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Lifecycle Energy Costs of LED, CFL Bulbs Calculated

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the pla-hol dept.

Earth 400

necro81 writes "The NY Times is reporting on a new study from Osram, a German lighting manufacturer, which has calculated the total lifecycle energy costs of three lightbulb technologies and found that both LEDs and CFLs use approximately 20% of the energy of incandescents over their lifetimes. While it is well known that the newer lighting technologies use a fraction of the energy of incandescents to produce the same amount of light, it has not been proven whether higher manufacturing energy costs kept the new lighting from offering a net gain. The study found that the manufacturing and distribution energy costs of all lightbulb technologies are only about 2% of their total lifetime energy cost — a tiny fraction of the energy used to produce light." The study uses the assumption that LEDs last 2.5 times longer than CFLs, and 25 times longer than incandescents.

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Great assumption (4, Funny)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279340)

Assuming LEDs last 2.5 times as long as LEDs, we conclude that LEDs last infinitely long and there is nothing superior except for LEDs.

Re:Great assumption (1)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279348)

Aleph-one etc etc

Re:Great assumption (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30279350)

Not really.

If x is the lifetime of an LED:

x=2.5x

x=0

Ergo, LED lighting does not exist.

Re:Great assumption (1)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279420)

So then if we calculate the percentage efficiency against a standard lightbulb: 25x/x where x=0...

oh crap... did you guys get the same popup?

"God has detected an error in the universe.sys file. God is restarting universe."

Re:Great assumption (4, Funny)

ihuntrocks (870257) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279868)

That divide by zero could mean undefined and could be infinity. This leads me to the startling conclusion that LEDs don't actually produce light, but actually consume darkness. There is a strange event-horizon inside of LEDs that prevents us from observing what's going on inside. On the inside, I postulate that the mechanism inside of the LEDs let's virtual pairs of "no-tons" and "anti-no-tons" form, orbit, collide, and destroy one another. This releases the occasional photon. There is virtually no heat from this, since no-tons, by nature, are incredibly low energy particles. This must happen at a tremendous rate for the "light output" they give. I am both amazed and slightly afraid of LEDs now that I know how they work. I only hope the manufacturers continue using this awesome ability for good. ...Silly article typos....

Re:Great assumption (2, Informative)

Rising Ape (1620461) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279352)

Or they never work at all.

Re:Great assumption (1)

RealGrouchy (943109) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279704)

Assuming LEDs last 2.5 times as long as LEDs, we conclude that LEDs last infinitely long and there is nothing superior except for LEDs.

Or they never work at all.

Only if you divide by zero.

- RG>

Re:Great assumption (1)

Trayal (592715) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279358)

I'm still waiting for that AOLED display...

Re:Great assumption (3, Funny)

Inner_Child (946194) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279722)

ME TOO!

Re:Great assumption (2, Funny)

startled (144833) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279384)

Assuming LEDs last 2.5 times as long as LEDs, we conclude that LEDs last infinitely long and there is nothing superior except for LEDs.

The study was commissioned by an LED manufacturer. In order to reach the desired result, they had to redefine 2.5 as the multiplicative identity. At least they're up front about it. ("Up front" being, in fact, quite important-- you don't want to see what they did to the associative property.)

Re:Great assumption (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30279388)

Light++

Re:Great assumption (1)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279442)

Light++

Nono. Light 2.0!!!

Re:Great assumption (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30279552)

Light++

Nono. Light 2.0!!!

iLight

Re:Great assumption (1)

DarkAxi0m (928088) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279608)

!Dark

Re:Great assumption (1)

Sam36 (1065410) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279774)

Love the sig. You should check out the KJV. Jesus Saves

Re:Great assumption (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30279854)

Agreed, awesome sig. I love how he uses the bible to justify the bible. Classic!

Re:Great assumption (1)

Comatose51 (687974) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279816)

Brilliant!

Wat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30279346)

The study uses the assumption that LEDs last 2.5 times as long as LEDs

wat? how possible!

Re:Wat? (1, Troll)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279392)

Surely they meant that LEDs last 2.5 times as long as traditional incandescents. Which is absurd actually... LEDs last a lot longer.

How come no mention of Halogens, I wonder?

Re:Wat? (1)

hardburn (141468) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279446)

In theory, they last a lot longer. Well-built ones could even last more than the life of the owner.

However, LEDs are really sensitive to heat (even more than CFLs), and fixtures designed for incandescent bulbs often trap heat. A lot of manufacturers also build them fast and cheap, so expected lifetime can sometimes be measured in hours.

