LEDs In Chandelier Result In 1700% ROI

LED Bulb Chandelier Case Study:

Replacing standard 40Watt flame tip bulbs in one chandelier with 1.2Watt LED equivalents resulted in an energy consumption drop from $420 to $13 a year and a maintenance costs drop from $442 to $110 over the lifetime of the LED bulbs.

Opportunity Sustainability has been working with a commercial property management company; Crown Mark Real Estate Group in Pasadena CA with their apartment buildings to find ways to reduce expenses by being more sustainable. We find that there is nothing is better than a building walk through to identify opportunities and see what is really happening on a property in terms of energy usage and potential opportunities in sustainability.

One property kept common area lights on 24hours a day, 7 days a week for security and tenant behavior reasons. On our first visit, I noticed that the main staircase chandelier had 3 bulbs burned out and I asked the manager just how often they go out. “All the time. The on-site managers have gotten to the point that unless there are at least 4 out it is not worth their time to replace them.” was the response.

This became an excellent example and demonstration of how the use of LED technology can truly reduce energy costs by hundreds of dollars each year and the same in maintenance costs. Despite the high upfront costs related to the LED bulbs (10x the cost), the ROI is 1700% and in this scenario paid for itself in less than three months.

The Scenario:  The chandelier is a typical one with 10 flame tip 40 Watt bulbs that takes a person on  a ladder to exchange bulbs. Each of those bulbs has an average lifespan of 1,300 hours.  Normal usage of 4 hours a day, these bulbs might last for a year, however, at 24/7 usage the bulbs last only about 54 days or 2 months.  This means they need be replaced 6-7 times a year. Assuming all 10 bulbs are burning, this chandelier is burning 400Watts an hour or 9,600 Watts (9.6 kW) a day. At $0.12 a kWh, this installation costs $1.152/day, $35.02/mth, or $420.48/year in energy usage alone to operate.

Lets crunch those numbers

Constants: Chandelier is operational 24/7 and has 10 bulbs and the client’s electricity rate is $0.12/kWh

Incandescent Energy Costs:

  • 10 bulbs at 40Watts/hour = 400Watts per hour
  • Daily energy usage= 400Watts x 24hours = 9,600Watts or 9.6kWh
  • Daily energy cost = 9.6kWh/day x $0.12/kWh = $1.152/day
  • Monthly energy cost = $1.152/day x 30.4days/mth= $35.02/mth
  • Yearly energy cost = $35.02/mth x 12mth/year= $420.48/year

Incandescent Maintenance Costs:

Incandescent Bulbs:

  • Lifetime of a 40Watt incandescent bulb 1300 hours = at 24/7 usage this will last 54days and represent a need for 6-7 bulb changes per bulb per year)
  • Typical cost of an incandescent 40W flame tip bulbs is $1.00
  • 10bulbs x 6.5changes= 65 bulbs per year or
  • Yearly bulb cost: $65/year

Labor:
Figure a 1/2 hour minimum maintenance charge for each bulb change. We’ll use $10 labor as a typical cost of half hour labor charge whether using in house labor or a maintenance company fee. In addition, for simplicity purposes lets assume they change all the bulbs simultaneously, otherwise frequency could be significantly greater.

  • 6.5 changes x $10 per service call = $65
  • Annual labor cost of $65 a year

Yearly Incandescent Maintenance Cost: $130/year

Incandescent Total Yearly Costs (Energy+Maintenance)= $550

Which bulbs to choose?

  • CFLs typically use a 25% of the energy of an incandescent and last 8 times longer (8-12,000 hours)
  • LEDs use significantly less energy 5% of an incandescent and have 20-30,000 hours of lifetime. The upfront cost of LEDs is significantly more than incandescent and CFLs but pay off in their longevity and energy consumption in 2-3 incandescent equivalent lifespans. At 20-30,000 hours the bulb will outlast it’s 40W incandescent equivalent 15-23 times.

We chose to install 10 LED flame 1.2Watt bulbs with 30,000 hour lifespan (3.4 years at 24/7 usage) made by Fein Electronics

Lets crunch those LED numbers

Constants: Chandelier is operational 24/7 and has 10 bulbs and the client’s electricity rate is $0.12/kWh

LED Energy Costs:

  • 10 bulbs at 1.2Watts/hour = 12Watts per hour
  • Daily energy usage= 12Watts x 24hours = 288Watts or 0.288kWh
  • Daily energy cost = 0.288kWh/day x $0.12/kWh = $0.035/day
  • Monthly energy cost = $0.035/day x 30.4days/mth= $1.064/mth
  • Yearly energy cost = $1.064/mth x 12mth/year= $12.77/year

LED Maintenance:
Note: there is no ongoing bulb or maintenance cost for the lifetime of the bulb (3.4 years of continuous use lifespan or approximately 10 years at 3hours a day). There is only the initial install and bulb costs

Bulb Cost for LEDs:

  • $10.00 per bulb or $100 for the chandelier
  • First Year Only Bulb Cost $100.00

Labor cost for the LEDs

  • 1 installation and no further labor until end of life 3.4 years later
  • First Year Only Labor Cost  – $10 for installation only

Yearly LED Maintenance Cost: $10 year 1, $0.00/year ongoing

LED Total Yearly Costs (Energy+Maintenance): $123/yr 1, ongoing $13/yr

Yearly Cost Comparison: Energy + Bulbs + Labor

  • Incandescent $420 Energy + $65 Bulbs + $65 Labor = $550 – every year
  • LED $13 Energy + $100 Bulbs + $10 Labor = $123 for the first year – ongoing $13/year

Despite the high bulb cost, the installation paid for itself in less than 3 months

Lifetime Cost Comparison: LED lifetime= 30,000 hours = 3.4 years

  • Incandescent = $1870 [$550(Energy+Bulbs+Labor)/year x 3.4 years]
  • LED = $154 [$110(Bulbs+Labor) + $44(Energy Usage 3.4 years x $13)]

This $1716 difference represents:

  • a cost savings of nearly 92%
  • and an ROI (return on investment) of over 1700%.

Additional Notes When Selecting LEDs:
Cautionary note about selecting LEDs or any alternatives to incandescent bulbs. When dealing with lighting pay attention to two light measurements beyond Wattage equivalence: the lumen output and the light temperature. The lumen output is the amount of light the bulb is generating. The light temperature affects the color of the light (soft white 2700k, bright white 3000k, etc). In the above example, lumens were not looked at when the bulbs were purchase resulting in lower output than that of a fully loaded 40Watt chandelier, closer to 75% output. Given that most of the time 3-4 bulbs were out, the tenants noticed no significant change in the light output. The 40W bulbs spec’d at 120 lumens and 2700K. The 1.2W LEDs spec’d at 72 lumens and 3000K resulting in a whiter, but dimmer bulb. 6x40Watt 120lumen bulbs produce 720lumens, the same as 10×1.2W 72 lumen LEDs. 120 lumen LED bulbs are available, but were not sourced for this project.

Copyright ©2011 Matthew Rochte, Opportunity Sustainability℠ – Share with attribution

Opportunity Sustainability℠ is a Midwest-based sustainability and corporate social responsibility consulting firm specializing in green innovation and seeing opportunities where others see burdens. Matthew Rochte LEED AP, an experienced, operations-based sustainability director, works with company management to navigate and realize the opportunities in taking their company green and growing sustainably.

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