Have you considered LED lighting in your rentals?

27 Replies

I'm very interested in LED lighting, and we're starting to try it in our home.  These lightbulbs  are (in theory) meant to last 20+ years (ask me when I'm 65 how that's working out.)  And they are very cheap to run per year.  I'm just wondering if it's a little competitive advantage. 

P.S. I saw LED bulbs at ALDI for $6.XX each -- sounds like a good price!

I think it depends on the rentals.

Some tenants will steal the bulbs. Others like the natural glow of yellow light from a bulb instead of the hospital white.

So higher rentals I could see possibly but not lower end. The renter is paying the electric bill generally so it doesn't matter unless you do a maintenance program and then possibly replace less often.

Medium allworldrealtyJoel Owens, All World Realty | [email protected] | 678‑779‑2798 | http://www.AWcommercial.com | Podcast Guest on Show #47

The LED bulbs are a good idea for common area lighting in multi-family housing, where the landlord pays the utility bill and has to do fewer replacements (hopefully) with LEDs. I don't think you'll get more rent because the units inside have them, so the added cost does not yield a monetary return to you. And as @Joel Owens stated, tenants do occasionally remove light bulbs. 

We installed an LED light on an outside light that shines only at night on the parking lot.  I use CFL's in other common areas where the lights are on all the time.

We did have a tenant a couple months ago that took out every bulb in the apartment when they left (we kicked them out). I thought it was very weird for them to take less than $5 worth of bulbs???  I guess they were just trying to be a pain in the a** because we didn't renew their lease.

Medium logo flatWade Sikkink MBA, Sikkink Properties | [email protected] | http://www.rentmoney.biz

@Karen M.  I switched one of my outdoor security lights to an LED on a multifamily building.  This saves me about $17 per month vs the previous fixture which equates to a payback period of 4 months.  

I don't think I would put in LEDs in the hallways or common areas that are easily accessible or within arms reach, as tenants or visitors may be inclined to "borrow" the bulbs.

In our area Costco has 2 LED floodlight bulbs for $11.99 which is a pretty great deal.

We did try an exterior flood light, and it is still shining. But they are pricey. LED holiday lights as well, but they didn't shine as bright as the traditional type.

Our local electric utility company gives CFLs away for free, six at a time, when you bring in your burned out ones for recycling. I asked them if I could do that for our multifamily property (an 8-plex) and they said yes. We tell our tenants we will provide the light bulbs for the unit light fixtures for the duration of time they live there. They see it as added value, we see it as protecting our light fixtures, wiring, and reducing potential fire hazards. Too many tenants try using bulbs that are not a match for the fixture, size wise and wattage wise, even when we have it in the rental agreement what is required. Free bulbs? No reason to put in that 100 watt bulb to save on the cost of buying two lower watt bulbs. 

Marcia Maynard, Fischer Properties | Podcast Guest on Show #83

As far as competitive edge goes, perhaps maybe high end rentals otherwise no edge at all. Tenants could easily "borrow" them for their pleasure! 

I purchased around $1200 in LED bulbs for 4 multi-family buildings. I pay the common area / hallway electric bills and thought I would A.) conserve energy B.) Save money overall C.) Less Maintenance in changing bulbs

Now if they only came out with LED Mercury Vapor Bulbs!!!!!!!! My outdoor parking security lights are mercury vapor which use a lot of electricity!! Hopefully soon we will be seeing those bulbs available for sale.

We do use them in common areas and anytime I have to change one of the bulbs in the apartments for which you need a ladder.  It just makes sense and no one is going to climb up open the fixture and steal the bulb. Ok maybe someone will but if they need it that bad..  They make both daylight and soft yellow LED.  Compact fluorescent is hard on my eyes. I just don't see well in it so I find the LED a relief.  ALso LED seems to go on when you turn it out and not fizzle for a while before fully lighting.  

Originally posted by @Colleen F. :

We do use them in common areas and anytime I have to change one of the bulbs in the apartments for which you need a ladder.  It just makes sense and no one is going to climb up open the fixture and steal the bulb. Ok maybe someone will but if they need it that bad..  They make both daylight and soft yellow LED.  Compact fluorescent is hard on my eyes. I just don't see well in it so I find the LED a relief.  ALso LED seems to go on when you turn it out and not fizzle for a while before fully lighting.  

 Colleen,

We have been buying LED fixtures w/o bulbs for the past couple of years.  We use them throughout our student properties (no bulbs to steal).  The fixtures have 22-25 year life expectancy.

