I broke down and tried a couple LED bulbs in my house. We have track lighting in the kitchen with PAR20 bulbs, usually the 50W halogen type.
The Home Depot recently started carrying some decent LED lighting, manufactured by Lighting Science Group right here in the US. They have a PAR20 form factor for about $25, which does seem awfully steep for a bulb. (Lowe’s has a version from Sylvania for about the same price).
(edit: the price is $20 as of Sept 2011 – Eric)
But if you look at the long-term economics of it, it makes a lot of sense, even at $25.
I pay $0.10/kWh for my electricty. These bulbs are 8W, and they replace my 50W bulbs, for a net savings of 42W. They’re rated for 50,000 hours (5 year warranty) so (42W x 50,000hrs x $0.10/kWh / 1000W/kW) is a savings of $210 over the life of the bulb, if it really lasts that long. On top of that, a “long life” $8 halogen bulb lasts 4,000 hours, so I’d need to replace that halogen bulb 12 times, at $8 a pop for another $96, so this is $71 more than the material cost of the LED bulb.
Anyway, end of the day – even at $25/bulb if they perform as advertised, they’ll save $281 each over the old halogens. If I replace all 6, at a cost of $150, I’d save over $1600 over the life of the bulbs!
Sounds great right? But 50,000 hours is a lot. At 3 hours a day every day, that’s over 40 years. :) Still, the break-even comes much sooner than that – assuming rates are steady, 4 years saves about $18, 1 avoided bulb change saves $8, so I’d say break-even in 4 years.
Now, as for the quality; they are a little more focused than the old halogen floods, and they are definitely a whiter color; 3000K is smack between “Warm White” and “Bright White” on the lighting facts label, but it looks pretty white to me, to the point where I’m not sure I like it, unfortunately. Sylvania claims to have similar bulbs at 2700K which is yellower, but I can’t find those for sale anywhere.
Apparently Home Depot will also be selling a version of the Philips bulb submitted for the L-prize, which is supposed to be a true 60W replacement and a nice warm white… for $40-$50! The long-term economics will still be a win, but that’s some sticker shock for sure. Of course, this is how CFLs started out a couple decades ago, too.