Soffit Lighting Costs and Benefits

Commercial Outdoor Lighting – HID v LED Lifetime Costs

In commercial outdoor lighting, especially with fixtures as ubiquitous as soffit lighting, the cost of the fixture is one small part of the costs.

LED Soffit Lighting Remote Phosphor, 25 Watts

When using HID soffit fixtures the cost of operating and maintaining outdoor lighting fixtures, often exceeds the purchase price by a factor that is eight times or more. Good decisions about outdoor lighting fixtures are more than trying to get light or lumens on the ground at lowest price per fixture. The more effective strategy for efficient lowest cost outdoor lighting requires producing lumens with high quality light, at an economical cost over the entire lifetime of the fixture, while considering all of its costs.

Why should a building manager be concerned about what appears to be a simple selection of an LED or a HID soffit fixtures or other fixture? It is because of when tens or hundreds of dollars of savings per year per fixture are multiplied over score of fixtures, and the owner could be saving $10,000s for this simple and common soffit lighting installation.

Outdoor Lighting in Commercial Mixed Use Retail

In our small, straight-forward soffit lighting scenario, ten HID soffit fixtures (118 watts each), had reached their end-of-life, and the building owner was upgrading the storefronts and offices to attract new tenants. While the decision on what to type of soffit lighting appears to be minor, in actuality these 10 soffit lights will save about $7,200 over ten years vs. the standard HID soffit fixtures that were being used. Considering the LED soffit lighting fixture has a 100,000 hour L70 life, it is likely that this LED fixture will be operating considerably longer than the ten year analysis period.

Lifetime Costs of Outdoor Lighting

Long life commercial LED soffit lighting will last much longer than a HID soffit fixture. Taking into consideration all costs associated with the LED soffit lighting, as well those of the HID soffit fixtures, and normalizing these costs to 10,000 hours of operation provides a very effective means of comparing outdoor lighting fixtures. When comparing 10,000 hours of operating costs, the LED soffit lights saves 73% of costs. The amortized costs in this analysis include all first costs (fixture and installation), ballast costs, and lamp changes required over the HID fixtures lifetime. The HID Soffit Lamp is rated at 20,000 hours, and the ballast at 50,000 hours. An incandescent based soffit fixture with a long lamp life is included in the analysis. Other factors in the lifetime costs are electricity at 15 cents per kilowatt-hour, and the electrician labor costs are equal to Department of Labor average wages, marked up to commercial rates.

Outdoor Lighting Fixtures – Lifetime Costs Amortized over 10,000 Hours

Lighting Type Watts/ Fixture Amortized Fixture Costs Electric Costs Total Costs Savings
LED Soffit Fixture 25 $27.90 $37.50 $65.40
HID Soffit Fixture 118 $47.74 $177.00 $224.71 71%
Incandescent Soffit Fixture 50 $19.92 $225.00 $244.92 73%

Choices in Commercial Outdoor Lighting

Soffit lighting appears to be a simple choice of fixtures, but when comparing the total lifetime costs of outdoor lighting fixtures, choosing a traditional HID soffit lighting over LED soffit lighting can mean a difference of expenses of $159.34 per fixture per 10,000 hrs of operation. Multiple these costs by 10 fixtures, and accounting for 50,000 hrs of operation (11.3 yrs) your net costs are $7,967.00 higher, from this simple decision.

The best forms of sustainability are driving by savings through operations. Outdoor lighting is one the easiest places to gain fast savings in these commercial property operations.

More Information:

DOE Report on Life-Cycle of LED Lighting Fixtures:

This report analyzes where LEDs compete with traditional lighting sources such as incandescent and fluorescent, providing estimates of current energy savings, plus potential savings if these markets switched to LEDs overnight.

Life Cycle Costs of LED Lighting - Energy and Environmental Impacts (PDF 2012.pdf)

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