Long payback takes shine off LEDs, at least at home

April 1, 2009

Thinking about making your home more energy efficient by installing hyper-efficient, long-lasting LED lighting? Not so fast.

Even the CEO of one of the world’s biggest LED makers, North Carolina-based Cree Inc, says homeowners will wait a long time to recoup their investment at today’s prices for LED lights.

“A change in lightbulbs, that’s probably a fairly long payback, we’re probably looking at 7 to 10 years depending on electricity rates,” Cree CEO Chuck Swoboda said in an interview. That’s why Cree is focusing on commercial customers for the time being, he added.

Cree’s LR6 downlight, which customers can install in their ceilings, costs about $100.

For homes and apartments, Swoboda expects the first big push towards LED lighting to come in new construction, once that market recovers.

“It’s not a significant incremental cost to put in effectively lifetime lighting into the project to start with. Obviously the new construction market is not great right now, but I think that’s the place you are likely to see LED lighting pick up first in the home,” he said.

And did Swoboda say “effectively lifetime lighting”? He backed that up by saying the company’s downlight lasts for a whopping 50,000 hours.

“To give you an idea of what that means, you are more likely to have children and send them to college before you’d have to change that bulb,” he said.

Photocredit: Reuters/Claro Cortes IV (Nearly 500,000 Cree LED lights were used to illuminate the exterior of Beijing’s National Aquatics Centre, also known as the Water Cube, shown above in a photo from 2008)

One comment

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50,000 hours is only 5.7 years.

Posted by Ché Graham | Report as abusive