LEDs Are Cool, Highly Energy Efficient, and Fully Customizable
The light-emitting diode, LED, was first used commercially in 1962 and has since become the best light source for home and business use.
One of our first large commercial jobs was customizing LEDs for McDonald's outdoor menu signs. They wanted their food images to look accurate so we mixed LED colors to come up with the perfect 'real food' combination.
LED advantages are:
Efficiency: LEDs emit more lumens per watt than incandescent light bulbs. The efficiency of LED lighting fixtures is not affected by shape and size, unlike fluorescent light bulbs or tubes.
Color: LEDs can emit light of an intended color without using any color filters as traditional lighting methods need. This is more efficient and can lower initial costs.
Size: LEDs can be very small (smaller than 2 mm2) and are easily attached to printed circuit boards.
Warmup time: LEDs light up very quickly. A typical red indicator LED achieves full brightness in under a microsecond. LEDs used in communications devices can have even faster response times.
Cycling: LEDs are ideal for uses subject to frequent on-off cycling, unlike incandescent and fluorescent lamps that fail faster when cycled often, or high-intensity discharge lamps (HID lamps) that require a long time before restarting.
Dimming: LEDs can very easily be dimmed either by pulse-width modulation or lowering the forward current. This pulse-width modulation is why LED lights, particularly headlights on cars, when viewed on camera or by some people, seem to flash or flicker. This is a type of stroboscopic effect.
Cool light: In contrast to most light sources, LEDs radiate very little heat in the form of IR that can cause damage to sensitive objects or fabrics. Wasted energy is dispersed as heat through the base of the LED.
Slow failure: LEDs mainly fail by dimming over time, rather than the abrupt failure of incandescent bulbs.
Lifetime: LEDs can have a relatively long useful life. One report estimates 35,000 to 50,000 hours of useful life, though time to complete failure may be shorter or longer. Fluorescent tubes typically are rated at about 10,000 to 25,000 hours, depending partly on the conditions of use, and incandescent light bulbs at 1,000 to 2,000 hours. Several DOE demonstrations have shown that reduced maintenance costs from this extended lifetime, rather than energy savings, is the primary factor in determining the payback period for an LED product.
Shock resistance: LEDs, being solid-state components, are difficult to damage with external shock, unlike fluorescent and incandescent bulbs, which are fragile.
Focus: The solid package of the LED can be designed to focus its light. Incandescent and fluorescent sources often require an external reflector to collect light and direct it in a usable manner. For larger LED packages total internal reflection (TIR) lenses are often used to the same effect. However, when large quantities of light are needed many light sources are usually deployed, which are difficult to focus or collimate towards the same target.