You see them everyday, they brighten up a room, but what exactly are LED lights? Discover how LED lights work. Now isn’t that a bright idea?
In 2019, the US used 216 billion kWh of electricity to light up houses and businesses. Of that, the residential sector consumed 75 billion kWh.
Per home, about 10% of electricity use goes toward lighting alone. So, if you’re annual electricity bills amount to $2,000, then $200 of that is just for illumination!
If you’re still using a lot of incandescent light bulbs, then you’re no doubt paying a lot more.
That’s why as early as now, you should consider making the switch to LED lights.
The question now is, how do LED lights work and how will switching to them help? How do LED properties even compare to those of traditional light bulbs?
We’ll answer all these questions in this post, so be sure to keep reading!
A Brief Trip Down the LED Memory Lane
LED stands for Light Emitting Diode. US engineer Nick Holonyak introduced its first-ever form, the red diode LED, back in 1962. This was then followed by yellow and green LED lights.
Today, LED lights are available in a wide range of “whites”, from warm to bright to soft white. Those are only the most popular colors though, but LED lights can also be in yellow and even purple.
The ABC of the LED
LED, at its basic form, is a diode chip that consists of semiconducting material. Diodes are devices that serve as a switch for directing current in a single direction. Meaning, electricity can flow unrestricted in one direction, but it can’t flow back.
LEDs are then housed within a case made of materials like plastic, resin, epoxy, or ceramic. The encasement is then attached to an electrical circuit.
LEDs now come in various sizes, but the most common ones are 5 millimeters in size. You’ll find smaller ones, at 3mm, but they’re also now produced in sizes of up to 10mm.
So, How Do LED Lights Work To Produce Light?
LEDs work by transforming electrical current that passes through them into light. They do this by harnessing the power of electrons that pass through two diode terminals. This process, called “electroluminescence”, relies on the movement of electrons.
Breaking this down further, an LED has two types of semiconductor materials. One is the N-type material, which has extra negatively-charged particles. The other is the P-type material, which (yes, you guessed right!) has extra positively-charged particles.
LED manufacturers bond a small section of the N-type semiconductor to a small area of the P-type one. This bonded section is the N-type and P-type “junction”.
After this, an electrode goes onto each end of this tiny, bonded structure. This arrangement is what allows a diode to direct current in only one direction.
When you connect an LED to a source of electricity, electrons will start to move towards the “junction”. The diode then converts this flow of energy into that bright, energy-saving light.
How Do Led Light Bulbs Work as Opposed to Incandescent Lights?
Contrary to popular belief, incandescent bulbs still exist — about 1.5 billion of them are still used in US homes. In fact, from 2015 to 2016, only 18% of households said they didn’t use this type of lighting anymore.
If you still use incandescent light bulbs at home, consider making the move to LED now. Here’s why.
As amazing as Edison bulbs are, they’re highly-inefficient, wasting as much as 90% of the energy they use. That’s because they convert only 10% of the electricity that flows through them into light.
The remaining 90% then gets converted into heat.
What about LED performance then? Well, LEDs are the complete opposite — they’re 90% efficient.
That means that they convert only 10% of electricity into heat. This is why LED is now the world’s most energy-efficient type of artificial light.
Have you ever tried touching an incandescent light bulb that you just switched off? If so, then you’ve learned how warm or even hot these bulbs can get. That, again, has to do with their inefficiency, since they convert more energy into heat than light.
While you may not feel the difference with a single incandescent bulb, imagine what 30 of them can do. We say 30, as there are about 50 light bulb sockets in an average US home. According to Energy Star, 60% of those sockets (hence, 30) still have inefficient light bulbs.
In any case, the thought of that unwanted heat should be enough to make you convert. If not, then think about how incandescent light bulbs can only last for up to 2,000 hours. Most LED bulbs, on the other hand, have a rating of 25,000 hours.
LEDs as Directional Lights
Another feature of LED bulbs is that they emit directional light. This means they produce light focused on a single direction. This makes them more ideal for situations that require concentrated, bright light.
Whereas Edison bulbs and CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) emit omnidirectional light. Meaning, their light flows in all directions — from the top to the side to the bottom. It’s because of this that they require diffusers and reflectors.
Omnidirectional light sources are fine for floor or table lamps and chandeliers. However, they aren’t as great and energy-efficient for most other lighting applications.
Other Key Benefits of LED Lights
Modern LEDs now come with dimming controls. You’ll even find LED light packs that come with at least three brightness settings.
Speaking of brightness, LEDs are instantly bright as soon as you turn them on. Whereas older bulb types take some time before they reach their max brightness.
LEDs are also the best choice for illuminating areas with UV-sensitive objects. LED bulbs emit very little infrared light, which can damage carpets, paint, and artwork. That makes these energy-savers a perfect addition to art studios/rooms.
Since LED light bulbs use far less energy, they are great for the environment. Of all the lighting products available today, LEDs generate the least greenhouse gases. That makes them the most eco-friendly choice for your home lighting needs.
Most Common Household Uses for LEDs
If you can, you should go all LED at home to maximize your savings. This means switching out all non-LED bulbs into LED ones. However, be sure to choose LED bulbs rated to be a safe replacement for incandescent bulbs.
Most LED lamps can replace older incandescent bulbs rated at 40, 60, and 75 watts. These are the lights often used in kitchens, bathrooms, and bedrooms. Unless your ceiling lights are the recessed-type, you may also be able to use LED bulbs in those sockets.
Specific Areas of Your Home Where Led Lights Are Perfect For
Here are other areas of your home where you can — and should consider — getting LEDs for.
With the directional light they produce, LEDs are ideal for illuminating small spaces. These include your kitchen countertops, cabinets under the sinks, and even on top of your oven. They’re great lighting for reading recipes or even taking notes while you cook!
LED is also an excellent source of light for garage workbenches and as a underhood work light. Their focused light makes it easier to work with and handle all those tiny car parts and components.
Outdoor Wall Lighting
Because of their brightness, LEDs are ideal for lighting up your home’s exterior. For instance, you can install an LED wall pack to light up your porch, garage, backyard, or even pool area. In fact, most of today’s security floodlights make use of LEDs.
Do you decorate your home during the holidays? If so, then you likely switch the lights on by the time it turns dark and only switch them off before you head to bed. It’s even possible that you forget turning them off and only do so when you wake up.
Either way, if your home is big on holiday decors, consider switching to LED holiday lights. Not only will this help you save a lot during the holiday season — it can also prevent house fires.
From 2013 to 2017, holiday lights contributed to about 44% of Christmas fires in the US. That’s on top of the 780 home structure fires each year that decorations triggered. One of the possible culprits behind these fires is the heat that non-LED lights emit.
So, this year, it’s best that you make the switch to safer, more energy-efficient holiday LED lights.
Go Smart, Go LED
There you have it, all the answers to your question, “how do LED lights work?” Now that you know the technical details as well as their benefits, then it’s time to think of converting. The sooner you switch to LED lights, the sooner you can bring your lighting costs down.
Plus, this means you’ll be doing your part sooner in helping save the environment!
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