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Save Energy, Money with LED Lights

University of Minnesota Extension, Stearns County News
November 11, 2015

Source:  Emily Wilmes, Extension Educator-Livestock
University of Minnesota Extension
Stearns, Benton & Morrison Counties


Save Energy, Money with LED Lights
By Emily Wilmes, University of Minnesota Extension

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (11/10/15) —There is no denying the importance of proper lighting on the dairy farm, not to mention saving energy.  A lighting product that is becoming increasingly popular on dairy farms is LED lights.  LED stands for light emitting diode.  Quality LED lights are highly energy efficient, have very long useful lives, operate well in cold temperatures, and are essentially instant-on devices.  LEDs can be compact, breakage and vibration resistant, and have no infrared or ultraviolet emissions.  They also offer more management options because they can be easily integrated in electronic controllers including timers, dimmers, or occupancy sensors.

A major disadvantage of LED lights is the initial cost of the devices, which is commonly 2-3 times more than comparable fluorescent or metal halide lamps.  However, they have much longer useful lives-60,000 to 70,000 hours, compared to 12,000 to 25,000 hours.  This reduces both replacement lamp cost and labor cost to replace lamps.  In addition, the higher energy efficiency of good quality LED lights can be very economical. 

Something to keep in mind when shopping for any new technology is the variable product quality, performance, and energy efficacy that comes with any new or changing technology.  High quality LED products meet or exceed the performance of fluorescent and metal halide lights, but poor quality LED products will have poor performance.  Dairy barns and milking centers are damp and dusty, so it’s crucial to purchase lights that are designed for that kind of environment. 

Be sure to work with reputable suppliers, and make sure that energy and cost comparisons are done using the same units of measurement for all products, i.e. lumens, lumens per watt, etc.  In addition, check with your utility to see if they offer a rebate program for energy efficient lighting.  If you are interested in adding LED lighting and other energy-efficient equipment to your farm, you may be eligible for a Livestock Improvement Grant or Sustainable Agriculture Grant from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.  Those grant applications are due December 18 and December 15, respectively.  Visit for more information.


Emily Wilmes
Extension Educator, Ag Production Systems - Livestock
(320) 255-6169
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