It can be annoying when a light bulb goes out in your home and you have to replace it – especially when it is out of reach and you need a ladder to change it. Imagine owning an art gallery with nearly 200 light bulbs each going out at a different time and each requiring a ladder to reach. It’s a never-ending task to which Andy or Chris will testify since they are the ones who have to change all those bulbs.
Imagine the cost of having 200 light bulbs shining all day every day. Those 200 bulbs generate a great deal of heat, so at The Art Shop, our air conditioners have worked overtime to keep the gallery cool – a challenge in 100 degree weather and a must even during the winters since the all those lights keep the gallery warm even in the dead of winter. It causes a lot of wear and tear on our air conditioners and enormously high electric bills.
That is all about to change since we have recently converted all of the incandescent bulbs in our track lighting to LEDs. As you probably know, LEDs use 85% less energy and last up to 20 years longer than incandescent bulbs. I read an interesting fact: if you install an LED in your newborn’s bedroom, you will probably not have to change it until that child goes to college. Incandescent bulbs are so inefficient, up to 98% of the energy they use is released as heat, not as light. LEDs generate 90% less heat, so we are looking forward to cooler temperatures in the gallery.
We are also looking forward to lower electric bills. The typical homeowner who uses incandescent bulbs spends $264 per year on lighting. If you were to replace all of your bulbs with LEDs, that amount drops to $26 per year. While bulb costs are considerably higher (although prices are coming down), the typical LED bulb pays for itself within three years.
The National Gallery of London is beginning to try LEDs in a few of their galleries and interest is spreading to other museums and galleries. Most are moving into LEDs with caution. The early LEDs had many issues with color, dependability and dim ability, but manufacturers are addressing those concerns and have come out with many improvements. There is concern over how LEDs affect artwork in terms of how many hours a painting can be exposed before it starts to deteriorate. Early research has shown LEDs have the same effect as the halogens they’ve been using (and may be a little better). Color is also an issue since museums and galleries want to be sure the lighting brings out the colors the artist intended for us to see. Colors from the newest LEDs have proven to be equal to that of halogens.
We are happy about "going green" and Andy and Chris are happy our ladder will be used more for hanging art than for changing light bulbs.