Re:Wat? (1)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279626)

Well-built ones could even last more than the life of the owner.

And what if the owner is Schrodinger's Cat?

fixtures [...] often trap heat.

But LED's don't even make enough heat to melt the snow off the traffic lights without added heating elements. google [google.com]

Re:Wat? (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279804)

In theory, they last a lot longer. Well-built ones could even last more than the life of the owner.

However, LEDs are really sensitive to heat (even more than CFLs), and fixtures designed for incandescent bulbs often trap heat. A lot of manufacturers also build them fast and cheap, so expected lifetime can sometimes be measured in hours.

I wonder if that's why my experience with LED bulbs is so varying. Three bulb-style LED lamps we've had to replace effectively every month (and in a 3-lamp fixture, means 3 a month!). They don't burn out, they just glow normally, then blink out suddenly. But some LED floodlights have lasted the whole duration (6+ months) with no issues at all. Strange.

Giving up on the LED bulbs and going to crack one open to see what actually failed. Going back to CFLs... even the quality ones are cheaper than the LED bulbs.

Re:Wat? (1)

mister_playboy (1474163) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279466)

The study uses the assumption that LEDs last 2.5 times as long as CFLs, and 25 times longer than incandescents.

The summary wording is incorrect on the frontpage of /., but correct on this page... scroll up and look.

Weird.

Re:Wat? (1)

mister_playboy (1474163) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279602)

Now it's been fixed on the frontpage, too.

Good to see the editors actually do something... :)

Re:Wat? (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279838)

I think it's gotta be a romulan plot, a ploy to start a war.. and takeover slashdot.. something to do with stealing the infinitely-long-lasting LED technology. The editors we all know and love don't make fixes like that [j/k]

Re:Wat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30279604)

They might last a lot longer in a lab test, but in real-world usage that is reduced quite a bit. There's a lot of reasons, ranging from the quality of the light fixtures you put them in, power stability issues (over/under voltage) and operating temperature and 2.5 is a pretty realistic in-the-wild performance comparison. Manufacturing quality is a big part of it, so I'd expect LED's will gain a good bit of ground as the methods are improved.

Halogens... well those things have a lot of problems. I haven't bothered to look at their power consumption vs. light emission, but judging from the amount of heat they emit it can't be very efficient. Combine that with the fact that you usually need to replace your light fixtures to prevent heat-induced fires, and that they don't have a very wide operating temperature range. But that's mostly just speculation, I haven't seen a good lifecycle evaluation of Halogens... but I notice they do get dismissed outright in most energy-efficient discussions.

Zero (0, Redundant)

sbjornda (199447) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279364)

FTFS:

The study uses the assumption that LEDs last 2.5 times as long as LEDs

2.5x = x so x = zero. Do the math.

--
.nosig

Re:Zero (1)

Lord Byron II (671689) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279394)

Or x is undefined (as in infinity) is also a solution.

Re:Zero (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30279702)

Infinity isn't a number.

Even as x tends towards infinity, 2.5x=x is false for all values of x but zero.

Re:Zero (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30279836)

lol. The difference between a mathematician and an engineer.

The engineer that the values of x are automatically assumed to be in the domain of possibilities in this universe and the materials in question.

The mathematicians need a domain definition line added or they make silly statements like this...

Re:Zero (1)

robinesque (977170) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279412)

No one cares about the trivial solution.

Re:Zero (2, Insightful)

dolphino (166844) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279428)

This is also true for extremely small values of 2.5

Re:Zero (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30279476)

This is also true for extremely small values of 2.5

That's demonstrated by dividing both sides of the equation by x...

Re:Zero (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30279766)

2.5x = x means 2.5 = 1. do the math

Error! (0, Offtopic)

cachimaster (127194) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279366)

The study uses the assumption that LEDs last 2.5 times as long as LEDs, and 25 times longer than incandescents.

Error: Stack overflow.

Re:Error! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30279410)

NaN

LED lighting vs. CFL question (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30279378)

Does anyone know if LED lighting can save on power over CFL with the same output (lumens)?

I purchased some LED bulbs and they tend to be much more expensive and the savings (watt rating) is very negligible. What makes LED more attractive? Is it just the longer life time?
--
Anonymous Coward Sig 2.0:
MADONNA IS THE BEST!!
Impeach Obama; install Madonna; end the war!

