A guest post – from Chris Long.
LED, which stands for light-emitting diode, is a semiconductor light source that was developed in the early 1960s. The early applications of LED lights were somewhat limited, but today, with each holiday season, more and more families are turning to LED lights for their seasonal decorating needs. And that’s not all. LED technology has made its way into virtually every lighting source around. Today, nearly every lighting or hardware store has LED options on their shelves.
Proponents argue that LED lights are superior to traditional light sources, and as a result, the U.S. Department of Energy has recognized the inherent benefits of using this continuously evolving technology. Remember the value of LEDs around the holidays, as well. If your traditional holiday lights continue to give you trouble, consider replacing them for next year — you can always find the best deals on holiday lights immediately after Christmas, so plan ahead!
The following list highlights some of the benefits of switching to LEDs:
- Longer Lasting. Estimates vary, but some studies suggest that LED lights can last 60 times longer than incandescent lights and 10 times longer than compact fluorescent lights. That could result in substantial monetary savings as a result of not having to replace bulbs as often. It could also mean fewer trips up the ladder to swap out bulbs.
- Less Waste and Fewer Resources. If, for example, a homeowner who switches to LED lights in his home replaces bulbs less often, that means fewer burned out bulbs languishing in landfills. As more and more people use LED, it also means that fewer resources will be used to satisfy the nation’s lighting needs.
- No Sudden Burnouts. Unlike traditional lights that use filaments and eventually burn out, LED lights are lit by the movement of electrons. Although their life expectancy is not infinite, LED users should expect a slow, gradual dimming rather than an abrupt burnout.
- No Hazardous Substances. While mercury appears in fluorescent lights and other light sources contain similar toxic substances, LED lights have no such harmful materials.
- Energy Efficiency. On average, it appears that using LED lighting can save up to 85% of the electricity used by incandescent lights and up to 50% of the electricity needed to power fluorescent lights. Although the upfront cost of buying an LED bulb might be higher than buying a conventional bulb, the long-term savings with energy bills and, as indicated above, lower replacement costs make converting to LED a fiscally sound option.
- Less CO2. Those long term energy savings also translate into less carbon dioxide emissions since less power is being produced.
- Less Heat Production. Ever notice that incandescent lights are hot to the touch? In fact, some people have sustained nasty burns merely by touching them. Because bulbs are intended as a light, rather than heat, source, any heat produced is wasted energy. However, LED lights do not product much heat and, instead, are much more efficient in using electricity to produce light. With less heat, there’s also less likelihood of safety hazards like fires.
- Instant Gratification. While fluorescent lights can take up to several minutes to reach full intensity, LED lights are typically at full brightness the instant they come on. In addition, while the quality of light produced by a fluorescent bulb may be diminished in colder climates, LED lights hold up in extreme cold. In fact, they are often used in refrigerators and freezers.
- Durability. Unlike most conventional light bulbs, LEDs don’t contain any glass or other fragile components, so they are less likely to break when being handled.
- Less Noise. While some traditional light sources produce a humming or vibrating sound, operation of LED lights eliminates that annoyance.
- Recyclable. Disposing of lights that contain mercury or other toxins by throwing them in the trash is irresponsible and potentially harmful to humans, the earth, and wildlife. Although options for recycling fluorescent lights are available, the process is much more complex than with LED lights. In fact, nearly every component of an LED light is easily recyclable.
The Department of Energy estimates that by 2025, widespread adoption of LED technology will lead to a 62% reduction in electricity demands for lighting in America and eliminate 258 million metric tons of carbon emissions. The technology is constantly improving, so the results might be even more dramatic. As a result, the time to switch to LEDs is now.
Note 1 from your EarthPM hosts: consider how this could affect your project! How about lighting inside of a tunnel or in an office? How about even the lighting in your own project office?
Note 2 from your EarthPM hosts: Chris Long is a Home Depot store associate in the Chicago suburbs. He also writes for the Home Depot blog. Chris has interests in household electrical topics ranging from the simple smoke detector to solar panels.