LED (Light Emitting Diode) lighting is becoming increasingly popular for commercial and residential use. It can be retrofitted as well as built in to new construction, and it provides long-term reduction in energy and expense. But investing in LED lighting can be expensive, so it’s important to know what you’re getting into before you make the leap.
How Does LED Lighting Work?
LED lights have been around since the 1960s, first being primarily used in digital clocks and television remote controls.
LEDs work by passing electrons through a semiconductor, which creates electroluminescence. These light bulbs don’t require filaments like incandescent bulbs, nor do they rely on gas like halogens or fluorescents. They also don’t burn out or need to warm up like fluorescent and HID bulbs do.
LED Lighting Lowers your Electric Bill
LED bulbs and fixtures use far less energy than incandescent or fluorescent lighting. In fact, they use at least 75% less energy than incandescent lighting. Where an incandescent lamp used to take 60 watts to achieve a certain level of light, an LED lamp uses a mere 8 watts. It’s easy to see how this can help you save on operating expenses.
Yes, LEDs may cost more at the outset, but they offer bigger savings. In addition to saving on your energy bill, LEDs have an amazing lifespan, lasting, on average, 20 years or 10,000 hours of use. Their fluorescent and HID retrofitted replacements can last at least 45 years or an amazing 50,000 hours of use. During that lifespan, you will recoup the initial cost of the product through energy savings dozens of times over.
LEDs Don’t Contain Mercury
LEDs are mercury-free, which makes them more eco-friendly. Standard fluorescent bulbs use an electric current to energize mercury vapor, which produces short-wave ultraviolet light that then causes a phosphor coating on the inside of the lamp to glow. When these bulbs break, special cleanup and recycling is mandated by law.
LEDs Provide More Natural Light
Next time you’re in a room with fluorescent lights, pay attention to the subtle green hue they produce. Before the advent of digital photography photographers used a pink or red lens filter when shooting a scene that had fluorescent lighting to mitigate this color cast. When measuring the quality of light, a Color Rendering Index (or CRI) number is assigned to a product. High-quality LED bulbs and lamps typically score higher on this index and come much closer to replicating natural light than fluorescents.
Lumens Indicate Brightness
You’ll find some amount of confusion regarding bulb brightness and color. Brightness is measured in lumens, not watts. In incandescent lamps, brightness, or lumens produced, were a direct result of the lamp’s wattage (watts being the amount of electricity a lamp uses). For instance, a 60-watt incandescent lamp is rated at 800 lumens, a 75-watt lamp is 1100 lumens, and a 100-watt lamp is 1600 lumens. Today, LED bulbs are much brighter (i.e. higher lumens) but use a much lower wattage.
Kelvin = Color
All standard bulbs and fixtures produce white light; however, within that white light a color temperature scale exists called the Kelvin (K) scale. On the scale, white light can lean warmer – a yellow or reddish hue in the 2700K to 3500K range – or it can have a cooler, blueish hue closer to late afternoon on a clear day falling between 5000K and 6500K. The temperature of the light is highly important to the look and feel of the intended space and application.
LEDs Aren’t as Hot
Have you ever stood on a stage under blazingly hot lights, or touched the lens of a bulb that had been on for a while? Incandescent and fluorescent lamps project heat as well as light. Yes, LEDs still produce heat, but they don’t project it. Instead, they slowly distribute it from their “heat sync.” This means that the lamp or fixture isn’t adding a huge amount of extra heat to your home, office or facility that your air conditioning has to compensate for. If your AC is working less, then so is your bank account.
If you’re looking to reduce your energy costs and to minimize your environmental impact, then LED lighting is a great option. For more information on LED lighting for a new build or a retrofit, contact us at 314-997-0077 or on our website.