The first Light Emitting Diode came to life 50 years ago (1962) as a semiconductor light source.
LEDs then were used as indicator lamps in a number of electronic devices and principally as warning
devices. With continuous development LEDs are now increasingly being used in all types of general
lighting where the technology is proven in terms of energy saving. This trend is likely to continue as
purchasers become aware of the substantial benefits LEDs have when compared to conventional
Initially the LED lighting industry targeted the commercial and military aerospace industries where
the benefits of applying LED lighting technology have already achieved substantial acceptance. The
energy savings produced are compounded by massive reductions in maintenance costs and the application
of LED lighting is now commonplace in both retrofit and new build aircraft as the commercial
benefits of this technology are proven beyond doubt.
In general, current lighting in the public domain is dominated by traditional incandescent filament bulbs
or fluorescent tubes and these processes have barely changed in more than 100 years. Those technology
types and systems are fully understood and most people are comfortable with the range of
fittings and versions available along with the associated cost implications. Common applications are
However, the cost and efficiency of conventional lighting is now being questioned more broadly as
people become more aware of the alternative means of lighting that are available. This awareness is
expanding rapidly as changes in education, environment and law mean that new alternatives in lighting
technology are more necessary than ever.
Since 2008, LED lighting has been developing as a more generally accepted form of lighting with a
number of big brand name traditional lighting manufacturers opening separate divisions focused on
this new technology. Its application can make a major contribution to reduced running costs of both
exterior and interior lighting whether it is in a private home, a public building or a commercial
The application of LEDs to create light offers many opportunities to make, not only substantial savings
in cost of general lighting, but also a significant reduction in environmental impact over conventional
mains power generation.
The main benefits include:
- Reduced power consumption: When compared to conventional mains powered lighting solutions,
savings of 80% - 85% are common in many LED applications when using low voltage DC power
conversion from mains power.
- Increased life and decreased maintenance: The typical total life of 100,000 hours (10+ years)
per unit with minimal degradation of light output eliminates the cost of lamp replacement and
- Lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO): LEDs offer greatly reduced long term outright cost of
ownership with minimal initial system outlay if used as a replacement light supply using reduced
voltage mains power (110Vac or 240Vac converted to 12Vdc or 24Vdc).
- Wider range of working voltage options: LEDs only require tiny amounts of power (typically in the
12Vdc – 48Vdc range) to operate efficiently which is ideal when considering systems to be run
from solar or wind generated power. There is also the option of running LED lighting systems from
mains generated power (110Vac or 220Vac) via conventional transformers at vastly reduced
- Lower Heat Output: Maximum LED operating temperatures are typically 45°C rather than the
300° - 450°C operating temperatures of conventional lighting solutions. Heat pollution is therefore
reduced offering savings in the operation of secondary interior systems such as air conditioning.
- Minimised Light Pollution: Light Pollution can be virtually eliminated as light output from LEDs is
directional, only directing light where it is required via reflector or optical guidance. Specific beam
spreads can be defined typically within a range of 2° - 150° from light source. This is highly efficient
as no light is wasted when compared to conventional lighting where light is typically omni-directional
from bulbs or tubes and inefficient as much of the light generated travels away from the area
where it is required.
- Reduced Carbon Emissions: LED lighting systems are environmentally and ecologically friendly.
Other than the massive reduction in use of conventionally generated energy, there are no poisonous
elements used in component manufacture, such as Mercury and other noxious and polluting gases.
- Dimmable Control: In addition to Instant On, LED lighting offers fully dimmable illumination from
standard leading edge phase control, 0 – 10V / 1 – 10V dimming, DALI automated dimming and
DMX software control. The application of highly efficient dimming control systems permits greater
energy savings and maintenance reduction especially over any type of fluorescent type lighting
which cannot be full range dimmed.
- Shock Resistance: Unlike conventional light sources, LEDs are not subject to sudden failure or
burnout as there are no filaments to burn out or break. The light in LEDs emits from encapsulated
silicon diodes immersed in phosphor which can be energised from a very low voltage input.
- Light Quality: The quality of the LED 'white' light can be tailored to suit the human eye, eliminating
the eye strain that can have adverse and costly implications in certain working and living environments
together with Health and Safety issues. LEDs do not produce ultraviolet light (however
there are UV variants) and can be perfectly matched to a specific 'colour rendering index'.