Knowledge & Technology » Benefits and drawbacks of LEDs (1)
Benefits and drawbacks of LEDs (1)
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Benefits and drawbacks of LEDs (1)
LEDs offer a huge variety of benefits but at the same time they cannot be viewed as the optimum solution for every lighting-related application. Here, in no particular order, we list some of the main advantages of LEDs, together with some of the challenges faced by these devices.
Comments on this article are welcome; please send them toTim Whitaker, the Editor of LEDs Magazine.

As solid-state light sources, LEDs have very long lifetimes and are generally very robust. While incandescent bulbs may have an expected lifetime (to failure) of 1000 hours, LEDs are often quoted of having a lifetime of up to 100,000 hours - more than 11 years. However, this figure is extremely misleading; like all other light sources, the performance of LEDs degrades over time, and this degradation is strongly affected by factors such as operating current and temperature.

At present, there is no standard definition of lifetime for LEDs, although various parties have suggested that lifetime should be the time taken for the LED’s output to fall to some percentage (such as 70% or 50%) of its original value.

The general lack of standardization in the LED field is an ongoing issue. Various standards relating to LEDs exist in areas such as automotive lighting and traffic signals. Other efforts are being conducted by bodies such as CIE, NEMA and IES.

Low maintenance
The long lifetime of LEDs reduces the need to replace failed lamps, and this can lead to significant savings, particularly in the cost of sending out maintenance crews. This also makes LED fixtures useful for installation in relatively inaccessible locations. However, if tasks like cleaning the light fixture or performing electrical checks need to be carried out regularly, then the light sources could be replaced at the same time, negating the "low maintenance" advantage.

LEDs are high-efficiency light sources. White LEDs with efficacies of 25 lm/W and up are commercially available, exceeding the performance of incandescent and some fluorescent sources. The directional nature of light produced by LEDs allows the design of luminaires with higher overall efficiency.

Low power consumption
The low power consumption of LEDs leads to significant energy savings that can often drive the installation of LED-based systems, for example traffic signals. National programs to develop effective solid-state lighting industries in the US and Japan have been driven by the potential energy savings associated with using LEDs.

Although LEDs have high efficiency and consume a small amount of power, the devices produce a small total number of lumens. For example, a 60 W incandescent bulb with an efficiency of 20 lm/W produces 1200 lumens. A one-watt LED with an efficiency of 30 lm/W produces only 30 lumens i.e. 40 such LEDs are required to produce the same amount of light as the incandescent bulb.