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LED Landscape Lighting

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by Alan B, Jun 25, 2009.

  1. Alan B

    Alan B Sponsor
    Male, from tampa, fl
    Messages: 446

    LED's have been discussed here quite bit but I think there are some unresolved questions.

    In the US, the Nat'l average cost of electricity is $.11/kW (11 cents for 1000watts for 1 hour). The best LED's I've seen output roughly a 20w equivalent for only 3 watts of electricity. That's a 17w savings, however it would take 38,888 hours to break even*

    *17 watts only costs 2 tenths of 1 cent ($.0018) per hour to operate. A 20w halogen costs $4, a quality LED costs the consumer $75 or $70 more to go with LED. $70/.0018 = 38,888 hours to break even. Which means it takes about 26 years (if lights are on 4 hours/day).

    I think we can all agree the LED nor fixture are not going to last that long and you'd be very lucky if it lasted 1/2 that long. In essence for the typical 30 fixture job a customer will pay $2100 more for LED, to save $949 in electricity over 13 years. Additionally they'll get less light, less than optimal color, minor striations, and unknown bulb life. Fiscally it makes no sense to spend $2100 upfront to save $73/yr for 13 years.

    However if the customer is ok with making a statement in support of green technologies, and is aware they are paying a 50% premium to get less (light, color, effect), then it is fine. Unfortunately 90% of the time I here LED's sold I hear this:

    "80% more energy efficient, 40,000 hr life span, no maintenance, 20-30 watts of lumen's for 3 watts of electricity."

    I will put a disclaimer in about James. He is in a unique situation where his market is the mansions for Canada's rich and famous. When a customer is at that level and willing to pay $300+ up per fixture for 40+ fixtures, the differential is not that big and they are happy to spend several thousand to make a statement in support of greentech--which is the perfect situation for LED's. However James market is not applicable to 95% of the landscape lighting customers. The majority of the market customers struggle with $200/fixture for 20 fixtures.

    There is a slight savings on cable/transformers. Maintenance is yet to be proven until they are out there for 7+ years. Lastly, they are good for the hard to service location like a fixture mounted on top of a gable.

    I have seen most customers misled about LED's, LED's sold on the benefits, but not the reality.

    For the average installer-- do you think it makes sense for a customer to pay $2000 more for less light, worse color/beam spread, unknown life span and ~$73/year in energy savings? It is very hard to justify unless the customer is aware but just wants to make a green statement.

    Lastly if you really are green, the place to save is on high amp electrical not LV lighting.

    Just my opinion, and I have not really heard the true value proposition discussed here-- we've mainly discussed its performance not its value.


    Last edited: Jun 25, 2009
  2. Lite4

    Lite4 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,173

    Thanks Alan, I agree wholeheartedly. Very well said.
  3. irrig8r

    irrig8r LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,553

    You raise some good questions, but you don't appear to take into account the cost of labor to change halogen lamps, or their materials replacement costs over time...
  4. Alan B

    Alan B Sponsor
    Male, from tampa, fl
    Messages: 446

    because its speculation until LED's have been out there for 10 years. Frankly I was trying to give LED the benefit of the doubt. In reality I believe the color temp will start changing with-in 3 years, the effective lumens will decrease and life span maybe 10 years.

    You're are right, I didn't take maintenace labor savings into account. However if I take the above into acct about LED's it is a far more costly expense I also left out (i.e. in 5-10 years likley have poor color, even lower 10-15 watts equiv of lumens) and have to replace the LED bulbs.

    So I think LED is still getting a pass in my earlier analysis.
  5. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,645

    Lighthouse is one of those franchises out there, as well as Nitetime Decor, that are pushing the LED's. In my opinion I think they could care less about being green, unless we are talking more green in thier wallet. it is a marketing ploy to charge more in the initial install.

