LED Lights – Their History And Their Advantages
Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) are a type of a light that relies on semiconductors and the properties of electroluminescence to create visible light. This is in contrast to more traditional light sources like filaments or gasses. LEDs have been around for more than a half of a century but have only recently reached a point of development where they can produce a usable white light for homes and cars. Prior to this, they were an important part of electronics and appeared in colors like red, green, and yellow.
A Brief History Of The LED
The birth of the idea came at the beginning of the 20th century. An experimenter by the name of Henry Round discovered that applying an electric current to a silicon carbide crystal produced a yellow light. Little progress was made with this discovery at the time, but a paper on the subject was published in 1927.
Once again, the concept was pushed to the backburner as other discoveries were taking place rapidly. In the 1950’s, it was discovered that some diodes would emit an infrared light when current passed through them. Finally, in 1961, the infrared LED was patented. A year later, the first red LED was developed by Nick Holonyak Jr. It was another decade before the yellow LED was developed by George Craford.
The blue LED proved to be very troublesome to manufacture for a long time. It was first developed by Shuji Nakamura in 1979. However, the technology required was too expensive for any commercial use. It wasn’t until 1994 that they were able to reliably manufacture blue LEDs at an acceptable cost. Two others, professor Akasaki and Professor Amano, were involved in the development of the modern blue LED. They were all three awarded the Nobel Prize for physics in 2014 for their contributions.
The White LED
LED lighting is now used as a light source in vehicles, buildings, and homes across the globe. Of course, we aren’t lighting our home in green, red, or yellow. What we use is white light, but no white LED has ever been invented. What we perceive as white light is actually a combination of different wavelengths used together. This is the reason the development of an affordable blue LED was such an important contribution to modern society.
There are actually two different methods used to produce white light from LED technology. The older method is mentioned previously. It works by combining the light from a red, yellow, and blue LED. This additive color technique produces a vibrant white light. However, it is hardware intensive and not as energy efficient as more modern methods.
The technique used most often today relies only on a single blue LED and a yellow phosphor coating. The blue LED generates photons that either collide with the phosphor and convert to yellow or pass through the phosphor without changing. Once passed the phosphor, these yellow and blue photons combine to create a white light. This method is far more efficient than using a combination of red, blue, and yellow LEDs and the light that it produces is superior.
There are plenty of homes that still rely on traditional fluorescent or incandescent light sources. Should they upgrade to modern Led lights technology? Does LED lighting offer any advantages? Absolutely. Here are just a few of the advantages of white LED lights compared to traditional light sources.
- Energy Efficiency
From one light source to the next, efficiency has always been one of the biggest concerns. An energy efficient light source will require less power to produce the same amount of light. That means you spend less money on energy bills each month. It also means it reduces your impact on the environment. LED technology is by far the most efficient light source on the market today.
The efficiency of a bulb is often described by how much light it can produce per single watt of power. The more usable light per watt, the more efficient the bulb. This describes the luminous efficacy of a light source. An LED light is between 60 and 75 percent more efficient than most other light sources in this regard. That can equate to a savings of 90 percent each month.
Another important factor of any bulb is its lifespan. A high energy efficiency won’t matter if you have to buy another bulb every week. Once again, the LED has a lifespan considerably longer than any other lighting technology. The average LED light can last for 50,000 hours of operation. Some bulbs are designed to last up to 100,000 hours. That’s up to 40 times as long as the best incandescent bulbs.
To put these numbers into perspective, a single LED light can last for five years of nonstop use. If they are only used for a few hours a day, then they can last for more than a decade. Imagining only changing your lights once every ten years. That’s a considerable saving in terms of time and money spent.
You may not think of safety when considering the properties of a light bulb, but it is important to consider. Incandescent lights produce a considerable amount of heat. Most of their energy is wasted as heat. An LED light produces virtually no heat at all. This means it can be placed in a variety of locations where an incandescent light would pose a threat.
LED lights also do not need a glass enclosure. That means that if they fall from a lamp or light socket there will be no broken glass. It also means that the bulb won’t crack or explode if overheated. A traditional incandescent bulb can eventually shatter after extended use because of the combination of excessive heat and the glass enclosure.
Lighting The Future
LED lights are undoubtedly the future of interior and exterior lighting. At the moment, they still require a higher initial investment to purchase, but the savings make up for this over time. Before long, the technology will be easier to produce, and the LED bulbs will be as affordable as an incandescent bulb. And then every home will benefit from the many advantages of LED lighting.