LED Lighting Rebates From Eskom

LED-light-bulbs-eskomHave you been thinking of going greener at home but haven’t got around to it yet. Eskom’s latest residential rebate program might be just the incentive you need. They are offering to replace existing halogen downlighters with LED lighting alternatives for free! If it seems too good to be true check out the details as laid out by Eskom’s service provider on this project. Continue reading

LED Lighting – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

LED-Light-bulbs-rangeWe’ve all heard the claims by now – LED lighting uses far less electricity, saves costs, lasts much longer and is a far greener solution than either the old incandescent bulbs or the newer ‘energy-saving’ bulbs.

So as good green consumers we go out to buy some, only to be brought up short by the price. At R200 for a light bulb our green principles suffer a set-back. Maybe we find a cheaper version, try it out for a while and are disappointed in its performance: the colour is harsh, the light is too dim or it just doesn’t last as long as the claims. Continue reading

Eskom Offers Businesses Rebate for LED Lighting

replace incandescent light bulbs with LEDGreat news for South African businesses that want to go green: Eskom is offering rebates on the initial costs of changing over to a more energy efficient system, including purchases of LED bulbs and downlights. This great offer applies to businesses, retail outlets, guest houses, industrial and commercial properties and would be a great way to fund a total change over from conventional lighting to LED lighting. The rebate is of up 85% of the total cost.

There are many businesses that would like to become more environmentally friendly but haven’t yet been able to afford the total investment of changing over – this is the perfect opportunity for them.

There are various conditions to qualify for the scheme, one of them being that the changes must save a minimum of 2Mw per annum. This can be a tricky thing to work out for yourself so it is strongly recommended to get the advice of a specialist supplier of LED lighting. They can assess your energy usage and work out the savings that would accrue from a changeover to LED, as well as guiding you through the process of applying for the rebate.

While you are looking at LED lighting don’t forget about your display signs too. Switching over from fluorescent light boxes to LED lightboxes, from neon signs to LED signs can also add to your energy efficiency, cutting costs in the long run.

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Who’s Saving Energy with LED Lighting in Cape Town?

I’ve just been checking out LED lighting in Cape Town and was delighted to discover that some of our favourite Cape Town places to visit are getting serious about going green – not just in a token recycle-a-few-plastic-bags way either. Top of the list is the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town, closely followed by Fairview, the makers of delectable cheeses and wines and another new discovery is luxury guest house Parkers Cottage.

Two Oceans Aquarium wind turbineThe Two Oceans Aquarium have recently won recognition of its sustainability efforts from the Heritage Environmental management Company: it’s efforts include a wind turbine cleverly installed at its entrance, solar panels to power its administration block and LED lighting in all its ablution facilities. It has also designed a solar outreach van to take its exhibits to disadvantaged schools in the area – the van isn’t fuelled by the solar energy (one day!) but the solar panels power all the electricity needs of the mobile aquariums keeping all the fish alive, saving on all the electricity previously used to charge batteries to run the systems.

Fairview Cheese Factory are getting sustainable with solar panels installed on the roof, an economiser to  reduce energy used in heating water and many other energy measures. I’m not sure if LED lighting is included in their list, but I’m sure it is being implemented as it certainly makes sense in their overall plan to become carbon neutral.

Last but not least is Parkers Cottage in Tamboersklooof, central Cape Town, who have set out to prove that luxury and heritage historical properties can be eco-friendly and sustainable. Their grand plan aims at being off-grid by 2015, and while not without a few hiccups and trial and error in some stages of the plan, such as the photovoltaic panels,  they are hugely pleased with the success of their LED lighting sourced from CandelaLED, which is already making savings in the electricity bills.

I’m sure that there are plenty more wonderful places in and around Cape Town that are going green and using sustainable LED lighting, so tell me about any that you know of know in the comments, so I can add them to my list.

LED Light Bulbs – Research Before You Buy

LED light bulbLED light bulbs are moving into the main stream now – anyone looking for energy saving light bulbs for the home, can now choose between CFLs (compact fluorescent light bulbs) which used to be the only alternative to the old incandescent bulbs, and LEDs, the new kids on the block.

LEDs have plenty of advantages – they use much less energy even than CFLs, 30-50%more efficient; they last a whole lot longer, up to 50,000 hours as opposed to 10,000 hours, ten years of more of average use; they are far less fragile, being a solid lighting system – no delicate filaments or glass to shatter when the cat sends the lamp flying.

With regard to the cat disasters – we’ve found that the CFLs that we switched over to several years ago almost never have the life span they advertise. If the cat doesn’t knock over the lamp, scattering shards of glass and fragmenrts of mercury under the fett of kids and animals alike, then the all too frequent power surges or power outages put paid to several light bulbs each time – CFLs just don’t like extremes of temperature or being switched off and on too much. LEDs apparently are much more resilient.