    The bulb changeout cost to the consumer for me is around 20-22 per fixture, and includes many things you have to do to LED's as well- cleaning the lens, re aiming, cutting back foliage from blocking the lights, cleaning out the trans and replacing the battery in the digital timer, etc. The bulb can be removed from that equation, but all that maintenance still has to be done at least yearly. James has had luck continueing to get maintenance contracts to service his LED jobs, but then again, james lives in a bubble of very wealthy clients who are not likely to service thier own system. Many folks I install for want to do thier own maintenance on Halogen now. when LED takes over it will only go up.

    we are at 8 cents a kilowatt, and many business's are at 3-4 cents using peak metering. the energy savings are even smaller at those rates.

    I'd have to say that most folks want their landscape lights on more than an average of 4 hours, probably closer to 6pm to midnight in the winter and 8pm to midnight in the summer. so maybe 5 hours. but about 25 % of my clients want them on all night long. so that would have to be around 12 hours average per night year round.
  6. The Lighting Geek

    The Lighting Geek LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 886

    as far as cost of electricity, I believe the average customer with a pool pays more like .36-.45 per kilowatt hour, depending on the size of their home, and that changes all the calculations considerably. whether your talking about halogen 12v, 24v, or LED. I have been checking the electric bills of my customers and the average is around .38 a KWH. Just wanted to throw this out there to see if what I am seeing is the same as what others are experiencing. But then I live in Californica:)
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2009
  7. irrig8r

    irrig8r LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,553

    I think it depends on the user.... California has tiered electrical rates depending on your use and your provider.

    The other thing is: Alan seems to assume those rates won't be raised over the next 13 years, while I think it's safer to assume they will.
  8. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,645

    I don't know, maybe I live in a wonderful electric bubble, but I checked as far back as I have records, and 14 years ago I was paying 7.6 cents per kilowatt. now I pay 8.4. we do have hydro ( Huge Beaver Dam system) and nuclear power ( Russelville ) here, and the cost of that is pretty constant. Our nuclear plant was just given an upgrade for more juice and approved for 12 more years of service. So hopefully our rates will stay low.
  9. Lite4

    Lite4 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,173

    Don't worry Tommy, all your customers will think that is cheap once congress passes this deceitful "cap and tax" bill. Then we will all be paying around .60 or so per Kw/h.
  10. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,102

    I have discussed these items numerous times throughout this forum but will do it once more for the benefit of newer readers...

    Please make sure you take a moment to read an accurate and comprehensive cost benefit analysis that will appear at the bottom of this post.

    Here is my cost benefit analysis showing the advantage of installing LED MR16 lamps over Halogen MR16 lamps.

    1: Cost of electricity (includes elec. delivery, fees, taxes, etc) = $0.14 KWh
    2: Cost of a GE Halogen MR16 Lamp (retail) = $10.50
    3: Cost of a LED MR16 Lamp (retail) = $55.00
    4: Cost of service labour = $65 per hour
    5: Avg life of Halogen MR16 = 4,000 hours
    6: L70 life of LED MR16 = 40,000 hours
    7: Time to change Halogen MR16 (avg) = 15 Mins

    Halogen Lamp - Cost of operations for 40K hours
    20w x 40,000hrs = 800,000 / 1000 = 800 KWh x 0.14 = $112.00
    10 Lamps used in 40,000hrs (10 x $10.50) = $105.00
    10 lamps changed x 15 mins ea = 150mins / 60 = 2.5 Hrs X $65 = $162.50

    Total cost of operation for 40K hours = $379.50

    LED Lamp - Cost of operations for 40K hours
    3.5w x 40,000hrs = 140,000 / 1000 = 140 KWh x $0.14 = $19.60
    1 LED lamp installed (initial lamp cost) = $55

    Total cost of operation for 40K hours = $74.60

    Conclusion: The client will save over $300 for each and every LED lamp installed when compared to the operations and maintenance costs of using comparable halogen lamps.

    Now when you extrapolate that over a 20 fixture installation, the client stands to save more than $6000 over the course of some 18 years. In order for them to realize these savings they must commit to an increased installation cost of only $890.00 (this does not take into account using reduced sized transformers or cable!)

    Would you not spend $890 more now in order to save $6000 over 18 years? It is such a no-brainer that over 95% of my clients have made the educated decision to go with LED lamps.

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