I remember the day I first worked with LED stage lighting.
Back in the time frame of the mid-2000’s, I was working for a small production company, lighting a lot of parties, concerts and other random events in our small town.
Back then, going into LED’s was a huge investment. The only decent light on the market was the Coemar Parlite LED, and it was over $1000 at dealer cost.
As technology has moved ahead with time, the price of LEDs has gone down, and today they are more cost effective than ever. Often, our initial instinct when thinking about LED’s tends to be just thinking about the savings in wattage, and what that will do for our electric bill. While that does matter, and it is important, just focusing on the power bill leaves out a few other considerations that really make LED stage lighting fixtures make sense! Let’s dive in!
So, How Do LEDs Save Money?
Below, I want to go over how LEDs can and will save you money from 4 different perspectives – energy savings per fixture, amount of fixtures, maintenance savings and heat savings. A few years ago, I was enlightened to the multiple avenues for energy and cost savings of LED lighting, and now I want to share these “secrets” with you!
After all that, I’ll come back and highlight a few product choices of the very best, affordable but quality LED fixtures for people starting out with stage lighting!
Energy Savings Per Fixture
When we compare apples to apples, today you can easily buy LED lights that outshine conventional lighting with less wattage, better colors and the ability to change color on the fly.
Let’s compare an “average” modern LED par and a 500w conventional LED par.
The average LED fixture will consume 100w max(I am using round numbers, most LED’s are less), which is .1 kw/hr, or 5 times more efficient than the old-standard 500w incandescent par.
So, if you were paying an average 13 cents/kWh for your facilities power, just 15 incandescent fixtures would cost 97.5 cents per hour to run, and the 15 LED would cost 19.5 cents per hour. Now, those numbers may seem a little small, so let’s get into the real world savings!
If you used your 10 fixtures for a 8 hours, 2 days a week, you would pay $15.60 per week to run the incandescents and $3.12 for the LED’s.
Over the course of a year, 52 weeks at 16 hours per week, the incandescents would cost you $811.20 just for electricity, and the LED’s would cost you less than $162.24 for electricity, a savings of $648.96 total for the year.
So far, that may not sound like a lot of money, but remember, that is for 15 fixtures, at 16 hours per week, and is only considering the cost of electricity. Now, let’s add the maintenance savings into the equation.
Now, in that year of time, about 41.6 percent of your conventional pars will need their lamp replaced, since the 832 hours put on the lamps is 41.6 percent of their total life span of 2000 hours. In this example, that’s 6 conventional pars if we round down.
A quality 500w medium par lamp is going to cost you around $25, so 6 of them will be $125. I’m going to leave out the labor cost of changing the lamps for simplicity, but consider factoring in your hourly cost times 2 or more, depending on how difficult or easy it is to access your lights!
Guess how many LED lamps you’re going to change? Oh yeah, that’s zero!
Let’s say that all 15 of your conventional pars are also gelled with a color, and you have 2 change all the color twice in the year. Personally, I think that’s a little low, but let’s stick with the rounding down for simplicity!
With a par 64, you can get 4 cuts out of a $6 sheet of gel, so if we round that’s 4 sheets of gel at $24 total.
With an LED par, there is no gel to replace, so that cost is $0.
So, for maintenance, the LED fixtures is going to cost you $0, and the conventional fixtures will cost you $149 over the course of the year, bringing our totals up to:
$960.20 for the conventional lights and $162.24 for the LED fixtures.
That is now a cost savings of $797.96, and we’re not done yet!
Amount of Fixtures
In the last 2 examples, we figured out the energy cost difference between an equal amount of conventional and LED sources, and then the difference in maintenance costs. Now, I want to uncover a gaping hole in that logic – the amount of conventional fixtures that and LED fixture replaces.
If I had a rig of 15, 500w conventional par cans that I was switching out for LED, I’d be replacing 5 cans with red gel, 5 cans with green gel and 5 with blue. Your colors may be different, but for examples sake, let’s stick with the fact that 1 LED par can will replace 3 conventional par cans – or more since the LED can has great RGB color mixing! This brings us to running 5 LED fixtures as a replacement for 15 conventional pars.
Totaling it up!
So, our total yearly cost(see above) for 15 conventional fixtures will be $960.20, and the cost to run an equivalent 5 LED fixtures would be $54.08, a cost savings of $906.12 per year!
Heat Savings – The Hidden Last Metric!
The final and most difficult metric to add to this equation is the heat savings. As you probably know, conventional par cans put off a ton of heat!
In order to find the cost savings of the heat, you will need to know 2 things:
1) How much it costs to cool your building per BTU of heat.
2) How much heat exactly that your conventional pars put off vs. LED pars.
Unfortunately, figuring out the heat differences and what that means for your facility is beyond the scope of my knowledge and this post, so we’re going to leave it out of the equation for today. If you happen to be an engineer and can figure this out, go ahead and email me the findings you get for your facility! I’ll be waiting to hear from you!
The Real World Advantage – How to Replace Your LED Lights and Save the Cost Within 2 Years!
So far, we’ve covered the cost savings for replacing 15 conventional par fixtures with LED, and saved $906.12 in the first year.
That is literally enough money to buy 5 decent LED fixtures at a budget of around $180 per fixture. This won’t get you the brightest lights, but you’ll get something that is an improvement over what you had – and you’re saving money too!
A slightly larger budget can get you a lot too – for what I am currently recommending, check out my buyers guide here!
Add to that the fact that LED’s take less time to maintain, are more flexible and aren’t hot to handle or dangerous on the ground, and you’ve got a no-brainer! And, they’re really cool and fun to work with!
Once the 2 year warranty ends, your quality LED fixtures aren’t just going to fall over and die. Since you’ll be saving $900 per year, you could replace 2 out of 5 fixtures per year after the 2 year warranty period. Under normal usage, your fixtures should last at least 5 years, but probably will last longer. We just don’t know yet because the technology is so new, and the products that manufacturers are putting out keep getting better and better.
While this post isn’t a complete deep-dive, I hope it gets your wheels turning. Think about the lights you currently have, and consider looking into LED – you’ll be glad you did!