I recently spoke with an LED sales rep and I am trying to do an independent analysis of the payback period of changing out T8 bulbs for the equivalent LED bulbs. I am coming up with the following assumptions and results. The challenge is that I am a commercial real estate broker and not a facilities or lighting pro, so I don't know if there are other issues I should be taking into consideration or if the assumptions I am using are right. If the numbers work I would like to promote the conversion to my office building clients, and if not then I would like to show them why not.
100,000 square foot office building
One fixture per 110 square feet
Three 32w, T8 bulbs per fixture
Total of 2,727 bulbs
49 hours per week of use
2,548 hours per year of use
Fluorescent bulb life: 28,000 hours
LED bulb life: 50,000 hours
4 foot, T8 fluorescent bulb price: $2.33 each
LED equivalent, in quantity: $61 each
With these assumptions I am getting a payback of 7.28 years. Apparently there is also a utility rebate (I’m in California), which I have not factored into the payback. The salesman is claiming an additional annual savings of $7,500 for maintenance/bulb change, but if the T8 life is really 28,000 hours that would not be the case. If there were that much in maintenance savings the payback is 3.44 years, which makes the change a much better deal.
Any thoughts would be appreciated. I am looking for confirmation or rebuttal of any of the assumptions, and especially if there are any real-world issues I am missing.
Thanks in advance.
From Bill Li - Hi ,MIke, This is Bill from ATG Shanghai Office. Who is Manuel Lynch
Thank you so much for commenting Bill - what is your real name?
Thanks for asking Bill who I am - I am not sure you had all your information correct. Here is more details for the group to clear up the misinformation you posted about me.
· Manuel Lynch has been involved with LED lighting for over 20 years. Mr. Lynch is a patent holder (US Patents 7,582,911, 7,329,024, and 7,102,172) of several white LED based technologies focused on increasing the useable lifetime of an LED. He is also the CEO and Co-Founder of AXIOM NZ in USA which is focused on energy efficient, low cost LED lighting solutions for commercial signage.
· Prior to Axiom NZ and AoturoaLED Mr. Lynch served as Director of New Product Technology for Sea Gull Lighting in New Jersey, a division of Generation Brands, one of the largest energy efficient lighting companies in the world. He was responsible for the development of LED technologies for this $1bil US company.
· He also was the CEO of Permlight LED systems, the company that introduced white LEDs to general lightting, where he orchestrated Progress Lighting (Hubbell Lighting, New York Stock Exchange: HUBB), the world's largest residential lighting company to adopt the patented LED lighting fixture line - now called Everlume. He was also involved with patent infringement suits against GE (Gelcore), SloanLED, US-LED, Tempo Lighting, ElectraLED, etc that were all resolved favorably to Permlight.
· Prior to Axiom NZ Mr. Lynch had opened up the USA Stock Market (NASDAQ) while serving as VP of Business Development for Microsemi Semiconductor
Here are some other things you can read if you want:
· Introduction of Patented Residential Lighting in 2005
· Providing life saving solution for Sea Turtle in Florida
· Lighting Orlando Magic Basketball Stadium
· I developed an LED lighting system for Philips Lighting
· Book about the guy who invented white LEDs - 2 chapters about what I did
From Bill Li- better performing LED T8 AoturoaLED is offering? Their LM79 testing result, shows 3081.52lm, 47.97W, 3.76ft length - You may know that, a 4ft typical fluorescent consumes 40W and output about 2200lm. So, you can see what a good ROI AoturoaLED is offereing!!! lol...
Thanks for drawing attention to how bright our products are - people often associate LED alternatives to fluorescent to be rather dim. I am confused by your comment here Bill, our product is the exact same output as 4 pcs of T12 (which are 40Watts each or 160Watts total) or 3 pcs of T8 (which are 32 Watts each or 64 watts) in a typical 4ft fixture and our LM79 data shows that we actually exceed the performance. So yes, you are correct that 1 pc of T8 tube plus ballast consumes 40Watts but we are consuming only 48 watts and replacing 3 tubes (T8 Style) or the equivalent of about 96-160 Watts in comparable fluorescent performance. And even after all that - in volume we are lower cost than ATG.
From Bill Li - How about UL, I searched within UL database and found nothing related to AoturoaLED.
Seems like you are like most technology companies from your side of the world. We are in fact UL through our Axiom NZ and Axiom Power Corp brand. AoTuroaLED is one of our companies and is a marketing brand. All of our kits are UL Recognized - here is the link for you to finish your research on us and get your facts straight. http://www.axiomled.com/UL.html Or, if you would like to call UL directly and clarify this please call James Richards of UL at (408) 754-6606 - he is probably the most knowledgeable on LED tubes and retrofit kits since he is the one who started getting UL involved in LEDs. Jim Richards has spoken at several conferences including one I had put together that involved Nichia LED, Cree LED, Osram/Sylvania LED, ColorKinetics/Philips etc
From Bill Li - ITSWELL LED infrange Nichia's patent? See attached document 2 and 3.
