The problem is that, while LED bulbs hold promise, they are quite dim right now compared to other types of lamps. A large bulb with 36-LED lights inside of it uses only 2.5 watts of power, but puts out only 60 lumens. A regular 60-Watt Edison light bulb puts out about 1,600 lumens.
The currently available replacement LED lamps for home use are too dim for what I need. Also, some folks don’t like the harsh bright blue white light from them.
How energy efficient are they?
Engineers compare the efficiency of lighting by calculating lumens per Watt.
Typically, LED’s provide about 24 lumens per Watt. The most efficient LED’s can go as high as 37 lumens per Watt, but they have a narrowly focused beam of light. Good for spotlights but not for lighting up a whole room.
A 60-Watt Edison style light bulb provides about 1,600 lumens so it gets about 27 lumens per Watt. LEDs are similar to old fashion Edison bulbs in efficiency.
For comparison, commercial High Intensity Discharge lamps are good for about 90+ lumens per Watt.
CFL’s are good for 115 lumens per Watt. Fluorescent lighting is still the energy efficiency champion.
I did not include halogen lamps in this comparison because I do not recommend them for home use. They are too much of a fire hazard for me to use in my home.
So why all the interest in LED’s?
LED lights last a very long time (up to 60,000 hours) so they are a good choice for hard to reach areas. The long time between burnouts saves on the cost of labor to replace them. If they were bright enough their long life would likely pay for their premium cost.
They are durable. Vibration does not cause them to fail. Turning them on and off frequently does not shorten their useful life.
LED bulbs contain no mercury so they are less of a pollution hazard the fluorescents.
They also turn on to full intensity instantly with no warm up time.
They work just fine in cold environments.
Where are LEDs used with success now?
Here is a list of applications where LEDs really shine now:
- Traffic signals
- Low intensity spotlights
- Exit route lights (theaters and airplanes)
- Exit sign lights
- Hallway and staircase illumination
- Off grid homes to minimize Wattage
As the technology develops, I am sure we will be using more LED lighting.But, they may not give the most light per dollars worth of energy.
For a good summary of what LEDs are and their history check out this article How Do They Do That? LEDs on Ohio Edison's Energy Line web site.
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