LED Lighting: Coming to a Home or Office Near You
Most people have an idea of what a LED (light emitting diode) is, but few are aware of how quickly LED lighting is evolving to become the main source of general lighting in both homes and businesses. Everyone from the Department of Energy to environmental advocates are pushing the pace of LED light bulb development because of the dramatic savings in energy associated with their use, and the fact that LED light bulbs use no environmentally harmful substances like older energy-saving bulbs (i.e. compact fluorescents which contain mercury). Additional benefits of LED lighting include a very long life span and low emissions in the UV and IR spectrums, making it highly useful for locations where valuable art is hung on the wall or fading is an issue.
LEDs were created in the 1960ís, but until several years ago their use was confined to such things as indicator lights in electronic devices, traffic signals and instrument panels. In the late 1990ís the white LED was invented and people started to dream of the possibility of replacing incandescent lighting in homes or businesses with LED lighting. In 2005 this possibility took a huge step forward as LEDs that produce a warm white light, similar to an incandescent bulb, were invented and the overall efficiency of white LEDs started to improve.
LED lighting is a technology in which a semiconductor (an electrical chip) is used to produce light. As with most semiconductor based technologies, there has been a rapid growth rate in both the brightness (total amount of light) and the efficacy (total light output of the LED chip compared to how much power is required to generate the light). Many of todayís LED bulbs can achieve life spans up to 50,000 hours while consuming 80% less energy than the standard incandescent bulb they are designed to replace. Interestingly, the life span of LED bulbs is not measured until bulb burn out, but until the bulb can only achieve a certain percentage of light output compared to the original light output (note: all types of bulbs lose brightness over time). The current standard for measuring LED lighting life span is 70% of original light output. Also, LED light bulbs are now produced in a variety of color temperatures (measured using the Kelvin scale) ranging from warm white light, approximately 2700K, to neutral whites in the 3500K range and cool whites in the 5000K range.
Today there are many affordable and practical LED lighting solutions for both residential and commercial customers. The most popular incandescent bulb sold in America, the 60W incandescent bulb, is now capable of being replaced by a LED light bulb using only 12 watts and putting out the same amount of pleasing warm white light in the same light pattern. There are a variety of options for recessed ceiling light replacement including integrated LED downlights that include the LED light and trim piece as well as LED PAR30, LED R30 and LED PAR38 bulbs. LED candelabra bulbs are huge energy savers for those power hungry chandeliers and decorative sconces, and LED MR16 and LED GU10 bulbs are great for reducing energy usage in those hard to get to track light systems and small pendant lights that run on 12 or 120 volts respectively.
The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency are using considerable resources to promote LED lighting (also called SSL, or Solid State Lighting), and through the implementation of the Energy Star program for commercial and residential LED lighting they are adding a degree of buyer assurance to the market. More brand name manufacturers are stepping up to the plate and delivering high quality LED light bulbs to the market while helping to drive down costs through increased and more efficient production. Commercial rebate and incentive programs are popping up across the country, usually based on Energy Star rated LED products, and residential rebates for LED lighting are sure to follow. The lighting world is full of LED replacement bulbs, but it is also buyer beware. There are a lot of poorly made LED lighting products on the market today just waiting to disappoint, and buying one may cause you to delay adopting this energy saving technology and ultimately cost you more in the long run. The old adage, "you get what you pay for" can certainly be applied to most LED light bulbs. The more well made products utilize better LED chips, better LED drivers to power those chips and a more efficient cooling design to keep the LED at the proper operating temperature.
In the meantime, protect yourself from disappointment by looking for high quality LED lighting and buying from a trustworthy source offering product warranties and good customer service. Don't be fooled by fly-by-night websites trying to sell cheap LED products, which may or may not be in stock, and who don't have the expertise to answer even the simplest questions about LED lighting. Oftentimes, even the traditional lighting companies and online lighting retailers are not up to speed on the LED lights they stock and are unable to help the customer decide what will work best for their particular application. Looking for money-back guarantees and good return policies is important if you are unsure of what you are buying and how itís going to work in your home or business. At Polar-Ray.com, we focus exclusively on LED lighting and work closely with, as well as travel to, the factories and companies making the LED lighting products we carry. We stock the products we display on our website so we can deliver them to you quickly and we're always here to help you should you have additional questions.