Are LED Strip Lights Expensive to Run?

Are LED Strip Lights Expensive to Run?

By now there’s little doubt that LED based lighting is far superior to traditional incandescent light bulbs. But how exactly do LEDs compare to an incandescent light source and how expensive it is to run them? Let’s dive into the subject.

LED Lights Compared to Traditional Bulbs

To get a better picture of the situation, let’s start with comparing some of the most important features of LED lights and their incandescent counterparts.

LED strip lights

Initial Cost

Going by purchase price alone, an incandescent bulb seems superior as most of the models are really cheap to buy. The initial cost of LED strips is way higher, as it also includes dedicated power supply and wiring needed to properly connect the lights. A simple LED bulb can be about eight times more expensive to buy than an incandescent bulb. But that’s the only point for the incandescent bulbs we’ll give out.


When it comes to producing light, a traditional bulb can transform about 10-15% of consumed energy into it. That’s terrifyingly low, especially if you want your home lighting system to be environment friendly. On the other hand, LED light sources (bulbs, strip light/tape and others) use up to 90% of intake electricity to generate light. This means that they are about nine times more energy-efficient!

Heat Generation

You’ve probably wondered what happens with the rest of the consumed energy. The answer is simple – it turns into heat and is completely wasted. That’s why every incandescent light is so hot after shining for a while. So the LEDs are far more cost-effective. Theoretically you could keep LED strip light on for 24/7 without overheating but that would shorten the lifespan of its transformer.

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Due to the far superior efficiency, LED lights can generate the same amount of light with far less power usage. This means that a 6 W LED bulb can easily replace its traditional 60 W counterpart without dropping the brightness of the light generated.


A typical incandescent bulb can last for 700-1 000 hours. That’s a maximum of 100 days if you use it for 10 hours a day. Whereas LED lights will shine for 7 500-15 000 hours, depending on their quality. In our 10 hours per day scenario that could be up to 4,1 years! So a good quality incandescent bulb can last for a bit over three months, while even the cheapest LEDs will be good for at least two years. Of course those numbers go even higher if you don’t keep them turned on for so long daily.

Power Usage of LED Strip Lights and Their Costs of Running

As we already mentioned, LED lights, in general, don’t use much power. A typical bulb giving off 650-850 Lumens of light will require about 7-10 Watts to shine. The same goes for LED strip lights but in their case, you’ll also have to consider their length as it adds to the overall energy cost. The exact information about Wattage and Power Consumption should be listed in the product manual or on its web page. It’s also crucial to check the strip’s voltage (LED strip lights are either 12 or 24 V), as you’ll need it for picking up the right power supply.

When it comes to the costs of running, LED strip lights can save you quite a lot. For example, running 9 W 5 meters long LED strips for 5 hours per day will cost you around £11,80 yearly per piece (used UK’s average electricity price per kWh in 2020 – 14,37p). That’s £7,87 less than one equivalently bright (about 1100 Lumens) 75 W traditional bulb. And one LED tape can cover more space than a single bulb. Not to mention that you’ll have to replace the incandescent light source at least two times before the year ends.

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How to Calculate LED Strip’s Energy Consumption?

Sometimes LED strip lights to provide information only on their Wattage but not their power consumption of power. Fortunately, you can easily calculate it yourself. In the case of LED strip lights, it is measured in watts per meter (W/m) or foot (W/foot). Therefore, you’ll just have to divide its watts by its length. For example, 6 meters long LED strip that draws 24 Watts will consume 4 W/m. It’s also trivial to find the Wattage if you only have consumption provided – simply reverse the operation and multiply it by the length of the LED strip light.

Why even bother with those operations? This information (especially about watts) is crucial for buying the right power supply for your LED light strips. While picking one, keep in mind that it should be at least 20% more powerful than all the LED lighting that’ll be connected to it. This way you won’t have to worry about overloading it.

LED Based Lights – Start Saving Today!

Although buying LED strip lights and all the other different LED based lights isn’t the cheapest option, in the long term they’re way more cost-effective than incandescent lights – they require far less electricity to shine brightly, use almost all the intake power to generate light (without much heat) and last at least ten times longer. So if you want to make sure that your house is as energy efficient as it could be, it’s high time to switch to using LED based lighting.

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