Although we tend to think of LED lighting as a relatively recent technology, the truth is that it’s rapidly approaching its 100th birthday.
Inspired by English inventor H. J. Round and his 1907 discovery of electroluminescence (where a material emits light in response to an electric current or a strong electric field), Russian electrical engineer Oleg Losev produced the first LED 20 years later, in 1927.
As is often the case with the most ground-breaking innovations, Losev’s research did not translate to practical use for several decades, and he never saw the true impact of his creation.
One can only imagine how Losev would react if he were with us today, taking in a world illuminated by all colours through the device he first engineered in that small Soviet laboratory.
In this guide, we provide a comprehensive overview of all things LED. We’ll look at how they work, the different types there are, and the multiple benefits they bring to the professional world.
LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, are semiconductor devices, meaning they are able to convert electricity into light.
Up until the 1990s, LEDs were only available in a limited range of colours, but the development of the gallium nitride material system opened up the full colour palette and, with it, multiple new applications.
For the more scientifically curious among you, the main gallium-based materials used in LEDs are:
LEDs work using electrical currents whereby electrons move from the negatively charged side of the device to the positively charged side and release energy in the form of light. The colour of the light emitted depends on which of the materials listed above were used to manufacture the LED device.
Not only are they more energy-efficient than incandescent bulbs but LEDs can last up to five times longer. They are more versatile than traditional lighting, come in various colours, shapes, and sizes and can be used in multiple applications.
There are as many types of LED lighting as there are applications. Today, LEDs are commonplace in all walks of life from homes and offices to vehicles and public places.
For indoor lighting, LEDs are typically used as a substitute for traditional incandescent or halogen bulbs as they are more energy-efficient and last much longer, meaning less time and money needs to be spent on replacements.
LEDs also have aesthetic properties that make them popular. Available in a wide range of colours, temperatures, and brightnesses, customising the lighting within any space is effortless.
The use of LEDs is not restricted to indoor spaces. On the contrary, they are the preferred choice for areas where lighting is needed for extended periods of time. Already more energy-efficient than other forms of outdoor lighting, LEDs are also compatible with motion sensors, meaning energy usage can be reduced even further.
Their outdoor applications are myriad too, with LEDs routinely used to light pathways, communal areas, and entrances or exits.
In terms of the specific types of LEDs, the following are among the most common:
LEDs can be dimmed just like their incandescent counterparts. However, be aware that LEDs work at a lower wattage, so if you opt for them, your old dimmer switch will need to be replaced.
As a replacement for old-school fluorescent tubes, LED lighting tubes can often be installed without making any other electrical changes. Nevertheless, some tube designs will require some rewiring and likely a new ballast. The tubes are illuminated by a string of small LED lights that run along the full length and are available in an array of sizes and colours.
‘Surface Mounted Device’ LEDs are a new generation of LED bulbs containing chips that add extra brightness. As such, they have become popular in large office spaces that would otherwise be difficult to properly illuminate.
‘Chip on Board’ LEDs are another new kid on the block and provide a denser quality of light compared to SMD. COBs offer a superior lumen-to-watt ratio, emitting a consistent beam of controlled light, making them highly efficient.
LED lighting has become increasingly prevalent within homes and businesses alike due to its environmental benefits, long lifespan, cost-saving potential, and quality of light.
Far more efficient than traditional lighting, LEDs use up to 90% less energy than conventional incandescent light bulbs, which translates to lower electricity bills and a reduced carbon footprint.
LED lighting also produces significantly fewer greenhouse gas emissions than traditional lighting sources, as it does not require the burning of fossil fuels, nor does it contain toxic chemicals, such as mercury, used in fluorescent lighting. The lack of toxic substances means LEDs make for less hazardous waste and can be recycled more efficiently than incandescent and halogen-based lighting sources.
With LED bulbs producing only minimal heat, the amount of C02 they release into the environment is also heavily reduced.
The lifespan of LEDs lights is significantly longer than that of traditional lighting, with most LED lights lasting up to 25,000 hours or more. This stands in contrast to the 1,000 to 2,000 hours you can expect from a legacy bulb.
Their extended lifespan is bolstered by the fact that LED lights require much less maintenance than traditional lighting. They don’t require frequent bulb replacement or cleaning, making them a natural choice for those wanting a low-maintenance lighting option.
As LEDs use significantly less energy than traditional lighting, the savings potential on energy bills is dramatic. The savings are made only more apparent when we consider the extended lifespan of LEDs and the reduced maintenance they require.
LED lighting also benefits from enhanced durability, Not as easily damaged as glass-encased incandescent or halogen bulbs they can cope more ably with the rigours of corporate life.
Quite simply, LED lighting is superior to other alternatives, producing significantly less glare than outdated alternatives. LEDs can also be precisely controlled to create the desired amount of light output, making them ideal for creating different ambience levels for different purposes.
With the brightness of LEDs easily adjusted at a higher lumens per watt rate compared with more antiquated alternatives, they can produce more light using less energy for brighter spaces at less cost to both you and the environment.
Durable, versatile, cheaper to run, long-lasting, requiring less energy, effective both indoor and outdoor, and available in an almost limitless array of colours and brightnesses, the business case for switching to LEDs is compelling, to say the least. Although it’s true that the upfront cost of LEDs can be slightly higher, the ROI delivered through their multiple advantages is quickly realised.
And yet, for many businesses, the cost-saving potential and suite of assorted additional benefits are not what is driving wholesale transitions to LED lighting, instead, it is their environmental value.
As the UK edges ever closer to the ultimate goal of becoming a net-zero country, the pressure on businesses to reduce their carbon footprint intensifies.
Proactive approaches to decarbonising operations are evident everywhere. Many businesses have already implemented strategies such as energy efficiency initiatives, switching to renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, and hydropower, and engagement with meaningful waste reduction efforts, such as Pyrocore. Others are innovating to develop green technologies that reduce their emissions in the long term and are investing in carbon offsetting projects to eliminate any residual emissions that stubbornly remain.
With such large-scale transformations, it’s easy to forget about the smaller changes that can be introduced and which still deliver a big impact. Switching old incandescent and halogen bulbs out for LEDs may seem like only a superficial gesture, but imagine if every business did it. Imagine a corporate world illuminated by lights that last 25 times as long while using less energy and which can be harmlessly recycled at the of their lifecycle.
Suddenly, it seems less of a superficial gesture.
At Tariff.com, we are committed to making your transition to LED lighting as seamless as possible. As well as a free Standard Lighting Survey, we offer a complete end-to-end project management service from initial site survey through to full installation and aftercare.
Moreover, our LED Lighting is part of the Enhanced Capital Allowance Scheme, allowing your business the opportunity to offset a proportion of the cost.
Speak to Tariff.com today and inquire about the following:
At Tariff, we’ve made a firm commitment to helping businesses from all sectors adjust their energy usage habits. We have extensive experience in securing businesses the best possible deal on their gas and electricity, as well as preparing them for the looming 2050 deadline for net-zero emissions.
Whether you’re uncertain of your business’ future in energy, or you’re ready to make the move to a cleaner and brighter future, get in touch with our knowledgeable team today to find out how Tariff can help your business begin its green journey.