Currently listening to: Madonna - Like a Virgin; Justify My Sex remix.flac

Re:LED lighting vs. CFL question (0)

kullnd (760403) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279406)

Because they look cool when used in a room with your spiffy Mac

Re:LED lighting vs. CFL question (4, Insightful)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279518)

Because with LEDs you only make the part of the spectrum that the tomatoes growing in the closet use.

Seriously it's the longer life.

Especially the increased on/off cycles, which is what kills almost all CFLs before their time.

Re:LED lighting vs. CFL question (2, Interesting)

gabebear (251933) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279636)

Probably the single best thing about the current LED bulbs is you can throw them away. All florescent bulbs(CFLs included) contain mercury. Also, CFLs that operate in freezing conditions are very expensive and still don't work that well. LEDs can also be dimmed easily and come in any color you want, or even every color [vitaminshoppe.com] .

LED technology is still progressing rapidly [wikipedia.org] , so hopefully we will see LED bulbs that trounce CFL efficiency pretty soon.

Re:LED lighting vs. CFL question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30279706)

LED technology isn't quite there yet, but when it is, it will have a few
advantages over CFL:

1) You won't need a hazmat team to clean up when one breaks
2) The lumens per watt demonstrated in the lab is better than CFLs

I bought a handful of LED bulbs from donsgreenstore (the site I bought
them from seems to be gone now, no surprise) and they were expensive
and they sucked. Considerably worse efficiency than CFLs and they
didn't last as long as incandescents. In California, there's a requirement
that certain fixtures in the bathroom and kitchen meet a lumens per watt
requirement and they fell well short of that... not that it really matters
because the California requirement is on the fixture type, not the bulb
type. If you have an incandescent fixture and put a magic bulb
that consumes no power and still produces light, it doesn't meet
their requirements... you need to have fixtures with special sockets
(like 13 W 4 prong electronic ballast florescent sockets).

Hopefully LED bulbs will be available in the not too distant future
with the required lumens per watt so somebody manufactures one
that can be put in the florescent sockets. I'm not holding my breath
though. Unless of course I break a florescent bulb... then I'll hold
my breath to avoid the mercury vapor. ;)

Re:LED lighting vs. CFL question (3, Insightful)

Firehed (942385) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279818)

1) You won't need a hazmat team to clean up when one breaks

Can we stop with this already? Unless you start licking the floor where you dropped the bulb, it's not a problem. And if you DO start licking the floor when dropping a bulb, you deserve whatever happens to you (which, in all likelihood, is just going to be a lot of glass shards in your tongue)

Re:LED lighting vs. CFL question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30279726)

The droop issue with LEDs has not yet been solved and may never be. As the brightness of LEDs increase their effeciency decreases. This is why you see knarly heat sinks on the brighter led products and why some products tend to use the more-is-merrier approach.

CFLs would rock if there was an effective recycling/education program to manage the lifecycle of these bulbs.

LEDs would rock but possible health issues (blue light hazard) is scary and the output of led lights still look crappy. What you see as a "color" is an illusion.. Your eyes can only see an average of wavelengths absorbed. (Your eyes can't tell if green is being emitted or yellow and blue separatly) Even if stuff doesn't look "blue" to you doesn't mean the issue does not exist.

Yea, it was a typo. (0, Redundant)

PieSquared (867490) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279390)

"LEDs last 2.5 times as long as LEDs" so.. "x = 2.5*x" therefore x=0

"LEDs last ... 5 times longer than incandescents" so "x = 26*y" and "x=0" (from above) therefore y=0.

So... now that we've discovered that LED's and incandescents both don't actually emit any light, we'll all switch to CFL's, right?

To fail to be completely redundant, I hate the use of "2.5 times as long" followed immediately by "25 times longer". The two phrases mean different things. "2.5 times as long" is 2.5x, "25 times longer" is 26x.

Oh for fucks sake (2, Informative)

ArchieBunker (132337) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279396)

How can these "editors" screw up a single sentence? They're not even janitors.

Re:Oh for fucks sake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30279456)

Hey no need to insult Janitors!

Summary fail (2, Funny)

jaxtherat (1165473) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279402)

"LEDs last 2.5 times as long as LEDs"

yeah...

Whats TCO? (1)

NevarMore (248971) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279422)

I know, I know, buzzword alert.

Whats the TCO?

$X for bulb
$Y per kwh (cite sources, current prices in what locale, projected prices)
Z lifetime
Q consumption rate

Google shows a few results from manufacturers press releases.

