LED Light Installation | LED Light Retrofit
What are LEDs?
LEDs, or light–emitting diodes, are semiconductor devices that produce visible light when an electrical current passed through them. LEDs are a type of Solid State Lighting (SSL), as are organic light–emitting diodes (OLEDs) and light–emitting polymers (LEPs).
How is LED lighting different than other light sources, such as incandescent and CFL?
LED lighting differs from incandescent and compact fluorescent lighting in several ways. When designed well, LED lighting can be more efficient, durable, versatile and longer lasting.
LED lighting products use light emitting diodes to produce light very efficiently. An electrical current passes through semiconductor material, which illuminates the tiny light sources we call LEDs. The heat produced is absorbed into a heat sink.
Common LED colors include amber, red, green, and blue. There is actually no such thing as a “white” LED. To get white light, the kind we use for lighting our homes and offices, different color LEDs are mixed or covered with a phosphor material that converts the color of the light. The phosphor is the yellow material you can see on some LED products. Colored LEDs are widely used as signal lights and indicator lights, like the power button on a computer.
LEDs are now being incorporated into bulbs and fixtures for general lighting applications. LEDs are small and provide unique design opportunities. Some LED bulb solutions may look like familiar light bulbs and some may not, but can better match the performance of traditional light bulbs. Some LED light fixtures may have LEDs built–in as a permanent light source.
LEDs are “directional” light sources, which means they emit light in a specific direction, unlike incandescent and compact fluorescent bulbs, which emit light and heat in all directions. For this reason, LED lighting is able to use light and energy more efficiently in many applications. However, it also means that sophisticated engineering is needed to produce an LED light bulb that shines light all around like an incandescent A-shape bulb.
LED bulbs that have earned the ENERGY STAR are subject to very specific requirements designed to replicate the experience you are used to with a standard A-type bulb, so they can be used for a wide variety of applications. As the graphic on the right demonstrates, a general purpose LED bulb that does not qualify for the ENERGY STAR may not distribute light in all directions and could prove to be a disappointment if used in a table lamp.
For more information on how to select an ENERGY STAR certified bulb for each application in your home, view the ENERGY STAR Light Bulb Purchasing Guide (PDF, 1.49 MB).
Incandescent bulbs produce light using electricity to heat a metal filament until it becomes “white” hot or is said to incandesce. As a result, incandescent bulbs release 90% of their energy as heat.
In a CFL, an electric current flows between electrodes at each end of a tube containing gases. This reaction produces ultraviolet (UV) light and heat. The UV light is transformed into visible light when it strikes a phosphor coating on the inside of the bulb. Learn more about CFLs.
The Basics of LED Lighting
The useful life of LED lighting products is defined differently than that of other light sources, such as incandescent or CFL. This is because LEDs typically do not “burn out” or fail. Instead, they experience lumen depreciation, where the amount of light produced decreases and light color appearance can shift over time. Instead of basing the useful life of an LED product on the time it takes for 50% of a large group of lamps to burn out (as is the case with traditional sources), LED product “lifetime” is set based on a prediction of when the light output decreases 30 percent.
LEDs and Heat
Because LED lighting systems don’t radiate heat the way an incandescent or halogen light bulb does, the heat produced from the power going into the product must be drawn away from the LEDs. This is usually done with a heat sink, which is a passive device that absorbs the heat produced and dissipates it into the surrounding environment. This keeps LEDs from overheating and burning out. Thermal management is probably the single most important factor in the successful performance of an LED product over its lifetime because the higher the temperature at which the LEDs are operated, the more quickly the light will degrade, and the shorter the useful life will be.
After less than a year of use, a poorly designed LED product can flicker, shift in color, look dim, offer uneven light, or continue to use power when turned off, among other problems.
LED products use a variety of unique heat sink designs and configurations to manage heat, so they may look very different from each other. Regardless of the heat sink design, all LED products that have earned the ENERGY STAR have been tested to ensure that they properly manage the heat so that the light output is properly maintained through the end of its rated life.
LED Recessed Can
LED recessed lights, also known as “LED can lights” or “LED downlights” can be used for a wide range of residential, retail and commercial applications. “LED” stands for “Light Emitting Diode”, which is another way of saying that it’s a computer chip, semiconductor diode that emits light.
LEDs are available for recessed lighting as either replacement bulbs, dedicated housings, or as LED retrofit modules. The modules can easily be installed in virtually all recessed housings with a screw-in, Edison base socket, without the need for rewiring.
So, why does SafeSide Electric recommend using LED recessed lighting?
Energy savings is a big appeal. LEDs can save up to 85 percent of the electricity used by incandescent bulbs, up to 50 percent of electricity used by CFLs, and up to 30 percent used by fluorescent tube lighting. To give you an idea of the savings, a 12 watt LED has a light output comparable to that of a 60 watt incandescent or halogen bulb, but uses 85% less energy than the incandescent light, and 50% less than a CFL.
With the widespread adoption of LEDs, the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that the U.S. would reduce its electricity used just for lighting by nearly 62 percent, eliminate 258 million metric tons of carbon emissions, and save over $280 billion in energy costs.
Less Heat – Better Color
LED lights are more efficient than incandescent or halogen lighting, this type of lighting emits very little heat, reducing the load on air conditioning and cooling systems.
Additionally, in retail and consumer settings, LED downlights do not emit damaging ultraviolet or infrared light, so fabrics and artwork can be illuminated without color deterioration. Also, high quality LEDs produce better light that shows color more effectively than fluorescents.
LED can lights are designed to last about 50 times longer, which means less maintenance and less time spent on replacing burned-out bulbs that are often very hard to get at. The lifespan of an LED is simply unmatched by other types of lighting. Your typical LED light will last approximately eleven years based on twelve hours of use per day.
After the lifespan of the downlight is over, there are other advantages as well. This type of lighting does not contain hazardous materials, such as mercury. Since fluorescent tubes and CFLs contain mercury, they must be properly disposed of in order to prevent this element from contaminating public dumps and landfills.
LED recessed lighting uses solid-state technology, which allows effective dimming in many applications and eliminates flickering. Use different dimmers to create zones of adjustable lighting throughout a room or home.
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