Light Emitting Diodes, otherwise known as LEDs, are the most energy efficient form of lighting currently available on the market. They are a relatively new source of lighting, having been developed slowly over a century from 1907 when separately discovered by H.J. Round and Oleg Losev. Since then scientists across the globe have added new developments in the LED until the last couple of decades when they were used as warning lights, torch lights and finally as part of everyday interior and exterior lighting.


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How Much Energy Do Bulbs Use?

The standard incandescent bulb, banned from general sale in the UK, uses ten times the energy required to light an LED to the same brightness. Their ability to emit more lumens per watt than incandescent bulbs is repeated when compared to fluorescent and halogen bulbs. The LED light is twice as effective as the former and three times as effective as the latter. Furthermore, this energy efficiency is not affected by shape or size unlike fluorescent bulbs which can vary widely in effectiveness. Whether you are looking to replace traditional fluorescent lighting with new, energy efficient LED Panels or simply want to replace a few bulbs around the house with LEDs, you're making the right choice.

The reason for this vast difference in energy efficiency comes down to how LED light bulbs work compared to their rivals. An LED is a two-lead semiconductor light source which emits a suitable light once the correct voltage is applied. Also called electroluminescence, the light is created through the release of photons with the energy of the photon corresponding to its colour. By creating light in this way, energy is only used to light the LED itself and little is wasted through lighting a gas (fluorescent) or a filament (incandescent).


Long Term and Short Term Costs

When calculating costs, it is worth remembering that there are both long term and short term costs when it comes to lighting. This is the same whether you are buying home light bulbs or business light bulbs. These costs are divided into purchase costs, longevity and therefore replacement likelihood, energy costs, and fixture/fittings costs.

Being the most energy efficient, means the LED light bulb is the best lighting solution for lowering overall costs within a household or commercial setting. LED light bulbs instantly warm up, but produce less heat, they are constant without flickering, and produce a crisp, clean light. The standard household will save several hundred pounds a year in energy costs.

In terms of purchase cost, the LED remains the most expensive of the bulbs currently available. However, prices are constantly lowering as the technology improves and becomes more cost effective as demand drives more available LED bulbs. Furthermore, long lasting LED lights need replacing less often than their rivals.

 As more and more people begin to implement LED Bulbs into their homes and offices, they will only continue to become more affordable as an initial investment. However, it is important to remember that as soon as an LED bulb is installed it begins to pay for itself immediately, and lessens your environmental footprint at the same time.

Average number of light bulbs required for 50,000 hours of use:

Incandescent: 42

Fluorescent: 5

LED: 1


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In terms of fixtures and fittings, LED lights work in the same light fixtures as other lights. This means that an LED retrofit is not expensive or complicated, but requires a simple one for one light bulb swap. This means the LED wins on energy efficiency and longevity, while being slightly more expensive to purchase, and equal to other light bulbs in terms of specialised fixtures and fittings. Think of it as a material investment into your home for the future!


The Future of LED Lighting

The future of the LED is, forgive the pun, bright. In terms of market share and commercial investment, the tide turned in 2009 when the European Union (EU) and other countries began to outlaw incandescent bulbs. With a global move toward environmentally friendly solutions, the banning of less efficient bulbs increased market share. While most retail purchasing turned toward CFL/fluorescent bulbs, halogen bulb sales also increased. However, moves are being made in some areas to limit sales of the halogen light bulb as well.

LED bulbs are also likely to become cheaper in future years. Frank Nuesch recently headed the TREASORES project led by Empa, 6 research institutes, 9 companies and five European countries. The task was to produce affordable LED panel lighting and solar cells. The project has now completed, though is still filing patents and academic papers. Results suggest lightweight, ultra-thin LED panel sheets produced on roles - much like the way newspapers are printed - could be the future of lighting.

Considering the LED has doubled in energy efficiency every 36 months on average, the future suggests it will continue to be the most energy efficient and environmentally friendly form of lighting available.


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