LED Lighting Is Very Cool
… and that’s not just us bragging. One of the important benefits of LED lighting is energy efficiency: LEDs create – and consequently waste – very little heat. According to the U.S. government’s ENERGY STAR® program, incandescent bulbs release 90 percent of their energy as heat. Compact fluorescent blubs are only slightly more efficient. (They still release about 80 percent of their energy as heat.) LEDs (light-emitting diodes), on the other hand, produce light much more efficiently – using 75 percent less energy than incandescents. Here’s something even more cool: a recent LED life-cycle assessment by OSRAM, a German lighting company, determined that the latest generationof LED lamps achieves a very high score for environmental friendliness throughout the entire cycle of production, use, and disposal.
Here are just some of the cool characteristics of LEDs1:
- Energy savings: they use at least 75 percent less energy than incandescents.
- Long life, low maintenance: LED lights last 35 to 50 times longer than incandescents and about 2 to 5 times longer than fluorescents.
- Directional light emission: they can direct light where it is needed. (Incandescent and fluorescent bulbs emit light – and heat – in all directions, which is wasteful.)
- Size advantage: LEDs can be very compact and low-profile.
- Durable: unlike bulbs, they have no breakable glass or filaments.
- “Instant on”: LEDs require no warm-up time.
Their small size and ability to direct light, in particular, make LEDs ideal for task lighting.
LEDs and How They Work
LEDs differ from traditional light sources in the way they produce light. In an incandescent lamp, a tungsten filament is heated by electric current until it glows or emits light. In a fluorescent lamp, an electric arc excites mercury atoms, which emit ultraviolet (UV) radiation. After striking the phosphor coating on the inside of glass tubes, the UV radiation is converted and emitted as visible light. An LED, in contrast, is a semiconductor diode. It consists of a chip of semiconducting material treated to create a structure called a p-n (positive-negative) junction. Click on these links to Energy Star® and the Department of Energy for more information.