You just had to spend a few minutes at this year’s Lightfair in Las Vegas to see what is hot: Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) were EVERYWHERE! Strip lights, under cabinet lights, a really cool paper thin tape light, puck lights – you name it. This (relatively) new kid on the block was definitely the star!So what’s all the buzz about? LEDS have been around since the sixties and we have all used LEDs in our everyday lives, most often without even being aware of it.
In the early years,LEDs were only available in the colors yellow, green and red and therefore their use was limited to signage, street signals and household appliances. The color-changing capabilities and the unique vivid hues also made LEDs attractive for upscale bars, restaurants and even avant-garde home theaters.With the breakthrough development of a blue LED in the early ‘90s and the following developing a white LED new and exciting possibilities opened up to the lighting industry and they for sure took this challenge and ran with it! New products embracing the Solid-State technology are popping up everywhere.
Now for the very first time the consumer is faced with the choice: Do I choose an incandescent, a fluorescent or an LED sconce for my bathroom? Can I read by that cool LED desk lamp or am I safer with choosing the much more familiar halogen light?
As exciting as all the innovations are, white LED light is definitely still in the early stages and has quite a few hurdles to overcome before it will be a competitive alternative to other traditional light sources. In my opinion the three main concerns our customers face are: What do I get for my money, how much energy do they really save and can they actually illuminate something, like a page in my book, or are they just decorative?
Light fixtures equipped with LEDS are in general quite a bit more expensive than alternate choices, but if you got exactly the same value in terms of efficacy and quality light output, their long life would make them the more cost effective choice.
The life span of LEDs is impressive compared to incandescent, halogen or fluorescent alternatives with expectancies in the 100.000+ hours (A good old incandescent lamp has a life expectance of a measly 750 hours and a halogen lamp 3000+ hours). You’d have to change quite a few conventional light bulbs in those 100.000 hours! FYI: LEDs don’t just burn out, but continue to operate while slowly producing less and less lumens. At some point don’t they produce enough lumens for task lighting. Their life span is therefore generally measured up until the time when they have lost 30 – 50 percent of their initial light output.
So, back to the second question: How is their overall effectiveness, how energy-efficient are LEDs? In 2006, some LEDs became as effective as incandescent lamps with 15 – 30 lumens per watt, just two years later, in 2008, LEDs reached the efficacy of linear fluorescents with 60-80 lumens per watt.
Just like the infant years of fluorescents that made millions of consumers loathe the product for bathing a space in an unattractive greenish or pinkish hue, the color temperature of the white LED is still being fine-tuned. Great strides are being made to reach warmer tones that resemble what we are used to for interior lighting and some latest product releases show real promise in that respect.
At Lightfair we ordered several samples of LED task lighting that are currently being installed in our new showroom. We like to see for ourselves before we start dealing out advice to our customers and getting carried away by cool innovations.
So the answer to the third question will follow later.