LEDs, or light emitting diodes, are electronic components that emit visible light when electricity is passed through them. As with light bulbs, they can be used to light a room or specific area, and also be implemented in a wide range of situations. They are suited to both indoor and outdoor use. When seen as an alternative to traditional incandescent bulbs and fluorescent lighting, it's clear that they are able to offer a number of benefits.
Different Types of Bulbs
LED lighting systems differ considerably from the traditional bulbs that are fitted in many homes. The two other most common kinds of bulbs are described below.
Incandescent bulbs make use of a piece of metal called a ‘tungsten filament'. An electricity supply is used to heat the filament, which makes the metal glow as a result. As the metal glows, it gives out a bright white light.
Incandescent bulbs have increasingly been replaced by "energy saving bulbs", which are known more formally as Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) Bulbs. Bulbs of this type actually contain a small amount of mercury, which vapourises when an electrical current is applied. As the gas is heated, particles bounce off a phosphorous coating that is applied to the inside of the bulb. It is this effect that produces light.
Advantages of LED Lighting
LEDs have a number of advantages when compared to traditional lighting systems.
Reduced Heat Output
The reduced heat output from LED lights has given rise to some suggestions that the cost of heating a home will increase if all incandescent and fluorescent bulbs in the home were to be replaced by LED lighting. Studies suggest that such a problem does exist. Although heating costs do continue to rise, it has also been demonstrated that those increases are outweighed by the reduced electricity bills associated with the lower costs of the ongoing lighting.
Lifetime of LED Lighting
Various sources of lighting have had their expected lifetimes measured under laboratory conditions. Manufacturers will often display these lifetimes on the side of packaging, with measurements being shown in hours. The following table offers a guide to the expected lifetime of a number of different types of lighting:
Between 750 and 2,000 Hours
Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) Bulbs
Between 6,000 and 10,000 Hours
Between 20,000 and 50,000 Hours
Since LED lights need to be replaced less frequently than other alternatives, it's possible to make savings over the total period of use. As an example, it's estimated that replacing a single 40W lamp with a 7W LED bulb could lead to direct savings of more than £6 per year.
Durability of LED Lights
Traditional light bulbs and fluorescent lights break fairly easily, notably when shaken or dropped. Where an incandescent bulb has a filament that is likely to break in such a situation, the LED bulbs have a more robust design. They also suffer from considerably less degradation over time. A typical LED bulb would be expected to lose only 2 per cent of its total efficiency, having been used for a period of 10,000 hours.
LED Lighting Efficiency
Incandescent and fluorescent bulbs tend to waste a considerable amount of energy, as a result of the heat that they produce and the fact that they distribute light in many directions. By comparison, LED lights operate at lower temperatures and produce a more focused form of lighting. A typical incandescent lamp operates at an efficiency level of around 9 per cent. That's because so much energy is being lost in the form of heat. By comparison, LED lighting can achieve efficiency levels that are closer to 40 per cent. Given that LED lights can be manufactured in smaller sizes, they can also be placed in spaces that would not be suitable for other forms of lighting.
Some fears have been expressed that LED lights are incapable of providing the sort of comfortable lighting that is associated with incandescent bulbs. In part, this may reflect the changing nature of the technology. Modern LED lights have the appropriate light output and colour characteristics to exceed the performance levels of incandescent bulbs. LED lighting can also be used in conjunction with standard household dimmer switches, or with more flexible control systems, allowing colour settings to be manipulated quickly.
Disposing of LED Lights
Unlike fluorescent bulbs, LED lights don't release mercury into the air. Some studies have shown, however, that they do include a number of other toxic materials. If dealing with a broken LED light, then it's advisable to make use of gloves and to be aware of the toxic nature of the materials that have been used in the manufacture of the lights. LED lights can, however, be disposed of at landfill sites.
Range of Uses
LED Lights do not give out an Ultra Violet (UV) light, which means that they can safely be used in situations where precious items need to be lit. An example of this might be in the case of lighting paintings or other artifacts.The lack of UV rays also means that insects are not attracted to these light sources. This is particularly useful for use within the food industry and also for external installations. It's also possible to create lighting in a wide range of colours, without the need to use different coloured bulbs or filters. As a result, interesting effects can be created using LED lighting, allowing for an element of creativity within domestic and commercial situations.
One of the complaints about energy saving bulbs that some users have is that they don't appear to light up immediately. Older bulbs, in particular, are seen to have a delay between the flick of a switch and light emanating from the bulb. With LED lighting, there is no such delay. When they are switched on, they reach full brightness up to 100 times faster than would be the case with other alternatives. This feature ensures that they are well suited to use in vehicles.
Less Wiring Required
LED lights operate with lower voltage and amperage requirements, meaning that lower wiring costs are associated with lights of this type.
LED tubes can be used to replace older fluorescent tubes. The latter tend to suffer, over a period of time, from the appearance of a flickering effect. Although such an effect can be annoying, it can also have more serious health implications. Migraine sufferers and epileptics may find that the use of LED tubes leads to a more comfortable experience.
Lower Maintenance Costs
Since LED lights almost never need to be replaced, maintenance costs tend to be extremely low. It's rare for an individual LED to fail but, if such a situation should occur, it does not mean that the entire lamp will fail.
How to Find LED Lighting on eBay
In order to purchase LED Lighting, begin the search at the eBay homepage. Select the All Categories tab and then click on the appropriate entry for Home, Furniture & DIY. Next, choose Furniture & Living, followed by Lighting. Most LED lights are then listed within the Light Bulbs section of the site. Browse through products within this category, or make use of the options on the left side of the page to refine the search. As an alternative approach, enter specific product names and search terms into the search bar that's located at the top of all eBay pages. As an example, typing in "LED Lighting" to the search bar would bring up a wide variety of LED Lighting products.
LED lights are being used in an increasing range of situations. It's clear that they offer some advantages when compared to the more traditional alternatives that are available. Overall, LED lighting is more efficient than other lighting varieties and should lead to reduced costs. LED lights have a longer life expectancy than alternatives, with more of the energy being used to provide light, rather than heat. There are also advantages in terms of lower maintenance costs, increased durability, the compact sizes that are available and health benefits that stem from the lack of flickering. When purchasing LED lights online, be sure to check out the products that are being sold and the credentials of individual eBay sellers. Take the time to shop around and also to read reviews.