If you’ve ever heard of LED bulbs, there are more than likely two things you associate with them: expense and a slew of benefits. There really is a large range of benefits that come along with LED lighting, and we’re going to dive into a number of them in this article. By the end of it, you may even feel that you can cross expense off the light and just go on the benefits that LEDs offer.
In the first place, however, it’s good to have a little bit of a background understanding of what an LED is and how an LED bulb works, as compared to other traditional forms of lighting. In truth, LEDs are very different from other common lighting solutions like incandescent, fluorescent lamps, HID lamps, and many others. We’ve talked about the manner by which an LED produces light before, so we’ll be brief in this explanation.
An LED is a solid-state light because a solid material produces the luminosity rather than by the excitement of a gas. As a result of that, the term LED bulb may be seen as something of a misnomer, since there is not really any bulb to speak of. The plastic or glass dome that covers an LED is there to protect the semiconductor, but it isn’t necessarily specific to the process that creates light. It’s also tied to one of the benefits of LEDs that we’ll get to later in this article.
LED is short for light-emitting diode, and a diode is an electrical device with two terminals that conducts an electrical current in one direction. A light-emitting diode is a diode that contains a semiconductor between its positive and negative terminals. When an electrical current passes across this semiconductor, energy is released in the form of photons. In short, when a current passes across the semiconductor of an LED light, it produces light. That’s a very simplified account of how an LED light works, but for the purposes of this article in exposing the benefits of LED bulbs, it will suffice. So, what are the benefits of LED bulbs?
First, let’s get one thing out of the way before diving into the many advantages and benefits of LED bulbs. The one thing cited as a disadvantage of LEDs is their relatively high cost. Historically, that was a real barrier to outfitting a space with LED lights, as semiconductor materials were relatively expensive prior to 2000. Since then, the price of LEDs has dropped precipitously, and LEDs can sometimes even be considered cost-effective as compared to alternatives. It’s still something to consider, but LEDs are now much more affordable than they were in the past, much more affordable than ever. With that in the rearview, it’s on to the benefits.
In the first place, LED lights are impressively energy efficient. In fact, they are significantly more energy-efficient than just about any other alternative available to the broader market. When it comes to drawing a low voltage and not eating up a lot of power, LEDs take the cake.
As if it weren’t impressive enough that LED lights were by far the most energy-efficient lighting solution, it has been cited that they can be up to 90% efficient at converting energy into light. By contrast, incandescent bulbs (which are falling by the wayside anyway) squander a significant amount of energy as heat - which is something else we will address - and they are only about 20% efficient at converting energy into light.
That energy efficiency has real consequences for anyone who’s interested in implementing them. It’s not just all about listing out the benefits that LED bulbs can have for you. Anyone who is spending quality time paying electric bills will be pleased to hear that the remarkably low draw of LED lights can translate into significantly smaller energy bills.
They Keep Things Cool
This is another huge benefit of LED lighting that doesn’t get too much air time. Earlier in this article, we mentioned that incandescent light bulbs waste energy as heat instead of converting it into light with the same efficiency as LEDs. That heat that gets produced by incandescent bulbs isn’t just bad because it can pose a fire risk - there’s something else that goes along with it.
Lighting produces heat, which can also affect energy savings, and not directly from the production of light. Interestingly, some lighting solutions can also raise the internal temperature of a space, which can drive costs up when you’re trying to keep the temperature in the summer. In the hotter months of the year, you don’t need your lighting infrastructure vying hotly (no pun intended) with your HVAC system. LED lights produce almost no heat, and so they can help to keep not only electricity costs down but climate control costs down as well.
They Have No Startup Delay
Have you ever walked into a room and switched the light on only to stand in darkness for a few seconds while the light decided whether or not it was going to come on? Perhaps you’ve had the same experience with a fluorescent light that took a half a minute warming up before you could see what you were doing with any clarity. Although modern technology in lighting has made this largely a thing of the past, you can still occasionally find delays in lighting at startup.
LEDs start up immediately and reach their full brightness just about instantaneously. Flip on the switch and the lights will come right on. This makes LEDs a really viable solution for home lighting and anywhere else where safety is a concern. Any time you can’t afford any start-up delays, LEDs might be the way to go.
They Last a Long Time
Since invoked safety, we have to follow with this benefit, which is arguably the most important advantage that LED lights have over other traditional bulbs. We’ll put it bluntly - LED lights last a long time. Not just a long time, a really long time and far, far longer than any other alternatives. Arguably the longest-lasting alternative in lighting besides LEDs are fluorescent bulbs, and even the most long-lasting fluorescent bulbs will only last about half as long as the LEDs with the greatest longevity.
