Are LEDs the Future?
One fifth of energy produced on earth is used for lighting. The need for artificial lighting such as LEDs is only going to increase as the population grows. Traditional incandescent bulbs have been in production since the late 1800’s and, although practical and cheap to buy they are far from ideal when considering 21st century energy requirements. Incandescent light bulbs are incredibly energy inefficient, 90% of the energy used by an incandescent bulb is lost in heat.
Image courtesy of Complete Nutrition and Wellness.
With artificial lighting proving such a drain on the national grid a modern solution was required, in the late 1990’s the Compact Fluorescent Light bulb (CFL) was introduced to much media fanfare as the “Energy Saving Light bulb”. Generating little heat, CFL bulbs used considerable less power. At a higher upfront cost, the end user could be safe in the knowledge that the savings he’s making on his energy bill would make up for the upfront cost of the bulb.
As a comparison, to produce the same light as a 60 watt incandescent bulb, a CFL bulb would use 13-15 watts of energy, that’s a massive saving. However the technology did require improving upon. Despite the media fanfare that greeted their arrival, they didn’t catch on with the consumer due to high upfront cost. The fact that they contained mercury and couldn’t be disposed of easily plus their reputation for being slow to brighten put many people off.
LED bulbs are a more recent improvement on the old lighting technology. LEDs generate zero heat, LEDs use much less energy and LEDs have far more useful applications.
As a comparison, to generate the same light output as a 60 watt incandescent bulb and a 13-15 watt CFL bulb, an LED bulb would use 6-8 watts of energy. Given they contain no mercury, LED bulbs have no environmental impact and their lifespan can be as long as 50,000 hours compared to 1,200 hours for an incandescent bulb or 8,000 hours for a CFL bulb.
LED technology has a long way to go with regards to increasing performance, reducing energy requirements and is constantly being developed, one fact that stands is that unlike incandescent, halogen and CFL light bulbs, LEDs not going to be replaced, only improved upon.
LED lights have many applications from lighting your house to back lighting your TV. LEDs are being phased in to replace halogen car lights and are being rolled out as replacement street lamps in the UK and abroad to save on energy spend and create a cleaner lighting effect with less light pollution. There are many practical uses for LED bulbs and many still being developed. The price of LED bulbs is steadily falling as manufacturing becomes more streamlined and the savings you’d make in energy costs through regular use would mean in the first year of use, the LED bulb will have paid for itself and continue to provide savings throughout it’s 10-15 year lifespan.