Move over, Edison. Incandescent bulbs are out and high-efficiency, low-cost LED lamps are in. LED lighting emits more lumens (visible light) per watt, which means more and brighter light with lower energy usage. The LED color spectrum also is more precise, allowing consumers to choose hues ranging from warm yellow to bright white.
"With incandescent, it's all the same color no matter what," says Jeremy Friloux, general manager of St. Charles Lighting.
LEDs cost more than incandescent bulbs but offer long-term savings.
"[LED] bulbs can last 20 to 30 years, and they are easier to maintain," says Michael Ber, owner of Lighting Inc. The efficiency of the LED lamp allows more lamps (and more light) on a single line and reduces energy loss.
Energy savings are twofold: Not only will retrofitting fixtures with these new lamps decrease the cost of lighting a home, it also will lower cooling costs. Filament bulbs emit more heat than LEDs, raising room temperatures.
"[Filament bulbs] are called heaters now — they're more effective as heaters than as light bulbs," Friloux says. "LED doesn't produce any heat at all, so there's a savings on air conditioning."
Energy Star rebates are available for people who trade in their old lighting for a "green" glow.
LED lighting brings wow-factor luminosity to patios and yards without straining monthly energy bills. Some patio umbrellas come with LED bling: Backyard Living Pools offers an umbrella with built-in LED rib lighting. An indoor/outdoor transformer powers the lights, so the umbrella will need to be set up near an outlet. To go wireless, try the Vega rechargeable battery-powered lights, which hang from the umbrella's canopy. These LEDs throw off a limited glow, depending on battery life and the number of lamps in the fixture.
Landscape accent lighting also comes in LED versions. Lighting Inc. sells landscape lighting with customizable fixtures: the brightness, beam angle and width are manually adjustable, and optional filters color the lights in various hues. These lights cost about $187 per fixture and $10 and up to power annually. A Bluetooth-enabled version can be adjusted via smartphone app, but the cost per fixture nearly doubles.
Few outdoor lights are as classic as glass-enclosed hurricane lanterns. Incandescent bulbs can create a harsh, unnatural glare in the French Quarter-style lighting, but an LED lamp illuminates the outdoors without sacrificing the soft glow of a traditional flame.
Chris Bevolo of Bevolo Gas and Electric Lights recommends a frosted glass chimney to hide the lamp and diffuse its light. Bevolo also is testing LED Edison bulbs inside the lamps. The Coppersmith, a brand available at St. Charles Lighting, manufactures LED-illuminated hurricane lamps. Its Weiyan simulated flame LED bulb flickers much like a gas-powered lantern.
"Lanterns are meant to draw people in, not repel them," Bevolo says. "You don't have to give up what you love to see, as far as architectural lighting."