The main disadvantage of LED lighting, now that the light quality is every bit as good, and often better than, CFLs, is price. LEDs still cost considerably more than CFLs. Even though LEDs work out to be the cheapest option long term, once you work out their life span and energy savings, it is still quite an initial expense to equip a whole house with LEDs. So the answer is to do your research before you buy.

While prices are coming down, it doesn’t work just to buy the cheapest brand from a supermarket shelf. As with any new technology there are cheaper, lower quality versions that don’t live up to the LED promise, and which are sure to disappoint. You need to inform yourself about the quality brands of LEDs first of all. In South Africa, some of the reliable brands available are CREE, Edison, Bridgelux and Epistar.

Next work out your requirements – do you need overhead dangling light bulbs, or spotlights, reading lamps or tube lighting. You will need to read the labels attentively to get an idea of light output, whether it is omni-directional or focussed light, warm or cool temperature.  Check out this article written by a journalist trying out LEDs in his own home. The brand names available are different in SA but the choice is about as wide.

Next compare prices among the better quality brands. You will probably find they vary a lot, so find a specialist supplier that stocks the top brands at a reasonable price. Bargain basement is not a good idea when you are shopping for a product that you hope will last you 10 years or more.

One of the most reasonably priced suppliers of LED lighting in Cape Town that we’ve found is CandelaLED – they source direct from the manufacturers so are able to supply their LED  light bulbs and general lighting at an affordable price. Because they specialise in LED they can also advise on the best product for each lighting situation.

And while replacing every light bulb in the house with LEDs is probably beyond the budget of the average householder, there’s no reason why you can’t commit to buying ,say, one or two LED light bulbs per month and gradually introducing a more sustainable lighting system in your home. That’s our plan at least!

Energy Efficient Lighting – LEDs, CFLs or halogens?

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If you’re confused by the latest developments in the energy efficient light bulb field, check out this article just published in the New York Times. In Almost Time to Change the Bulb, the writer, pen name The Pragmatist, examines what all the new lighting terminology means and then goes shopping for a variety of the latest energy efficient light bulbs to test in his home.

It’s very readable with plenty of humour and some user-friendly advice for anyone else about to embark on the great switch over.

LED’s score well for overhead and directional lighting, while he finds that some of the new halogens, though less energy-efficient, provide a better diffuse light . CFLs are also on his recommended list for some applications.

Of course all the brands mentioned in the article relate to the U.S., so if you are looking for more specific advice on the latest LED lighting technology available in South Africa, check out Candela LED, who have a good range of top quality brands.

Remember too that LED technology is developing rapidly, so we should see more advances in lighting quality and versatility,  as well as a gradual reduction in price over the next while.

LED lights are the new green

Those cute curly light bulbs are no longer on the green shopping list. CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) are no longer the cutting edge of energy-saving technology. The new lighting kid on the scene is the LED. OK so LED lighting technology has been around for a while, but mostly in smaller lighting situations, such as the on/off light on the TV or, more recently, long-lasting, pin-point flashlights.

The good news is that advances in LED technology means it can now be used in the home and office to replace all the old style tubes and light bulbs. More good news is that LED lighting is very energy-efficient, long-lasting and reliable. The only bad news is that it’s still more expensive to purchase initially than conventional old-style lighting.

So is it worth making the change?
Let’s look at how LED light bulbs compare with CFLs and you can decide for yourself

1. LED lights use 30-50% less energy than CFLs. This results in huge energy savings over their life-time and they end up paying for themselves in saved electricity costs in less than two years.

2. LED light bulbs last far longer than CFLs. They are less prone to burn out in hot or cold temperatures and last up to 50,000 hours, as opposed the less than 10,000 hours of CFLs.

3. LED’s are a solid light source and so are far more durable than CFLs, many of which never reach their optimum lifespan because of breakages.

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4. CFL’s contain mercury which is extremely toxic. When they break in the home this substance is dangerous to anyone who comes into contact with it. When disposed on in landfills the mercury remains toxic in the environment. While LEDs still need to be properly disposed of, as they do contain some heavy metals, they do not contain mercury. And because they last so much longer than CFLs there will be far fewer of them to be disposed of.

5. The quality of light in new technology LED’s is far better than most CFL’s and there is a wide range of colours and warmths to choose from.

With LED’s, as with most good things, you get what you pay for. There are many cheaper copies which won’t live up to the promises in terms of lifespan and energy saving. It is much better to invest in the best quality and latest technology that you can afford, from a reputable company, which will last you for many years, than to cut costs and end up with a lesser product. Look for established companies that specialise in LED products, such as Candela LED in South Africa, and get their advice on the best products to suit your needs.