Environment Forum

Long payback takes shine off LEDs, at least at home

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.

Startup sees big business in replacing kerosene

kerosene3.jpgAbout 1.6 billion people still rely on kerosene lanterns to read, work or study after dark, according to a fledgling company that hopes its LED lights will replace those lanterns, eliminating both pollution and fires. 

d.light design, the brainchild of Stanford Business School graduates Sam Goldman and Ned Tozun, last month began selling its lights in India, where they say 72 million households use kerosene lanterns. 

The company’s products, some of which are charged by sunlight, range between $10 and $30, d.light President Tozun said in a recent interview. The Chinese-made lights all burn brighter than kerosene, and are safer and cleaner, he said.