We’ve talked about compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) a lot recently but there’s a new bulb in town that’s starting to get attention. LED light bulbs have been around for a while, but they always had limitations that made them a less viable option for popular use. Until now.
How Do LED Light Bulbs Work?
Incandescent light bulbs function in a vacuum and CFLs utilize gas, i.e. fluorescence, but LED light bulbs are called a “solid-state lighting” technology, or SSL. One solid semiconductor is responsible for emitting the light in an SSL, and the electrons travel easily from one side to the other when an electric charge strikes.
You can learn more about the process here.
Why Aren’t They Popular?
Until recently, the SSL technology, while energy-efficient, trapped a lot of the light inside. That made for a much dimmer light bulb than desired. In addition to the weakness of light, the quality of the light was often clinical and extremely white.
However, Osram Sylvania released LED light bulbs that are equivalent to 100-watt incandescents but consume just 20 watts of power, which means these bulbs utilize just a fifth the energy their incandescent counterparts require. These energy savings account for about 11 cents per kilowatt hour which, over the lifespan of the bulb, could add up to $220.
Now, that sure justifies the extra cost of the bulb, which runs just a little less than $50. Of course, it costs ten times what an incandescent would but saves hundreds of dollars in the long run.
As for the color quality of the light, LED light bulbs can now run the gamut of lighting colors. In fact, LEDs can be so customizable, Philips sells a lighting kit of four bulbs which are controllable through a smart phone, where people can choose the color of light from a full palette. Some users may even prefer different tones for different activities or times of day.