LEDs have become the most efficient source of lighting available, using up to 90% less energy than incandescent lighting and 60% less than fluorescent lighting. Since the first visible LED was created in 1962 the technology has grown rapidly, with LED lights becoming an extremely popular lighting solution. Most importantly the costs of LEDs has reduced meaning that they are now an economical choice in almost all situations. The efficiency is driven by three elements – they use less power for the same level of light as conventual lighting, the individual bulbs need replacing less often and the cost of an LED light and fitting has now dropped to approximately the same cost as conventional bulbs and fittings.
So what is a LED?
A Light Emitting Diode (LED) is an electrical light source that only allows an electrical current to flow in one direction. LEDs contain two conductive materials that are placed in contact with each other – once electricity is applied to the diode, the atoms in one material become charged with energy. This energy is then released in the form of electrons into the other conductive material – this release of energy is what creates light. The process of generating light is what distinguishes LEDs from traditional lighting, as regular incandescent bulbs produce light by creating heat.
Benefits of LED Lighting
LED lighting has lots of benefits when compared to traditional solutions.
- Energy-efficiency: LED bulbs are far more energy efficient when compared to the conventional alternatives with energy savings of 80-90% (£100 lighting lectricity bill would be reduced to £20) over incandescent or halogen technologies and up to 50% in comparison to fluorescent lamps.
- Longer lifespan: LEDs last 2 or 3 times longer than fluorescent bulbs and over 50 times longer than incandescent lamps. The typical lifespan of an LED is up to 50,000 hours, reducing replacement and maintenance costs.
- Instant light: many fluorescent lights can take a while to ‘warm-up’ and reach their full brightness; however LEDs provide light immediately.
- Lower heat output: unlike filament bulbs, an LED lamp does not project infrared heat in its beam, making them more suitable for lighting heat-sensitive items like artworks or food. As LEDs emit less heat they are also ‘safer’ than traditional bulbs, reducing the risk of fire caused by high temperature bulbs. They do not heat homes and offices so in the warmer months less space cooling is required. (Conversely more space heating may be required in some buildings in colder months.)
- Added durability: LEDs are a solid-state form of lighting, meaning they are able to withstand lower temperatures and higher levels of vibration and shock in comparison to incandescent or fluorescent lamps. They are therefore less easily damaged and require replacement.
- Smaller and more flexible: In general LED’s robustness allows te design of smaller lighting units and even flexible lighting strips – which are not possible with traditional filament bulbs.
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