You are Overdue to Convert to LED Lighting

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If you haven’t yet replaced your incandescent and CFL lighting with LED’s you are wasting money every single day that you postpone it. While the initial conversion investment is high, the energy savings are noticeable in your electric bills.
I converted a couple of years back, and there’s no way I will allow incandescent lights in my house anymore.

“The rapid adoption of LEDs in lighting marks one of the fastest technology shifts in human history,” Goldman Sachs stated in a new report.

I recommend that you shop carefully because these bulbs are more expensive and because it’s likely that they will last 3-10 years. Getting halfway through your conversion and then deciding you want cool white instead of soft white is a big, and costly mistake. The four main factors you want to consider when shopping:

  1. Lumens – this is a measure of how bright the light is, however if you are more comfortable with wattage equivalence most packaging will tell you what incandescent wattage that the bulb is equivalent too. If you are converting from incandescent then wattage equivalence is probably your best method for selecting the appropriate brightness. ( e.g. equivalent to 60w, 75w, 100 w, etc.)
  2. Kelvin – this is a measure of where this bulb fits on the color scale – whether you select Soft white ( ~2700 Kelvin) for it’s warm, incandescent look, Cool white ( ~4100 Kelvin) for it’s whiter, brighter look or if you go fully modern with daylight (~ 5000 – 6500 Kelvin) and it’s bright blue-white look you want to get it right. While it’s possible to mix and match, it’s a notable difference when you have light pools from different kelvin range bulbs overlapping. So if you do use different Kelvin bulbs, it’s best to keep them in separate rooms – e.g. daylight bulbs everywhere except in bedrooms, where you use soft white instead.

  3. Wattage used – try to get the light brightness and Kelvin range you want with the lowest watt usage. Reducing watts used to save money over time is exactly what this conversion is about.

  4. Manufacturer – there are lots of people making these bulbs now, but from my experience the no-name and off brands struggle with quality and consistency. Get a good brand, like GE, Sylvania, FEIT.

Let’s talk a second about conversion strategies and other considerations. Some LED’s are flaky when you put them on dimmer switches, so make sure you get the dimmable LED bulb if that’s where they are going. Don’t expect a smooth dimming scale either, you only get two levels of brightness when you use a dimmer with LED’s.

If you are on a budget and can only afford to replace a couple of bulbs per paycheck, then start with your highest wattage lighting applications first balanced against the lights that are on the longest every day. The high wattage offenders tend to be yard lights, garage/shop lights, basement lights, and kitchen lights – however those usually aren’t the lights that you use the most. Replace the lights you use most first, then replace the rest from highest wattage to lowest in order.

Lastly, pay attention to socket or mount type – this is the type of fixture or socket size that the bulb fits into. Good luck on your replacement project!

Below is an article about the LED revolution and a link to 5 Charts at Think Progress to help you figure out why this is a good decision:

The accelerated deployment of light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs is on track to save U.S. consumers and businesses $20 billion a year in electricity costs within a decade, which would lower U.S. CO2 emissions by some 100 million metric tons a year! The growing global effort to speed up LED adoption could ultimately cut global energy costs and carbon pollution 5 times as much.

Currently the best LED bulbs cut electricity use by 85 percent compared to incandescent light bulbs and by 40 percent compared to fluorescent lights. By 2020, Goldman expects those savings to increase to over 90 percent and 50 percent respectively.

Let’s look at some key charts and facts that illustrate the LED lighting “miracle,” which is every bit as remarkable — and every bit as unheralded by the major media — as the solar miracle, the battery miracle, and the electric vehicle miracle.

More: 5 Charts That Illustrate The Remarkable LED Lighting Revolution

Why I’m an Optimist: Large Scale Macro Trends

A symbol to me of the power of our future, and our technology. I traveled thousands of miles in mere hours to snap this digital photo and capture it on a chip the size of a postage stamp.

While we move forward in technology at a furious pace there certainly are some huge gaps, and as those gaps and verges close we will see many new things that nobody predicted nor could have predicted; and we will see old things fade away. The largest scale macro trends will continue regardless of gaps and pitfalls; if one path to the future closes a thousand others will open. It’s been that way for most of our history and that’s a large scale macro trend I don’t expect to falter.

