In the ever more environmentally aware world that we find ourselves in, embracing new and more efficient technologies should always be a priority. Although there is usually a difficult adoption period with any new technologies due to price, availability, trust, support or many other factors; once their mass-market presence has been established, ignoring them serves no real purpose. LED’s are a strong example of one such technology; now readily available at reasonable prices from numerous retailers, the benefits of using them outweigh any possible reasoning to remain using older types of the bulb as, in all but highly specialised situations, LED lights are superior.
What is the functional difference between LED’s and older bulbs?
Older light bulbs tended to work by passing a current through a tungsten wire filament that was too thin to handle it. This would make the filament glow brightly and under normal conditions, it would burn out very fast; as such light bulbs encase this filament inside a bubble of argon gas. This prevents the oxygen in the air from reaching the filament and allowing it to burn out. LED’s operate on a completely separate principle, as they utilise a process known as electroluminescence. As a Light Emitting Diode, LED’s only allow current to flow one way through them, and when they do there is a movement of electrons inside the device. This causes light to be emitted as a by-product of the process of recombination that takes place as the electrons move.
Given that the two different technologies are vastly different in their operating principles, their functional requirements are just as varied. This means that, whilst both require electricity to function, incandescent light bulbs are literally burning considerably more current to function. The difference is sizable as LED’s can be up to 80% more efficient than incandescent light bulbs, which is a pretty significant saving.
Due to the fairly aggressive and volatile nature of the process used to generate light in an incandescent light bulb, it should be no surprise that their life span is fairly limited. On average, incandescent bulbs will last between 1000 – 2000 hours of usage, whereas modern LED equivalents can last up to 50,000 hours. To give this some context, and depending on usage, this can mean the difference between a lifespan of roughly 2 – 5 years and 15 – 20 years respectively. Clearly a huge difference.
Not only does the efficiency result in using less power, the lower need for replacement bulbs also means that less waste is being produced. Both of these factors are key environmental concerns, but there is also another environmental benefit to using LED’s. The disposal of incandescent and halogen light bulbs is far more wasteful as they cannot be recycled by any practical means and as such often end up in landfills. LED’s are made from plastics and other materials that can be readily recycled, making them a far cleaner and more environmentally friendly option. So not only do LED lights save you money, they last longer and provide numerous environmental benefits as well, making it quite tricky to find a reason not to upgrade.