LED Efficiency Poised to Change How the World is Illuminated|
Unless you’ve been living in a cave and have no idea what an electric bill looks like, you’ve likely heard about LED lighting. With some suggesting that this technology has the potential to actually change the world, LEDs have in a short amount of time become an everyday household word. It’s entirely possible that within the next ten years we may be wondering how we ever got by without them. For over one hundred years we have lived and worked with artificial lighting and taken for granted the benefits it has created. Times change however, and what we once took for granted has now become an arena of intense research and development as we look for ways to improve how we light our world.
Artificial lighting has historically been little more than the literal burning of materials to produce light. Before electricity, we set fire to all manner of materials in order to produce the illumination that allowed us to extend our normal working hours beyond the setting of the sun. Wood, wax, oils and gases were all used in clever ways to produce illumination that was both reliable and easy to create. With Thomas Edison’s development of the practical electric bulb, we went from burning organic materials to produce flames which in turn produced light, to literally burning metals with electricity. This was a true worldwide revolution which helped lead to the modern age of technological achievement we live in today.
Since Edison’s time however the world has steadily increased its demands for electrical energy. With the introduction of the electric light bulb and the following spread of necessary electrical power, thousands of ways to utilize that electricity came into being. Every nation on earth now relies on electrical power for their basic functioning. As these nations continue to expand their populations and improve the quality of life in their societies, so too do their demands for electrical energy increase as well. Every aspect of living is in some way affected by the presence of electrical energy, and life without it has become almost impossible to imagine for the majority of the world’s population. Producing this electrical power has come with a great price however and we are now at a turning point that may very well decide how we develop and utilize electrical energy for decades to come.
Twenty percent of the world’s energy is used to produce artificial light. All of this energy comes from a variety of sources with fossil fuels being dominant among them. Fossil fuels are in finite supply and concerns continue to mount over what their disappearance could mean for the worlds energy needs as a whole. In addition, these fuels produce harmful waste products which must be controlled and reduced in order to mitigate their effect upon our environment. Because of these concerns energy production and usage is being looked at from several different perspectives ranging from finding alternative ways to produce electricity, to ways to improve the efficiency with which electricity is used.
With twenty percent of the worlds energy going towards producing artificial light, and with traditional methods of producing that light being highly inefficient, it is clear there are great potential savings to be had by improving lighting efficiency. The traditional incandescent light bulb is little changed since its original design. Although it is cheap to produce it is a very poor source of light, with ninety percent of the electrical energy it uses being wasted as heat rather than radiated as light. With incandescent bulbs the dominant type of light source in the world today, replacing them with a more efficient lamp represents one of the easiest and most effective ways to reduce energy consumption on massive scale.
It is here that the LED shows its potential. The LED produces light through a highly efficient process called electroluminescence. Rather than heating a wire filament, electricity is passed through semi conducting material which in turn emits photons, more commonly known as visible light. Since little heat is created, much less energy is wasted. Additionally, LEDs require less energy to produce the same amount of light as a comparable incandescent bulb, which helps lead to an efficiency up to 80 times greater than that of the incandescent. It is because of this efficiency that LEDs have quickly gained prominence and today are already replacing the incandescent in everything from streetlights and traffic signals to the common household table lamp. The next time you are at a stop light, take a moment to look closely at it. You’ll notice that the individual lamps are now made up of hundreds of small lights. These are LEDs, and you probably never noticed them until your attention was drawn their way.
If every incandescent in the world were replaced with LEDs, some estimates suggest that the worlds energy usage for lighting could drop from twenty percent all the way down to two percent. While this may seem a tall order, LEDs are proving up to the task as they are proving efficient and versatile as well. LEDs are becoming suitable for almost every application that currently uses an incandescent lamp both commercial and industrial as development continues and production increases. As well as the overall benefits in energy reduction on a global scale, LEDs offer immediate benefits to those who decide to implement them into their operations in both commercial and private applications.
LED lights like Larson Electronics’s LED10W-9S offer benefits in reduced power consumption while still providing an effective range of illumination equal to or better than the traditional lighting they replace. In addition to high efficiency, these lamps also possess a longevity that is unrivaled in the lighting industry, with average LED life spans of 50,000 hours common, and many reaching 100,000 or more. This longevity is yet another way LEDs provide savings through reduced costs as the replacement intervals for LED equipped lighting are significantly longer than with all other forms of artificial illumination. In studies done by the U.S. Department of Energy, LEDs have been able to reduce the business costs associated with lighting for several companies by over half. In many cases the savings are immediate, with LEDs providing a return on initial investment within two years.
As concerns for conservation and energy efficiency continue to mount, expect to hear and see more about how LEDs are being integrated into everyday life. With the U.S. Government mandating the discontinuation of the incandescent lamp, and states like California already moving to ban their use right now, LEDs will find application in an ever growing variety of uses. Look a little more closely the next time you come upon a streetlight or store window. You might just find an unusual looking lamp that is one day going to become the new standard in lighting the world over.