In future articles I’m going to outline some gaps I’ve seen, and potential means to close them. Please keep in mind however that nobody can predict the future – that you can only predict trends. Even when predicting trends you are likely to get the future wrong if you look at micro or macro trends — you cannot predict which trends will continue, and which will end, you can only look at the large confluences of trends and attempt guesses at which are most likely to continue. In other words you know that it’s likely that the Mississippi will make it to the Gulf of Mexico regardless of the oxbows and loops it makes.

Think of the sharp trend lines and market charts once there of VHS and Beta Max tape manufacturing and sales to get an idea of what I mean. At the dawn of the tape age, none could predict with certainty the micro trend of the war between the formats, or whether the macro trend of tape sales in general would continue, but it was easy to step back and see the larger scale macro trend of generic technology – data storage media would continue to change, but storage would continue to become less expensive, smaller in form and format, and more widely available.

Whether that tape machine was capturing and streaming back data in your Betamax, VHS, or computer room backup tape carousel it was all same-same when you consider the larger macro function of the technology: Capturing data for preservation and/or later playback. That was global.

The generic larger purpose of tapes and the various tape formats was to record and preserve data. The real trend wasn’t between the formats or the physical shape or the protocols: it was really towards more data in less physical space and for less cost. That large scale macro trend was occurring in all formats, from silicon to tape to hard drives to optical and it continues through this day. It’s also quite possible that some other technology will replace both Blue Ray and HD-DVD before that format battle ever finishes.

A few years back it would have been a massive project in capital and expense to perform a one time physical transfer of 650 gigabytes of data between two companies or vendors – however right now a single person could pop into SAM’s or Best Buy and pick up at 1 Terabyte or 2 Terabyte USB drive and get that transfer done in under two hours if you eliminate the travel time. Even better than that you can see storage devices becoming something a bit more than just storage devices. One example is the “Eye-Fi” chip – it’s specialized storage for Digital cameras, but it’s also a GPS and a Wifi network adapter for your camera. It’s the size of a postage stamp, and the width of a couple of quarters.

There are cards with larger memory space, and you could put an entire K-12 education in the space of one of these postage stamp cards if you worked at it.

So when looking at the longer term future to get to accurate predictions of trends you must take them to higher functional large scale levels, or look at them as very large scale macro trends. Worldwide soybean production going up is not a large scale macro trend. The large scale macro trend behind that simplex market trend is that food supplies and therefor diets are diversifying globally.

This large scale macro trend is the confluence of several technologies crossing verges, and no particular macro trend (in the marketing, woo-woo “we are trying to sell you something” definition of macro trends) is responsible.

Instead all are somewhat needed, including better packaging, preservation, transport, free trade, the internet and television proliferation of diverse cultural methods of cooking,  etc . etc.  Don’t worry however foodies: if any of these smaller macro trends falters, something else will take its place. The large scale macro trend of more diverse diets and food supplies is not going to end anytime soon because large scale macro trends are measured in centuries and millenniums, not years and decades. They are determined only in part by demographics and desires as marketers would tell you, but also by technology.  There might be momentary fluctuations – some that last a decade or two, or even some like the Dark Ages that last centuries, but the large macro trends will continue. Other examples of large scale macro trends:

  • Worldwide capital increases
  • Our sources of energy multiply
  • Our ability to store and transfer knowledge increases
  • Life spans increase

Technology becomes more complex, and more capable, while becoming more accessible as individual powers and capabilities increase. In my garage sits a car with more horsepower than most medieval kings could muster in a few moments, in my computer is a powerful media studio that can broadcast to the world over the internet, on tap at the nearest electrical outlet is more energy than that held by all of the tyrants in history who ever held human slaves.

The particular spots or time where these large scale macro trends fail are the exceptions not the rule. Afghanistan and Sub-Saharan Africa are two places where these overall trends break right now,  but they are the exceptions not the rule, and over time even those places will improve.

So it is that I am a confident optimist based on the past example of our long history. Whatever pratfalls, missteps, and tumbles that humanity has taken we have always managed to dust off and carry on with the journey after. As we witness one of those pratfalls that will become the biggest environmental disaster since we started recording them in the Gulf of Mexico I am also confident that over time the problem can be overcome.