What are LEDs?
LED stands for light emitting diode. They are a new form of electric light that is replacing the incandescent bulb. The incandescent bulb has lighted the world for over 100 years. The first commercial incandescent bulb was patented in 1879. LED’s are a new technology that is slowly replacing the incandescent bulb.
How are LED Light Bulbs Made
Light Emitting Diodes are the size of a fleck of pepper. LEDs were developed after World War II. They are made from crystal semiconductor material. The layers of crystal have different levels of electrons which cause the electrons to move from one layer to the other. When the electrons move, they generate light. Manufacturers can make these layers as small as 1-ten thousanth of an inch! LED technology is getting better and more advanced each day. Their quality and efficiency is improving. They are now cheaper than they were a few years ago which adds to their allure. Learn more about how LEDs are made and manufactured.
How Much Energy Do LED Light Bulbs Consume
Probably the best thing about LEDs is the lack of energy consumed by them. The difference in kwh used depends on the wattage of the bulbs. If we are talking about 60w incandescent house lightbulbs, by switching to LED’s you will use approximately 75% less energy with the LED bulb. They also last about 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs. Over the next 20 years, widespread use of LEDs could add up to $30 billion in energy savings in the US alone, which is equal to the output of 44 power plants.
How Long Do LED Light Bulbs Last
LEDs have put out some hefty claims that they last up to 10 years, or 50,000 hours. This is 10 times longer than the average incandescent bulb. However, these claims only take into account the light emitting diode part of the bulb. If you open up an LED light bulb you will see some alien-looking technology. Seriously, they look like something out of a freaky sci-fi movie. You will see a bunch of small square diodes that emit the light. There is also a bunch of circuitry in LED lights and circuits fail. So if your LED lights are burning out before the 10 year mark, it is likely that the wiring and circuitry has failed, not the actual light source. Which in my opinion is pretty misleading. They will however last a lot longer than the incandescent lights. LEDs don’t actually burn out at once either. The brightness slowly fades over time.
Why are LED Light Bulbs Good for the Environment
Unlike some lights, LEDs do not contain mercury or toxic materials. They also last for 10 years, so you are not using up and trashing light bulbs filling up landfills. Also, since LED lights use less kwh (in some cases they use 80% less than incandescent bulbs), you are reducing your power demand on the grid, which in-turn lessens the amount of valuable natural resources used to create electricity. Power plants burn fossil fuels and emit greenhouse gasses such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and sulfur dioxide (SO2). Carbon dioxide gasses cause global warming. Sulfur dioxide causes acid rain. Acid rain is harmful to plants and animals in the environment.
However, the construction and materials used in LED lights are much more complex than the construction of a glass incandescent bulb with a couple of wires and filament inside. This makes me question just how much “environmentally friendly” LED light bulbs are.
Other LED Benefits
They are not sensitive to cold temperatures. They also do not heat up like traditional incandescent light bulbs. Have you ever burned yourself on a lighbulb? I have! In college, I was attempting to take photos for a design project with a lightbulb on a lamp without a lamp shade. I was holding the lamp and accidentally touched my neck with the bulb and burned my neck! It hurt bad and I had a mark there for about a month. A 60 watt incandescent light bulb can heat up to at least 200 degrees within 3 minutes of turning it on. LED lights heat up to about 70 degrees fahrenheit! No more getting burned by light bulbs! Led lights last longer than Incandescent lights. Also, unlike CFL light bulbs, LED lights acheive maximum brightness the instant they are turned on.
Disadvantages of LED Lights
Ok so everyone praises LED lights and says they sooo great. Yes, they use less electricity, BUT there are some drawbacks here if we pay attention and look closely.
LED lights cost more than traditional incandescent lights. And that’s a fact. If you want to use less energy, you are going to have to cough up more money. It’s a catch 22. In some cases the cost doesn’t necessarily outweigh the long term energy savings. Especially if the lights don’t last as long as promised.
Lies About How Long They Last
I personally have witnessed an LED light fail. It didn’t last anywhere near 10 years. I personally have a problem with companies manufacturers and the government promoting false advertising about products.
They’re UGLY (sometimes)
Have you ever bought a lightbulb for your house and the color is just OFF. Like you can’t put your finger on it but it turns your bedroom from this:
That’s because first of all, LEDs come in a variety of shades of warmth. Even still, sometimes the warm colored LED lights sometimes look weird to me. Like they are yellow. And based on the quality and brand of the light, the color shade can be off. Below is a chart that shows what the LED color ratings are. A 6000k light from a cheaper quality LED might be a different color than a high quality 6000k light.
They might make you sad, and tired
LEDs do not emit ultraviolet (UV) rays. They are considered monochromatic lights. Incandescent lights emit a broader spectrum including a small amount of UV rays. Florescent lights also emit UV Rays. Why do we need UV rays? UV from the sun is needed by our bodies to create vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiencies can cause a myriad of disorders. Seasonal Affective Depression Disorder is thought of to be caused by a lack of Vitamin D in the winter time when we see less of the suns UV rays. Our bodies get Vitamin D from the sun. So if you have LED lights you will have less exposure to UV rays, say if you had incandescent lights instead. Will this small amount affect you? I don’t know, but its possible.
The light that LED’s emit also affect our circadian rhythms. The blue lights that LEDs are known for can disrupt our sleep patterns and keep us up at night. So if you have a LED street light outside your window, you might want to keep the curtains closed at night to get the best night’s sleep.
Well friends, now that you know the basics of LED Lighting, where they come from, how they are made, how efficient they are, and some of thier drawbacks, you can impress your acquaintances with this superior knowledge and maybe even go out and buy some led light bulbs of your own! Happy light bulbing!