Another things to consider (5, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279426)

Is heat output. More or less, any energy that isn't becoming light is becoming heat. Now in some areas of the world, that matters little to none. However in hot climates, it does. An incandescent produces more heat which gets dumped in to the air in your house. You then have to run your AC more often. So you end up paying double for the power, in terms of using it and then eliminating the excess. That's one reason I rather like CFLs is that they heat up my place less. I live in the desert so that is a non-trivial thing.

Also, they can have a much more natural white point. I like the fact that you can get CFLs with a white around 6000, which is closer to what you get from the sun on a bright day. Just a much nicer quality of light. You do generally need to pay more to get higher quality ones with a better spectrum, but I'd say it is worth it.

Re:Another things to consider (5, Informative)

hedgemage (934558) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279478)

I am practically a professional light-bulb changer, so I will say that in my non-scientific, non-measured, purely anecdotal experience, that CFLs put out a lot more heat than LEDs. Scads less than incandescents, but still, the ballast in the base of a CFL warms up quite a bit during operation, often growing too hot to touch when the glass spiral is still plenty cool. If you're concerned about minimizing heat, go LED.

Re:Another things to consider (1)

jhol13 (1087781) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279684)

The efficiency of CFLs and LEDs is pretty much same, therefore they will put very closely same amount of heat.
CFLs may heat the base more (no experience), but overall there cannot be any difference.

I will eventually (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279688)

Currently, all the LEDs I've found are too pricey. I have found some cheap ones, but I wasn't satisfied with the light output, or the light quality. I've found ones I liked quite a lot (Color Kinetics makes some fantastic units) but they are too expensive and often not designed for socket replacement.

I think in a few more years it'll probalby be something for me to do, but not just yet. I have to be pleased with the light output and quality, and I'm really not going to pay more than $100 per bulb, and really probalby $50 or less.

Professional light-bulb changer? (5, Funny)

SteveFoerster (136027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279808)

I am practically a professional light-bulb changer

So, how many of you does it take to... oh, never mind.

Re:Another things to consider (0)

plague911 (1292006) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279540)

You make a valid point however the reality is it takes far more energy to remove the heat than its own energy value. I think that a rough estimate standard number is around 4/1. So for every kWh of wasted energy you have to spend around 4 kWh removing that energy.

Re:Another things to consider (2, Informative)

texas neuron (710330) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279690)

Actually - you have it backwards. Let's say the SEER rating of your air conditioner is 12. This means you move 12 BTU(thermal) for every 1 watt-hours of electric energy used. The energy equivalent of 1 BTU(thermal) is .29 watt-hours. You therefore move 12 x 0.29 watt hours (thermal) for every watt-hour (electric) or 3.48.

Re:Another things to consider (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30279852)

Actually the opposite is true. In a modern air conditioning unit, say one rated at 10 EER, it would take approximately 1 kWh of energy to remove 10 kWh of heat at steady state operation.

No shit, sherlock. (2, Insightful)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279448)

While it is well known that the newer lighting technologies use a fraction of the energy of incandescents to produce the same amount of light, it has been unproven whether higher manufacturing energy costs kept the new lighting from offering a net gain. The study found that the manufacturing and distribution energy costs of all lightbulb technologies are only about 2% of their total lifetime energy cost — a tiny fraction of the energy used to produce light.

A CFL costs maybe $5 each (if you buy a pack with more than one), including the retail markup, and saves maybe $40/year in electricity for supposedly 7+ years. I know manufacturers probably get their energy a bit cheaper than home electric rates, but it can't possibly be the 56+ times cheaper that it would take for the $5 to cover more energy than the $40*7 saved does.

Re:No shit, sherlock. (3, Informative)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279500)

I bought n-vision CFLs, which scored the highest in an objective, blind test done by popular mechanics a couple years ago. They were about $2 each with shipping, and have a 9 year warranty. So far, they've lived up to their promise : the light is almost EXACTLY like the light from an incandescent - low color temperature, lots of yellow, etc. They start up instantly, and of course use a fraction of the electricity.

Re:No shit, sherlock. (5, Funny)

ThreeGigs (239452) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279588)

in an objective, blind test

Personally, I'd never trust a lightbulb test done by the blind.

Re:No shit, sherlock. (4, Informative)

timeOday (582209) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279506)

A CFL costs maybe $5 each (if you buy a pack with more than one)

Actually brand-name CFL's delivered to your door [ebay.com] are a little over $1 each.

Re:No shit, sherlock. (1)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279654)

If you actually pay to have a single CFL delivered to your door, does that count against your carbon footprint?

