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What Are LED lights

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Even if you weren’t aware, you probably own many products already that use LED lights. LED lights, formally called light-emitting diode lights, are long-lasting and energy-efficient lights. These lights can be found in a wide range of products, including digital clocks, traffic lights, microwave ovens, digital watches, big-screen televisions and many more items. LEDs are the lights of the future; they are helping phase out incandescent light bulbs. Incandescent lights get hot quickly and easily burn out. LEDs on the other hand, are fairly cool to the touch and take much longer to die. This is because LEDs have no filament like older incandescent bulbs do. Incandescent lights are much more likely to break, as they are glass. LED lights are plastic, so they are much more dependable.

In the past, LED lights were much more pricy than they are currently. Mainly, this was to do with the fact that semiconductors were much more expensive. More recently (over the past 10 years or so), semiconductor pricing has dropped, causing LED lights to become a lot more affordable to the average person. Although it seems that an LED light purchase is more expensive than buying an incandescent bulb, it really is cheaper over the span of the bulb. This reiterates that LEDs are cost-effective due to a longer bulb life.

A common variation of LED light is an IRED (infrared-emitting diode) light. Your television remote is likely to have IRED lights to transfer all of the information to the T.V. Flat-screen computer monitors are another frequent user of IREDs. The main difference between an LED and an IRED is the infrared diodes. LEDs simply don’t have them.

The History of LED Lights

While it may seem that LED lights have just come into fashion in recent years, they have actually been in existence for several decades.  In fact, the first light-emitting diode was discovered in 1907 by a British experimenter, Henry Round of Marconi Labs, who first realized a semiconductor junction could produce light.  Subsequently, in the mid-1920s, a Russian named Oleg VladimirovichLosev invented the first actual LED light and published his achievement in Russian, German and British scientific journals.  These were important initial steps in LED’s growth but were ignored for several more years.  Additional relevant findings were noted in the 1950s and early 1960s but it wasn’t until 1962 that the first practical visible-spectrum LED was actually developed by Nick Holonyak Jr., who is often regarded as the “father of the light-emitting diode” for this invention while working for the General Electric Company.

By the late 1960s, the first LEDs were available in commercial markets, but only in red. They were initially used solely as replacements for incandescent indicators in laboratory and electronic equipment, but soon became widely recognized on household and office appliances such as TVs, radios, telephones, calculators and wrist watches.  Since the initial light output of these red LEDs was very low, at that point they could only be used as indicators rather than actual sources of light.  Soon, however, more colors were created and overall efficiency was improved.

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In 1972, M. George Crawford, a former graduate student of Holonyk, created the first yellow and red-orange LEDs, as well as a new red that was 10 times as bright as the original.  In later years blue LEDs were created by a Japanese corporation, which eventually led to the development of white LEDs so commonly seen today.  Along the way, materials technology advanced significantly, stimulating rapid improvement in light output, efficiency and reliability, allowing LEDs to finally become bright enough for illumination.

Benefits of LED Lights

In a calculation done by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) , the EIA estimated that an average US residential home consumes about 1,375B kilowatt-hours of electricity. 14% of the total consumption comes from powering homes. This might not be alarming, but for many average home owners, this data reflects how much they have to pay for their electricity bills. Switching to more energy-efficient lighting paraphernalia can have a profound impact in reducing electricity bills.

One of the popular lightning fixtures today is LED lights. LED lights are different from incandescent and fluorescent light bulbs as LEDs are composed of small tiny particles or lenses where chips are then placed over a heat conducting material.

Efficiency

LED lights come in small sizes ranging from 3 – 8mm and can be used as a single light or as part of an array. LED lights are also efficient in that the light can be directed into a specific place, illuminating the specific area which incandescent or fluorescent lights can’t do. Most LED lights use about 15% of the energy that a standard 50W halogen lamp does but produce 85% more light as opposed to the 10% that a halogen lamp produces.

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Long-Life/ Durable

Another feature that makes LED lights popular is that it can withstand rough conditions such as shock, weather exposure and vibrations making them the ideal outdoor lighting. As these lights are made up of tiny chips, they also last longer than incandescent bulbs. A rough estimate of its usage is from 35,000 to 80,000 hours depending on the type of LED light installed. This makes for a great replacement for standard halogen lamps as maintenance work is cut and since the light just fades out gradually, one can still use the light up to the end.

Environmental Issues

Aside from being efficient, these lights are also environmentally friendly. They contain no mercury or other toxic materials. They are also 100% recyclable with little to no UV emissions making them the perfect lighting for sensitive objects. Many art galleries and museums use these lights to illuminate important works as they contain no UVs that might harm the art pieces.

Safety Issues

Since LED lights operate in low voltages, they tend to be cooler to the touch than the standard halogen bulb. Conventional bulbs are also made of glass which LEDs are not so they are preferred for high traffic places as they don’t easily break. Changing the bulb is also easier as they tend to be cool to the touch which incandescent or fluorescent bulbs are not, allowing for a faster maintenance replacement.

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