LEDs: The attractive option for home lighting
Around 15 to 20 per cent of the electricity in our homes today is spent on lighting. When you consider how much that costs every year, it is surprising why so few people have decided to switch to energy-saving lamps. Some perhaps mistakenly believe that low-energy lighting lacks all the benefits that have made traditional bulbs so popular. Nevertheless, as old, inefficient bulbs are phased out, high-brightness lamps based around the light emitting diode (LED) are deservedly taking the limelight.
Like most well-engineered electronic goods, LEDs will operate without failure when left on for long periods or when switched on and off regularly. LED lamp manufacturers can offer such reliability by deploying effective thermal management control systems to prevent the LEDs from overheating.
An LED lamp from a reputable brand can be used for over 35,000 hours which is at least twice as long as a standard compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) and often three or even four times longer. For an LED lamp used in the evening for a few hours, this means you could install it when your child is born and not need to replace it until they have left home and started a family of their own.
You will want to make sure you buy high-quality lamps to make the most out of LED lighting. These use better construction techniques to ensure that heat is successfully conducted away, which helps them last longer. The LED chips are precisely colour matched to deliver consistency and ensure you dont have individual lamps with subtly different colours in a room. This allows users can gain the benefits of excellent spot, accent or general purpose lighting in the home coupled with low power consumption and long life.
To help you tune into the desired mood of a room even further, the dimming range with LED lamps is generally better than CFL and todays designs will work with old-style dimming circuits. Whats more, LEDs offer an immediate start to full brightness without any delay.
Looking inside an LED
If you were to take an LED lamp apart you would find an array of tiny chips that light up when electricity passes through them. This array of elements is key to the attractiveness of LED lighting. Some LEDs lamps produce white light in a similar way to CFLs the components produce UV light but a phosphor coating on the surface of the LEDs converts that to visible white light. The ability of LED lamps to easily emulate different shades of light is a key advantage it holds over CFLs, but there are many others to consider.
Compact fluorescents v LEDs
The CFL comes with many compromises. It usually takes minutes before a CFL reaches full brightness. And when it does fully switch on, the light is not as attractive as conventional lighting which people have become accustomed to. There are also major concerns about how fast CFLs will degrade and the ultraviolet radiation they emit that can tarnish artwork, fabrics and furniture finishes over time.
CFLs are similar technologically to the fluorescent tubes used in warehouses and offices environments where lighting choice is made primarily for functionality and efficiency rather than aesthetic reasons. After all, few people choose to put fluorescent tubes in their living rooms. In comparison, LED lamps are increasingly more able to deliver attractive tones of white light in the home.
A further drawback of the CFL is its reliance on the toxic element mercury to convert electricity into light. The presence of the mercury means you cannot simply throw away the lamps when they reach the end of their life as they may break and release toxic vapours. CFLs need to be disposed of carefully, which means taking them to a recycling point with appropriate facilities.
Lamps that use LEDs do not contain any hazardous materials and so they can easily be recycled to reduce the pressure on landfill when they do finally need to be replaced.
LED technology now competes with eco-halogen lamps that can save over 50% in costs compared with conventional halogen lamps. Halogen lamps, like old-style lightbulbs, produce light by heating a tungsten filament with an electrical current. The new eco-halogen lamps use a special coating to redirect infrared light back towards the filament to improve efficiency. However, eco-halogen lamps are still far less efficient and durable than CFLs and LEDs. LEDs are at least three times more efficient than eco-halogen lamps and, by virtue of their robust solid-state technology, will typically last 15 times longer.
In summary, the LED lamp is a very attractive home lighting option. LEDs are more eco-friendly and energy efficient than alternative lighting technologies. Although they may be more expensive to buy than CFLs and eco-halogen lamps initially, LEDs save you even more money in the long term as they last far longer and will pay for themselves many times over before they need replacing.
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