LED Lighting Defined
The LED (light-emitting diode) is a modern, smart home friendly product that’s only beginning to revolutionize the ways your home and business are illuminated.
History of the LED
Electroluminescence – the fact that certain materials emit light when subjected to electricity – was discovered back in 1907 by British researcher H.J. Round. But it was another 20 years before Russian scientist Oleg Losev created the first LED.
The world was slow to pursue the idea; it wasn’t until 1955 that RCA researcher Rubin Braunstein used semiconductor materials to create a functional system of interactive LEDs.
In 1961, scientists working for Texas Instruments obtained the first patent for an LED light. The same year, Nick Holyonak of GE produced the first yellow, red, and red-orange LEDs. Soon LEDs were appearing as indicator and status lights on all kinds of electrical equipment, from home stereos to industrial control panels.
In 1976, scientists T.P. Pearsall produced the first high-intensity LED designed for use in fiber optics. These new, brighter LEDs were incorporated into automotive lights, flashlights, and in controlled arrays, to produce images on TV screens and computer monitors, and now home lighting.
How LED Lighting Works
Today’s LED is typically a chip of semiconductor material containing impurities that create a positive-negative junction for electrical currents. When electricity flows from positive to negative, the electrons combine with “electron holes” in the semiconductor and the material begins to emit photons – light. The color of the light is determined by the material used, a phenomena known as the energy band gap. LEDs are often composite; for example, a mix of red, green, and blue LEDs creates white light.
Benefits of LEDs
Energy Savings – Your LEDs require only about 25 percent of the electricity used in traditional bulbs. This saves you on electrical bills, and reduces the overall demand on the electrical grid.
More Efficient – In conventional bulbs, light is diffused in all directions; even with reflectors, about half of the light is wasted. LED light flows in one direction, so that you can use LEDs to light specific areas without mirrors or special lenses.
Safer – Because they are so much more efficient, LEDs give off little heat, making them safer to your touch, or in flammable environments. They are also much more durable and don’t leave broken glass on your floor when damaged.
Eco-friendly Solution – LEDs last far longer than conventional bulbs. This means less trash for you, less glass in local landfills, and the reduced production of conventional lights helps preserve the environment.
Applications of LED
LED lights are smart home friendly. They can be integrated into structural wiring and controlled via computers, mobile phones and sensors. You can maintain desired light levels at certain times of the day or year, turn lights on or off when people enter or leave a room, or activate them as part of a security system. In large industrial buildings, lights can be spaced to illuminate long corridors or crucial equipment with minimal waste.
LED lighting products are usually recessed and strategically located to conserve living space and energy, though they are also found as more traditional fixtures to satisfy wide tastes in lighting design. Older homes can easily undergo retrofitting with LED lighting.
Future of LEDs
With all the advantages, LEDs are rapidly becoming the favored alternative in homes and commercial structures. They are also used in virtually every modern electrical appliance. Undoubtedly you will see even more innovative lighting design.
As usage spreads, and both semiconductor materials and LED installation designs become more sophisticated, LEDs will provide more advantages for society as a whole. Some estimate that within the next 15 years, LEDs will save us $30 billion annually. Reducing electrical bills, and in the process reduce our electrical consumption by as much as 45,000 megawatts.
Contact your electrician at Southern Electric to learn more about energy and cost saving lighting solutions.