Light-emitting diode (LED) technology for landscape lighting has arrived. Make no mistake about it, LED is here to stay, and will soon become the light source of choice replacing less efficient lamps. As a landscape lighting contractor, if you are not familiar with this technology and haven’t applied it to your jobs, it’s time to get started or you might get left behind. Let’s explore the benefits of selling energy efficient LED technology.
Benefits to the contractor
LED is 50 to 70 percent more efficient than the standard incandescent halogen lamps. For example, compare light output in a 5-watt LED to a 20-watt halogen lamp. From an installation standpoint, you can put more 5-watt fixtures than 20-watt fixtures on a single wire run from the transformer. At a 100-foot wire circuit, you can effectively attach five halogen fixtures at 20 watts for a total of 100 watts. Switch to 5-watt LEDs and the number jumps to 20 fixtures on the same circuit. This can result in a huge savings, not only on labor, but also material costs, such as wire and smaller transformers.
You’ll have the peace of mind knowing you are doing your part to save energy and reduce carbon dioxide emissions. An incandescent lamp produces light with only 20 percent of the energy it uses, while the other 80 percent is released as heat. LEDs require different amounts of electricity, but in general use more energy to directly emit light than to create waste heat.
LEDs can better handle voltage drop, the reduction of voltage caused when a current passes through a circuit’s wire. Unlike LEDs, conventional halogen lighting systems can accept only a small voltage reduction, even as little as one volt, before wasting energy and becoming inefficient. LEDs can accept a greater amount, generally between nine to 15 volts.
Benefits to the customer
Upselling an LED lighting system to an end user requires some knowledge between the differences between LEDs and halogen. LEDs offer a longer lamp life compared to halogen. Lamp life on an LED light source is rated at 50,000 hours, while halogen lamp life is typically 5,000 to 10,000 hours. The longer lamp life of LED sources not only reduces lamp replacements, but also saves on electricity costs. A 50,000-hour lamp can last more than 17 years, on an average lighting system burning six to eight hours a night.
Is cost a factor? To truly define the benefits of an LED lighting system, help customers understand how it will pay for itself over time in electricity savings and maintenance costs. Instead of focusing on the cost to install an LED system, explain it to your customers in terms of cost per hour of light. An energy-efficient lighting system will save on costs in the long run, which leads us to the cost of ownership.
Cost of ownership
Explaining cost of ownership is without a doubt the easiest way to close the sale. We are asking a potential client to spend more of his hard-earned money up front to save on costs down the road. Simply saying, “Mr. or Mrs. Client, by choosing an energy-efficient LED system you will save money for years to come,” will not close the sale. But being able to explain and demonstrate the savings based on the system wattage requirement you are proposing in an illustrated worksheet will confirm you are on top of your game. This is what will separate you from your competitors and help you close more sales.
For example, let’s illustrate the cost of ownership over a ten-year period using a 50-fixture 20-watt halogen package versus a 50-fixture 5-watt LED package. The halogen package consists of 1,000 watts versus 250 watts for the LED. We will assume the lighting system will operate for eight hours a night, at a cost of $0.134 per kilowatt-hour (the 2011 national average).
Potential electricity costs
Let’s start with the halogen 1,000-watt system:
1,000 watts x 8 hours / 1,000 = 8 kilowatt-hours x $0.134 = $1.072 per day x 365 = $391.28 per year
The numbers for a LED 250-watt system:
250 watts x 8 hours/1,000 = 2 kilowatt-hours x $0.134 = $0.268 per day x 365 = $97.82 per year
The difference of $293.46, multiplied by 10 years, equals a potential savings of $2,934.60 in electricity costs.
Now look at lamp change-outs for a 10-year period. A halogen lamp will burn for 5,000 hours and require six change-outs. That comes to 300 lamps, and at $8 each the total becomes $2,400 before including a contractor’s labor costs.
The LED will require no change outs.
Potential maintenance costs
What if we add the labor costs to those six halogen change-outs?
Three hours per change-out at $85 an hour equals $255. Multiply that by six change-outs and the cost becomes $1,530.
So now we can compile the savings over a 10-year cost of ownership:
• Electricity: $2,934.60
• Lamp change outs: $2,400
• Labor: $1,530
• Total: $6,864.60
This hypothetical system could save the end user $6,864.60 over the course of 10 years. Having the knowledge to upsell LED landscape lighting is a great way to grow your annual sales and put more profit in the bank.
Investing in a lighting system that could pay you back the difference on the upgrade to LED in four years, and save you money each year thereafter, just makes plain sense. So remember, speak in terms of cost per hours of light and ownership of cost. You will be well on your way to being an all-star energy efficient landscape lighting expert.