I personally draw the line at fiddling with electricity (I’d have to gain some experience and confidence there first), but if that’s a skill that’s part of your toolkit building your own LED light fixture seems fairly straight forward.
The benefits of LEDs:
1. Long lifespan
2. Use less electricity than even compact fluorescent lights (CFLs)
3. More durable than CFLs
4. Turn on instantly – no delay as sometimes happens with CFLs
5. Aren’t affected by frequent turning on and off, a practice that shortens the life of CFLs
6. Emit much less heat than CFLs or incandents
7. Aren’t affected by temperature or humidity as CFLs and incandescent lights can be
8. Don’t contain mercury as CFLs do
9. Won’t need to be replaced as often
As compact fluorescents (CFLs) have gotten more efficient the cost savings with LEDs have diminished. Still, the LEDs last far, far longer than CFLs. LEDs can offer, for example, 50,000 hours of use before they need to be replaced versus 10,000 hours for a CFL. Both in terms of electricity cost and length of lifespan they completely leave incandescents in the dust. I found these comparisons useful.
Another plus for LED lights — since they don’t contain mercury as the CFLs do, so they don’t require special toxic materials disposal.
Note that a lot has changed regarding LEDs. Just a few years ago when I first looked into them, they were hard to find (I was going to have to mailorder them from a wholesale company) and were insanely expensive. I remember being frustrated that they were readily available in several developing countries but were almost unattainable here. Now there is a choice of three different brands of LED light fixtures at my local hardware store, retailing for about $30-45. I’ve noticed them available outside my area for as low as $25.
But. if you are handy in this way, you can likely make an LED fixture for less than that and increase the cost savings.