Nighttime illumination

LED lights, motion sensors popular

Tai Irwin, an assistant manager at Fiore True Value Hardware, Altoona, shows a new motion-sensing floodlight fixture. Mirror photo by Patt Keith

Winter’s earlier nightfall may reveal a need to reassess outdoor lighting needs to increase exterior illumination. One of the hottest trends are light-emitting diode (LED), motion-sensing flood lights.

Susan Kimberly has 45 years of sales experience at Mallow’s Hardware, 311 E. 25th Ave., and has noticed customers switching from incandescent lights to LED lights in greater numbers.

“The trend is for people to buy new LED, motion-sensing flood lights,” Kimberly said. “The LEDs have come a long way. They used to be expensive at $30 to $40 a bulb, but they’ve come down in price to around $10 a bulb. They are more economical because they last longer and reduce the electric bill.”

Tai Irwin, one of the assistant managers at Fiore True Value Hardware, 5514 6th Ave., said prices are reduced through incentive programs supported by the electric utilities.

“The energy companies are promoting less electric usage,” he said.

Many residents add flood lights to garage areas, and most of these lights detect motion and activate only when needed so they’re not illuminated all night.

LED spotlights use less electricity than their incandescent counterparts, Irwin said, recommending that shoppers check light bulb packaging to determine what brightness or lumens they desire.

“LED lights don’t generate any heat so when they are inside a covered light, the shade doesn’t heat up. So if you do leave them on, there is less worry about over-heating.”

The most popular light replaced by residents is the outdoor porch light, Irwin said, which is often housed within a decorative cover.

The porch light is one of a home’s most frequently used light fixtures, according to the ENERGY STAR® web site.

By replacing an older incandescent bulb with an ENERGY STAR-certified fixture, a homeowner can use 75 percent less energy.

Many porch lights come in various styles and finishes and now feature motion-sensing or automatic daylight shut-off options. If the fixture doesn’t offer daylight shut off, Kimberly recommends purchasing a timer that can be set for specific hours. A timer eliminates lights being left on during the day and is especially helpful for reducing unnecessary use, Kimberly said.

“Automatic timers are also very popular for indoor and outdoor use this time of year,” she said.

ENERGY STAR® is the government-backed symbol for energy efficiency, providing simple, credible, and unbiased information that consumers and businesses rely on to make well-informed decisions. Re­plac­ing a home’s five most frequently used light fixtures — or the bulbs in them — with ENERGY STAR-certified models can save $75 per year on energy costs, according the EPA’s website.

In 2016, Americans purchased more than 300 million ENERGY STAR-certified products in 2016, with a market value of more than $100 billion. An average of 800,000 ENERGY STAR-certified products were sold every day in 2016, bringing the total to more than 5.8 billion products sold since 1992, according to the EPA.

Typically, certified ENERGY STAR products deliver greater efficiency — the same brightness while consuming 90 percent less energy.

ENERGY STAR calculates that switching just one bulb from incandescent to an ENERGY STAR-certified bulb will reduce energy consumption between 70 to 90 percent and save $30 to $80 on utility bills over the lifetime of the bulb.

LED outdoor floodlights come in many colors and brightness, Irwin said. Most popular this time of year are red- and green-colored floodlights as residents decorate for the holidays.

Staff writer Patt Keith is at 949-7030.