Medium greenapartmenthires 1024x1024Roy N., Louer Louer Ltd. | 1.506.471.4126

@Roy N.   that's  a thought as we start replacing things. Particularly bathrooms.   I  don't  mind using the bulbs and don't worry if they steal them well  they need them more then I do ( or they are really ticked at us).  I just haven't made a choice to swap them all out until they go bad. I have had some LED bulbs die quickly in some fixtures, not sure why. 

Now, what I really wish I could do is an LED energy consumption equivalent  in electric heaters- that would make a difference but everything is a huge cost commitment.

Originally posted by @Joel Owens :

I think it depends on the rentals.

Some tenants will steal the bulbs. Others like the natural glow of yellow light from a bulb instead of the hospital white.

So higher rentals I could see possibly but not lower end. The renter is paying the electric bill generally so it doesn't matter unless you do a maintenance program and then possibly replace less often.

 Joel, the manufacturers ability to reproduce the warm glow has improved significantly in the last couple years. I bought four I use in my personal residence and really like the color temperature.

I agree with most people, common places in my multi-family units I would like to use LED. I'm not worried about people stealing them because to me, most LED bulbs now look like ordinary bulbs. Who is really going to take the time to differentiate and think, "Hey look! Light bulbs. Man, I really could use an LED bulb. Let me check this fixture and see if it is LED." 

For safety reasons, I have replaced hallway can lights with an LED conversion kit. The LED bulbs provide significantly less heat, and they have a cover over the light so most people, I feel, wouldn't think to change out the bulb. Actually, now that I think of it, the conversino kits dont' even have bulbs, just the LED semi-conductor. My local HD had these on sale with the utility provider giving a rebate so out the door they were about $13/per kit.

Originally posted by @Colleen F. :

We do use them in common areas and anytime I have to change one of the bulbs in the apartments for which you need a ladder.  It just makes sense and no one is going to climb up open the fixture and steal the bulb. Ok maybe someone will but if they need it that bad..  They make both daylight and soft yellow LED.  Compact fluorescent is hard on my eyes. I just don't see well in it so I find the LED a relief.  ALso LED seems to go on when you turn it out and not fizzle for a while before fully lighting.  

The new CFLs that I get are "instant on", so no waiting for them to slowly come up to their full light. They come in Soft/Warm White, Bright/Cool White, Natural/Daylight color temperatures. Most of our tenants like the Soft White - with warm yellowish glow. But the CFLs have draw backs such as the mercury, which makes disposal a challenge, and they are not a good choice for outside applications (they don't do well in the cold) or in fixtures that are turned on/off frequently, like bathrooms. The part I like about LEDs, as you mention, it that they are good for areas that are hard to reach. Also, the longer life span. 

What matters most to our tenants is the lighting color. Early LEDs available to consumers were not available in the full spectrum of Kelvin Temperatures. Some tenants are concerned about energy efficiency and some are concerned about environmental impact. Most don't really give it much thought.

Marcia Maynard, Fischer Properties | Podcast Guest on Show #83

We finished remodeling a house last spring, and I put LED fixtures in the closets (

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Lithonia-Lighting-Versi...) and in the bedrooms and hallway (

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Commercial-Electric-Bru...)  Both of these use non-replaceable LEDs - no bulbs to steal.

I originally chose the closet lights because today's electrical code prohibits globe lights inside closets that have a shelf within so many inches.  These LED lights are low profile, don't get hot, and have no glass to break.  The inspector still insisted that they were a fire hazard ("with that much light, they're going to get too hot"), so I had to pull them out, put in a blank, pass the inspection, and then reinstall.

Anyway, they all give plenty of light, and I don't have to worry about tenants getting on ladders to change bulbs.   They're a lot more expensive than standard fixtures, but I kind of did it as an experiment to see if they really work.  So far, so good, but it's just been a few months.

Originally posted by @Jim Bentley :

We finished remodeling a house last spring, and I put LED fixtures in the closets (

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Lithonia-Lighting-Versi...) and in the bedrooms and hallway (

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Commercial-Electric-Bru...)  Both of these use non-replaceable LEDs - no bulbs to steal.

I originally chose the closet lights because today's electrical code prohibits globe lights inside closets that have a shelf within so many inches.  These LED lights are low profile, don't get hot, and have no glass to break.  The inspector still insisted that they were a fire hazard ("with that much light, they're going to get too hot"), so I had to pull them out, put in a blank, pass the inspection, and then reinstall.

