LED lighting is often overlooked in ‘green building’ literature while more expensive and less satisfactory environmental solutions are pursued. The purpose of this article is to discuss some of the benefits of LED lighting, and to argue that LED lighting should be considered an essential element of any ‘green’ building, house, or construction project. Let’s start with some of the benefits of LEDs. Pardon the list but there are so many it is difficult to work it into a paragraph.
LED lighting uses 80% less energy than incandescent lighting.
LED lighting produces 500% more light per Watt.
LED lights have lenses that focus the light into a pattern of equal distribution adding to energy savings as light is not wasted bouncing in unneeded directions.
LED lights do not produce as much heat. This can save on energy and maintenance costs.
LED lights do not emit significant UV or IR radiation. IR is back to the heat issue, and UV is something we generally try to avoid.
LED lights last 50,000 hours or about 25 times longer than incandescent lights. This saves obviously on maintenance and disposal.
LED lights do not contain mercury common in fluorescents.
The above is meant to be a list of environmental benefits. There are other aesthetic benefits of LEDs. For one the color temperature can be precisely controlled. Secondly, the lenses allow for better lighting rendition. This pretty much summarizes most of the benefits, and there are not any environmental risks posed by LEDs. I would simply note that while other green technologies may have some difficult drawbacks to overcome that the advantages of LED lighting are fairly strait forward and clear cut.
If there was an apparent drawback, at least from the consumer perspective, it would be the expense. An LED PAR38 12 Watt light can cost 10 times as much an incandescent light. In fact, however, the expense of LEDs is not a drawback at all. Once, energy and replacement costs are figured in the LED lights actually save money. Simply consider the cost of 24 extra replacements of the incandescent light. Then factor the extra energy use and its really not even close. We did not include that in the summer LEDs put less load on the air conditioning. Its clear the LED light ultimately saves money, but many are reluctant to purchase due to the longer term of the payback.
So if your convinced, and you want to ‘go LED’ what are some of the best products? In fact there is a broad spectrum of lighting possibilities. Everything from PAR lights to recessed ceiling lights are available all at costs that payback before too long. You should also consider the source of your LEDs. The best LEDs (in this authors opinion) are produced by CREE and SSC. CREE is a US company and SSC is in Korea. The LED fixtures may be made by any manufacturer but try to verify the source of the LEDs.
Finally, the real benefit of LEDs is that they are cool. Yes, they are not as hot as incandescent lights, but I mean they are cool. When you see the lights and what they do it is impressive. Considering how important lighting is LEDs represent the best solution and they are available today.