Just how much do LED bulbs save you in the long run?

The LED bulb savings issue in a nutshell

There is a great deal of talk about the savings that can be accrued through using LED bulbs and the benefits are certainly significant, but the price is quite high so are they actually worth buying? The savings can be viewed in many different ways but I think the best way to do the analysis is to look at lifetime costs of LED bulbs and compare these to lifetime costs of traditional light bulbs. Here I will take you through this calculation and accordingly present some factual evidence around total cost savings.

The total cost of ownership analysis

The first step to this analysis is to take the investment cost for the LED bulb and then add this to the total energy cost of running the bulb throughout its lifetime. This lifetime analysis is necessary because the lifetime of the LED bulb is typically 30,000 hours which is 30 times longer than the traditional bulb. The next step is then to appraise the electricity running cost of an equivalent incandescent bulb and then add this to the cost of 30 of these bulbs.

Cost analysis for a 3W LED Candle Bulb

For the purpose of this analysis I will assume that you pay 15pence per kW Hour for electricity. If  we say that the cost of the LED candle bulb is £15 and add to this the total electricity cost of running this bulb for its lifetime, which is £13.50 , you get a total cost of ownership for this LED bulb of £28.50.

The 3watt LED bulb will give out approximately the same amount of lumen’s as a traditional 25watt bulb. The amount is slightly more for the multiple LED versions but a 25 watt bulb is a good comparator. Additionally the traditional incandescent light bulbs last about 1000 hours which is their rated life.

Now taking a purchase price for the traditional candle of 80 pence then this gives us a purchase outlay of £24. The energy cost for 30000 hours works out at £112.50 which then gives a total cost of ownership of £136.50.

This results in a massive cost saving of £108 gained through changing your traditional 25watt candle bulb to a LED bulbs. So just imagine if you had a chandelier with 18 bulbs that would be a saving of nearly £2000. As I am sure you will agree this is a truly astonishing saving accrued through the migration to LED bulbs.

Total cost of ownership savings for a 3 watt MR16 LED Bulbs

The logic in the calculation for the 3watt MR16 LED bulb is very similar to the candle LED so I will not present every step here.  The main additional consideration with  the 3 watt MR16 LED is that they can be obtained in 2 different forms. The first is the multiple LED version which typically would have around 80 individual LED’s and would produce in the regions of 250 lumens of light. These multiple LED variants typically retail around £10. The alternative version of the high powered LED type which would have either a single of 3 high powered LED’s. These are more expensive at around £15, but generally viewed as having more desirable aesthetics. The down side is that the high powered LED’s are not so efficient so the output would generally be around 200 lumens.

The comparator here is the MR16 halogen bulb which retails around 80 pence.

The results of the analysis are that the MR16 multiple LED will save £112 over its lifetimes, whereas the high powered LED version will save £107 over its lifetime.

As you can see then the savings are quite considerable and the important factor is that the total saving is not very dependant on the purchase price of the bulbs as the more expensive bulbs save nearly as much. So if you can afford the initial outlay then the more pricey LED bulbs will save you almost as much in the long run.

7 thoughts on “Just how much do LED bulbs save you in the long run?”

  1. Oodles of strong, difficult to find info here. It’s amazing just how much LEDs can save you! They’re like the king of energy saving light bulbs! Why don’t you see them in more places?

  2. I really enjoyed your post on the savings that one will accrue if one switches over to LED bulbs. While the initial cost of LED lighting is higher than that of its predecessors, the energy savings and long life time of the bulbs will offset that initial cost. Sometimes it is hard to look past the price tag. But, when you look at the bigger picture, it is plain to see that LED bulbs will in fact save you money. I work with Sharp but I have always been impressed with the quality of products they have to offer. I recommend that you check out their LED bulbs.

  3. You must be good at maths to calculate that! Well, this is a very helpful post. I’m grateful that you aren’t a salesman who just makes people buy his products; you actually help us make an informed decision! I’m defiantly buying some LEDs anyway; I have 2 chandeliers with 12 bulb sockets each! So, thanks for the post and more importantly the site Saving Light Bulbs, which has saved me, a real live person money!

  4. All these calculated savings are fine.

    But what has not been said is that most LED lights actually give far less perceived light level than the usually Chinese makers claim.

    Thats a pretty easy claim to make knowing that virtually no one buying them will have the equipment to check them.

    I when to do some work in a kitchen fitted with downlighters which had ben replaced with LED units. The low light level was so bad and dingy that I had to use a bedside lamp to see anything at all.

    1. Good points Tony,

      You are right you have to be very careful. The first thing to check is the actual lumens output specified for the light bulbs and do not rely on the equivalent wattage as a lot of suppliers can overestimate this! Then clearly you need to have confidence that the supplied bulbs will actually have the lumens output as specified so this can be a bit of a rocky trail. Of course if you are in doubt just purchase 1 at first and test it before you invest in the whole set!!


  5. One thing I like about LED bulbs is they don’t produce any heat, around 1995, I had a halogen lamp in my bed room that melted and caused the bulb to explode (I forgot to turn it off) when I wasn’t in the room. The glass shrapnel punctured my waterbed, it was quite a mess.

    I also had previous employment doing maintenance in an apartment tower, and had to change a lot of bulbs in hallway sconces that contained three bulbs each that were always lit with no way to turn them off, naturally the sconce would be scalding.

    And of course I think about how many Christmas tragedies over the years will be prevented with LED bulb that won’t set Christmas trees on fire if someone should forget to water them and they dry out. It seems like there was at least one story every year of a tree going up in flames or a house burning down.

    I also like LEDs because they don’t create the toxic nightmare that Compact Florescent do if they happen to break. Find the US governments manual on CFL bulb cleanup and you will see what a nightmare they actually are.

    LED bulbs will only get better and cheaper, I’m more than happy to replace one of my old bulbs when it burns out.

  6. I have just moved into a property that has 80+ spotlights throughout. They are all 50w run on transformers. I have found a 3w LED bulb that seems bright enough. But they are costing me £6/7 each. But how much will it save me if I buy 80 at £480-£560 pounds through my bills? Hope you can help, jim

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