Let’s say that your average incandescent light lasts about 1,000 hours or just a little bit longer than that. That’s a fact. There’s a degree of variance there, but not enough to make an exception for it. Now let’s say that some halogen lights last about 3,000 hours or so, and that fluorescent bulbs will last about 20,000 hours, give or take depending on the model. Your average LED can last up to 40,000 hours, and there are LEDs that are rated to last nearly 100,000 hours. In domestic settings, that’s years and years of use for many hours a day - well over ten years. Even when some LED lights begin to lose their power, oftentimes this issue can be addressed by switching out the external driver.
Excellent Light Output, Color Range and Color Temperature
In the first place, for all of that energy that they draw (not a lot) LED lights can produce some serious brightness. Considering the fact that they draw almost no power compared to other lighting sources, it can almost be said that they are brighter. At the very least, some LEDs are very bright, and the best of them are suitable for residential and even commercial and industrial settings.
In the second place, you don’t need to settle for a white light with LEDs. You can get LED lights in any color you so desire and some of them can even be controlled and switched between colors. There are even options on the market for dimmable LED light bulbs.
Additionally, white LED lights generally have a very cool color temperature, which means they produce light very similar to natural light that shows colors the way they would appear in daylight. This stands in contrast to some other forms of incandescent light with a warm color temperature that tends to cast a warm yellowish glow. Not that a cool color temperature is superior to a warm color temperature, but in some settings, it might be desirable. It is, at the very least, worth mentioning, since you can get LEDs in about any color you want.
They’re Ecologically Friendly
Forget about the fact that LED bulbs last forever, and so you will hardly ever have to throw any out or recycle them, at least only in decades-long periods of time. That’s good enough on its face, but consider how alternatives like metal halide lamps and fluorescent lamps work.
Though they don’t work by exactly similar processes, both of them rely on mercury vapor for operation, which makes them categorically hazardous. That means that there are very stringent guidelines for their handling, usage, and disposal.
LED lights have no such hazardous materials or components, which means they are not only more ecologically friendly to produce, but they also are more ecologically friendly to dispose of - just one more thing to add to their growing list of benefits.
They’re Very Tough
Unlike incandescent and fluorescent bulbs, which seem to shatter at the suggestion of their fragile nature, LED bulbs are really very tough and durable. We touched on this earlier, but LED lights are solid-state lights, which means the bulbs contain no gases. In fact, the bulb is only there to protect the diode and to provide directional lighting. Therefore, there are no gases to be released and to cause the bulb to burn out if it breaks. In fact, there really isn’t even a bulb to break. There’s just a solid plastic or glass bubble around the diode to shield it.
They’re Compatible with Harsh Environments
Some light bulbs take a long time to achieve their full brightness when they are used in cold environments outside or even inside in freezers. A freezer is no place to be in the dark, and since LEDs work nearly instantaneously, that makes them ideal for use in situations where they will experience extremes of temperature.
They don't just work in the cold, though. They also work in extremely hot places as well. Since some bulbs can also be adversely affected by the heat, this makes LEDs suitable for use in just about any environment.
They Have Very Little UV Emission
Here’s one more cool fact to throw out there about LED bulbs that you may not have known and is equally important as a benefit in some specific scenarios. LED bulbs emit effectively zero UV light, which can make them ideally suited for some specific situations. Will you ever experience the effects of this inside your home? Maybe, but more than likely not. Where this becomes a concern is in areas where sensitive materials are stored. Ultraviolet light can be extremely destructive to a lot of different materials and compounds and so, therefore, there are some things that need to be protected from it.
Where you will most likely see this used is in museums and galleries. Since museums and galleries store and showcase sensitive art and artifacts, they need to be protected from UV emissions. Oftentimes you will see places like museums and galleries providing lighting in the form of LEDs for this very reason. Of course, they will also be able to enjoy the benefits of energy efficiency, improved HVAC efficiency, and all of the others listed herein.
Those are some of the many advantages that LED bulbs have over other alternative forms of lighting, although defending what other sources you consult you may even uncover others.
Also, if you’re shopping for LED light fixtures for your home or business, you’re in the right place. No doubt you’ll be glad to hear of some of these benefits (even if you already knew of them) and you can find your LED fixtures and accessories right here at Atlanta Light Bulbs. Check out our pages on LED lights and accessories and if you need any help locating what you need, give us a call at 1-888-988-2852.