to office buildings, professional offices, warehouses, and factories, fluorescent tube lights are the most common type of lighting. But LED tube lights are slowly taking over the old, inefficient fluorescent tubes of the past.

LED tube lights have a longer lifespan (50,000 hours versus 30,000 hours), consume less electricity, and don’t require the installation or maintenance of a ballast.

Do You Need a Lighting Upgrade?

‘How long do LED bulbs last’ and ‘how much money do they save’ are 2 important questions to consider when upgrading your lighting. Althgouh an LED bulb may cost you a bit more as an initial investment, they last a longer than traditional bulbs and they save you in energy costs.

When it’s time to upgrade your lighting, know your options. Check out our blog for more information.