LED lights 'the way to go'

2012-08-16 14:50

Cape Town - LED (light-emitting diode) lighting combined with solar power solutions may provide the answer for the lack of electrification of impoverished communities, a major supplier has said.

"It's now become very viable to do solar; by combining LED with the solar because it draws far less energy than conventional lighting, suddenly the lifetime of the product is enhanced," John Westermeyer, marketing manager for Philips Lighting Africa told News24.

The company that used to dominate the electronics industry has realigned its focus to energy solutions, particularly for developing markets.

"The main advantage of LED is number one: It's lifetime; it lasts for thousands of hours compared to conventional lighting and secondly, that you can achieve energy savings - anything from 50% to 90% depending on what you replace and its application, of course," said Westermeyer.

Phillips lost out to South Korean giants with the advent of new LED TV technology, but it sees Africa as a market with potential for LED lighting solutions.


LEDs typically consume 10% to 20% of the energy of conventional light bulbs and last for around 50 000 hours.

On Tuesday, the company launched an off grid electrification programme in Lomshiyo, Mpumalanga and on Thursday, the company will launch a project in Cape Town.

Westermeyer rejected suggestions that it the programme was a marketing ploy, and said that it demonstrated viability of small-scale electrification in communities that have not been serviced by the national grid.

"No, it's a huge area of focus for us; if you look at Africa as a whole - over 800 million people in Africa don't have access to electricity.

"If you look at a satellite image of the world and you look at Africa, it really stands out from the simple reason that it's so dark at night. For us it represents huge opportunity... the benefits of that are increased productivity, and also from an educational perspective - children being able to do homework at night," he said.

Many people in rural communities find themselves excluded from the electricity grid because of their isolation and there is no capacity to build infrastructure in these areas.


"This country is still faced with massive challenges: You look at Mpumalanga, Limpopo, parts of KZN [KwaZulu-Natal], Eastern Cape - you have large communities staying out in those areas; the cost to run cables there to electrify those areas - that's huge and Eskom can't really afford to do that," Westermeyer said.

The lighting projects also limit the ability of thieves to steal copper cable that would shut down electricity supply, though the upfront cost of installing renewable energy systems is expensive.

Westermeyer argued that a renewable energy system could return the investment cost within a short period.

"If you actually do a calculation based on our system versus going the conventional electrification route, I think it's one and a half to two years. If you look at it from that perspective, it makes absolute sense."

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  • cobus123456 - 2012-08-16 15:17

    Yes get the cost down and maybe then it would be better

      nosiphom.mazibuko - 2012-08-16 15:50

      That was my problem. I did the research in 2007 already, and using the P7 LED even designed a floodlight, but the cost is still high (The LED chip was over R100, and the controller also over R100) and then the mechanical stuff around it and the 12V transformer). However the more we buy the lower the price will be. Remember they last 50 000 hours vs 7000 hrs for a CFL with poisonous mecury.

      alan.jerrold - 2012-08-16 16:18

      Yes, LED's still cost far too much, often over R200 each. I found a place in Honeydew that supplied 5W LED's for R99 each, equivalent to 50W halogens. (Can't remember the name of the place but found it on Google).The lights are working fine, and my next step is to get dimmable ones to replace the 8 x 50W ones in my lounge, reducing consumption from 400 watts to 40. Apparently, the only real problem with LED's is that they don't like excessive heat much, as this can reduce their + - estimated life of 20 years or so.

      nosiphom.mazibuko - 2012-08-16 16:33

      Ravegen - I can get you dimmable ones - they are a lot more expensive, as this is technically challeging. Standard bulbs use a constant current source, so you can vary the volatage and get the same current through the LEd and it keeps the light intensity the same. Dimming requires varying the current - hence the challenge. I will check and post something.

      arthur.hugh - 2012-08-16 18:19

      I recently installed LED lights in my place, in the lounge I have 6 bulbs, the amount of electricity I'm saving is awesome.

      Hugh - 2012-08-16 19:24

      yes it may last 50,0000 times longer but then so is the price LED technology is not new nor is it expensive at about .50c to make. Much like the shaver industry one blade cost .60c to make but they sell three at R69.00.

  • CopperWoody - 2012-08-16 15:27

    Had my whole house's downlighters (about 60) replaced for R25 (all Inlc). Viva Groupon! :)

      derekneilmaclachlan - 2012-08-17 16:39

      I would love to have your supplier...please post it!!