Re:No shit, sherlock. (3, Insightful)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279748)

Depends on how you were going to get yourself to the store otherwise.

Re:No shit, sherlock. (1)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279790)

Hmmm.... Am I too late for the 4:30 autogyro?

Senator.... (-1, Redundant)

ff1324 (783953) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279454)

"LEDs last 2.5 times as long as LEDs"

Sounds like something a Congressional committee would come up with...

Except that you cannot really buy LED lighbulbs ye (1)

name99 (1690268) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279460)

It seems a bit premature to go on about how great LED lighbulbs are when they don't seem to be purchasable. Sure you can buy crappy novelty bulbs -- 15W or 25W replacements. But your workhorse bulbs, your 100W equivalents --- I've never seen any for sale, and a brief web search didn't turn up anything useful. One day, yes, they will be a great leap forward. Until then, how about we maintain contact with reality?

Eh (5, Interesting)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279468)

Incandescent bulbs :
+ Cheap, we're used to the light
- terrible efficiency, short lifespan, fragile, sensitive to vibration, emit heat

CFLs :
+ much more efficient, very long lifespan
- not very dimmable, contain mercury, fragile, slow to start up in cold environs, reduced lifespan if toggled on and off

LEDs
+ extremely efficient, ridiculous lifespan (60,000 hours), almost bulletproof, can toggle on and off as much as you want, start up instantly in all environs, dimmable, no toxic materials. Basically almost perfect in every way.
- $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$. Current generation light spectra is too high a color temperature to mimic incandescents. Current generation packaging creates a narrow, focused cone of light.

Summary : LED will pwn all once the problems are solved, and the problems appear solvable. Problems with other light technologies are inherent to the technology itself and not solvable. Once LED is perfected, the other two technologies will be useless.
 

Re:Eh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30279514)

Summary : LED will pwn all once the problems are solved, and the problems appear solvable. Problems with other light technologies are inherent to the technology itself and not solvable. Once LED is perfected, the other two technologies will be useless.

Yeah, sure. LEDs are great if all you need is task lighting. LEDs are highly directional, whereas CFLs and incandescents are not. Sure, some of that light energy is wasted, but imagine what your house would look like if your lighting options were limited to 30-45 degree beams of light. You'd need a whole lot more LED lighting than with CFL fixtures unless you're into the Cheney dungeon look.

Re:Eh (4, Interesting)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279554)

Read what I wrote : problems with current packaging. The reason they do that NOW is that LEDs are so expensive that it's not possible to put enough of them into a light bulb to match the total lumen output of a conventional bulb. So to make use of the limited light output, they leave the light focused in those narrow cones. Once LEDs get cheaper, they'll come packed with diverging lenses or diffusers to spread the light around.

Re:Eh (1)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279606)

LEDs are great if all you need is task lighting. LEDs are highly directional, whereas CFLs and incandescents are not.

As was noted, this is due to the packaging used. It would be fairly trivial to avoid by not building a lens into the package and/or making high-power "bulbs" out of maybe 20 lower-power individual LEDs all arranged facing outwards in different directions. And probably enclosing the whole thing in a frosted plastic envelope, the way some incandescent lights have the envelope frosted.

Re:Eh (4, Interesting)

tftp (111690) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279596)

LEDs [...] no toxic materials

Gallium arsenide is a carcinogen, and arsenic is released when the crystal is exposed to water (after the LED light is thrown out and ends up in a landfill.) Manufacturing of semiconductors is producing poisonous waste, and it requires large amounts of energy.

Currently a 1W desk lamp (of which I happen to have two) uses about 30 LEDs. It is cool to the touch, but the light is mostly blue, and the intensity of the light is just enough to use it as a night light. I like these lamps for what I'm using them, but there is no way currently to replace the overhead lights with them, they are 100x too weak and 10x too expensive.

Re:Eh (2, Funny)

hitmark (640295) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279650)

these days, i wonder whats not a carcinogen...

Re:Eh (2, Funny)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279678)

these days, i wonder whats not a carcinogen...

Probably not much besides CO2.

Re:Eh (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279660)

Many LEDs are made out of toxic materials (like gallium aresenide). Neither they nor CFLs (which contain something like 4 mg of elemental mercury) present a significant hazard to the user.

Re:Eh (1)

plague911 (1292006) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279728)

You can now buy an LED light bulb for 10 bucks from Home depot. Seems like your major complaint about LED's had been solved... LEDs now pay for themselves when compared to a CFL within 1 year, and when compared to incandescent within 3 months.

