LEDs are on the cutting edge of lighting innovation. Because LED products are so new and different, many people have questions about them. Browse through the frequently asked questions below to learn more about LEDs amazing technology and how they can fit into your next project.
What are LEDs?
LED is an acronym for Light Emitting Diode. An LED is what’s called a “solid-state lighting” technology, or SSL. Basically, instead of emitting light from a vacuum (as in an incandescent bulb) or a gas (as in a CFL), an SSL emits light from a piece of solid matter. In the case of a traditional LED, that piece of matter is a semiconductor.
Stated very simply, an LED produces light when electrons move around within its semiconductor structure.
A semiconductor is made of a positively charged and a negatively charged component. The positive layer has “holes” — openings for electrons; the negative layer has free electrons floating around in it. When an electric charge strikes the semiconductor, it activates the flow of electrons from the negative to the positive layer. Those excited electrons emit light as they flow into the positively charged holes
How long do LEDs last?
Most LEDs will last between 50,000 – 100,000 hours, depending on type and/or application. The cooler it is, the longer they will last. So an LED lamp in an outside fixture in Alaska will last much longer than the same bulb in Florida. There are some rated at less hours as well and are generally cheaper and poorly made. Two bulbs of this quality bought together may appear to be different colors simply because of the manufacturing to produce a cheaper lamp. All LED’s are not the same…
Do LEDs get hot?
The part of the LED that emits light does not have any significant heat coming from it. You can put your finger on one that has been burning all day and only feel a slight warmth. However, when these LED’s are clustered to produce a large amount of light (like in a floodlight or streetlight) there is heat that needs to be dissipated from the LED. You will generally see ‘fins’ or heat sinks on the back of these larger types that handle the heat efficiently. But for most consumer lighting for the interior of the home, you will not notice any heat coming from the LED.
How much energy do LEDs use?
This varies by the size of the wattage of the LED as well as how hard it is being driven from the driver (think transformer). Generally, you will see about an 80% savings in power usage. A 7 watt LED bulb is equivalent to a 60 watt incandescent.
Why are LEDs more expensive than other lighting?
Like any new technology, the price is higher in the beginning. There has already been a significant drop in recessed can light retrofits coming down from over $140 per light to less than $50. As time goes on, and more and more incandescent lamps are being slowly discontinued due to government regulations, you will see the pricing continue to drop. Remember when a CFL (Compact Fluorescent) was over $25? Now you can pick them up for less than $5!