As times change and technologies advance, more businesses are upgrading from conventional light bulbs to LED lighting. Are LEDs really worth it? Do they live up to their hype, or are they just an overpriced trend? How exactly are they different from regular light bulbs?
What is an LED? How do LEDs work?
LEDs work a little differently to regular light bulbs and uses clever physics at the atomic level. The word ‘LED’ is an acronym, standing for ‘light emitting diode’. In the case of LEDs, a diode is a specially constructed piece of silicone that combines electrons and atoms. When an electric current is passed though an LED, electrons are thrown towards atoms that are missing electrons (also known as ‘electron holes’). When the electrons and atoms combine, they produce photons (light particles).
A regular light bulb uses works in a much simpler way, it uses electricity to heat a piece of metal (usually tungsten) until it becomes hot enough to glow and produce light. The glass dome around a light bulb simply exists to prevent the metal from oxidising.
With conventional light bulbs being to simple and easy to understand, why complicate lighting with LEDs?
The benefits of using LEDs
LEDs hold a large number of benefits in comparison to incandescent (regular) lights. This is everything from the lifespans to the reduction in electricity required.
How efficient are LEDs?
80-90% of the electricity that is passed into LEDs is converted into light. This is more than 10 times as efficient as incandescent light bulbs, which convert less than 5% of electricity to visible light. The majority electricity passed though incandescent light bulbs is wasted as it is converted to heat.
How long do LEDs last?
The longer lifespan of LEDs is another great benefit that they have over regular light bulbs. Because LEDs are more efficient and operate at a lower wattage, they can last up to 25 times longer. A standard traditional lightbulb will last around 1,000-3,000 hours before failing, whereas an LED with the same light output will last around 25,000 hours.
Are LEDs safer than traditional light bulbs?
When selecting equipment to use as a business, safety should be one of your top priorities. When it comes to safety, LEDs are the clear choice for lighting. LEDs convert almost all energy to light which leaves little to be converted to heat. This means that in most situations, an LED will remain cool and safe to touch. Regular light bulbs become dangerous to the touch while under operation, growing as hot as as 120°C (250°f).
Another safety benefit of LEDs is that there is no risk of shattered glass. This is because LEDs do not require a large vacuumed glass dome to protect them from oxidization.
How can LEDs make my life easier?
A good argument for not switching to LEDs is that it’s easier to simply continue using regular bulbs. But is it really easier?
While a regular light bulb may require replacing every few months, a similar LED would last for years before it requires replacing.
The longevity of LED bulbs in addition to their durability makes a them the top lighting choice for reliability.
The downsides of LEDs
With LEDs being a relatively new and constantly evolving technology, there are many contrasting views of how they function. Some are true, some are false, and some that used to be true are no longer the case. Lets take a look at some of the most commonly considered downsides of LED lighting and see how they apply to modern LEDs.
Are LED lights more expensive?
This question is not simple matter of yes or no. While the initial buying price of an LED may be higher, it can ultimately result in saving money. The cost of replacements and higher wattage of regular bulbs eventually outweighs the cost of a single LED.
Tests from Energy.gov show that LEDs operate at 20% the cost of conventional bulbs, in addition to saving on the purchase cost of 25 conventional bulbs per single LED bulb. Whether these saving will exceed the initial cost of the LED bulb will depend on how often the LED bulb is used.
Do LEDs make poor quality light?
A common criticism of LEDs is that they produce a harsh, cold, unattractive light. While this is no longer the case, it was certainly true in the past. Earlier LEDs only produced a narrow range of wavelengths which created a unnatural looking light.
With modern technology, LEDs can now match and even surpass many traditional bulbs, creating a rich and full light that rivals daylight. In addition, LED can be made to produce specific lighting across a wide range of colour temperatures. This means that they can be selected for a consistent light that is as warm or cool as required.
For an individual fixing a spare light with little on time, a regular light bulb may be the best option. For a business using a lot of lighting that is on for long periods of time, LED lighting should be seriously considered for its potential savings in addition to their wide range of benefits in safety and practicality.