Shedding light on LEDs

By Vicky Sanderson, Toronto Star

Folks who worry about rising numbers on the monthly electricity bill – and the health of the planet – might hesitate before installing conventional exterior lighting.

Fortunately, advances in LED lighting technologies mean homeowners can illuminate exterior areas effectively and cost-efficiently, according to Raffi Baltayan, marketing manager for Northern International Inc., a Quebec-based company that designs and manufactures exterior lighting products under the brand of Paradise Garden Lighting.

Simply put, says Baltayan, LED lighting is a circuit board of light-emitting diodes that can emit the same amount of light as an incandescent or halogen bulb using far less energy. “A 60-watt incandescent gives you 800 lumens, but about 80 per cent of the light is generated as heat. Obviously that’s not very efficient. An LED with 800 lumens gives you more or less that, plus or minus 10 per cent – but consumes about 13 watts.”

Lumens, for those of you who slept through Grade 10 science class, measure visible light emitted by a source.

LED lighting can also help reduce your carbon footprint, says Baltayan. “They last so much longer than conventional bulbs – you can expect to get about 25,000 hours. So you will not be changing bulbs or sending packaging to the landfill nearly as frequently.”

It’s true that when an LED fixture burns out, it’s the entire fixture that requires replacing. “But that shouldn’t happen in your lifetime,” he adds. If you want to use existing exterior fixtures, retrofit LED bulbs are available.

When it comes to cost, there may be a small premium for LED lighting, but Baltayan says they can typically expect pay-back within 18 months. And as production of LED lighting ramps up, he adds, cost will be driven downward.

First published in the Toronto Star on September 8, 2011.

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