LEDs are the heroes of the lighting world. They are economical, convenient and extremely versatile. Using LED lighting in the home will bring down your electricity bills and you’ll find you won’t have to change bulbs so often.
LEDs, or light emitting diodes, are small light bulbs that are fed by an electrical circuit. In contrast to standard incandescent bulbs, they don’t function with a filament that can burn out and don’t waste energy by releasing heat. They provide light through the movement of electrons through semiconductive material and have a much longer lifespan than ordinary bulbs.
LED technology has already been used in televisions to make thinner appliances, to form the numbers in digital clocks and to power traffic lights, among countless other uses. Currently they are revolutionising the way people light their homes ? although LED lights have a higher initial purchase price than the standard variety, people who buy quality LED lights tend to find they recoup that on the lower running costs and the fact that they hardly ever need replacing.
1. How does it work?
A diode is a form of semiconductor, which is simply a term for a material with the capability of conducting electrical currents. The conductive material used for LEDs is usually aluminium gallium arsenide or AlGaAs, which allows atoms to bond completely together and eliminates free electrons. The conductive material can be ‘doped’ or have extra atoms added to change the balance. Diode semiconductors are arranged so that electricity is conducted in one direction only. As the electrons move, they produce an interesting side effect ? light!
Light is formed by particles in atoms called protons. These are the basic building blocks of light. Photons are released by moving electrons. This process doesn’t always result in visible light ? lower rates of movement, for example, produce low frequency infra red light, which cannot be seen by the human eye. This form of light is used in remote controls. More substantial movement gives us visible light emitting diodes for all sorts of electronic and domestic equipment, thanks to their ability to shine in the whole spectrum of visible and invisible light.
2. The advantages of LED technology
LEDs trump standard incandescent lights in a number of ways. Firstly, they don’t have fragile filaments that tend to burn out regularly, so need replacing relatively rarely. As the bulb is made of plastic rather than glass, they don’t break so easily. The compact technology also means they can produce an equivalent amount of light from a much smaller package.
However, above all LED lights are efficient. Conventional bulbs waste a lot of energy through the necessity of generating heat. LEDs produce far less heat than incandescent bulbs so a far higher percentage of their power consumption goes towards the original purpose; light. Good LEDs also produce more light than conventional bulbs on a per watt basis. Furthermore, if you buy quality LED lights you can enjoy a lifespan of at least 50,000 hours, which is far more convenient and less wasteful than regularly changing blown bulbs.
This once expensive technology has benefited from a drop in semiconductor material price in the last decade to become a practical and cost effective way of lighting domestic homes. If the idea of reducing your electricity bill isn’t convincing enough, LEDs provide a far more flexible lighting solution for those interested in using lighting to create ambiance and set the tone in their home, or simply to define different living zones.
James Holden is the digital content manager of Visible Lighting and has many years’ experience in the LED Lighting industry. To find out more information on James Holden, you can follow him on Google Plus.