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LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes)

LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes)

LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) are solid light bulbs which are extremely energy-efficient. Until recently, LEDs were limited to single-bulb use in applications such as instrument panels, electronics, pen lights and, more recently, strings of indoor and outdoor Christmas lights.

Manufacturers have expanded the application of LEDs by "clustering" the small bulbs. The first clustered bulbs were used for battery powered items such as flashlights and headlamps. Today, LED bulbs are made using as many as 180 bulbs per cluster, and encased in diffuser lenses which spread the light in wider beams. Now available with standard bases which fit common household light fixtures, LEDs are the next generation in home lighting.

Benefits of LED lightbulbs

Long-lasting

LED bulbs last up to 10 times as long as compact fluorescents, and far longer than typical incandescents.

Durable

Since LEDs do not have a filament, they are not damaged under circumstances when a regular incandescent bulb would be broken. Because they are solid, LED bulbs hold up well to jarring and bumping.

Cool

These bulbs do not cause heat build-up; LEDs produce 3.4 btu's/hour, compared to 85 for incandescent bulbs. This also cuts down on air conditioning costs in the home.

Mercury-free

No mercury is used in the manufacturing of LEDs.

More efficient

LED light bulbs use only 2-10 watts of electricity (1/3rd to 1/30th of Incandescent or CFL) Small LED flashlight bulbs will extend battery life 10 to 15 times longer than with incandescent bulbs. Also, because these bulbs last for years, energy is saved in maintenance and replacement costs. For example, many cities in the US are replacing their incandescent traffic lights with LED arrays because the electricity costs can be reduced by 80% or more.

Cost-effective

Although LEDs are expensive, the cost is recouped over time and in battery savings. For the AC bulbs and large cluster arrays, the best value comes from commercial use where maintenance and replacement costs are expensive.

Light for remote areas

Because of the low power requirement for LEDs, using solar panels becomes more practical and less expensive than running an electric line or using a generator for lighting.

Choosing an LED lightbulb

Many different models and styles of LED bulbs are emerging in today's marketplace. When choosing a bulb, keep in mind the following:

Estimate desired wattage

- read the package to choose desired illumination level. For example, a 3W LED is equivalent in output to a 45 W incandescent.

Choose between warm and cool light

- new LED bulbs are available in 'cool' white light, which is ideal for task lighting, and 'warm' light commonly used for accent or small area lighting.

Standard base or pin base

- LEDs are available in several types of 'pin' sockets or the standard "screw' (Edison) bases for recessed or track lighting.

Choose between standard and dimmable bulbs

some LED bulbs are now available as dimmable bulbs.

Choose high quality bulbs or they will die prematurely

- do not buy cheap bulbs from eBay or discounters. They are inexpensive because the bulbs use a low-quality chip which fails easily.

Look for certifications

- including FCC and UL.

The common styles of LED bulbs include the following:

Diffused bulbs

In this style LED bulb, clusters of LEDs are covered by a dimpled lens which spreads the light out over a wider area. Available in standard Edison bases, these bulbs have many uses, such as area lighting for rooms, porches, reading lamps, accent lamps, hallways and low-light applications where lights remain on for extended periods.


Diffused high power bulbs

Designed for standard household use, these bulbs produce light equivalent to a 100-watt incandescent bulb. The EvoLux (pictured), and ZetaLux (pictured above) are the first UL Listed and FCC approved LED light bulbs for general household illumination.

Track Lighting

Available in MR-16 (pin base), LEDs are ideal for track lighting. LEDs do not contribute to heat buildup in a room because no matter how long they remain on, they do not get hot to the touch. Also, because they are 90% more efficient than incandescents, and last 10 times longer than CFLs, the frequency of changing bulbs is greatly reduced.

Recessed Downlight and Spotlight bulbs

LEDs are now available for standard recessed lighting pots and housings. For PAR 16 and PAR 20 cans, measure the can diameter and read the bulb dimensions to be sure it will fit. The light output and color quality are similar to incandescent downlights, but draws only about one-fifth of the power. Also, because they are 90% more efficient than incandescents. and last 10 times longer than CFLs, the frequency of changing bulbs is greatly reduced.

Outdoor Floodlight LEDs

Typically, security lights and outdoor floodlights use energy sucking halogen bulbs. Some people use CFL bulbs instead, and find they die quickly if installed in motion -activated switches. LED bulbs are great replacements: they are energy efficient, and will last up to 50,000 hours even when flicked on and off frequently. However, they are not as bright as halogen bulbs.

LED Terminology

CRI

Coloring Rendering Index. CRI represents the quality of light and its faithfulness to render colors correctly. The CREE CR6 bulb, for example, features a CRI of 90 Warm White making it one of the highest in the industry.

CCT

Correlated Color Temperature is the measure used to describe the relative color appearance of a white light source.

CCT

CCT indicates whether a light source appears more yellow/gold/orange or more blue, in terms of the range of available shades of "white." CCT is given in kelvins (unit of absolute temperature). 2700K is "Warm" and 5000K is "Cool".

Luminous Flux

The flow of light measured in lumens. With light bulbs, it provides an estimate of the apparent amount of light the bulb will produce. Depending on the application, much of an incandescent's light is wasted because it's emitted in every direction. LEDs on the other hand, put out directional light, sending all of the light exactly where it's needed. This is why an LED producing 500 lumens might be equivalent to an incandescent producing 900 lumens.

LED Colors

Red

- red is the traditional color for maintaining night vision.

Green

- green is now the preferred color for pilots and the military. The green color is also great for retaining night vision, and it doesn’t erase the red markings on maps and charts.

Blue

-many people like the blue because it is very easy on the eyes. Blue appears to be a good reading light for elderly eyes. Elderly folks report that they can read under the blue light for hours without eyestrain, compared to severe eyestrain in less than 30 minutes with incandescent lighting.

White

- the most popular of the LED colors. It produces a soft white light, without harsh reflection, glare or shadows.

Amber

- LED amber bulbs do not attract flying insects, as do ordinary white bulbs. Amber LEDs are used outdoors in areas such as patios and decks where insects flying around lights are a nuisance.

Information is courtesy of www.eartheasy.com