LEDs: a bright idea?

Posted on 9th January 2015 by Lauren Parry

image1

LED bulbs have been hailed as the future in lighting technology – a bright, energy efficient and environmentally friendly light source. Supporters claim they use use very little energy, last a very long time and are instantly bright when switched on. The 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics was even awarded to the inventors of the blue LED, the final component needed to create the white LED.

But, if you’re anything like me – reluctant to spend more on bulbs, confused by technical language (such as higher luminous flux per unit electrical input power….) and cynical of the big claims made by manufacturers, you might not quite understand why using LEDs can make a difference to you. So I’ve done a bit of research to get to grips with what LEDs are and the benefits of using them.

What are LED bulbs?

  • LED bulbs are made up of numerous light emitting diodes (semi-conductors) that produce light when an electric current is passed through them.

image2

  • Traditional incandescent bulbs produce light by passing electricity through a wire filament, heating it until it glows.
  • Halogen bulbs use a filament enclosed in halogen gas.
  • CFL bulbs emit light by passing energy through mercury vapour, creating UV light which is absorbed inside the lamp, causing it to glow.

This is the reason LEDs are more energy efficient and durable than other bulbs (even other energy savers) – they only need a small current passing through them and don’t need to get very hot to emit light.

Why should we use them?

The benefits for you:

  • LEDs use 90% less energy than a traditional bulb (this is higher than CFLs at 60-80% less and Halogens at 20-30% less). Replacing bulbs with LEDs could save you almost £7.50 per bulb per year – so LEDs could pay for themselves through energy savings in just a couple of months.
  • Manufacturers claim that LEDs are ‘ultra long lasting’ and can last up to 100,000 hours (25-30 years), depending on which one you buy and how you use it, compared with 1,000 hours for traditional bulbs. So you won’t have to spend money or time replacing them as often.
  • Unlike other energy saving bulbs, LEDs give light as soon as you flick the switch, so you don’t have to sit in the dark waiting for them to get going.

The wider benefits:

  • Since one fourth of the world electricity consumption is used for lighting purposes, LEDs can help save the Earth’s resources.
  • As LEDs last longer than traditional bulbs, they help reduce material consumption and waste.
  • LEDs require low power meaning, that they could potentially be powered by cheap local solar power in areas that lack access to electricity grids.

Any cons?

  • LED bulbs are relatively new, so they are usually the most expensive type of energy saving light bulb. BUT, technology is developing, and as LEDs are becoming more popular, they are getting cheaper.
  • There are lots of different bulbs out there. Look at Which? LED light bulbs ratings for advice on what to buy.

My thoughts

After all this research I thought I’d test an LED bulb out for myself, so I bought myself a replacement for one of my spotlights and was pleasantly surprised. The bulbs were reasonably priced at £10 for 4. I’ve used a lot of energy saving bulbs in the past and always found myself getting frustrated with the dim light emitted whilst waiting for them to get going, but as advertised, the LED was bright straight away. I haven’t had chance to see the benefits in terms of money saved and longer lasting, but I’m happy so far!

Making a change in your home energy use by swapping to LEDs is definitely a step in the right direction towards reducing global energy consumption, even on a small scale.

Try LEDs for yourself

Greener Kirkcaldy sell LED light bulbs in their High Street Hub. They will be offering 10% off to all customers throughout January when they bring in old bulbs for new ones.

Sources:

Which? LED Lights Explained

Energy Saving Trust Lit Up: An LED Lighting Field Trial

The Nobel Prize in Physics 2014 Press Release

Related articles

It’s curtains for cold homes

We’ve been awarded funding from the Energy Redress Scheme for a 2-year energy advice project.

Benefits of LEDs

Media Volunteer Bryan explains the benefits of LEDs and why you should swap in our LED amnesty!

Winter home energy saving tips

Media Volunteer Ryan shares his top tips on keeping cosy and saving energy this winter.