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LEDs are the future of the lighting market and are an easy upgrade with retrofits available for almost every application. There are a multitude of reasons why you should upgrade to LEDs but the four being discussed today will be longevity, efficiency, color temperature and environmental impacts.

LED Longevity

LEDs last a long time. A really long time. The bulbs GenPro offers are made to last 22.8 years with a 10-year warranty. When was the last time you bought an electronic with a 10-year warranty? LEDs are Light-Emitting Diodes, which are semiconductors that when voltage is applied, energy is released as photons. LEDs last up to 25 times longer than an incandescent bulb and up to 5 times longer than a fluorescent bulb. Fluorescent bulbs never lived up to the hype of longevity, the heat produced from these bulbs when in a canister or enclosed fixture can cause them to burn out prematurely.

LED Efficiency

Incandescent bulbs are inefficient for multiple reasons including the fundamental way in which the bulb creates light. Incandescent bulbs use electricity to heat a filament that then emits light. Heat is a typical by product of an inefficient lighting system. Incandescent bulbs convert about 5% of the electricity used to light and 95% to heat, making these bulbs superannuated. Using incandescent bulbs in your home or business is like having heat lamps throughout, heating the areas which will then cause your air conditioner to work even harder during hot summer months. These lights also burn out frequently, resulting in higher replacement and maintenance costs.

With the advent of Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs (CFLs) in the late 90’s, we were promised longer lasting bulbs that used a fraction of the energy. Using one-fifth to one-third less energy than a typical incandescent bulb, this sparked a revolution in the minds of consumers that they could reduce their energy consumption by doing something as easy as changing a lightbulb. CFL’s had a higher upfront cost, but saved consumers money in the long run with their efficient use of converting electricity into light. Sadly, in most cases these bulbs never lasted as long as advertised and still produced a decent amount of heat. They also included levels of mercury high enough that throwing them into a landfill could result in nearby water sources becoming polluted.

LED technology has been around since the 1960’s but it wasn’t until the late 2000’s that the technology was refined enough to put into retrofit bulbs to easily replace incandescent and CFL bulbs. While using only 10% of the energy that an incandescent bulb uses and because of the longevity mentioned earlier, these bulbs are being adopted all over the world as the standard in energy efficient lighting. LEDs surprisingly emit very little heat. Touching a lit light bulb in the past meant burnt fingers, now touching a lit LED your brain will tell you “hot” but what you actually will feel is just slightly warm. This shows how efficient these bulbs are, wasting little energy to heat and converting 90% of the electricity used into light.

LED Color Temperatures

LED lights can be made to emit just about any color temperature along the kelvin spectrum, giving you more customization to get the exact light and ambiance you want for your facility or home. The color temperature is the warmth or coolness of the light which both have their advantages for specific applications. You typically will want a lower kelvin for your house, around 2700K, which emits a warmer, yellower light. In your office you will typically find around a 3500K light, which is cooler and more blue.

The psychology of the color of light is complex but can be summarized to the following: warmer light calms you and cooler light can actually affect your Circadian sleep/wake cycle.

Warm light mimics the color temperature close to sunset, which is around 2000K. Sunsets can actually activate the pineal gland to produce melatonin, causing you to get drowsy. Sticking with a 2700K bulb for your home will make you feel cozy, but not drowsy like the 2000K sunset.

Cooler light can disrupt your sleeping patterns if used in your bedroom, which causes a reduction in the production of melatonin in your pineal gland, which helps regulate your sleep. But in an office or workplace, this kind of light is ideal, keeping employees more alert. The cooler light mimics the sun’s light, which is 5500K. Making you more alert at work can reduce workplace accidents but another upside to the cooler light is being able see better, cooler lights are perceived as brighter. They are perceived as brighter because the color is closer to the color temperature of daylight.

Color accuracy is another advantage of an LED light. The accuracy is determined by the Color Rendering Index (CRI) with the highest possible value being 100. A light with a CRI of 100 renders all colors of the light spectrum equally like you would see with the rainbow created by the sun through a prism. This number is independent of the color temperature which is the perceived color of the light source. CFLs average around 50 – 60 CRI while LEDs average at 80+ CRI. Low-pressure sodium lights can even have a negative CRI, in essence, you can’t tell one color from the next.

 LED Environmental Impacts

The environmental impacts of the type of lightbulb you choose might not be apparent at first, but digging deeper you find out that one of the biggest environmental impacts will be seen at the landfill. For every incandescent you replace with an LED, you are saving 25 incandescent lightbulbs from ending up in a landfill. Also incandescent lightbulbs can’t be recycled, there are no hazardous materials in them, so they can be thrown away with your other garbage items. These bulbs also cause a massive strain on the power-grid, which then increases the CO2 emissions from the power plants.

CFL bulbs pose their own challenges. Yes, replacing a CFL with an LED will save 7 CFL bulbs, but CFLs contain mercury which requires specific care when they burn out. Their disposal instructions haven’t been highly publicized so many of these bulbs end up in the landfill and not their proper recycling center.  As a result, U.S. landfills are releasing 2-4 tons of mercury annually into the atmosphere and storm water runoff, according to a study in the Journal of the Air and Waste Management Association1.

LEDs are energy efficient, which saves on carbon emissions, and also reduce waste that other kinds of bulbs produce from the need of replacement. The LEDs GenPro provides are RoHS compliant. RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive) restricts the use of six hazardous materials in the manufacture of various types of electronic and electrical equipment. 95% of an LED bulb is recyclable which leaves little waste behind.

LEDs are the longest lasting, most efficient and least environmentally impactful light on the market today. As the prices continue to drop for high quality LEDs, they will be attainable as the go-to replacement for their inefficient and antiquated brethren. As this happens, the landfills will increase their toxic runoff unless the proper disposal method is followed.

References:
1)      Aucott M, McLinden M, Winka M, 2003, Release of Mercury from Broken Fluorescent Bulbs, Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association, 53:143-151.

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