Re:Eh (0)

jhol13 (1087781) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279780)

Let me put this again, with correct values:
Incandescent:
  + Cheap, good light.
  - Bad efficiency in hot living areas (in cold areas the heat will decrease amount of heating needed)

CFLs
  + Efficient, a bit longer lifespan
  - All you mention plus nowhere near the light output claimed (11W is not 60W), nowhere near claimed lifespan (usually maybe 2x), fire hazard (the base on some cheap ones can heat up too much), requires recycling.

LEDs
  + Efficient (about same as CFLs), very long lifespan
  + Others you mention
  - Bloody expensive, color horrible, not enough light output to replace e.g. 60W incandescent, requires recycling (due to electronics inside, not due to mercury or like)

Re:Eh (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30279862)

I will beg to differ on the Incandescent bulbs. Specifically, they actually last a very long time at low watts, especially the older "less efficient" ones that used thicker filiments made of different materials. Problem is those older ones put out crap light spectrum... better than candle but not nearly as good as modern incandescent bulbs, which is why they were changed.

There's such a push to use the newer technologies and incentives to just drop incandescents that nobody seems to be doing any research into ways to make them better. I think that they will go away for most applications but the rush to ban them outright is still a little premature, IMHO.

There's another issue that is often overlooked- you can make an incandescent bulb of almost any shape and still have plenty of lumes... the LED and CFL technology is still a lot bulkier for the same light output but is slowly getting better. But you just don't have the artistry that the incandescent bulbs offer.

So on my scale:
Incandescent:
+ Simple tech, Cheap, Artistic, No fixture replacements needed, Operating temperature range is fairly wide.
- Poor efficiency, short lifespan at acceptable light output levels, emit medium heat (Halogens would be high heat), sensitive to Shock (not vibration), reduced lifespan when rapidly switched on/off

CFL
+ Long lifespan, high energy efficiency
- Not nearly as "compact" as the name implies requiring some fixture replacement, Lumes decrease over lifetime, hazardous materials, fragile and sensitive to shock, poor operation in cold, reduced lifespan when switched on/off, subject to strobing/flickering in many environments

LED
+ Very efficient, long lifespan, highly durable, toggle does not reduce life, fast startup, wide operating temp range, no toxic materials, resistent to shock
- Not well tested, very expensive, wide range of quality in manufacturing, spectrum range issues, non-LED portions of the 'bulb' completely untested, bulky for the lumes.

Summary: It's hard to compare the Incandescent bulbs to the new technologies in a real fashion. There hasn't been much, if any, new development in this tech area. CFL's are progressing well, but still have issues with being bulky, ugly, and not operating consistently. LED's are almost completely untested, still very expensive, don't have equivalent light output, and introduce new parts of the overall "bulb" that may vary widely between products and which are also highly untested.

My recommendation: Get CFL's for the bulk of your light fixtures in indoor or temperature-friendly areas, the energy savings is worth it. Keep your incandescent bulbs in custom, specialty, and artistic fixtures, and in temperature zones that cause issues for the CFL's. Hold off on the LED's except on a very limited experimental basis.
In the next 5 to 10 years we will see a lot of changes in the LED arena, and changes in the CFL but not as many, incandescent bulbs will remain the same & become unavailable due solely to political pressures. By the time your current CFL's wear out and you exhaust your stockpiles of (soon to be "illegal") incandescent bulbs, the arena will have changed enough that you'll want to re-evaluate the choices over-all.

Bu.. bu.. but... (4, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279470)

Since this is an energy-saving technology, surely it has some fatal yet under-appreciated drawback that fully justifies my foregone decision never to change my habits or lifestyle for any reason and makes fools of the "greenies" in my own mind! You know, like how Hummers are actually more eco-friendly than the Prius [thetorquereport.com] , and how windmills screw with feng shui [wind-watch.org] . I've always found an excuse to view all environmentalism as self-defeating before, don't let me down this time slashdot!

Re:Bu.. bu.. but... (1, Interesting)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279526)

if by greenies you mean greenpeace, they make fools of themselfs easily.

i think while this report is bullcrap on how much of a saving you get from led's, in general it's right - there really isn't a reason to keep using incandescent bulbs anymore. I plan on building a new house next year and it'll be all led driven from a dedicated 12v circuit in my house that will run outdoor lighting as well as my bar fridge.

