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2012 - Summer Issue
Casas Bonitas
Energy Efficiency
Article: Jessica Muncrief
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Despite being energy efficient and cost savers in the long run, LED light bulbs cost significantly more than fluorescent or incandescent bulbs. At approximately $50 a bulb, that's an initial investment you want to protect. With domestic LED lights being so new to the market, both contractors and lighting manufacturers are still learning about their limitations. Shirley Gschwind, owner of Westside Lighting Gallery in El Paso, says one of her clients had to find out the hard way that LED light bulbs are particularly sensitive to electrical surges when he had to replace the entire lot after a bad winter storm knocked out the power. We talked to some experts who gave us some tips to ensure you replace your bulbs every other decade, not after every thunder storm.

1.) Check the maximum voltage
LED lighting manufacturers have some form of surge protection built directly into the light, but every manufacturer is different. The box or label should indicate the maximum voltage it can withstand. Electrical Journeyman Dustin Rico of DLO Electric says, "Homeowners should be aware that even a surge as little as a ½ volt over the maximum can burn out the bulb."

2.) Talk to your contractor about in-line surge protection
Despite the manufacturers' built-in protection, anything from a car crashing into an electrical pole to a lightning storm can take a surge well past the maximum voltage protection of the bulb. Depending on the size of the home and the electrical layout, a surge protector built into the electrical box will run anywhere from $100 to $500 or more, but you'll be saving at least that much in bulb replacement costs the first time you have a powerful surge. "One client with LED told me his surge protector paid for itself within a month," notes Shirley. "His electrical box readout indicated two spikes that would have taken out all his lights had he not had the built in protector."

3.) Be proactive during an outage
Dustin recommends taking a trip to the electrical box as soon as the power goes out to turn off all your major breakers. Once power is recovered, wait a few minutes and slowly turn the switches back on. "This is good practice whether you have LED lights or not," he says, "The electrical surge following a power outage occurs right when the power resumes, so if you wait until that initial surge has passed, you can give that little bit of extra protection to all your lights and appliances." ///
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