Lately there’s been a major shift towards replacing incandescent lighting with LED’s in commercial properties and on the domestic market. What has caused this change?
Tests have shown that LED light bulbs are more efficient than incandescent or compact fluorescent bulbs. They last longer and use less electricity. This results in significant savings on energy costs particularly in the commercial world. Replacing incandescent globes in large display or factory areas helps businesses save on energy costs maintaining adequate lighting for their employees to continue their work.
There have been some limitations. If the area being illuminated requires the level of light to be dimmed on a regular basis, the LED globe has not functioned as efficiently. This is because the light output doesn’t change in the LED globe if the voltage level is reduced. Instead, the globe tends to switch on and off to produce softer levels of light. This often resulted in an unpleasant flickering, making the usage of the globes unworkable.
More recent versions of LED lighting have overcome this by controlling the way in which the globe is switched on and off. Design engineers are also looking at using different phosphorescent materials in the globe enabling the level of light to be adjusted as required. These new materials can also make production of the LED’s easier and cheaper.
What is an LED?
“LED” stands for Light-Emitting Diodes. While LED’s appear to be bulbs, they are in fact, small semiconductors encased in plastic. The casing helps to protect the components and to focus the light. LED’s create light through electroluminescence. This is the phenomenon of a semi-conductive material (usually gallium, arsenic and phosphorus) emitting light when an electric current or electric field is passed through it. The semiconductors are stimulated by the movement of electrons and this creates photons, the light that is visibly seen by humans.
What’s the difference?
An incandescent globe creates light when power is applied to a filament inside the globe. The filament glows, generating heat which then produces the light. This can make handling the globe hazardous when it has been on for any length of time. It becomes quite hot and can burn the hands of the person changing it. The filament inside an incandescent globe is also very sensitive and can break if the globe is not handled carefully. The globe can pop when it overheats or when there is a surge in power.
Electroluminescence is classified as a “cold process” meaning that LED’s create very low levels of heat making them easier to handle and adding the lifetime of the globe. This is also the reason why LED’s use less power. They do not need to heat an internal filament before creating light.
A major difference between the two methods is the way in which the light is directed. Incandescent bulbs project light in every direction while due to the package design and layout of the LED’s they project light in specified directions such as 20, 50 or 120 degrees.
This cheaper, more efficient form of lighting is becoming very popular for business and in the home.