I am not sure if you mean "INFRANGE" from the Vulgar Latin "infrangere" but I meant the word "INFRINGE". As I suspected Bill, there would be nothing attached. We had a few customers, including a reporter, contact Nichia and verify that they have not licensed ITSWELL.
From Bill Li - Polycarbonate lens fade light output of LED? This is a radiculous comment. LED peformance is based on the heat management mainly. ATG tubes are designed to transmit the heat through the MCPCB, and aluminum heat sink, not the polycarbonate lens. I really want to know if this guy really knows what are "LEDs" and what characteristics LEDs have.
Thank you for confirming that you are indeed using polycarbonate at least you are using an approved safe material in your tubes. I would have you consult with and look at your tubes in time - we had an opportunity to see some installed in a very large franchise that did precisely what we expected them to do. 1) light levels drop, 2) color shifts to bluer or cooler color temperatures, 3) we noted fading and discoloration in the tubes. Please dont forget that we are very active in the outdoor sign industry and we do know a lot about how materials, including polycarbonate, react over time when exposed to light and heat. If you would like we can have some of the largest lighting companies and sign companies in the world chime in here on the board to let you know this is true.
From Bill Li - 5. ATG's retrofit design is stupid? One of the key consideration for LED to replace fluorescent is, LED T8 shall be as easy as possible to retrofit. This will save labor cost when doing retrofit. But AoturaLED is using some bear LED strips to replace, what a "smart" design???!!! lol...How much time a customer would need for retrofiting one fixture? 1 hour?
Actually about 5-7 minutes - here is a video, hopefully this helps you better understand
From Bill Li - 6. Their tube output more lumen than fluorescent?
We get that all the time Bill - thanks for noticing. We often times have customers realizing that they can "turn down" the brightness of our systems and reduce the power even further and increase the lifetime to 300K hours. We keep our products that bright because we know a lot of customers want to also replace or retrofit T5s Fluorescent lamps and we want to match that performance - and we do.
From Bill - ATG is first manufactuer in making LED T8, we have selling thousands of LED T8 all over the world
Bill - that is great. Can you please provide an answer though - if you are selling these so well I am sure you have a very simple link that people can verify that your products are using patent protected LEDs. The last thing a big bank (congrats on that project), retail store, or hotel would ever want would be to be sued for using a technology made by a knock off Chinese product. I am sure that installers and people that resell your tubes would not want to be involved with that either. There are several examples where large stores have been sued and lost against those LED patent holders. I suspect that we will see several more coming soon. If you can provide everyone this information that would be great. Or, if you would like to purchase products from Nichia of Japan - let me know, I can put you in touch with them. They are closer to you in China than to us in New Zealand and the USA.
And for reference Bill - on the conversion of CHEVRON petrol/gas stations in the USA - we shipped over 12 miles or 19km of products - we ship high volume all the time.
So Bill - thanks for adding your comments. I was called by so many people telling me all of the "interesting" comments you had posted about me.
You can call me anytime at my office in New Zealand at +64 09 889 4298 or +64 09 889 0257 or in the USA at +1 702 425 4381 or +1 562 239 4300
Note: I am an independent consultant and contractor. I am not on the payroll of any manufacturer.
I am wondering if these impressions have changed since LightFair 2010. I see a lot of people swearing by the HO FL in their postings, which with the right CRI is a good technology - unless you're stuck with the old fixtures. In that case, you've got to stop and give a pro a chance to demo the newest stuff. LEDs will catch these HO tubes in life cycle cost and in quality (if they are not already there), and the HO FL will eventually be phased out. Why would you invest in this now?
It's clear from LF2010 that LEDs are here, and DOE has already started banning older inefficient FL. I saw some junk, but I saw a lot of good stuff - engineered from the ground up with SSL in mind. A well-engineered semiconductor should beat a filament/gas/tube power converter every time.
Last year's IP saw almost 1600 filings for LED patents - fluorescent light filings have been stagnant at about 100 for the last five years. It's clear where all the R&D dollars are going. That's why LF2010 was 80% LED - can we all just stop and smell the coffee?
