LED Lighting: What’s Been Holding Back a Better Lightbulb?
When Thomas Edison invented the lightbulb over 150 years ago, he likely never foresaw how far lighting technologies would come. He definitely never even considered that they might be used for lighting in an air dome!
The invention of the incandescent bulb, was a stroke of genius. An electrical current running through a thin wire made of tungsten creates heat and light. This happens because the current travelling through the filament experiences resistance, just like trying to squeeze a liquid through a narrow hose. The more resistance, the more energy builds up and needs to be released. In a lightbulb, this energy escapes as light and heat.
Incandescent bulbs are efficient at producing both light and heat, but most of the time we don’t need to produce heat. If we measure a bulbs efficiency solely on the light it produces, incandescent bulbs are quite inefficient. If you’ve ever changed a lightbulb, you know just how much energy goes to producing heat. Most of us have been burned—literally—by the inefficiency of the incandescent bulb.
So why do we still use bulbs that waste energy producing heat? Well, there are a couple reasons. One—incandescent bulbs are established and have been used for generations, and two—they’re cheap. Incredibly cheap, actually.
The world hasn’t completely switched to another lighting technology because of the cost. Incandescent bulbs are cheap to produce and, despite their inefficiency, running them used to be relatively inexpensive because energy costs have been low. This isn’t the case anymore.
Energy is becoming more expensive by the day, and diminishing energy resources will only get worse. Energy costs increase, year over year and couple this with the conservation movement, the focus has shifted and low energy consuming lighting is the future.
LEDs, or light emitting diodes, are this future. Simply put, LEDs use semiconductors that emit light when electrons move around from connected voltage. It’s a bit more complicated than that, but the end result is light production with pretty much no heat being produced. This means LEDs can be extremely bright, waste very little energy, and last virtually forever.
LEDs aren’t as new as you might think, though. They’ve been used in electronics for over 50 years. A common place you’ve likely seen them are in your TV remote. That little infrared LED has been blasting light—albeit not visible light—across your living room for decades. Over the years, scientists have built better and brighter LEDs in an array of colours, and now the world is poised for an LED revolution.
Everyone is jumping on board the LED bandwagon. Many municipalities are switching streetlights over to LEDs for the cost savings of less electricity and less upkeep—a longer life means workers have to climb up and change them less often. Recently, Guelph has begun testing LED streetlights, which, if rolled out across the city, can save $750,000 each year.
For us here at The Farley Group, our dome lighting systems have shifted to using LED lights for the obvious benefits they have over older systems. Check back to our blog and website for more information on our new LED lighting and the specific benefits and cost savings they bring!
LED technology is fascinating and the world is now ready to usher in a better lightbulb. The future looks bright.