It's too bad that energy efficiency isn't sexier, because it's something that we should focus on a lot more. In almost all cases, it's easier to not use a watt (also known as a negawatt) than to produce an extra watt of clean energy. That's why getting commercial buildings to use high-efficiency and long-lasting LEDs is a big deal. As I said, maybe not that sexy, but according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration in 2011 about "461 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity were used for lighting by the residential and commercial sectors." The commercial sector, which includes commercial and institutional buildings and public street and highway lighting, consumed about "275 billion kWh for lighting or 21% of commercial sector electricity consumption in 2011." There are about 2.3 billion fluorescent sockets in the US commercial sector, and most of them are based on the T8 standard.
That's why it's so important that companies like Cree and Philips have started selling LED-based T8 lights. They have the potential to save a massive amount of electricity, and thus reduce pollution.
The Cree T8 lamp should be very competitive with fluorescent tech (which contains mercury) on pretty much all fronts. Check out these specs:
- Compatible with >90% of electronic T8 ballasts, including instant start, programmed start, rapid start and dimmable fluorescent ballasts
- Offers 30% energy cost savings and payback in <3 years when compared to 32W fluorescent T8s
- 100 lumens-per-watt at the system level
- Lamp Delivered Light Output: 2100 lumens per LED lamp*; Target Fixture Delivered Light Output (Two Lamps): 3800 Lumens
- Input Power: 21 watts
- CRI: 90; Utilizes Cree TrueWhite® Technology
- CCT: 3500K, 4000K
- Controls: Dimmable (ballast dependent)
- Lifetime: Designed to last 50,000 hours
- Limited Warranty: 5 Years
On paper, the Cree T8 LED is as efficient as the Philips T8 LED (also 100 lumens/watt). But the Philips T8 has a CRI of 85 vs. the 90 of the Cree, though, so that's an advantage for the Cree. In both cases, a lot of money is saved not only on energy costs, but because these last a lot longer than traditional T8 lamps, so they don't need to be replace as often. Maybe the savings could be spent on solar power?
Here's their promo video for the new Cree T8 LED lamp. I really dislike how they use a bunch of photoshopped images with the color balance changed to 'show' how high quality the light of their LEDs is, but the hard numbers should be correct, and with a CRI of 90, the light quality is probably quite nice: