Benefits of LED bulbs
Author: Martin James
Published: August 22, 2012
There's no question that investing in LED lighting for your business will save you money long-term, thanks in no small part to government initiatives that are making it increasingly expensive for companies that don't make the change. But why is there such a major focus on making the change in the first place? Join us as we explore the benefits of LED and what they mean to your business.
The standard tungsten filament-based light bulb – or the incandescent bulb as it's commonly called – has been lighting up our business and homes largely unchanged for a century now. But as far as light sources go it's massively inefficient: the light is only produced when the filament itself becomes so hot that it glows, and so it's no surprise to hear that your standard incandescent bulb uses around 90% of the energy it consumes on creating not light, but heat.
The latest generation of LED bulbs, however, are far more efficient and last longer, which means even though they cost more up front, that initial cost will be offset typically within a year or two. But having already looked at just how much you can expect to save by switching your business to LED in our LED- how much will I save feature, let's take a look at actual benefits of LED, whether we're talking a small business looking for a more energy-efficient lighting solution, or a large-scale entertainment premises with significant energy demands.
The financial case for switching
We've already looked in depth at just how much your business can stand to save by switching to LED lighting. But to recap quickly, it comes down to LEDs being cheaper to run and lasting longer than incandescent bulbs. However, they're also far more expensive up front, so it'll be a while before you see any real return on your investment. Once you do, however, there'll be no denying that LED is the cheaper lighting option in the long-term.
The benefits of LED
So with that basic financial principle out of the way, let's look more closely at the benefits of LED from a technology point of view.
The process isn't quite as simple as with incandescent bulbs, but the good news is that unlike fluorescent lights, LED lights are very much dimmable. Ironically, the complications are a result of LED's greater efficiency. Because power requirements are so low, dimming the light to anything less than 10% brightness using a traditional dimmer switch will reduce the power so much that the light won't illuminate at all. Also, LED bulbs require constant power flow, but traditional dimmer switches typically work by rapidly switching the light off and on again. On the plus side, that makes dimmable LEDs far smoother than their incandescent counterparts, and newer dimmer switches are available that are designed specifically for use with LED bulbs. It goes without saying that LED offers a far better dimmable option than any fluorescent counterpart.
Unlike other types of light, LEDs are solid state, which means they're either on or off. That means none of the flickering or slow warm-up typically associated with fluorescent lighting. Simply put, once you switch it on, it's on.
Low heat production
Probably the biggest difference between LED bulbs and incandescent bulbs is that with the LED you're not creating light only as a by-product of large quantities of heat, as is the case with incandescents. Aside from the obvious energy saving argument, the lack of heat produced by LED lights means the ambient temperature in the room remains constant regardless of whether the light is on or off, and the bulb itself can be touched or handled without fear of burning, which is a massive safety risk when it comes with incandescent and especially halogen light bulbs.
Energy efficiency is an important topic at the moment, not only from a financial point of view but an ecological one too. Fortunately, LED light bulbs score highly on both counts. Incredibly, LED lighting can use as much as 85% less power than incandescent bulbs, and 50% less than fluorescent tubes. Aside from the obvious cost-saving side of things, there's also an ecological point to consider here in that you're only using the amount of power that you need, and letting little or none go to waste. That should appeal in particular to larger businesses or high-profile venues.
Where LED really saves money long-term is in the fact that it's not just more energy-efficient, but has a massively improved lifespan too compared with older types of lighting technology. So just how much longer are we talking about? You could be looking at as much as 50 times – in other words you're going through just one light bulb where previously you would have gone through 50. That saves you not just the amount of money you would have had to spend on the bulbs themselves, but also the time that buying them would have taken, the space you'd need to store them and the resources it would take to safely destroy them. This doesn’t even take into account any extra cost required to change those hard to fit / out of reach bulbs that turn bulb changing into a project itself.
The retrofit solution
The cost-saving benefits of LED lighting make it a no-brainer for new installations, but thanks to a rapidly expanding retrofit range, it's becoming increasingly popular as a like-for-like replacement for existing bulbs too. LED retrofit lights are designed to be direct replacements for existing fluorescent, incandescent or halogen light bulbs, boasting the exact same size, shape and lighting performance but in a package that uses far less power and lasts up to 10 times longer.
LED in the spotlight
The combination of energy efficiency and far longer lifespan explains why LED light bulbs are such a popular choice over older types of lighting product – even though they're more costly up front. But even ignoring financial considerations, LED light bulbs are safer to handle, don't affect your ambient temperature, are easier to destroy as they contain less hazardous material than rival bulb types, while their longer lifespan means having to keep fewer bulbs in stock in the first place. Whether you're a major corporate concern, a small business, an electrician or simply someone looking to make an intelligent choice for lighting your own home, the benefits of LED make it an easy decision to make.
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