LED Lighting – All You Need to Know
As homes evolve in the modern world more and more attention is being paid to the impact of lighting on the environment, both in terms of the effect on a room as well as the energy produced. Lighting is described as ‘the deliberate use of light to achieve a practical or aesthetic effect’. Using daylight through openings in a house is a science in itself, but when it comes to lighting a property by artificial means, there is a great deal of energy going into new ways to light a room. One indication of how the industry is moving forward is the fact that it will soon be impossible to replace a light fitting with a standard filament light bulb, first manufactured commercially in the late 1800’s and soon to be obsolete.
There are several forms of lighting currently vying for position in the modern home, and not everyone is happy with the alternatives, complaining that the new bulbs are just not natural or bright enough compared with the old filament lights. But this new technology is gaining ground as improvements are made daily.
LED – Light Emitting Diodes
Light-Emitting Diodes have been around since the 1960’s and when first produced they emitted low-intensity red light but have since been developed to produce light across the visible, ultraviolet and also infrared wavelengths, which are found in our remote control handsets for all sorts of devices.
Although LED’s emit light in a very small band of wavelengths it is possible to mix light from the red, green and blue spectrums to produce a form of white light. The technology has evolved to produce LED lights in applications as diverse as aviation, advertising, automotive lighting and today they are finding their way into homes as general lighting. There is a great deal of research into this form of lighting technology as the costs of production and use improve. Lighting used for general purpose needs to be white, and LED’s, which are the size of a fleck of pepper, are often made up of several individual diodes to produce sufficient light.
Quality LED bulbs last longer and are more durable than other comparable forms of lighting. They are also extremely energy efficient, using up to 75% less energy, and lasting some 25 times longer than a standard incandescent light bulb. It is estimated that if all the homes in America had LED light bulbs it would no longer need the annual output of 44 large electric power stations. LED’s also produce light in a specific direction which negates the need for as many reflectors or diffusers that can trap light. Often more than half the light may never leave the fixture of other types of lighting. There is also very little heat emitted from an LED light which adds to their efficiency.
Low voltage lights are mainly used in the form of down lighters and require a transformer to reduce the voltage to 12 volts, but they are not necessarily more efficient and use the same amount of energy as a standard light bulb, and if the transformer efficiency is not 100% then it may be that the low voltage lighting is using more energy. The benefits of a low voltage light are that the bulbs can last up to twice as long as a standard 240v halogen down lighter.
The 12v Dichroic halogen bulbs also produce a better light and can give an enhanced definition of the objects being lit, and are also ideal for use in bathrooms and wet areas. Low voltage bulbs project their heat backwards so are not ideal for areas where insulation is present. In those circumstances it may be better to install 240v GU10 Halogen lights where the heat is projected forward.
Low energy lighting
Light bulbs that are low energy have received a great deal of bad press over the years, but they have come on leaps and bounds since they were first introduced. No longer are they just available in weird shapes that don’t fit any of your lamps, but they now look like your old fittings, and new styles are making inroads into the designs. And they are also produced with every possible fitting, including the standard bayonet and screw type.
The reasons to fit them may seem obvious, they use less energy and can last up to ten times longer than a standard light bulb, but many are still nervous of them as they can cost a considerable amount more. In real terms though you can recoup the cost in as little as a year, and it also means fewer lamps to dispose of, which is great for the environment. But what about the light, I hear you shout, it’s just not, well, warm enough. There has been a lot of work in making the light from the bulbs more appealing by improving the coatings on the bulbs as well as the invention of ‘soft tone’ technology, which is bringing back the atmospheric lighting we are used to. And until recently it wasn’t possible for low energy bulbs to be used in dimmable fittings but that has also changed.
For more information on all bulbs it is now a legal requirement to provide energy efficiency rating labels which will tell you just how effective the bulb is at being energy efficient.
Image credit: dmjarvey