Re:Bu.. bu.. but... (1)

Cimexus (1355033) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279744)

I'm pretty sure 'greenies' refers to a much broader spectrum of people than the (admittedly nutty) people at Greenpeace...

Re:Bu.. bu.. but... (2, Funny)

glwtta (532858) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279786)

Since this is an energy-saving technology, surely it has some fatal yet under-appreciated drawback that fully justifies my foregone decision never to change my habits or lifestyle for any reason

In this case the drawback is that they produce a light spectrum that makes you want to stab yourself in the eye after prolonged exposure.

I know, it's a small nit-pick. I'm probably just trying to justify my foregone decision to not change my "not stabbing myself in the eye" habit.

Re:Bu.. bu.. but... (1)

WhiplashII (542766) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279810)

I have tried CFLs many times (in the two condos I have lived in for the last few years), and they have never lasted as long as incandescent bulbs. Our house isn't that strange, so I have to assume that CFLs have some pretty serious problems. Since every time one of these articles gets posted on Slashdot we see many people voicing the same concerns, I think there are some pretty serious issues. I'm not sure why they are continuously ignored - if those issues are solved, CFLs would likely see broader adoption.

For my house I ended up installing "real" fluorescent lights. They work extremely well - I've been very pleased.

Re:Bu.. bu.. but... (2, Funny)

lotho brandybuck (720697) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279846)

Let me try to help...

Packaging large amounts of vacuum in incandescent lamps and CRTs increases the concentration of air we've got to breath if we're not living in a lamp or CRT.

Switching to these so-called green technologies could see us run out of air!!!

Easy Bake Ovens (4, Funny)

Dan East (318230) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279480)

Doesn't anyone ever think of the children? What about Easy Bake Ovens? Have you ever tried to bake a tiny little cake from the heat emitted by LED bulb? No adult, let alone child, has that sort of patience.

Re:Easy Bake Ovens (2, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279564)

I once blew up ten old style 20mA LEDs by mis configuring a bench top power supply. I got some heat out of the arrangement but you wouldn't want to eat the cake afterwards, or for that matter breathe the air.

Re:Easy Bake Ovens (1)

Guysmiley777 (880063) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279754)

Easy Bake Ovens don't use lightbulbs anymore, they have a small electric heating element built in.

The study is bullshit (1, Insightful)

MrMista_B (891430) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279482)

"The study uses the assumption that LEDs last 2.5 times longer than CFLs, and 25 times longer than incandescents."

So...

They made it all up.

They /guessed/.

They didn't do any research, and didn't actually study anything, they just invented some numbers, then played with them.

No wonder so many people think so poorly of the environmental movement, if garbage like this gets any sort of positive press at all.

Re:The study is bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30279620)

If CFLs last 10x longer than incandescent bulbs, someone should go tell the bucket full of dead CFLs here in my apartment that they're supposed to last most of a decade longer than they did.

Re:The study is bullshit (1)

plague911 (1292006) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279632)

I agree the numbers have been pulled out of their asses. However if you would bother to actually look at the numbers for commercially. The gains for LED's are actually a lot more beneficial than the study says. The stated life expectancy for newer LED's are around 100,000 hours. Around 10 X that of CFL's. not 2.5X. You pointlessly blaming this on the "environmental movement" Its just stupid. If anything the environmental movement would overstate the benefits of LEDs ..... not underestimate......:"dumbass"....

Re:The study is bullshit (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279718)

How exactly is a report by a semiconductor company, clearly for the purposes of promoting LED lights, the product of "the environmental movement"?

On another note, it's interesting that you manage to turn a single assumption (albeit a significant one) and turn that into "they didn't do any research". This might well be the case if all the information they came back with was the consequences of a the different lifetimes, but that's not the case. The primary product of the study -- which the summary, even, is so kind as to point out for you -- is determining the energy costs in manufacture and end-of-life for the different bulb types.

I haven't had great luck with CFLs (1)

lena_10326 (1100441) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279486)

At my old house they burned out a lot on me. Back then they were $5 a pop and it was rather irritating replacing the same bulb 3 times in a row during a several month period.

Re:I haven't had great luck with CFLs (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30279576)

I suspect CFLs are less tolerant of a bad power supply than incandescent lightbulbs -- depending on how many power spikes you get they may fail sooner. Also, some makes seem to be better than others. For example, it may just have been bad luck, but all the CFLs I have ever bought from IKEA died fairly quickly. On the other hand, I have several others which have lasted several years.