As for the question - LED retrofit is certainly ready to be considered. If they've just done a conversion to T5HO, payback may be a bit too long. Might as well wait until they start to fail. Any other FL, LED needs serious consideration. The better T8 retrofit tubes have great thermal management, bright SMDs, good color selection. Not to mention on/off cycles - occupancy sensors will hurt the FL lifetime trying to save energy - not so with SSL. If the company will warranty, it's a virtual no-brainer even at today's lamp cost.
Now - as for the user (no, not the purchasing guy, the employees). They have got to love the light. Same for customers. I'd like to hear from you who have installed LEDs, and done a careful color selection. What is the response? Are you seeing color shift? Lumen degradation? This to me is the most important question. After ROI, the project manager will be dealing with maintenance and light quality.
I keep seeing projects where they are just so tired of changing tubes and ballasts, and the expense of doing this, that they are ready to spend the money on a long term energy-saving solution. I can't see them going to another FL when there are some very good LEDs out there.
Under upgraded conditions, your math stretches the payback, I agree. What I have seen is a mix of conditions, most not ideal - no programmed start ballasts, no occ sensors. Because the tubes are so inexpensive, they are considered readily disposable, regardless of remaining life or hazardous constituents.
My current calculations reinforce the general experience - fluorescent tube life is in the 8000 - 24000 hour range. When paying for a certified electrician and a scissor lift, some folks I talked to change all the lamps in the fixture - much like city maintenance teams used to do with traffic lights. This lowers even further the true lamp life.
Under these real life conditions, LED retrofit payback is more like 3 years, depending largely on current cost of energy. Any support from the utility in the form of rebates or incentives lowers this payback time even more. There is also a federal tax credit available for some buildings. With a manufacturer's warranty (since not many of the best LED T8's have been in existence long enoug to back up their long life claims), ROI is significant.
I am encouraged by the emphasis on lighting conversion - to any approved efficient source - by the utilities. I think the biggest benefit of all the attention this is getting will be the involvement of professionals who will identify the available alternatives. It turns out people are much more conscious about their lighting conditions - both in employee health and in productivity - than most facility managers had thought. A positive step, escpecially if the employees become involved, should improve both.
Apologies for the typos - not enough coffee yet!
Forgot to mention - thanks for the info on reliability and color shift. This would be my main concern, once it is established that true payback times are less than the real lamp life.
If the tube lights fail to perform in quality, and have to be removed prematurely, warranty is essential to justify the project. This should help sort out the low-cost product that is not warranteed or UL/ETL certified.
Great comments again and understand the need for coffee! I would be very concerned about T8s failing at 8000 hours. If they do, they are guaranteed for 3 years. Any of the main manufacturers will just send them some lamps for replacement. My concern on the LED folks runs with your earlier comment about 1600 patents on LED. That is part of the probelm also, there are so many LED companies out there that state 50, 100, 140K lamp life. They have not even been in business for that long. How can they guarantee something that long when they test to 6000 hrs and call it a day? It also concerns me that an installer would not use program start in a sensored fixture. That is part of the historical problem with lighting guys, they don't do the right thing for the customer. Really bothers me, but it also give us the opportunity to fix. Similar issues with LED, just wish everyone would do what is right for the customer and the industry would be much better off. The issue with lifts, my assumption was no one would replace a tube with an LED above 14'. We have made several highbay/lowbay replacement fixtures using the tubes and they just do not perform above 18'. I would try to avoid that, because light levels are diminished significantly.
Picture worth a thousand words
What price are you paying for LED T8 tubes right now?
AoTuroaLED kit replaces fixtures that use either 4 T12 tubes or 3 pcs of T8 tubes...so 1 kit is all you need for the entire fixture.
Cost is $199.00 USD - see here http://store.aoturoaled.com/AKIT1_p/ledkit50-2x4.htm
Before investing in LED T8's to replace your fluorescents you should read this publication from the Department of Energy, EERE.
It was sent to me by National Grid with a notice that Mass Save Program Administrators are NOT offering prescriptive or custom incentives on LED T8 linear replacement lamps. The LED T8 linear lamps have much lower efficacy than that of reduced wattage and/or 32 watt High performance T8 lamps, greatly change the photometric efficiency of the existing fixtures, and have an increased cost per kWh savings than that of High performance T8 lamps.
That is true Eric - but our products are not LED tubes and our products outperform fluorescent - you should see our Department of Energy Compliant LM79 test results - that says it all:
Also- power companies are indeed offering rebates - but you have to work them, a very large organization in Nevada and several large companies in California and Alaska have been able to work in getting our LED retrofits covered by a rebate.
See here for a case study from Pennsylvania where a power company authorized a rebate for our LED retrofit kits: http://www.aoturoaled.com/docs/casestudy_yaksigns.pdf
Our products are proven to be 50% less power than fluorescent and at least 10% brighter!!!
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