We all know Light Emitting Diodes, or LEDs, are energy efficient and bright light sources. With the rapid increase in LED usage, the world will be saving about $30 billion in energy costs by the year 2027. That’s equal to the annual output of 44 large power plants! Of all the electricity produced in the world, approximately one fifth of that is dedicated to lighting, resulting in 1.9 billion tons of carbon dioxide being produced annually. LEDs could very well secure a much more energy efficient future for our planet.
The US Department of Energy estimates that LED efficiency will be two and a half times greater than current fluorescent bulbs by the year 2020. These bulbs, estimated to produce 258 lumens per watt, will save 90% more energy than our current fluorescent lamps. And by that time, prices will have fallen by 80%, making it more affordable than ever to invest in the growing technology.
LEDs can function continuously for about 11 years. That’s right, 11 years of uninterrupted use. All other lighting solutions on the market last merely a tenth that amount of time. While incandescent bulbs will cease functioning solely because the filament has snapped, LED lights simply dim as their life span runs out, losing about 70% of its original luminosity after about 100,000 hours.
A typical incandescent bulb radiates about 90% of its energy as heat, and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) radiate about 80% heat energy. LEDs remain cool to the touch and effectively radiate nearly all of their energy as light. This ability to remain cool as well as provide more concentrated, directional light lends them to be extremely beneficial in many environments, including hospital operating tables, wedding uplighting, stage lights, and general home use cuts way down on ambient heat.
But what really drives these powerful lights? Well, actually, they’re called drivers. LED drivers serve as the bridge between bulbs and the power supply. They control all the functions of the LEDs and allow them to be so versatile in nearly any situation. Each lighting solution requires a unique LED driver, but the ever changing technology allows for more options to suit our needs. LED drivers allow different power supplies to serve as the basis for an easily configured lighting option. They can command the lights to turn on when ambient light drops below a certain level, operate on a timed schedule, or function as effective emergency lights.
The reason why every lighting situation requires a unique driver is due largely in part to the quality of LEDs and how they are implemented. The number of bulbs or strings, as well as the overall quality of the bulbs will determine the type of driver needed. Will they need to be dimmable, or will they flash? Will they run continuously, or only turn on when someone enters the room?
Speaking of dimmable LEDs, strings tied to a dimmer switch can further reduce energy consumption and costs. The human eye cannot see the difference between LEDs running at full power and LEDs running at 90% power. Running the lights at 50% power can effectively double their lifespan as well.
Simply put, LEDs outshine the competition. They are brighter, cheaper to run, and last much longer than anything currently available. They cost more to install initially, and installing the proper drivers is very important, but in the long run, they will provide high quality light at a fraction of the cost. Studies show that switching to LED lighting improves performance in the workplace and has an overall positive effect on the health of individuals. LEDs are the perfect way to go green and feel good about your lighting investment.
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