Re:I haven't had great luck with CFLs (1)

westyvw (653833) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279616)

I have not been very happy with them either. They do seem to burn out *years* before they should, often in the same timeframe or less then incandescent.
Worse, in small spaces, like a bathroom, two or more tend to get hot and off-gas (polyvinyl chloride base is my guess), and then when they do burn out they often get hotter still and turn brown or buzz.
Do I think the sky is falling? No, but this is not something I have great confidence in for a closed up for the winter household.

Re:I haven't had great luck with CFLs (1)

Fallingcow (213461) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279758)

I think I toggle them too often. My CFLs have always burnt out in a year or so, even in two very different houses in different parts of the country.

I've stopped buying them. I've got maybe two or three fixtures in the whole house where they'd make sense, and even those I want to be able to turn on for just a second or two a few times a day without worrying that I'm gonna kill the stupid CFLs.

Re:I haven't had great luck with CFLs (3, Interesting)

Cimexus (1355033) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279770)

Yeah it seems like CFLs are a great example of YMMV.

I simultaneously replaced all lights in my home with CFLs three years ago. Good quality ones with a nice spectrum similar to old style incandescents (to my eye, at least).

Since then how many have failed? Only one.

I must say I'm quite impressed. Even the outdoor ones haven't died yet (exposed to a typical yearly temperature range of almost 50C). I wouldn't ever go back to incandescents ... and frankly LEDs look even better (less waste heat, potentially better spectrum and range of colours).

CFL life expectancy (1)

confused one (671304) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279844)

the ballast used in the cfl's seem to have a limited on-off cycle life; or, the life expectancy is inversely proportional to the on time. If the typical on time is on the order of 5 minutes, you'll see less than 20% of the rated life expectancy. To achieve the full life expectancy the on time has to be greater than 2 hours. Don't use them in bathrooms and similar locations where they'll be switched on and off a lot -- use standard incandescent or better yet halogen bulbs in those applications.

login required (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30279662)

fuck you nyt

What did the study say about..... (1, Insightful)

CFD339 (795926) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279670)

....the fact that you can't freaking READ by the damn lights. CFL == Crappy Fscking Light. I wish it weren't true, but I've tried dozens of brands, and even the ones that make me most happy are only good for general purpose hallway lights and such. I hate putting them in anywhere I have to read. For as bright as they seem to be, they are so narrow in spectrum as to be sort of lacking in their ability to illuminate.

So far, no experience with LED's on this subject.

Legislation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30279686)

I sure hope this doesn't get used as an excuse to ban incandescents (like similar studies for CFLs). When they're cheaper and more convenient, people will switch to them. I notice that neither of the linked articles mention the disposal cost as part of the lifecycle analysis. People pitched CFLs as some miracle cure for the incandescent disease but I can throw my incandescent bulbs in the trash while I (and everyone else in this area) have to hand-carry CFLs out to the dump (far away) in my car (you can assume it's a gas guzzler for most people around here) because they're toxic and the garbage men are too clever to get into the mad hatter business. I refuse to believe the CFLs are better and yet they are being forced on me by lawmakers that certainly don't understand the math or the real-world impact of these laws they pass. LEDs may be an economic win once they're brighter and cheaper, but why not help them get brighter and cheaper instead of trying to legislate people into believing they are?

This whole save the environment thing is like the Y2K scare... it's taking advantage of people's fear of the unknown to advance a personal agenda. There's a difference between being a steward of the environment (which I am all for) and being a slave to environmental regulations on the off chance that something good for the environment might happen.

Re:Legislation (3, Insightful)

Cimexus (1355033) | more than 4 years ago | (#30279820)

Incandescents are already 'banned' in many areas of the world (including where I live). That is to say, stores aren't allowed to sell new ones anymore (existing ones that are still going are OK obviously). The exception to this is weird form-factor lights that they don't mass-produce CFLs for (e.g. those little ones you put into bedside tables). But for standard overhead light fittings, incandescents have already gone the way of the dodo here.

Even factoring in the impact of recycling, their total lifecycle environmental impact is considerably less than incandescents. Many vendors that sell CFLs (e.g. hardware stores) also accept back dead ones. And if not, I just pop the dead ones in a box in the back of the car and take them to the dump next time I'm in that area anyway, so the 'extra' travel is minimal. For me at least, it's worth it. My electricity bills are at least $100/year less after moving to CFLs, and they produce less waste heat (which matters to me as I don't have AC!)

LEDs will be better though of course. They should be trashable just like incandescents were, while retaining the energy savings of CFLs.

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