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If you’ve ever lived in a house without automatic floodlights, then had experience of a place with them – there’s no going back. It’s one of those situations where you can’t imagine how you ever used to cope without them.
The problem, though, with a lot of automatic floodlights is the brevity of the shelf-life. They can be a bit of a pain to fit, then because they’re exposed to the elements, there’s almost always a small measure of moisture ingress in the cheaper versions and you find you’re having to replace them – sometimes after as little as three or four years.
Then there are the replacement bulbs; the halogen bulbs, which account for the majority of outdoor floodlights, are temperamental, expensive and awkward to fit - not least because you aren’t supplies to touch them with your flesh. The reason you shouldn’t do so is down to grease and salt from your skin which gets being deposited on the quartz surface of the bulb, causing it to form 'hot spots', which, in turn, cause the bulb to warp and stretch, shortening its life.
The answer is to go down the LED route. Now this may look like a more expensive option at first glance, but it isn’t in the long run. Firstly, you can find LED floodlights onlinewhich are generally cheaper than those available from the mainstay retailers, so don’t buy the first you see. But do buy better quality versions as anything else is short-sighted.
LEDs (“light-emitting diodes”) are semi-conductors that make both the old-fashioned incandescent light bulbs and energy saving bulbs (called compact fluorescents) seem relatively inefficient. To illustrate the point – consider that a 35W halogen replacement LED uses around 4W – a lot less than the 10W a compact fluorescent bulb would typically use, to create the same level of light. LEDs also come on instantly – as opposed to the CFL replacements for halogen bulbs that take a while to warm up and achieve full brightness.
This goes for indoor or outdoor use of course – the principles are exactly the same. The problem is the costs which seem daunting. After all, with LED prices up to £20 per bulb, it seems an expensive initial outlay. But you have to do the maths; rising electricity prices and decreasing LED bulb costs mean that for houses for homes with a large number of halogen bulbs, the new generation of LED lighting really does make a lot of financial sense. And for outdoor lighting in particular, it also saves a lot of hassle.
Overall, it is estimated that the payback period for LED bulbs versus the halogen equivalents is now 15 months or less. If you have several halogen bulbs to change every year, the savings after this initial 15 months can run into hundreds of pounds each year. And when you bear in mind that LED bulbs come with a lifetime of around 10,000 hours or more, compared with the the typical c.1,000-hour lifetime of halogen bulbs, it’s simply a question of how far-sighted you want to be – in more ways than one!