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Look at Lighting: LEDs – Pricing No Longer an Excuse

Stan Walerczyk

In the last year, LED performance and pricing have really improved.

I have been presenting seminars comparing LEDs with high performance incumbent technologies since the 2011 Lightfair. With the evolution of LEDs, particularly in the last two years, I had to change about 20% of the slides every few months. For example, in mid 2013 LED troffer kits may have not have been that cost effective, but by late 2013, they were. Early this year, I changed the title from ‘LED vs. Everything Else’ to ‘Becoming an LED World, But,’ because LEDs are taking over, but have not completely won yet.

Of all of the recent LED price reductions, ones for screw-in A-lamps are the most significant to me. Just this winter the goal was to get below $10 for a 60W equivalent. I just went on Home Depot’s website and found Cree ones with 10 year warranty for $3.97 and that is without an upstream rebate. Other manufacturers and distributors can do something similar. What I also found interesting on the Home Depot website is that the price on Cree 100W equivalent bulbs is about $20, which is what it has been for quite a while. Since two 60W equivalents provide as much light as one 100W equivalent, I just told a client they would be better with two 60W equivalents and a screw-in Y-adapter than getting one 100W equivalent.

Here are some other current LED pricing examples. As you probably know all too well, pricing can vary so much depending on quantity, personalities, past history, how the lighting rep feels that day, how much the sale is wanted, where the contractor or end-customer buys from, etc. You have to be careful – just because a manufacturer lists a very low price on their website, your actual price may be quite higher. The following reduced prices are considered to be average based on quantities of about 500 from many manufacturers, which have reduced their prices.

$1000 – $1250 LED hibays and exterior fixtures to replace 1000W HPS or MH
$  250 – $  350 LED hibays, which can replace 400W MH or HPS, 6F32T8 or 4F54T5HO   
$  100 – $  150 LED troffers and troffer kits (this could be $80 – $100 by end of year)
$  120 – $  200 Tunable (dimming and Kelvin changing) LED troffers and troffer kits
$    80 – $  120 Tunable LED task lights
$    25 – $    80 LED recessed can kits
$  100 – $  120 LED cobraheads to replace 70W HPS

Many of these prices were double this a year ago.

Now, LED products, especially ones with 100,000+ hour rated life and up to 10 year warranties can be the most cost effective long term if the customer has the extra money and is willing to spend it up front. Payback is not a good financial tool for LED, because so much of the benefit is after payback period, which payback does not include.

For example, a 2×4 hibay with 6 high performance fluorescent F32T8s and high performance high ballast factor electronic ballasting may cost $125 and consume 211W, and the lamps may last 36,000 hours. You can compare that to a 100W 100,000+ hour rated LED hibay, which costs $325. Some customers may be willing to pay the extra $200 for the LED hibay, and others may not. The payback may be better for the T8 hibay, but the 10 year benefit for the LED hibay is usually better, because it will save more electricity year after year and the maintenance will be less.

Many LED fixtures are still quite expensive. Examples are linear suspended indirect/direct, which can be $70 – $100 per linear foot, interior décor ones and exterior architectural grade case metal ones, but they are expensive no matter the lighting technology.

I welcome any feedback on my lighting columns. Also, if you have a lighting subject that you would like information about, let me know. stan@lightingwizards.com

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