LEDs are small, very efficient solid bulbs. New LED bulbs are grouped in clusters with diffuser lenses, which have broadened the applications for LED use in the home. LED technology is advancing rapidly, with many new bulb styles available. Initially more expensive than CFLs, LEDs now bring more value since they last longer.
The Status of Energy Efficient Lighting
With a burgeoning supply of far more efficient light bulb options, the EU began a phased ban of incandescents in 2009. Canada followed suit banning the manufacture and import of higher wattage incandescent bulbs beginning in 2014.
In 2007, the U.S. set new energy efficiency guidelines for all bulbs, which effectively phased out the least efficient incandescent bulbs. Incandescents are now available only if they meet the new energy standard.
LED Light Bulbs
LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) are solid light bulbs that are extremely energy-efficient. When first developed, LEDs were limited to single-bulb use in applications such as instrument panels, electronics, pen lights and, more recently, strings of indoor and outdoor Christmas lights.
Manufacturers have expanded the application of LEDs by “clustering” the small bulbs. The first clustered bulbs were used for battery-powered items such as flashlights and headlamps. Today, LED bulbs are made using as many as 180 bulbs per cluster, and encased in diffuser lenses, which spread the light in wider beams. Now available with standard bases that fit common household light fixtures, LEDs are the next generation in home lighting.
A significant feature of LEDs is that the light is directional, as opposed to incandescent bulbs, which spread the light more spherically. This is an advantage with recessed lighting or under-cabinet lighting, but it is a disadvantage for table lamps. New LED bulb designs address this directional limitation by using diffuser lenses and reflectors to disperse the light more like an incandescent bulb.
The high cost of producing LEDs has been a roadblock to widespread use. However, researchers at Purdue University have developed a process for using inexpensive silicon wafers to replace the expensive sapphire-based technology. This has rapidly brought LEDs into competitive pricing with CFLs and incandescent bulbs. LED bulbs are now the standard for most lighting needs.
Benefits of LED Lightbulbs
LED bulbs last up to 10 times longer than compact fluorescents, and 40 times longer than typical incandescent bulbs.
Since LEDs do not have a filament, they are not damaged under circumstances when a regular incandescent bulb would be broken. Because they are solid, LED bulbs hold up well to jarring and bumping.