Are you interested in ways you can save energy and money? With electricity prices rising and the switch away from inefficient incandescent light bulbs, it makes sense to consider alternatives. However, switching to Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL) or LED bulbs isn't so simple or necessarily cheap. These more efficient alternatives differ in a number of ways:
- CFL and LED bulbs cost more than incandescent bulbs (often a lot more) for the equivalent light output
- CFL and LED bulbs don't produce the same color or full spectrum of light as incandescent bulbs.
- CFL bulbs contain mercury, not a very environmentally friendly choice
- LED bulbs are usually more efficient than CFLs, but are also more expensive
- CFL and LED bulbs often do not work with dimmer circuits (or even day/night sensors - see below)
- CFLs and LED bulbs last longer (often much longer), but their expected life can vary quite a bit.
- LED bulbs currently don't put out as much light as incandescent bulbs can (e.g. beyond 75 Watt equivalent), so might not be a good choice when you need a lot of light.
- LED lighting is very directional with bulbs containing many individual LEDs. This means you may have to choose a particular packaging that is appropriate for your application.
My goal was to fully recover the cost of the new lights in 1 year or less (I came close). Given that the bulbs should last many years, I'll be saving a significant amount of money in the long run. Plus, I'm immediately saving electricity. It is nice when you can be green while saving green.
This turned into two different mini-projects. I first replaced my porch light and then later converted all of my outdoor lighting. I also learned a bit in the process. I'll share how I did it and I have lots of pictures for you to enjoy.