In the case of lighting, right now that is LED lighting as its energy efficiency and environmental friendliness is starting to make it the lighting of choice for those that want to do their part of the world.
However, just like with any product, there are pros to using LED lighting, and there are also cons. In order to make an informed decision about which lighting product is the best for your next project, it’s important to have all the facts to be able to do a smart comparison.
Here’s a look at some of the main advantages and disadvantages to using LED lighting.
Pros of LED Lighting
Since we’ve already mentioned it, we will jump right into the advantages of LED light with energy efficiency. It is estimated that an LED lamp offers between 80-90% energy efficiency when compared to a traditional incandescent light bulb.
That means when the LED lamp is turned on, about 80% of the energy is used to illuminate actually goes into making the light, while the other 20% is given off as heat. While that may seem like a lot, it’s not when you compare it to an incandescent light bulb where’s the direct opposite — 20% of the energy goes into the light and 80% is given off as heat. Obviously there’s quite a bit of savings there, both in terms of the energy used and money being spent on that electricity. Plus being the lamp emits much less heat makes it safe as it’s cool to the touch.
Additionally, an LED lamp needs less electricity to get it going. For example, a standard 60 watt incandescent light bulb will annually use about 525 kWh of electricity. However, a comparable LED lamp will only need to use about 65 kWh of electricity. Again, savings all around.
The US Department of Energy estimates that is there is widespread use of LED lighting by 2027 in the United States, that could potentially save us about 348 TWh of electricity, for a monetary savings of more than $30 billion.
Another pro of LED lamps are there incredibly long lifespan. For example, a standard incandescent light bulb will last anywhere between 750 to 2,000 hours, and on average a fluorescent lamp will get you about 20,000 hours. However, some LED lamps can last for as long as 100,000 hours. Not only does its long life mean that you won’t need to buy very many of them, it also means you can cut down on labor costs as you won’t need to pay anyone to keep an eye on them or change them out for a very long time.
And when a LED lamp comes to the end of its very long life, it does not automatically burn out like an incandescent lamp. Instead, the LED diodes just start to operate at a lower energy level and the lamp loses some of its brightness.
Another feature of an LED lamp that helps it last longer is its durability. Because LEDs are not made from fragile materials like glass, they can withstand a lot more than incandescent and fluorescent bulbs can. That means vibrations are generally not an issue, allowing them to be used in applications like transportation and roadways. Plus LED lamps are not easily broken in shipment or during installation.
Another pro of LED lighting is that it is environmentally friendly. That is because an LED lamp is not made with any hazardous chemicals, compared to fluorescent lamps that include mercury and need to be disposed of in a special way. About 95% of all LED lamps are able to be recycled — that would mean it would not have any type of hazardous material inside.
It’s a good idea to contact your local recycling center to find out if there any special instructions you need to follow in recycling LED lamps in your area. Additionally, some manufacturers may also offer recycling programs for you to send LED lamps to.
Cons of LED Lighting
Probably the largest disadvantage that LED lighting has going on for itself right now is in terms of price. Even though over the past years the price point for LED lamps has continued to drop, it is still a bit higher than incandescent and fluorescent lamps, which could potentially make them cost-prohibitive for some people.
For example, LED lamps generally cost between $10 to $40 each, while incandescent bulbs cost a few dollars and CFL lamps cost around $3 to $5. However, it’s important to remember that over the long run, LED lamps are many times the most cost-effective choice due to their energy efficiency and long life.
Another potential con to using LED lighting is its ability to create white light. Generally an LED lamp will create white light using diodes of different colors that when all illuminated together makes white light. In the past, this has sometimes led to the color emitted by an LED lamp to be a bit too blueish.
Additionally, as the LED lamp is used, sometimes the LEDs themselves can begin to degrade in terms of the color quality of the light produced. And in lamps that are poorly designed, this can also lead to flickering, loss of brightness, and unbalanced light.
And LED lighting has also been found to be sensitive in terms of temperature. When it comes to temperature, how well an LED operates can be directly related to the temperature in which it is located. If an LED lamp is used in a location that has a raised surrounding temperature, it may cause it to overdrive and fail. To keep this from happening. LEDs generally require a heat sink to help keep it cool and working properly.
- Long life, if used in a suitable environment. Saving future maintenance & cost.
- Dramatically higher efficiency & lower power usage compared to incandescent lights (up to 80% cheaper to run). Good LEDs can produce 100 lumens of light per watts of electricity. Halogens are more around 10 to 15 lumens per watt. Here is a list of the most efficient LEDs.
- Lower heat output, conventional incandescent lights waste about 90% of their power on heat output.
- Typically lower infra-red and ultraviolet output. This can also mean a lower fire risk, especially compared to halogen downlights
- Typically faster switching time and less likely to be damaged by on off cycles
- Faster warm up time (especially compared to fluorescent lights). However some LED drivers / transformers do have a short startup time of around 1 second
- A direct retrofit solution is now available for almost all types of light fixtures
- They are usually more rugged. There is normally no glass to break and no filament to damage via vibration.
- They are more environmentally friendly. They last longer, don’t result in the emissions of as much CO2 and normally don’t contain any toxic materials, like the mercury vapor in CFL.
- Some LEDs can be setup to dynamically change colour, but this is not the norm for residential lighting.
- Some of them run cool enough to install under roof insulation, so there is less heat loss from breaking the insulation layer.
Disadvantages of LED Lights
- Expensive to initially purchase globes, but prices have been falling year on year
- Not all LED bulbs are dimmable
- Possible compatibility problems with existing dimmers when retrofitting. The larger brand name manufacturers do fairly extensive testing, but you might not be so lucky with generic LEDs
- Possible compatibility problems with existing low voltage transformers when retrofitting MR16 style globes
- High powered LED downlights can be taller than halogen lights, which can be a problem if roof space is limited
- May fail prematurely in high temperature conditions
- Quality / colour of the light isn’t always as good as incandescent or halogen lights, but is getting better. Light quality is measured using the CRI value. Here is a list of high CRI LEDs
- Light output and colour quality can degrade over the life of the bulb (but other lights can also suffer this problem)
- The need for a heatsink means some LEDs don’t like being installed on their side as the flutes in the heatsink won’t function efficiently.
- They are a newer more complex product than an incandescent light, getting accurate specifications and advice can be difficult. Performance depends on good engineering, not over driving the chip, having a good heat sink and a stable power supply
- The power supplies aren’t standardised in LED kits. So in the case of a failure the globe and the power supply needs to be replaced.
- There have been some problems reported of LED lights causing radio interference. Well designed lights shouldn’t have this problem however.
- There have been some problems reported of LED lights flickering. There are many causes for this. Dimmer incompatibility, transformer incompatibility and the ripple signals sent to control off peak electricity are the main ones. Many LEDs also flicker at high frequencies by design. There is no reason for a well designed LED light to flicker however.