Gone are the days when light emitting diodes (LEDs) were used for flashlights and cell phone displays. Once relegated to humble indicator lights in electronic devices, LED lights have advanced at remarkable rate to enable an entirely new category of lighting
So, what is the reason behind the sudden growth of LED lights commercially? They’re highly efficient, long lasting, environmentally friendly and inherently controllable – enabling both new and traditional applications of light. They are now used to illuminate famous buildings, bridges, retail shops, television studios, theater stages, hotels, casinos, hospitals, restaurants and nightclubs around the world.
Over the past decade, LED technology has advanced at light speed. In the past, lack of colors and the low intensity made LEDs useful only as indicator lights. As manufacturing methods and technology improved, the LED quickly found use in more and more applications. These days, the LED is becoming a preferred light source for many more than simple indicators.
So now the question is why LED is preferred over incandescent sources?
The light in most homes is produced by incandescent sources. The bulb structure is produced when hot glass is blown into molds and then cooled and coated with diffusing material. Placed inside the bulb is a very thin and fragile, coiled tungsten filament. For the bulb to produce light an electric current is passed through a conductor and the tungsten is heated to the point at which it gives off light. Unfortunately, these bulbs, like many of their relatives, are not very energy efficient; roughly 10% of the energy is used to make visible light whereas LEDs present many advantages over incandescent light sources including lower energy consumption, longer lifetime, improved physical robustness, smaller size, and faster switching. The structure of the LED light is completely different than that of the light bulb. Amazingly, the LED has a simple and strong structure. The beauty of the structure is that it is designed to be versatile, allowing for assembly into many different shapes. The light-emitting semiconductor material is what determines the LED’s color.
LED lights have a variety of advantages over other light sources:
- High-levels of brightness and intensity.
- Low-voltage and current requirements.
- Low radiated heat.
- High reliability (resistant to shock and vibration).
- No UV Radiation.
- Long source life.
- Can be easily controlled and programmed.
- Smaller size provides design flexibility, it can be arranged in rows, rings, clusters, or individual points.
- High durability.
- Unlike fluorescent and most HID technologies, LEDs contain no hazardous materials or gases.
There is no doubt that the use of LEDs for lighting applications has the great potential to save energy and allow for new and inventive lighting methods. They will not replace traditional methods such as incandescent and fluorescent overnight but they are evolving into a strong contender.