LED Bliss

Technology, Life, Infinite Series by Adam on 2006-07-01 12:25

Don’t you think it’s odd that we light our homes with fragile, vacuum-filled glass vessels heated to scalding-hot temperatures? The incandescent lightbulb has hardly changed over a century of use. Oh wait, that’s right - there’s the flourescent bulb, which comes in really long fragile glass vessels that are pretty much guaranteed to shatter if you so much as look at them funny. I’d love to meet the genius that came up with that one.

Solid-state electronics to the rescue! Behold and be amazed at the magic of light-emiting diodes. LEDs require very little power, and produce almost no heat. They come in a variety of colors - pure colors like green or white, not the sickly pale yellow of incandescent bulbs. They are tiny - you could easily hold dozens in the palm of your hand. They have estimated lifetimes of 100,000 hours - meaning that if you run one for 8 hours a day, it will last for 50 years.

The most significant downsides to LEDs historically have been cost relative to light output, and total light output. An average LED only puts out a few lumens of light, whereas a 60W bulb puts out around 1000 lumens. The cost of such an LED is less than a dollar, but when you consider that you’d need hundreds of them to get the light output from a single lightbulb, it gets pricey.

Lucky for us, there have been some innovations in the past several years that have largely addressed this problem. LEDs with brightnesses and viewing angle approaching that of a low-wattage bulb have become available. These draw much more power (1 watt or more) than conventional LEDs and also generate a fair amount of heat (they come attached to a heatsink, which makes them larger as well), but still far less than incandescent bulbs on both counts.

So now that I’ve convinced you to throw away all your lightbulbs and switch to lighting your home completely with LEDs, what are your options?

Yes, LEDs rule. But it goes beyond just the novelty of prettier light and smaller size; or even beyond the safety benefits of avoiding broken glass and the fire hazard of hot bulbs. The cost savings on power consumption could be a major boon to poor countries, as described in here. This article’s description of the LED lighting phenomenon seems like as good a way as any to close this post.

“The solid-state-lighting revolution […] is the transition, now under way, from Edison’s lightbulb to tiny chips called light-emitting diodes (LEDs). It began with niche applications such as traffic lights and displays like the Nasdaq screen in New York’s Times Square. But industry experts predict that energy-efficient LEDs will sooner or later sweep away all other forms of lighting, up to and including household lights.”

One comment per 'LED Bliss'

  1. LED Tape says:

    LED’s are becoming more efficient and reliable, LED’s are moving out of the commercial area and are getting more involved with the domestic needs.

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