The other day I received a flameless candle sample from Enjoy Lighting in the mail. It was not something I asked for – sometimes I get unsolicited samples to try out – but I’m not sorry I got it. This “real” wax candle got me to thinking about the sustainability of LEDs as a substitute for the traditional flame.
If you haven’t seen a flameless candle before, essentially you have a paraffin wax pillar, just like you would have with a regular candle, but instead of a wick that you light, you have small LED bulbs and a switch at the bottom to turn them on with. This particular candle sample I received has three LED bulbs that are set to flicker randomly and independently, giving them the appearance of an actual flame. It also includes a timer feature, where the candle can be set to turn on at the same time every day for between 4 to 8 hours. If you want to splurge a little more, you can even get the version with a remote control, for those hard to reach locations.
So, does the use of LEDs make these candles more or less sustainable? Well let’s compare the different attributes:
1. Most standard candles are made of paraffin wax, just as the LED candle is. Paraffin is derived from petroleum, so as a material it definitely isn’t sustainable. As you know, it is possible to purchase standard candles made of vegetable waxes such as soy, and also beeswax, which are more environmentally friendly, but also more expensive.
2. The LEDs used for the candles will last from between 50,000 and 100,000 hours, which means they may outlast you. However, the batteries used to run them will only last for about 300 hours before needing to be replaced. If you were to use rechargeable batteries, they would not need replacing as often, which would lessen the environmental impact of dead batteries.
3. Like so many things, the LED candle I was sent as a sample was made in China. I imagine that standard candles are mostly made in China as well, so it’s probably not much of a factor. However, it certainly would be a factor compared to a locally made, hand poured candle.
4. LED candles give off light, but no smoke, so they are definitely better for indoor air quality.
So, what do you think?
P.S. – It’s been several weeks that we have been living with the LED candle, and I must admit, we’ve really grown fond of it. It came in real handy during a recent blackout, as I could safely leave it on in my 9 year old son’s room without worry of an open flame causing a fire while we slept. In fact, he has really taken to the flickering light it gives off, and will often “steal” it from our dining room and put it in his rom to fall asleep to! – Rachel