As the world clambers to make sense of the recent emergence of LED lighting, a handful of takeaway points have cropped up as the defining traits of the technology.
And alone atop that list of traits is this one: energy efficiency.
If you were to play a game of word association with a handful of your colleagues right now, asking them for the first idea that comes to mind when you say “LED lighting,” odds are they will spout out something about energy efficiency.
Why wouldn’t they? Energy efficiency is certainly the defining characteristic of LED.
At a minimum, today’s ENERGY STAR-qualified LED bulbs use 75 percent less energy than conventional incandescent lights. They also last a staggering 35-50 times longer than the incandescent alternative while producing far less heat and reducing cooling costs in effect.
Now, take those facts and add to the mix the following eye-opening forecast, courtesy of the U.S. Department of Energy, and it’s no wonder your colleagues are fixated on energy efficiency when they’re asked about LED.
Switching entirely to LED lights over the next two decades could save the U.S. $250 billion in energy costs, reduce electricity consumption for lighting by nearly 50 percent and avoid 1,800 million metric tons of carbon emissions.
Are there LED lighting advantages beyond energy efficiency?
With the almost-universal characterization of LED as highly energy efficient has come a common misconception that their brightness and light quality standards are poor. What is achieved in the way of energy savings, many people think, is sacrificed in performance.
Indeed, LED have at times been perceived as the Toyota Prius of the lighting market –– environmentally conscious and able to save the end user money in the long run, but lacking the power to really impress.
That characterization –– the one which limits the benefits of LED to economics and environmental friendliness –– is actually unenlightened. It’s a myth.
LED is more like the Tesla of the lighting market –– economical, great for the environment, yet powerful and outstanding in performance.
When lighting brightness is measured in terms of delivered lumens, or light –– that is, the amount of light which hits a surface –– rather than gross output, LED often performs significantly better than its more conventional alternatives.
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Meanwhile, as LED lighting progresses, it's doing increasingly well in quality measures, scoring in the upper echelon of most of the commonly used rating systems, including the color rendering index (CRI). In fact, an adapted, more robust version of CRI –– the color quality scale, or CQS –– was recently introduced to more accurately measure the color quality of LED and most industry leaders anticipate that the new metric will reveal superlative quality in LED.
So be careful not to pigeonhole LED. Yes, it's energy efficient. But it's also so much more.