Environmental Impact of Using LED Lights Over CFL Bulbs

These days, taking steps to reduce our carbon footprint is something we all should be concerned with. There are numerous ways in which we can do this, from properly disposing of household refuse to making an effort to conserve water.

One particularly effective way to reduce our carbon footprint, both at home and at work, is to convert our traditional incandescent and fluorescent bulbs to Light Emitting Diode (LED) lighting. In recent years, Compact Fluorescent Lighting (CFL) had become increasingly popular in the United States, due to the fact that CFLs use significantly less electricity than incandescent lights. Yet, contained inside each CFL bulb is 3 to 5 milligrams of mercury, a fact that makes the general public leery of the idea of a CFL bulb breaking.  

A 2012 study by Stony Brook University found that most CFL bulbs have defects that allow UV radiation to leak at levels that could damage skin cells if a person is directly exposed at close range. Therefore, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggests that consumers shield the bulbs inside fixtures, stay one to two feet away, and avoid staring directly into the CFL bulb.  Yikes!

LED Lighting Lasts Longer and is More Cost Effective

LED lights lasts over 20 times longer than their incandescent or fluorescent predecessors do. An LED can offer as much as a 60,000 hour lifespan, whereas the life expectancy of a traditional light source is approximately 1500 hours. The US Department of Energy states that using LED lighting offers far more energy savings in the US, and they anticipate that, by the year 2027, the use of LEDs could save as much as $30 billion in electrical costs. While prices for LED light bulbs were astronomical when they first arrived on the scene a few years ago (upwards of $100 for one bulb) you can now find a cheap, 60 watt LED equivalent for less than $10. That’s probably why incandescent light bulbs are being phased out: an almost complete ban on their sale started in 2014, and will take full effect in 2020. Simply put, they waste a lot of energy and don’t last very long.

LED Lighting is Ideal for Cold Temperatures and Sensitive Materials

In addition to being highly suitable for goods and materials that are sensitive to heat (due to the benefit of little radiated heat emission), LED lighting is perfect for the illumination of UV sensitive objects or materials, such as in museums, art galleries, and archeological sites. LEDs are also ideal in regards to operations under cold or extremely low outdoor temperatures.  By contrast, older fluorescent lamps are normally vulnerable to low temperatures that can affect proper operation. Lastly, LEDs can be combined in any shape to produce highly efficient illumination. Individual LEDs can be dimmed, resulting in dynamic colors and distributions. Well-designed LED illumination systems can achieve fantastic lighting effects.

LED Lighting Impact on Sustainability

Today, much more attention is being given to environmental issues. As more and more advantages become apparent, more businesses are choosing green lighting and sustainable design. More benefits are being offered to companies that make the effort to work in a sustainable atmosphere, and  the requirement for sustainable design continues to grow. Many utility districts are offering rebate programs to further encourage businesses to take advantage of the benefits of modern day lighting systems.

How Does LED Lighting Work?

LEDs create light by using electroluminescence in a semiconductor material. Electroluminescence is a material that emits light when an electric current or an electric field is passed through it. This happens when electrons are sent through the material and fill electron holes, which exist where an atom lacks negatively charged electrons , thereby having a positive charge. Semiconductor materials like germanium or silicon can be “doped” to create and control the number of electron holes, which is the adding of other elements to the semiconductor material to change its properties. By doping a semiconductor, you can make two separate types of semiconductors in the same crystal. The boundary between the two types is called a p-n junction; as electrons pass through one crystal to the other, they fill electron holes and emit photons (light).  To understand p-n junctions and semiconductors better, you will need to invest a good amount of time researching this phenomenon, as it is far too lengthy of a subject to cover here.

LED Energy Rebates For California