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About LED Lighting
We've all heard the buzz about LEDs. But what exactly are they, and why is there so much talk about them? Let's take a look at the LED light and what makes it so popular.
What is "LED?"
LED stands for Light Emitting Diode. LEDs are much smaller than standard light bulbs, but they can be grouped together in clusters to generate greater amounts of light. LEDs produce light in a particular direction, as opposed to traditional light bulbs, which spew light in every direction, and therefore must employ some sort of reflector to bounce light at a particular angle in order to make the light useful.
Applications for LEDs
You've probably seen LEDs in the stoplights in your city. Instead of a light bulb covered by a colored piece of glass, you'll notice dozens of little points of light. They generally appear brighter than the older stoplights. LEDs are used as back-lights for new TVs. Car companies are employing LEDs as headlights for automobiles. They are popular for Christmas light displays and flashlights, and they are becoming more and more common for household lighting.
Advantages of LED lighting
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, LEDs potentially produce more light per watt than traditional incandescent light bulbs. LEDs are smaller in size, more durable and more reliable and they have significantly longer lifetimes than other light sources. Todd Woody is a frequent contributor to Green Inc., a section of the New York Times focused on ecological solutions. He points out that, in addition to being more energy efficient, LEDs also contain no mercury — a chemical that is both poisonous and difficult to dispose of properly.
Drawbacks of LEDs
The only significant drawback to LED home lighting right now is the initial cost. Although you might pay a little more upfront, the lower power consumption and longer lifetime will eventually make up for the initial cost.
LEDs and solar power
Since LEDs generally use less power than traditional lights, they'll allow the power gathered by solar panels to last a little longer. A Southern California company, LEDtronics, is already marketing a setup with a solar panel and three LED lamps (each with a cluster of 24 individual LEDs). When the panel is charged for 12 hours during the day, it is able to power all three LED lamps for about eight hours that night.
As LED manufacturing rates increase, their cost will decrease. As research continues, LEDs will only become more efficient and more widely used. LEDs appear to be the bright future of lighting.