Throwing light on the subject of LEDs

Throwing light on the subject of LEDs

Okay, granted: in the cutting-edge world of innovation in business finance, LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) may not sound like the most exciting of developments. But you’d be surprised at the cost-saving benefits this technology holds.

Still awake? Oh, good – then let me tell you why…

An LED (or ‘light emitting diode’) is what is called ‘solid-state technology’. An LED emits light from a solid material – more specifically a semi-conductor which makes the LED relatively sturdy and very durable.

So let’s dust off our school science textbooks: a semi-conductor is made up of positively and negatively charged components. The negative layer has electrons floating around it and, when it is charged by an electric current, the result is a migration of electrons from negative to positive.

The positive layer has ‘openings’ that can accommodate the electrons as they flow across. This movement excites the electrons which results in light being emitted.

So what are the advantages of LEDs? Well, to identify the benefits, it is important to compare how they work compared to traditional fluorescents.

Fluorescent tubes and compact fluorescents bulbs are made up of a long glass tube with metal fittings on each end through which electricity is passed. Inside the tube, which is internally coated with phosphorus, is a small amount of magnesium and an inert gas. The electricity excites the magnesium atoms to create ultra-violet light which reacts with the phosphorus making it glow, thus creating light.

In comparison to fluorescents, which are a cheaper and proven technology, investment in LEDS offers a number of advantages:

  • The service life is much greater. 60,000hrs compared to 10,000. This can ensure considerable long-term savings with many fewer replacements required.
  • Although fluorescents are hugely more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs they use around 80 per cent more power than LEDs.
  • Compared to Halogen lights, LEDs will save 75 per cent on electricity costs
  • Because of the long life cycle, maintenance costs are reduced.
  • LEDs are more versatile in terms of their colour definition, fluorescents can be perceived only as cold and white.
  • LEDs operate silently. Fluorescents may provide a permanent buzz in the background.
  • LEDs provide instant light, whereas fluorescents may flicker and not reach full luminescence for a minute or so.
  • Fluorescents contain a small amount of mercury and must be carefully disposed of. LEDs contain no hazardous materials.
  • LEDs will only ever get luke-warm to the touch, so less chance of an accidental burn.
  • LEDs can be dimmed
  • LEDs don’t attract insects
  • And they are easy to fit.

So if you’re installing a new lighting system at your organisation, you’d do well to consider the humble sounding LED as the way to go. As far as running and replacement costs are concerned, you could save yourself a packet. Now that is quite exciting.