The other day my son said to me, what else could anyone possibly invent? Sometimes it would seem that way, but I think that couldn't be further from the truth. Back in the late sixties and early seventies someone realized that light emitting diodes could be used for indicator lights. They only were available in the color red, but that didn't stop anyone, in fact we all became quite familiar with that red color in things like calculators and hand held games. That is pretty much where LED's stayed until a few years ago.
Suddenly LED's were available in different colors. A new super bright LED was developed. Controllers made color changing possible as well as mixing colors to create almost any color in the spectrum. A whole new market is emerging now. Many municipalities have started to change over the traffic lights to LED bulbs. I am sure you have seen them; they appear as many small dots of light for the Red and the Green. Car manufacturers are using them inside indicator lights.
The most exciting aspect of LED lighting for me is the entrance of LED's into residential lighting. They can be used for accent lighting in many applications such as under cabinet lighting and inside cabinets. Cove lighting is another application where they can be used. There are LED bulbs that can replace some existing bulbs like an MR 16 low voltage bulb.
As of right now in their development accent lighting is where they are best suited, the time for them to replace conventional light bulbs is not far off. As an example of where LED's can really shine is a pool light that can change into seven different colors just by turning the regular switch on and off to change modes. There are other types of color changing bulbs that can be used for decorative purposes. If you want to do some really creative lighting projects, you need to look into LED's.
If your wondering what is so great about LED's, let me explain. They have great advantages over conventional light bulbs. Here is a list of just a few things:
- Huge energy savings, possibly as high as 80% - 90%
- Very long life some claims as high as 100,000 hours
- Durable and resistant to heat, cold, shock and vibration
- Endless color possibilities
- Instant on with no flickering
- Small size allows lights in tight spaces
- Almost no heat and no UV rays
The one place they still are weak in is general lighting use. When they have that ability though the energy savings will be on a huge scale. The traffic lights I mentioned earlier use a 10 watt LED bulb to replace a 150 watt bulb used in the past. To give you an idea how much this saves at 12.5 cents a KWH, the savings for a single bulb in one year is about $75. Pretty amazing, especially when you consider some 150,000 traffic lights across the country have been retrofitted with these new LED light bulbs. That is an energy savings of over 11 million dollars.
Author: Paul Forte has been in the lighting and electrical field for over 25 years. He has helped countless homeowners across the country with their lighting needs, through his website. Learn more about LED lighting or visit Forte Electric
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