LED - lighting the way
LED (Light Emitting Diode) technology has come a long way in recent years; and it may soon challenge CFL (compact fluorescent lamps) as the green lighting choice.
CFL technology has certainly had a huge impact; allowing millions of us to save substantial cash and carbon dioxide emissions through electricity savings when compared to using standard incandescent globes. In fact, in some countries, the sale of incandescent bulbs will be officially phased out within the next few years.
LED based lighting for domestic applications has recently been getting increasing attention due to advances in technology and reduction in price. LED lighting has been around for years; it's extensively used in applications such as those little red lights on your hi-fi, standy lights on TV's, operation indicators on adaptors and other electronic equipment. For room lighting, it's often used in off-grid setups, RV's and other 12 volt lighting applications.
LED's have no filament to burn out and they generate little heat. Heat is where much of the energy is wasted in an incandescent globe. LED's are illuminated by the movement of electrons in a semiconductor material.
While CFL's only sip electricity and have a very long life in comparison to incandenscents, LED's consume under a quarter of the electricity of CFLS and last about ten times as long. There's also been concerns raised about the improper disposal of CFL's as they contain small amounts of mercury. LED's don't have any mercury content at all.
Individual LED's are quite small, so it takes a lot of them to produce an array suitable for lighting an entire room. In most domestic applications, the lighting appliance will be a long strip, or a cluster of LED's in a lamp fitting. With so many needed, and the the materials an LED is constructed from being quite expensive, uptake has been relatively slow.
I had messed around with LED lighting previously, but wasn't really impressed with the light it produced - fine for torches etc., but for use in the home without spending hundreds of dollars on high end lamps; I found the light to be ... odd. I really can't describe it any other way; it was very unnatural and much harsher than tradtional fluorescent lighting
All that seems about to change. Philips recently announced the release of LUXEON Rebel, claimed to be the smallest, brightest power LED, capable of producing a more natural light.
The Luxeon Rebel is a tiny 3mm x 4.5mm with a profile of just 2.1mm. The small size also reduces the amount of materials required in production, so that will reduce manufacturing costs, making LED lighting cheaper for consumers. With less materials being used to create an LED of similar light intensity to its larger predecessors, that's got to be good for the environment too!
If you've considered LED's in the past but have been discouraged by pricing or the light produced; don't despair, we should soon be seeing the Luxeon and other new competing LED components widely utilized in domestic lighting products! I'll certainly be giving LED lighting another try!
Read more about the Luxeon Rebel LED (PDF)
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