LED Lighting 101
By: Joe Cuhaj
SYLVANIA Golden Dragon™ LED Light
While LED (Light Emitting Diodes) lighting has been around since the 1960s, it’s only now coming into widespread use and being touted as the next generation of energy efficient lighting for homes, offices, cars, and more.
How LEDs Work
LEDs—also known as solid-state lighting—use the movement of electrons through a semiconductor material to create light. While an extremely efficient form of lighting, a single LED doesn’t produce enough light for larger applications. When bundled together, however, LEDs become a powerful and efficient lighting system.
Advantages of LEDs
LEDs have many advantages over other lighting, including:
- Energy efficient: 80% of the electricity used by an LED is converted to light, compared to just 10% for incandescent bulbs.
- Long life: LEDs last up to 50,000 hours or more, 50 times longer than incandescents and five times that of compact fluorescents.
- Durable: Since there are no filaments or fragile bulbs to break, LEDs can stand up to the excessive vibration found in vehicles and machinery.
- Instant light: Unlike compact fluorescents, which can take time to reach full brightness, LEDs come on instantly and can be easily dimmed.
- Environmentally friendly: LEDs emit very little infrared radiation and contain no mercury, two problems inherent in compact fluorescents.
- Won’t burn out: LEDs don’t burn out, instead they just gradually dim.
- Directional lighting: LEDs focus light in a particular direction, making them useful for spotlight and other applications.
- Reduced Interference: Unlike fluorescents, LEDs do not interfere with electronic devices such as radios, TVs, or cordless phones.
Uses for LEDs
With the development of white LED lights and lower costs, applications for LED lighting are expanding. Some of the more common ones are:
- Traffic signals
- Vehicle taillights
- Reading lamps
- Ceiling or track lighting
- Outdoor landscape lighting
- Night Lights
- Kitchen counter lighting
- Holiday lights
Even some cultural icons have converted to LED lighting, or are considering it, including the Empire State Building, the Times Square New Year’s Ball, and Buckingham Palace.
Disadvantages of LEDs
Though the advantages of LED lighting are many, the one big disadvantage is cost. While a standard incandescent bulb sells for under a dollar and compact fluorescents are down to $2 to $3, LEDs for general lighting applications still cost many times more, though the price is coming down.
Even at a higher cost, replacing your existing incandescent lights with LED bulbs will save money over time, since LEDs use much less energy and last many times longer.
The Future is Bright
As LED lighting becomes more popular, and advancements continue to be made in research and production, costs are expected to continue to fall, and the benefits far outweigh the price disadvantage.