Minneapolis-area lighting companies tout benefits of LED

Minneapolis-area lighting companies tout benefits of LED
Outdoor spaces are getting even greener with eco-friendly LED lighting, and thanks to their many benefits, they're becoming more popular.

"They consume 90 percent less electricity than traditional low-voltage lighting systems and the lamps last between 15 to 20 years," says Mark Hanson, owner of highly rated Touchstone Accent Lighting in Long Lake.

The LED - light emitting diode - bulbs are also a favorite because they don't get hot. "If a kid touches them, it won't burn them," Hanson says.

However, this can also be a downside in colder climates since the lights won't melt the snow. Lighting designers are beating this obstacle by placing the lights inches higher off the ground than usual.

Halogen or xenon lamps were used almost exclusively in the past, but since Hanson started carrying LED in November 2008, he says 99 percent of his clients in Arizona are requesting them. He expects the same response in the Twin Cities this summer.

Jim Duerr, owner of JRD Landscape Lighting & Design in Champlin, has already installed a few LED systems in the Twin Cities. He says the biggest benefit his customers have noticed is the lack of maintenance.

"If you have a LED down light in a tree, you won't have to climb a ladder and change the bulb for 15 years," Duerr says. "That's pretty exciting."

Peter and Vivian Lytle of Minnetonka have LED lighting in their entryway, sidewalk path and spotlighting their rain gardens for visual impact at their living lab called The Sustainable House.

"They're so durable," says Peter, who's the founder of Live Green, Live Smart. "I don't know why anyone would ever go back to traditional systems."

The appealing features of LED may be dimmed by the initial cost though. Hanson says they're slightly more expensive than typical outdoor lights - with the average cost for eight to nine fixtures for the front lawn being around $1,800, while a 10 to 12-fixture backyard system can cost around $2,200.

Despite the cost, he believes they're worth it. "If you operate your lights for eight hours per night and the utility is charging 15 cents per kilowatt hour - you would save $10.80 a month, $129.60 annually and $1,944 over the life of the LED lamp."

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