illustration of various led light bulbs plugged into an outlet

LED lighting is turning up all over these days. It’s no wonder; they offer some clear advantages over the traditional incandescent bulbs of the past. These benefits come largely in four areas: ability, efficiency, affordability and longevity.

Let’s tackle affordability first because the cost of LED bulbs tends to be the major stumbling block when it comes to their use. It is true that LED lighting does cost more per unit than incandescents. This cost, however, is only an upfront expense because (touching on one of the other points, longevity) the lifespan of the LEDs is substantially longer. A major reason is the durability of an LED, largely because it lacks the filaments or glass enclosures of customary lighting which makes it a bulb so fragile. LEDs are also unaffected by rapid cycling, the turning on and off of a switch which tends to lessen the lifespan of traditional lighting. This all means that the money it may cost you in the beginning will end up being a savings in the long term as you will not need to purchase replacement bulbs nearly as often.

row of lightbulbs and one LED lightbulb hovering with light on

Whereas a typical incandescent bulb may last approximately 1,000 hours, for example, a good LED can be expected to produce light in the range of 40,000 hours. Also, when LED bulbs need replaced, they do not burn out, but—as the song goes—merely fade away, which also increases their usefulness.

Stacked on top of that is their efficiency, which can save the consumer even more money—this time with an immediate effect. The efficiency of an LED bulb is roughly twice that of traditional incandescent, fluorescent and halogen options. In addition to light, incandescents radiate a lot of heat in the process while LEDs do not. This waste output of energy in typical lights gives LEDs an edge because they promptly reduce electric bills upon installation.

led light bulb vs standard light bulb with cost and energy output comparison

Another advantage that saves energy is the capability of LEDs to be aimed in a specific direction unlike conventional bulbs, which emit light in all directions all the time. Therefore, costs are reduced by focusing the energy output. This also touches on the next advantage: ability.

The LED (Light-emitting diode) presents a great deal more control than does traditional lighting. Dimming, for example, is much more capable in an LED setup than fluorescents. This is because the LED is a semiconductor device which, in addition to a greater range of dimming, can offer continuous dimming with a seamless look. This is also done less expensively with an LED.

Furthermore, LEDs’ nature allows them to display not just white light, but an extensive display of colors. When combined with the ability of LEDs to be fit into a large array of shapes and sizes, this opens considerable doors to decorating and design. They are no longer conformed to fitting in a socket or limited in the size of the display. Chances are you’re reading this on a device which uses some of the smallest LED crystals possible today.

With their growing popularity, LED manufacturing has gone up and prices continue to go down. The Department of Energy projects that the use of LEDs could save 190 terawatt hours of electricity per year, with a total savings of $15 billion. It’s neither premature to say that LEDs are the lighting of the future, nor of the present.