Residential LED: Are they here yet?

lighting_technologies_led_incandescent_cfl_shortLike cell phones in China, light emitting diodes (LED) have the potential to leapfrog CFLs as a technology in parts of the world that are looking for a replacement to the incandescent bulb for residential lighting.  The ability of diodes to produce light was first recognized in the 1920's, so LEDs are not new technology.  They are currently used in everything from traffic lights, Christmas lights, watches, exit signs, and slowly making their way into the residential setting.

The advantage of LEDs is that they consume MUCH LESS power than incandescents and a fraction of the power of CFLs, without the worry of Mercury.  So why doesn't everyone have this wonderful and amazing light in their homes?  While LEDs exist for residential setting, they are still an emerging technology, which means they are very expensive.

The Energy Star residential LED guide is a decent place to learn about the technology, but doesn't give too much information on where you can actually buy the products and how you would use them in your house.  Part of this is due to the "newness" of residential LEDs.

In order to find more info for how you or I would purchase an LED for use in a standard light bulb socket, I did an Amazon search for LED.  Which unfortunately didn't really yield any product that got a very high rating that could be used to replace a 60 Watt incandescent.  Most of the LEDs on Amazon are for task lighting.

One of the LED lighting companies I have heard of is Cree. I looked on their website for the Cree LED Lighting for residential and commercial applications.  The website had some good information, but it looks like their residential solution that would replace a 60 Watt bulb is currently only used in recessed lighting (it looks like they only have a recessed solution due to the necessity of a heat sink surrounding the bulb).   Since they didn't have prices on their website, I had to do a quick search on Froogle for the Cree LR6 model of recessed LED light, which runs around $88-$100 bucks!  Compare this to the recessed $1.25 N:vision CFLs I've had in my kitchen (which are on a motion sensor) that have been working flawlessly for over a year.

For now, if you are upgrading your lighting I would suggest sticking with CFL's until the technology for Residential LEDs advances and brings the price down.  In a later post I will do a cost comparison between incandescents, CFLs, and LEDs, much like I have done in my cost comparison between CFLs and Incandescents.

Have you had any experience with a LED replacing a 60 Watt incandescent bulb?  If so, tell me in the comments below!

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I have 15 of the LR6 lights installed in my kitchen and hallway. They easily give off better light than the 75w floods they replaced. I paid about $95 a piece about 6 months ago. They are well worth the money and everyone who sees them wants them. My boss came over the other day and I've been telling him about CREE stock for a long time. He was blown away by the light quality. I also have 3 in a 20ft high ceiling and I love knowing that I won't have to change them for 20 years! While CFL's are much more affordable, the benefits of LED are uncomparable.
All great comments. If you're looking for LED fixtures or LED light bulbs, try this link. <a href="" rel="nofollow">elights</a>
They each consume 12 watts. Cree also just started mass producing a chip 30% brighter and almost 50% more efficient. They run at 6.5 watts and will easily replace a 100w bulb. I forgot to mention that the LR6 is dimmable. It dimms down to about 1/3 of full brightness. In case anyone else cares about all the advantages they are: 1. Uses 8 times less electricity than an incandescent bulb. Half as much as CFL. 2. Radiates much less heat into the living space. (Further savings on A/C) 3. Last at least 20 years. CFL's don't last near what they are rated for. 4. No toxic materials, so safe to dispose of (unlike CFL). 5. Solid State (drop it and it won't break) 6. Light quality is excellent, turn on immediately, start at optimal color (unlike cfl's). I figure that they will pay for themselves over about 3-5 years at the current price and they will save me about $350 in electricty for each light installed (over the lifetime of the bulb, assuming energy costs do NOT increase, which they will). I also will not waste any time or gas going to the store and replacing bulbs. If I factor in my time and energy to replace the bulbs and savings on A/C, the lights will most likely pay for themselves in 3 years. For new construction, they really make sense, if you can afford them. Plus it just feels good to have ALL the lights on and know that I'm barely using any electricity. We have a 150w chandelier over our kitchen table. I like to keep that light off when not in use because it uses more electricity then ALL the other lights in our kitchen combined. I also have LED under cabinet lights.
I'm glad to see that LEDs are finally working into the mainstream lighting. Maybe I can work them int the house I'm building.
Good write up Brandon, We might ad, that the laws will be changing soon and CFL will be replaced by LED. as an OEM manufacturer of LED lighting, we welcome inquiries for our SSL LED light products in both bulb and tube styles, look forward to inquiries;
Rick, How would your product compare to the Cree one that Brandon has? Chris
Chris, We produce cree LED's everyday, last time I checked anyway regards, Rick
Brandon, Thanks for the comment. What is the wattage consumption on each of the LR6? That's good to hear about the color of the light! I think when I build my next house I'm going to put these in them.

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