You’ve probably heard about and even seen LED lighting a lot in everyday life – but do you really know what it is and how it works?
More people and businesses have been switching to LED to increase their energy savings, and they are steadily growing in popularity.
With energy efficiency and environmental issues becoming more and more widely discussed, LED lights are certainly worth knowing about.
What Does LED Mean?
LED stands for Light Emitting Diodes.
They are essentially tiny light bulbs which can efficiently and effectively fit into most electrical circuits.
LED’s can be found anywhere – from helping to transmit information from remote controls, to lighting up watches and alarm clock numbers. Did you know that multiple LEDs grouped together can help to form images of widescreen TVs or even produce enough light to illuminate a traffic light?
One of the most important things about LEDs are that they are semi conductors. This means that as electrons pass through them, they are turned into lights in an extremely efficient way.
How does an LED work?
An LED emits light when activated. It requires a suitable voltage to be applied to the leads, allowing electrons to recombine with electron holes in the device – which releases energy in the form of photons.
This leads to an effect known as ‘electroluminescence’ and the colour of the light can be determined by the energy band gap of the semi conductor.
As the LEDs create light (via electrons passing through them) they begin to heat up. This heat must be moved away to prevent damage to the semi conductors.
To do this, most LED lights have a heat sink plate to remove the heat – it’s usually made from aluminium and is incorporated into the design of the LED bulb.
How much does it cost to run an LED light?
LED lights are extremely cost effective.
Check out these facts to see the type of savings you could expect to enjoy:
- It can cost just $4 to run an LED light in your home for an entire year
- An LED light can last up to 5 times as long as an incandescent bulb
- You could be paying around $250 more per year if you have a household only using halogen bulbs compared to if you switched to LED.
The running costs of a single LED light are extremely low and even when you have multiple LED lights, the overall costs will be substantially lower than when you choose other lighting options.
Why is it better to use LED lights?
There are lots of advantages to switching to LED lights if you’re able to. Some of them include:
- Low voltage and current requirements
- Lower power output
- Approx 10 nanosecond response time
- No heating or warming up time required
- Very lightweight
- Lifespan of over 20 years.
LED lights are more efficient at turning energy into light than other types of bulbs such as incandescent and CFL bulbs. Less of their energy radiates out as heat so they remain cooler when operating.
One of the key reasons for the long life span of an LED light is that they don’t have a filament that can burn out. Their lifespan really can be thousands of hours longer than a standard light bulb.
How much more efficient are LED lights?
If used correctly, there’s little doubt that LED lights are more efficient that incandescent and CFL bulbs.
It’s hard to measure exactly how much more efficient they are but it’s worth bearing in mind some of the following advantages that they hold:
- LED lights require minimal heat or warm up time so are efficient immediately
- LED lights do not radiate heat so lose less energy
- LED lights have a much longer life span than other types of bulbs
Are LED lights Expensive?
Although LED lights can seem expensive to buy initially, it’s important to think of the longer term picture. The savings you can make on your energy costs can be huge.
In addition, you won’t have to replace them as often as other types of light bulbs.
Some reasons to explain why LED lights can be initially expensive to purchase include:
- Bright LEDs emit a blue light so manufacturers use an expensive material called phosphor to coat the bulb
- The driver component of an LED light (required to convert the energy) can be expensive
- LEDs require a conducting material (usually aluminium) which can be expensive)
- Manufacturing costs can be higher as circuit boards are often extremely detailed or complex.
Are there any disadvantages of LED lights?
All light bulbs have their pros and cons.
Finding the right type for you could be a matter of trial and error. It’s good to know a few of the disadvantages of LED lights in advance so you can consider whether they are the right option for you.
The key disadvantages people find with LED lights include:
- High initial costs to purchase LED bulbs
- Even a small excess of current can damage the LED device
- Can be temperature dependent and work less efficiently in very cold or warm temperatures
- The light quality can cause colours to be seen differently.