Home Improvement Expert Danny Lipford

LED Lighting 101

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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
  • Flashlights
  • 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.

Further Information



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8 Comments on “LED Lighting 101”

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  1. Danni Says:
    December 13th, 2008 at 2:12 am

    Although LED lights are the better overall choice for everyday lighting, I still feel LED string lights lack the warm glow off the incandescent type, especially at Christmas!

  2. fishboy Says:
    December 1st, 2009 at 10:09 am

    90% energy savings over traditional Christmas lights. Just paint them with a bit of yellow paint if you like the warm glow. Or buy the new ones that have colored dispersion tops.

  3. lalla Says:
    May 28th, 2010 at 11:46 am

    Is it good for growing plants ?

  4. Chris J Says:
    July 4th, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    @fishboy- doesn’t work. It’s a blue light with yellow painted over it. That hardly makes a warm light like incandescent. Also, CFLs and LEDs flicker, they don’t give a constant glow like incandescent. Many people don’t notice, many people DO. It’s like constantly living in a Rave. There are so many negative effects of these new technologies that people don’t even consider.

  5. Mark Says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 11:08 pm

    when they talk about ‘light appearance” being warm and/or cool – what exactly is the difference. for what task would each type be better suited?
    example for 880 lumens Warm-2700K Cool-6000K

  6. ben Says:
    January 14th, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    I just bought some recessed LED bulbs, and they work great!

  7. John Johnson Says:
    February 16th, 2014 at 7:04 am

    Good morning guys. Great show. I have a question in my master bath ive noticed the screws starting to show threw on the sheetrock. What could be causing this and what should i do to fix it

  8. Tommy Says:
    October 1st, 2014 at 5:12 am

    warmer white colors (2700K for ex.) have higher CRI – color rendering index, which means that colors on an object lit by such LED is represented more accurate. Hope this helps

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