It’s hard to grasp that Thomas Edison invented the incandescent light bulb 136 years ago. Forever changing the way we see, live and interact with the world today. It’s even harder to imagine that we’ve basically been using that same 19th century technology ever since. But all that is changing. In 2012, under federal regulation the US has ordered companies to start phasing out incandescent light bulbs in favor of more energy efficient alternatives. Now that technology is finally catching up with the cost of production LED lights are currently one of the best and most popular options on the market today.
A few years ago LED lights were a tough sell. They were expensive to make, the quality of light they produced was harsh and their dimming ability was quite poor. But in the last few years the situation has improved significantly. Prices have dropped, the color options have improved, the light produced is of a much higher quality and they’re lifespan and durability has greatly increased. Here a list of a few reasons why LED lights will be the technology to take us out of the 19th century and into the future.
Most incandescent light bulbs have a life span of around 800-1,500 hours. This results in the need to replace the bulb around once a year depending on the rate of use. LED lights on the other hand have an extremely long lifespan. Most quality LED lights have the ability to burn around 60,000 hours. This translates to a 17-20 year lifespan depending on the rate of use. LED lights also do not “Burn Out” like incandescent or halogen bulbs but will emit lower output levels making them less bright over a period of time.
LEDs consume far less energy than standard incandescent or halogen bulbs. Standard light bulbs use a lot of energy because a great deal of the energy used to create light is lost as heat. On average LED lights use around 2-17 watts of electricity which is an estimated efficiency of 80-90%. This means that 80% of the energy used creates light and only 20% of the energy is lost as heat. This makes LED lights far superior to old incandescent technology. Because of the energy efficiency of LED lights, the energy consumption, maintenance and replacement costs can be greatly reduced.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, “Widespread use of LED lighting has the greatest potential impact on energy savings in the United States. By 2027, widespread use of LEDs could save about 348 terawatt hours (compared to no LED use) of electricity: This is the equivalent annual electrical output of 44 large electric power plants (1000 megawatts each), and a total savings of more than $30 billion at today’s electricity prices.”
This is one of the biggest factors most people look at when considering to make a move to LED lighting. In past years LEDs were very expensive to make so there was not a lot of use by the public. With modern production innovations over the past few years LEDs have become much easier to produce with added improvements to durability and color quality.
In the short term, a standard LED bulb costs just under $40.00 and consumes 12 watts. A 40-watt equivalent which consumes less than 8 watts, costs just under $18.00. If you used a bulb for just 2 hours a day and paid the national average of $0.115 per kilowatt-hour, a single 12-watt LED will cost you about $1.00/year. Comparable CFLs that consume about 14 watts come to $1.17/year and about $5.00/year for 60-watt incandescent in that scenario. Factoring in the that most incandescent bulbs need to be replaced once a year or more depending on use you could be looking at a yearly cost of around $23 and up per lightbulb. Compared to the LED light which will cost you around $40 and have a lifespan of anywhere from 10-20 years pays for itself in efficiency and lifespan.
The majority of incandescent & fluorescent lights contain dangerous or toxic materials. Some contain mercury and lead which is highly toxic to humans as well as the environment. LED lights on the other had are made entirely from non-toxic materials and are 100% recyclable. In fact, one LED light bulb can save material and production of 25 incandescent light bulbs. Compounded with the energy efficiency LED lighting provides it will help greatly reduce the rise in greenhouse gasses produced by power plants.
Unlike halogen or incandescent bulbs which are made of glass, LEDs are a solid state lighting device. This means that they are much more durable than regular light bulbs. LEDs are small chips encapsulated in an epoxy resin, which means they don’t use fragile components such as glass. This makes them very durable against shocks, vibrations and extreme temperatures. Because LED lights are so durable to shock, vibrations and external impacts, they make great outdoor lighting systems for exposure to weather, wind and rain.
When faced with the daunting obstacles that we must tackle when it comes to modern climate change, this is one step that we can all take to improving our energy efficiency. In the years to come the technology will only improve, bring prices down to an even more affordable level for consumers. For thousands of years man struggled and fought against the darkness. Fire was his only resource. Then Thomas Edison harnessed it in the form of electricity. Now, 136 years later we move forward, improving upon the innovations of the past to build a cleaner and brighter future for the world.