Anyway, they all give plenty of light, and I don't have to worry about tenants getting on ladders to change bulbs.   They're a lot more expensive than standard fixtures, but I kind of did it as an experiment to see if they really work.  So far, so good, but it's just been a few months.

 Jim,

We've been using the same two lights in bedrooms, closets and this one in laundry rooms.  I just had to pull the globe off the light and show the inspector it and the box to convince him there would be no burn/fire hazard.

Medium greenapartmenthires 1024x1024Roy N., Louer Louer Ltd. | 1.506.471.4126

A couple of days ago I bought some "soft white" LED bulbs from ACE and they were ~ $6 each; then later i went to home Depot and saw "soft white" LED bulbs (equivalent to 40W and 60W incandescent) for under $2 - bought those and am going to return to ACE the $6 bulbs ...

At $2 a bulb, the LED bulbs start to make more sense in rentals  IMO :)

@Karen M.   I think it would be an interesting value proposition during the lease walk with your prospective tenants to inform them that you have installed energy efficient LED lighting throughout the rental unit. You could create a cost comparison table for the resident and show them how much they might* save by leasing with you versus the one across the street. 

As @Steve Babiak  mentioned the true value of LED is to install them in common areas where you as owner are paying for the electrical. To add to the savings you might consider putting these lights on timers or photocells. I recently replaced some dated halogen fixtures in a 110 unit multifamily building. The material cost for the new fixtures was $12,000. After participating in a rebate program with Excel Energy (electric co.) we ended up getting a rebate of $6,000 for slowing down the meter. Of course, this was a large project that included hallway lighting and underground garage lighting.

More direct to what you are speaking of I personally think it would be a mention worthy benefit you might offer your renters. You can get LED in many different Kelvins and Lumens. This technology will be in place sooner or later so you will simply be ahead of the game. 

I'm in the lighting phase of my 5 unit rehab as we speak. I'm going with an industrial modern theme, higher end tile and IKEA kitchens and I'm doing LED's throughout as well as some dimmers and pendant fixtures, and even planning a lighted glass bar top in the basement unit. I think with a little creativity and just a $200-300 more in lighting I can bump up the demand for the basement unit tremendously. Most fixtures will be sealed or built in.

We'll see if my investment pays off and I get the premium rents and renters I'm targetting.

Will let you know.

led is a technology.  like any other tech what cost huge a few years ago is dirt cheap today.  I'm rehabbing a triplex and at this point leds are cheaper than any other solution.  leaning towards$11/fixture kit on amazon + $7 bulb.  Imo the smaller LED fixtures are higher end.    I will probably never buy a non led light again.

the only reason to not do it is the tech will probably continue to improve.  

Home Depot just started selling the GE BrightStik for $10/3pack. That's absurdly cheap, even less than the $18.99/3pack at Costco which was still a great deal.  If you're looking for accent lighting, there's always a local supplier who can give you amazing custom solutions. 

I wouldn't as the bulbs will go missing and I wouldn't really care if I am saving my tenant electricity (and I certainly wouldn't pay a premium for LED bulbs for the privilege.)

However, I recently LED'd out my entire primary residence that we purchased this winter, and am very happy with the decision.  It was a lot up front, but they are warranted for a long time and the difference in the utility bill is apparent (my wife likes to have certain lights on 24/7 more or less.)

you can alway convert the LED bulbs sockets to a GU24 connector     

Not all LED bulbs are the same. 

Some of the less expensive ones use cheaper components and have much lower lifetimes.  I was looking at some Home Depot specials a while back that were only 99 cents for a 60w equivalent.  Package stated life expectancy of only 2000 hours.  I put them back on the shelf.

The better bulbs will be 20000 hours or more.

I am with @Joel Owens . At $7-10 per bulb, that's a pretty pricey replacement program if they take the bulbs with them. Of course, you could just deduct that cost from their deposit, which would pay for brand new bulbs. 

Since all my SFHs the tenants pay for electricity, I let them make the decision what kind of bulbs they want (outside of replacing fixture bulbs with like kind or smaller wattage). 

Who pays for electricity? Who pays for light bulbs? - Tenant!

Not sure where you are all getting your prices but LED bulbs are usually only $2-5 per light at home depot for common bulbs. Why wouldn't you put them in as a selling point of lower utilities? They last forever. You can get the same color temperature as any other bulb. Write into the lease that bulbs stay or there is a $5 fee per missing bulb.