Light-emitting diodes – once they were limited to simple indicators. Today they are so much more. Incandescent lighting is slowly replaced by these amazing creations of technology.
What makes these LEDs so important and why they promise to be so beneficial to you? This article is made to answer this question and let you glance at the face of technology today as it is.
For a long time LED's only visible color was red. And this was not the only thing limiting their use. Maybe this is why today there are still some manufacturers who keep their old habits on using the incandescent lighting.
The light made from a LED is not like the light made from incandescent bulb because it has only one color (wavelength) and one direction. This is a focused light source and it could be perfect for many applications like indicators but for too many others it's not so good.
It took some time for the LED designers to move around this obstacle but now there are two major solutions – multi-chip arrays and high-flux LED chips. These more advanced LEDs could achieve a closer effect to the one made from incandescent bulbs. That means that with this advancement LEDs are one step closer to the parameters that make the use of the old bulbs a need.
Some major advancement in the technology of LEDs provides the solution for any color you may need. The full visible spectrum of light could have been made as a LED: red, yellow, amber / orange till the cool looking vivid ultra blue. Even the white color is possible. Some time ago the developers of the LED technology believed that this will never be achieved. The new "doping" technologies increase LED light output by 20 times. That allows for the LEDs to be visible during day even in a sunny environment.
Let's take a look on what the incandescent light is giving us. We have a breakable glass package which could be a nasty hitch. Then we have a fragile inner body which life could have been shortened by a simple vibration. And finally the specialty of every incandescent bulb – 90% of the energy goes to heat.
With all these bad hints in mind let's proceed to the high efficiency of the LED technology with almost no heat generated during the process of energy transformation.
Some applications require colors. Let's compare the incandescent light and the LED technology regarding this use. The incandescent bulb will waste 90% of the energy on heat. In order for a color to be used a special filter should be placed in front of the light to filter only the color (wavelength of the light) we need. In the process 90% of the light is blocked by the filter. Simple math will easily show you that in the end you are using only 1% total efficiency for a colorful light made by an incandescent bulb. In the other hand we have the LED which will transform almost 100% of the energy directly to a one color light.
The truth is that what a marginal light source was before is not so marginal today. To see this for yourself examine the cars around you the next time you are in the traffic. Look for the taillights. Some of the cars are using a filtered red light from an incandescent bulb and some from red LEDs. See how more vivid the LED is in compare with the other one.
That's why today we could see on the market even standard LED lamps. And these lamps have it all – they are durable, daylight visible and a real blessing for every overworked observer.
It's time to look at a few indicators which will tell us more about LEDs. The first one is cost saving. For a facility of 1000 lamps after one year we will have approximately $ 3000 cost if we use incandescent bulbs. This is if we take in account only the major factor – the short life of these bulbs. But there are many other factors which are also important – the labor cost, power savings, operating downtime, incandescent bulb inventory and ordering costs.
The life time of the device is a very important criterion. LED lamps life is predictable and if they are used within their design parameters they will last around 10 years. One very important thing is that the life of the LED is not shortened when you turn them on and off. This however will not be true for the incandescent bulbs.
LEDs provide cooler operation. Taking in account the 90% losses on heat in the incandescent bulb technology this is not so hard to be accepted. But it's not just that. In the LEDs there is not filament that is heated for light generation. Their very design is not using the heat. Of course there is some heat dissipation in the LED body but it is far from the one in the incandescent bulb because there the whole idea is to generate heat and through this process – a light to appear.
Power consumption is another important parameter of every energy device. A standard 6S6 / 120V incandescent bulb use 50mA and its LED analogue is using 11mA. Almost 5 times lower power consumption means almost 5 times lower cost for energy every day. Do the math and you will see for yourself how much this efficient way of using the energy will help you reduce your costs per year.
One pretty nasty factor that comes with the incandescent bulb technology is called Cold Filament Inrush. This happens when the filament in the bulb is cold and you turn on the lamp. The lamp in this case will draw 10 times more current. If more lamps are powered simultaneously this will make a significant voltage surges which will shortly result in complete lamp failures. In LED lamps there are series resistors limiting the operating current. This will result in no current variations even if the very power grid is providing fluctuations. Some LED lamps have a shunt resistor too to bleed-off residual current.
In conclusion I should say that it is always up to you to choose what is best for you and everything under your control. LEDs are available and they could easily become your way of lighting things up.