  • craig.a.salter - 2012-08-16 15:45

    solar heating and elecrics is a very good cost alternitive to conventional power. been using solar power now for close on 4 year. it not enough to power my power hungry electronics but did cut the power bill

  • nosiphom.mazibuko - 2012-08-16 15:50

    Incidentally, I believe CFL's will be banned in 10 years due to the mercury!

      wendy.webb.980 - 2012-08-16 17:43

      I hope so. I refuse to use them because I have totally indoors cats and am not willing to take the risk that something goes wrong - no matter how small some people say the risk is. Also, they are not good for reading. The LEDs sound very attractive.

      derekneilmaclachlan - 2012-08-17 16:41

      Mercury aside, the problem with CFL's are the type of light they give out....not really suitable for reading. I have just started replacing with 5 watt LED's and what a difference.

  • dave.prinsloo - 2012-08-16 16:05

    sheesh! Old news! Any reporter with his finger on the pulse would have written this piece 5 to 10 years ago, when high power LEDs were already the norm in europe. Tut,tut

  • Gary - 2012-08-16 16:31

    The LED light does not radiate(?)enough light

      Johan De Beer - 2012-08-16 16:40


      alan.jerrold - 2012-08-16 17:01

      Hi Gary, you need to check the wattage. 5W LED's emit about the same light as 50W halogen lights. Also decide if you want warm white or cool white. I first tried a bulb with about 20 little individual 'lights' in it but it wasn't very good.

      arthur.hugh - 2012-08-16 18:21

      Eh? I've just installed a bunch, they're awesome. Way better than my old energy saver bulbs. I wanna see how long these puppies last now.

      raven.sqarr - 2012-08-17 10:13

      @ Gary - I just got a 2.5 mil candlepower spotlight. LED. So the amount of light emitted has to do with what and where you buy. At the moment we're still being ripped off because we're a dumping ground for CFL's that's been banned in the rest of the world.

      derekneilmaclachlan - 2012-08-17 16:43

      I bought a 5 watt at R69-00 and its awesome. Much brighter than a CFL

  • tienie.lindeque - 2012-08-16 16:33

    The cost of LED Lighting is too high still to make financial sense, once the costs come down, more people will consider this option. On 30 July I bought a solar/LED spotlight for R 1741. Yesterday and went to buy 2 of the same lights at the same supplier, Eagle Lighting Somerset West. Now the same light costs R2411 and after moaning they reduced the price to R 2,116. How can this be? I am committed to saving electricity because of high costs but the manufacturers are ripping us off.

      africanwolf - 2012-08-16 16:49

      1 LED lamp cost R 39.95 @ Makro

      HermanK - 2012-08-16 19:03

      The initial investment is high, unfortunately, but the cost savings over a 5 year period is high! 1 florescent tube cost R13.00, electrical usage / running cost over 5 years +/- R2800.00 An LED replacement tube costs +/- R350.00 electrical usage / running cost over 5 years +/- R1 125.00.

  • nick.crossley.395 - 2012-08-16 19:56

    I hope that this is not seen as a sales pitch, but I sell a Solar light system with 4 x 3 watt bulbs, solar module, cell phone charger and battery that will give about 5 hours light for R1100.00. I also have systems that include a 14inch remote controlled colour TV complete for R2500.00. Don't tell me LED's are expensive, buy from the right place, and do not Eskom allow profiteering like they have done with Solar Water Heating. System for system I am generally R5-R6000 per System cheaper, even after the rebate. Eskom has allowed themselves and the public being ripped off by the rebate abusers. Eskom demands SABS approval, allowing SABS to monopolist and dictators, they are not the only accreditation station in the world. SABS claims that we are climate specific even though there are at least 12 different climate regions in SA. The EU,American,Australian and other country's accreditation standards are far more stringent than SABS. Don't be lead by the nose!

  • garth.bellingan.1 - 2012-08-16 19:57

    Old news, been pushing LED,s for past 5 years, too expensive at the moment.

  • grant.olivier.92 - 2012-08-16 22:14

    I only just replaced my home's lamps with CFL's. I'll invest in LED's in 5 years when it's time to replace my current CFL's and when the price of LED's have come down a huge amount..

  • Jason.K.Myhill - 2012-08-17 12:35

    Here is a very neat solution:

      derekneilmaclachlan - 2012-08-17 16:49

      Thanks for that link. Only problem I have with lights that use a large number of LED's is that they dont seem as bright as the new generation lights that use maybe 4 or 5 LED's

  • Naeem Shaboddin - 2013-09-10 17:06

    For very good quality and extremely well-priced LED downlights, try - The Limelight brand LED downlights seems to be very reliable and very bright and they come with a cool warranty too. For LED floodlights, try - You might also want to learn more about LED floodlights at

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