What is LED? A beginners guide to LED lighting

Author: Richard Bevan

LEDs have become the most efficient source of lighting available, using up to 90% less energy than incandescent lighting and 60% less than fluorescent lighting. However, LED lighting has not always been the cost-efficient alternative that it is today, with the first LEDs costing around $200 each. Since the first visible LED was created in 1962 the technology has grown rapidly, with LED lights becoming an extremely popular lighting solution in recent years.

So, what exactly are LEDs and how could you benefit from installing them throughout your business premises?
A Light Emitting Diode (LED) is an electrical light source that only allows an electrical current to flow in one direction. LEDs contain two conductive materials that are placed in contact with each other – once electricity is applied to the diode, the atoms in one material become charged with energy. This energy is then released in the form of electrons into the other conductive material – this release of energy is what creates light. The process of generating light is what distinguishes LEDs from traditional lighting, as regular incandescent bulbs produce light by creating heat.

Benefits of LED Lighting

LED lighting boasts various benefits when compared to traditional solutions.

  • Energy-efficiency: LED bulbs are far more energy efficient when compared to the traditional alternatives with energy savings of 80-90% over incandescent or halogen technologies and up to 50% in comparison to fluorescent lamps.
  • Longer lifespan: LEDs last 2 or 3 times longer than fluorescent bulbs and over 50 times longer than incandescent lamps. The typical lifespan of an LED is up to 50,000 hours, further slashing replacement and maintenance costs.
  • Instant light: many fluorescent lights can take a while to ‘warm-up’ and reach their full brightness, however LEDs light up immediately.
  • Eco-friendly: LED technology has the potential to dramatically reduce carbon emissions as around 20% of the world’s electricity is used on lighting, so finding a more energy efficient solution will reduce this. Additionally, as LEDs don’t contain mercury, disposal of the bulbs is much easier and cleaner.
  • Lower heat output: unlike filament bulbs, an LED lamp does not project infrared heat in its beam, making them more suitable for lighting heat-sensitive items like artworks or food. As LEDs emit less heat they are also ‘safer’ than traditional bulbs, reducing the risk of fire caused by high temperature bulbs.
  • Added durability: LEDs are a solid state form of lighting, meaning they are able to withstand lower temperatures and higher levels of vibration and shock in comparison to incandescent or fluorescent lamps.

Replacing traditional lights with LEDs

Retrofit LED bulbs look like traditional incandescent or halogen lamps, and can be used in the same fittings as traditional bulbs. These types of LEDs are suitable for a majority of scenarios, however, close attention needs to be paid to the heat dissipation of the bulbs, especially when being used in enclosed light fittings. Alternatively, speciality LED light fittings can be designed with non-replaceable LEDs, as due to the extended lifespan of LED bulbs they do not need to be replaced regularly. In these scenarios the whole fitting is replaced once it comes to the end of its lifespan. These fittings can be designed to achieve the highest level of efficiency possible, as they are custom designed to the building to reduce the amount of wasted light.

How much can you save by converting to LEDs?

When comparing LEDs to traditional lighting technology, the increased energy efficiency and extended lifespan result in a substantial long term savings. As previously mentioned, LEDs use up to 90% less energy than incandescent (including halogen) and 60% less than old fluorescent lighting, resulting in instant energy cost savings. On top of this, the extended lifespan of LED bulbs means they need to be replaced far less regularly, further reducing any additional maintenance costs. Investing in a full LED conversion may seem daunting initially due to the investment required. However, the subsequent savings will mean any initial investment is soon repaid. Our blog post on the savings that can be made by converting to LEDs includes a great example of exactly how much a business could save by making the switch.

A bright future for LEDs

LED lights are an energy efficient, long life, eco-friendly alternative to traditional lighting. For businesses looking to reduce their long term energy costs and carbon footprint, LED is the way forward.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s