The lighting industry landscape has been undergoing somewhat of a renaissance of late. The energy guzzling incandescent bulb, which has been around since the late nineteenth century, has been supplemented by a whole host of economical and energy saving alternatives as part of increasing pressure to pursue a greener and more environmentally friendly political agenda. The foremost of these if the Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL), which is essentially a miniaturised version of the ugly fluorescent tubes that hang in offices.
LED or Solid State Lighting (SSL) is still a relatively young technology, in comparison. While Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) have been around since the 1960s, it wasn't until the early 21st century that a commercially viable halogen/incandescent replacement was manufactured. Early prototypes exhibited many of the shortcomings commonly associated with CFLs, such as a cool, unattractive light, but as time has progressed, many of the creases have been ironed out. Now LED Lights are on the verge of revolutionizing the lighting industry. Here are just a few reasons why:
LEDs are more efficient and use less energy than halogen and incandescent bulbs.
The efficiency of a bulb is calculated by something called their 'lumen to watt' (lmW) ratio, which tells us how much electricity they are converting into light and how little is being wasted as heat. The lmW of LEDs is much higher than traditional bulbs, with less energy required to create the same amount of light as an incandescent or halogen bulb. This makes them more cost effective and lowers their impact on the environment.
The average life expectancy of an LED is about 50,000 hours. You may find that some manufacturers or retailers exaggerate this figure, quoting 70,000 hours, while others may underplay, quoting 30,000 hours. All you need to know is that LEDs last significantly longer than either incandescent bulbs or compact fluorescent lamps. This greater life expectancy helps reduce the cost of replacement and helps our environment.
This ties back into our earlier point about energy efficiency. As already explained, LEDs convert more electricity into light and give off less heat. As well as making them cost effective and environmentally friendly, this also makes them much cooler. It is untruthful to say, as some retailers do, that LEDs produce no heat, but they do not become nearly as hot as halogen bulbs. The intense heat generated by filament based bulbs can leave scorch marks on expensive fixtures and can even cause the bulbs to 'explode,' making them a potential fire hazard. Even after extended use, an LED should be cool enough to handle.
The components inside LED Bulbs can be made to much smaller specifications than filament or vacuum based light sources. This makes them a lot more adaptable and you will already be able to find LED Bulbs in all the most common light bulb formats, including GU10, MR16, B22 and E27. You will also find them in some formats that are exclusive to LED alone, such as flexible LED Tape.
Now, this wouldn't really be an impartial assessment if we didn't address at least one 'con' associated with LED Lighting. The most notable is the cost.
The upfront cost of LED Lighting is, at the moment, much higher than than other types of lighting. While it easy to see this as a drawback, it must be remembered that the purchase price of the bulb is returned overtime in the form of electricity savings and fewer replacements. According to VantagePoint Capital Partners, the price of LED should drop by 2015 as the demand for green technology rises and the number of competitors increases.