Every little bit counts when you're selling your home. And even the bulbs in your light fittings can woo buyers. That's if they're modern, efficient LED bulbs.

These little rays of light make a big difference to the cost of lighting your home. They're a drawcard for environmentally conscious buyers.

Barfoot & Thompson agent Jeff Cate says LED lighting gives the impression to buyers that the house is more modern than those with old-style lighting. It doesn't necessarily add value to the sale price, but it increases appeal to buyers, which can help sell a home, says Cate.

It might feel like you need a small mortgage when replacing a house lot of LED bulbs. But the individual bulbs are getting cheaper and more reliable. Not long ago LED bulbs cost over $20 and were only available from specialist retailers. These days you can buy them at the Warehouse and supermarkets with prices for ordinary bayonet-style bulbs starting at $11.99.


In return for their investment, home owners get about 15 times the life of a standard bulb and they cost a quarter of the amount to run, says Christian Hoerning of EECA Energywise.

"That means households can save up to $290 in running costs over the lifetime of one LED bulb," he says.

With standard screw and bayonet fittings it's possible to simply replace the bulb, and you're away.

The difficulty comes with existing light fittings such as low voltage halogen reflector lamps that use transformers. It isn't always possible to simply replace the bulbs and an electrician will often be needed.

Robert McKinnon, director of O-Light in New Zealand, which supplies Bunnings with Osram bulbs and lighting units, says there are three main options in this case.

The first is to replace the existing traditional incandescent, halogen, or CFL downlights with more modern energy saving LED downlights.

Dimmable 900 lumen Osram LED downlight units cost around $34.98, says McKinnon. They will need to be fitted by an electrician. Because these are integrated downlights including their own driver it does not require an external transformer.

Option 2, says McKinnon, involves simply replacing the bulb in GU10 style down lights with a retrofit GU10 LED bulb. The driver is integrated into the bulb, so the downlight doesn't need an external transformer. Future bulb replacements are easy for the DIY homeowner. A downlight kit including a Gimble downlight and GU10 bulb costs $24.98.


Option 3 is to keep the existing low voltage MR16 downlight fitting, but replace the conventional transformer which may not recognise LED bulbs on the circuit, says McKinnon.

Osram's Redback downlight transformer available at Bunnings allows homeowners to switch to MR16 LED lamps. Each transformer costs $11.98, but allows you to keep your existing fittings.

If you need to replace fittings you will usually require a code of compliance, says Jeremy Wyn-Harris, managing director at Builderscrack.co.nz. Older homes built prior to the 1970s will almost definitely need rewiring or a safety inspection to see that their wiring is still up to current standards before switching to LED bulbs, Wyn-Harris adds.

"Check your electrician is registered and competent in this area of work," he says.

As well as saving power, converting from halogen to LED means that insulation can be used more extensively in the ceiling and doesn't need large gaps as halogen units require.

"If you've got old downlight fittings, they require big clearances to the ceiling insulation for safety sake and this can mean draughts get through into the home," Wyn-Harris says.

Replacing all the downlights in a house with modern LED fittings and bulbs along with cost of a tradesman to install them can cost a couple of thousand dollars. For a full rewire, switchboard and LED lights expect to pay from $8000 excluding any audio visual cabling.

"An average mid-range electrical, lighting and AV reno for a Kiwi home may set you back about $15,000 to $25,000," says Wyn-Harris.

When choosing LED bulbs for the home, you need to look at the kelvin rating, says McKinnon.

The type of warm white that Kiwis typically like for their homes living areas range from 2700 to 3000K. Cool white is 3100 to 4500K. If you need daylight for task lighting in a garage or laundry, look for a kelvin rating of greater than 5000k, he says.

Providing you don't need to change the fittings or transformers, LED bulbs can pay for themselves over just a few months. They can use as little as 1/10th of the electricity to run compared to a traditional incandescent bulb.

Last year Kiwis bought 257,000 LED bulbs at supermarkets alone, up from just 1600 in 2012, says EECA.