LED Lights - the New Hero of Energy Efficient Lighting

LED lights have been used in all sorts of electronic devices, instruments, gadgets and toys, appliances and countless applications for many years.

Because of the way LEDs work, until recently, several different colors, especially the [coveted] blue LED, were difficult and expensive to produce, but all that has changed, and LEDs are now becoming integrated into regular lighting technologies, and will be the preferred type of home and commercial lighting on the market - as soon as prices become affordable.

How They Work

Basically, Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) produce light when a charge or voltage is applied to negatively charged semiconductors, causing electrons to get excited and create electromagnetic radiation.

Some forms of this electromagnetic radiation can take the form of visible light. The LED color depends on the type of material used for the semiconductor and the current that is run through it.

Because they are small, several LEDs are combined to produce a single light bulb. While earlier generation LEDs had a narrow light beam, new clustering methods of the LEDs and using diffuser lenses have improved the spread of light to a much wider cone with good lighting quality.

LED lights are more efficient and longer lasting than any other type of light source, and are being developed for more and more household lighting applications.

While LED bulbs are popular in under-cabinet strips and holiday indoor and outdoor lighting, they are now available for general, task and accent lighting in many styles. These include different types of 'pin' sockets or the standard "screw" (Edison) bases for recessed or track lighting.

You can also find them in standard, dimmable and 3-way switch lighting. The dimmable bulbs are about 40% more expensive than regular LED lights. For comparison's sake, a 6 or 7 Watt LED which would replace a 60 Watt incandescent in brightness, can cost in the range of $35-$45 per bulb.

If you are considering the investment, take advantage of sales through home centers, discount lighting websites, and look into governmental and manufacturer rebates and incentives, as well as possible tax credits for energy efficiency improvements.


LED lights (both fixtures and individual bulbs):

  • Are rated for a lifespan of greater than 35,000-50,000 hours (25 years!)for most household type bulbs. This is a projected lifespan, not yet proven - it would take about 6 years of continuous lighting to test.

    Incandescents are rated for an average life of 1,000 hours, and CFLs are rated for about 8,000-10,000 hours.

  • Come with a minimum of 2-year guarantee. Any failure typically happens in this time span.
  • reach full brightness immediately unlike CFLs.
  • Are not affected by frequent On-Off cycling, whereas the other technologies are.
  • Contain no mercury and the general manufacturing process is more environmentally "friendly" than other technologies.
  • LAre pretty robust and durable - they don't break as easily as incandescents or compact fluorescent bulbs.
  • Are not pervious to temperature and humidity.
  • Emit the lowest amount of heat compared to all other lighting types.

Disadvantages- (very few)

  • Narrow-focus light beam - needs better light dispersement
  • Sticker-shock price remains a deterrent

Below is a chart that matches the most common incandescent light bulbs, their light output in Lumens and their wattage to comparable LED lights.

Incandescent Watts Lumens LED Replacement Watts
40 450 4-5
60 300-900 6-8
75-100 1100-1300 9-13
100 1600-1800 16-20
150 2600-2800 25-28

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