While LED (Light Emitting Diodes) technology is not new the improvements are finally making them a viable option for most any applications. The lack of mercury and lead in their manufacturing along with the long life and energy savings make them the best option for the environment. Though they many have a higher initial cost they will more than pay for themselves with the energy savings and long life span.
Light Emitting Diodes (LED) technology was discovered in the early 1900's but did not become a viable product until the late 1960's. In the early days they were mainly used as indicator lights because of their long life and reliability, but they did not have a high light output for other lighting applications. While the LED technology was being used in items such as TV remotes and other items as time passed it seemed to have languished in obscurity until the 2000's. The adoption of more stringent efficiency laws in Europe first and then the United States gave a big boost in R&D dollars spent for the technology. Many of the problems such a lumens (light output) per watt, quality of the light output and high cost of production were overcome with the infusion of money. Below are some advantages and concerns you should evaluate when choosing whether to buy LED lighting products.
LED's long life is one of the major advantages of the technology. Early LED lights had a median life ratings of 100,000 hours but this has come down in most retail products as the manufactures have increased the light output (lumens) per watt. The higher light output per watt causes heat in the diode that produces the light, which has shortened the life. This being said most of the retail LED products out today are rated in the 25,000 to 45,000 hour range. To put this long life in perspective, a 25,000 hour rated LED light bulb that burns for 8 hours a day will last for an average of 8.5 years. This can be a huge advantage if your lighting application is in a difficult place to change and maintenance is an issue.
Energy efficiency has become a big topic in todays society and has been the main driver in the development of LED's. The US government put new energy efficiency regulations into place in 2004 and again in 2007 that required lighting to meet new efficiency standards. It also outlawed the manufacturing and import of many of the traditional incandescent and halogen bulb you may have used in the past. LED bulbs meet these new regulations and provide one of the most efficient light sources you can buy (Below is an example of efficiency and life).
LED's have been advancing at a rapid pace both in efficiency and cost.
Pricing for LED's started very high but they have been coming down every year. At their prices today they are very economical due to their high energy efficiency and long life. Pricing will continue to go down in the future and efficiency will continue to increase making LED's more and more viable option.
The other concern with LED's is the amount of total light (lumens) that they put out. LED's, while very efficient in lumens per watt, are still not able to match the light output of some of the higher wattage light bulbs that are now outlawed. Every year the industry continues to improve this. LED's can meet the needs of most applications today but if you require a lot of light (lumens) for your application it may have to wait for the LED technology to catch up.
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