Our association complex has exterior lights outside each townhouse unit. There are 3 light fixtures: one at the entrance, one along the walkway, and another facing the street.
In our case, all 3 fixtures have photocells so that they come on at dusk and go off at dawn. We like the light for security purposes. In an effort to be green and use as little energy as possible, we have been using Compact Fluorescent (CFL) bulbs instead of traditional incandescent bulbs.
Our association is in the process of replacing all of the fixtures in the complex. Our Design Review Committee has selected the Hubbardton Forge light fixture as the replacement.
With 76 units in our complex, and units have 3 or 4 light fixtures each, that's a lot of fixtures. That's also a lot of bulbs. In the interest of minimizing energy costs throughout the complex, that brings up the question of LED bulbs. When ordering fixtures, the Hubbardton Forge fixture can be specifically configured for LED bulbs.
Our association would probably go with incandescent lamping, which would allow for incandescent, CFL, or LED bulbs, but my point is that LED is definitely considered a possibility by the manufacturer. Here's the question. A few years ago, with my existing fixtures that have photocells, I tried two LED bulbs. They were $30 each. To my dismay, they lasted about a month or so. I am under the impression that LED bulbs are not compatible with photocells. Though I have only one data point, it appears that LEDs are not recommended for fixtures with photocells because the current constantly flows through the bulbs. This is because the photocell requires a little bit of energy to determine when it is daylight and when it is night. As a result, this burns LED bulbs out very quickly since they never really turn off. If that is the case, how can the Hubbardton Forge fixture specifically have an option for LED lamping?
On Saturday, I went to our local hardware store to look at LED bulbs. My plan was to buy one CFL bulb, one LED bulb, and install them in one of my existing fixtures. I was then going to measure how long each bulb lasted. To quote Matt Damon's character in The Martian movie, "I was going to science the shit out of this."
Here is what the hardware store had:
Note that one LED bulb is $37.99 and a similar LED bulb is $22.99. Looking on the back of the packaging for the first bulb, I saw:
Looking on the back of the packaging for the second bulb, I saw:
Since both packages clearly state that the LED bulbs are not compatible with photocells, I canceled my experiment.
So what gives? Can our association use LED bulbs in our new fixtures that will have photocells? All of the fixtures facing the streets have photocells since they are considered part of our street lighting system. In my particular case, the problem is compounded in that all 3 of my fixtures have photocells. The bulb packages s ys NO. The fixture information says YES. What to do? What to do? With 76 units, 3 fixtures each, that's 228 bulbs. Even at the lower cost of $23 per bulb, that's $5,244 plus tax. This is something the association cannot afford to get wrong.
Lightbulbs are alive in the lab.