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Getting to Know Your LEDs

2/18/2009 11:14:00 AM

Tags: LEDs, light bulbs, CFLs, technology, solar panels

 

LED bulb 
   PHOTO BY JESSIE FETTERLING
 

Usually when people talk about using greener lighting, they're talking about compact-fluorescent light bulbs, or CFLs. But what about the other green light bulbs, LEDs?

LEDs, or light emitting diodes, are all around us. These long-lasting, efficient light bulbs are used for all kinds of applications, and they’re especially good for those that involve gently glowing, bright-colored light. That includes stoplights, Christmas tree lights, exit signs, the display on digital clocks and the indicator lights that show when electronics are switched on.

Although LEDs are also being developed for general lighting, most of them still aren’t bright enough for say, reading. That may all change soon though, because there’s a lot of research happening in this area.

More Info: 

For a good general description of what LEDs can do, check out this article from Scientific American.

For a mind-bending trip into the world of semiconductors (a world that also includes solar panels) check out this article on LEDs from How Stuff Works.

And for more on LED research, take a look at this article from the New York Times.

 

 

 

LED Stoplight 
  PHOTO BY ISTOCKPHOTO
 
LED Holiday Lights 
   PHOTO BY ISTOCKPHOTO
 

Above: Photos of LEDs in action. The top photo is an LED bulb used for general lighting. Below: An LED stoplight and LED holiday lights: two common uses for LED bulbs.


Megan E. Phelps is a freelance writer based in Kansas. She enjoys reading and writing about all things related to sustainable living including homesteading skills, green building and renewable energy. You can find her on .



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WINTER Star
2/25/2009 1:12:17 PM
LED's really do save energy, but need to be used correctly. They really do save more than CFL's, given the chance--that means that they are wired properly and have reflectors and diffusers. It is up to everyone to educate themselves, and choose appliances and products wisely; some really do save loads of energy, and some only say they do. Remember that line from the Wizard of Oz, "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!" Well, we SHOULD pay very close attention to that 'man behind the curtain'!

WINTER Star
2/25/2009 1:03:42 PM
I have noticed over the last few years, that yes, while the price tag for LED bulbs has dropped, so has the quality of the LED lights. LED's should last for closer to 100,000 hours, if they are of proper quality and are wired right. To optimize their lumen output, they must have really good reflector to bounce the light, and, need a diffuser to spread it where it is needed. BUT, [for instance] the 35 lumens LED GU-10 based [for track lighting] bulbs Walmart carries are rated to only last about 12,000 hours, and have only a tiny reflector and no diffuser, for about $15; Walmart recently started carrying a 200 lumens, Edison-based bulb that lasts a [whopping?] 20,000 hours. This uses fewer, larger, better quality LEDs, but still no real reflector, and no diffuser--for about $35. Couple that with complaints by the local power company here, that people were too effective with saving energy, and the power company was having trouble paying their bills...that happened right before the power company converted everyone's meters to computerized--and everyone's usage showed an immediate leap up. And include that people are scrambling for every scrap of profit, especially in this economy. That means manufacturers deliberately dumb down technology so it fails to save as much energy as it should, OR otherwise prevents technology from cutting into profit margins [i.e., GE "Energy Star" refrigerator components are "bench-tested" to pass qualifications for Energy Star Program, but get installed into larger, and still the same badly insulated boxes--forcing components designed to run smaller unit to run larger box--guaranteeing they use MORE energy.] Many industries have been manipulating data to pass energy mandates for conservation for some years, now they are doing it even more, due to the economy. It is the case of the "wizards of science" baffling the ignorant public [and legislators] with technical BS. It is up to ever

Cindy_41
2/24/2009 4:14:31 PM
Some LEDs can be used for reading, depending on need. I have a LED that fits into by Halogen light receptacle. It doesn't give over all light but plenty to read by. Was a bit costy, but well worth it to save ov electricity and not be under a heat lamp. Some of the lights in my camper have been replaced with LEDs and are brighter. They are diodes on a board, so not the best looking, but save lots of time on the battery.

Leslie_2
2/20/2009 11:21:07 AM
Prices are dropping like crazy. I got some 40W LED lights that draw 1.5W and put out a warm color at SAMS for $15 a three pack. They have 45W flood light equal white LED lights that draw a little over 1.5W two-pack for $15. They also have the candelabra base LED lights and other typed of LED flood at reasonable prices. I have replaced my CFL outside with the 40W equal and we took out the CFL flood lights in the house track lights and put in the 45W LED. OK, they are real bright and the outside ones are on 24/7 and the inside track ones we turn on when we need the light at night. As our CFL fail over the years, we will replace with LED as the LED make as much or more light for less power drain than the CFL. The technology is changing so in a few years the CFL will be gone and LED will be the lights used. We also replaced 5,500 watts of outdoor Christmas lights with LED and are at less than 500 watts with more lights.

Keith Mathis
2/19/2009 12:26:13 PM
Outdoor Programmable LED Signs are another 'Green' application of LEDs. Not only are they very energy efficient but business owners can redirect some of their advertising budget away from print advertisements, such as newspapers and magazines, to LED Signs and reduce the amount of paper and ink their company consumes which, obviously, will reduce their impact/footprint on the eco system. If you are interested in learning about LED Signs you can visit http://www.icatchdisplays.com







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