LED lighting isn’t new. In fact, it has been around for decades. LED stands for light emitting diode and until recently, were only used for specialty purposes such as indicator lamps, traffic signals, and exit signs. Over the years, changes have been made to the technology, making it an efficient replacement to incandescent and fluorescent lighting in the residential arena as well.
Light output of an LED lamp is considerably smaller than an incandescent bulb, but can be grouped together to improve the output, and high power LEDs are now available to completely replace the use of incandescent and fluorescent. Since LED uses DC electric power instead of AC, the lamps are equipped with conversion circuits. LED lights also require a driver, which is like a ballast for fluorescent lighting. Most are built into the light. Unlike fluorescent ballasts, the driver for the LED light will not interfere with television or radio signals.
LED lights have many advantages over incandescent and fluorescent. The singular directional output of light from an LED lamp make them a good choice for strip lighting, reading light, ceiling light, artwork lighting, and path lighting. Durable LED lighting comes in a waterproof variety as well, making them a nice choice for outdoor use in gardens and on patios. LED doesn’t attract bugs either! They can handle more wear and tear than incandescent and fluorescent bulbs as they can deal with vibration and they don’t mind being turned off and on repeatedly.
LED lights are sturdy, but they are also sensitive to heat, so the lamps typically include heat sink or some type of cooling mechanism, so be mindful of where you will be using the LED bulbs to ensure they do not become overheated. Using LED in an excessively warm spot can decrease the bulb’s lifespan. On a positive note, they don’t emit heat as incandescent bulbs do. Incandescent bulbs emit about 98% of their energy as heat. Another benefit to LED lighting is that they do not contain any mercury, which means they are non-toxic.
Unlike fluorescent, LED lights do not flicker. LED lights last a long time and unlike other light bulbs, they do not burn out, but rather dim over time. In areas where it is difficult to change the bulb, LED makes sense, as you will not have to replace them nearly as often as their counterparts.
The cost of LED lighting is initially more expensive compared to other lighting options. As demand grows, manufacturers will produce more products and the price will decrease. In addition, there are not a lot of lighting fixtures made for LED lamps. There are retrofit LED bulbs for use in traditional light fixtures, but they are costly. Because LED lasts longer than other types of bulbs, the initial cost can eventually catch up with the cost and operation of incandescent and fluorescent.
The low energy use makes LED lighting an environmentally wise choice and the long life of somewhere between 25 to 30 years, or roughly 40,000 hours of typical operation. When used in warmer climates, LED lamps can reduce the cost of cooling since they do not emit any heat, but when used in cooler climates there is no noticeable change.
Many pilot projects around the world are using LED lighting in different types of applications to increase public knowledge and interest. There are studies that have shown LED bulb manufacturers sometimes overstate the efficiency of their products, but overall, LED technology is a viable replacement for incandescent and fluorescent lighting. In fact, LED lamps last so long and save so much energy, it’s hard to imagine how the manufacturers will get any repeat business!