LED's (Light Emmiting Diodes)

Technology Snapshot & Benefits:
The light emitting diode (LED) is a relatively new light source that differs in important ways from existing light sources. LEDs differ from traditional light sources in the way they produce light. This difference in light production allowed LEDs to be better soon for certain applications currently and be even more widely adapted in the future.

The standard lighting efficiency measurement is determined on the basis of luminous efficacy. This is the measure of lumens per watt (lm/W), meaning the amount of light produced for each watt of electricity used by the light source. In this category current LED technologies are on par with compact fluorescent bulbs for residential and small scale commercial uses. However, the future of LED technology has left the door open for a vast amount of improvement to occur in this measurement of energy efficiency. Although luminous efficacy is an important indicator of energy efficiency, it doesn’t tell the whole story, particularly with regard to directional light sources. Due to the directional properties of their light emission, LEDs potentially have higher application efficiency than other light sources in certain applications. Fluorescent and incandescent bulbs emit light in all directions. This emission of light in all directions causes a large amount of light to be lost inside the fixture, may cause the light to escape in a direction that is not useful for the intended application, and typically requires a reflective component that aims light in the direction desired. LEDs emit light in a specific direction, thus reducing the need for reflectors and diffusers that can trap light, so well designed fixtures can deliver light more efficiently to the intended location or for the intended application. This directional limitation is a benefit in certain applications, but is holding back the technology from being implemented in situations where 360 degree emission is desired, such as in lamps.

LED lighting was once relegated to use in scoreboards, cell phone consoles, traffic lights, flash lights, and Christmas lights. As a result of rapid development of the technology which is still ongoing today the application for this technology has expanded and can now be seen applied on streets, in buildings, in homes, and in offices. One area where the technology is currently leading the field in energy efficient options is recessed lighting, both residential and commercial applications. With the directional constraints of LEDs and the low levels of heat emission, recessed ceiling fixtures match up well with LED technological limits and advantages to create the optimal lighting option for a specific application. As LED technology continues to develop costs are only going to be driven lower, lifetimes of bulbs are going to be driven higher, and the overall energy efficiency and cost benefits of the technology are going to be greatly increased.

Estimated Cost Savings:
According to the U.S. Department of Energy the energy efficiency of LEDs is expected to rival the most efficient white light sources by 2010. One of the most attractive features of LEDs is their potentially very long life. Depending on LED quality, system design, operating environment, and other factors LEDs can last up to 50,000 hours or even 100,000 hours. Homeowners may balk at the high initial costs of these bulbs, which experts say currently take 5 to 10 years to recoup in electricity savings, but as the technology develops further these high initial costs will come down considerably making LEDs an even more attractive energy saving technology.

Issues:
LED technology is at a point where it is an energy efficient option when it comes to specific lighting needs. A lot of room for development in this technology point to lower cost, more efficient, and longer lasting designs in the future which will help to expand the applications for which LED technology is best fit. Some poorly designed and constructed LEDs have showed signs of deterioration over the life of the bulb including flickering of light, shift in color of light, dimming of light, and poor thermal properties, producing more heat than initially promised by the product.

Installation (Getting It Done):
Depending on the desired application of LED fixtures some projects may be completed as easily as changing out a bulb, while some tasks may require the help of a professional electrician to properly install the desired lighting system.

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