Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are praised for their efficiency, long lifetimes, and overall reliability. But are there any downsides to using them? Read on to explore all the advantages and disadvantages of LED lights!
How LEDs Work
To help explain the advantages and disadvantages of LED lights, let’s first take a look at how they work.
A light-emitting diode (LED) is a semiconductor. When you connect it to a source of electricity, electrons start flowing through the semiconductor. As they pass through, the electrons lose energy and release it as photons (light).
So, what makes this process so special?
For one, it doesn’t require any heat. Unlike incandescent light bulbs, LEDs emit light thanks to electrons recombining with electron holes in the semiconductor.
On the other hand, standard bulbs have a filament that heats up. Only a fraction of the electricity in incandescents is used to produce light!
LEDs vs. Incandescent Lights
With incandescent light bulbs, the process is rather simple: electricity turns into heat; then, the heat turns into light.
LEDs, however, turn electricity directly into light. Here is why this makes them more efficient:
- With incandescents, the major part of electricity is wasted on heat. Only a tiny bit turns into light. Thus, a standard 60-watt bulb produces the same amount of light as a 6–8 watt LED!
- LEDs don’t have a filament that can burn out. In fact, they have a projected lifespan of 25,000 hours! In comparison, incandescents only last for 1,200 hours.
Advantages of LED Lights
Some say LEDs are the future of the light industry. And with all their perks, it’s easy to understand why. Not only will LED lights save you money, but they are also more reliable than both fluorescent and incandescent lights.
Efficiency — The Main Advantage of LED Lights
Since LEDs convert electricity directly into light, they utilize it much more efficiently. They barely heat up, which means you’re not wasting any energy. Compare that to incandescents, which use most of the electricity to produce heat!
But even in comparison to fluorescent light bulbs, LEDs are better by a long shot. To produce the same level of brightness, CFLs need almost double the amount of electricity. They also have shorter lifespans; while a LED lasts for 25,000 hours, the average fluorescent light will only last 8,000.
With LEDs, your savings add up over time. Between the cost of electricity and the price of replacing light bulbs, a single LED will save you $177 in twenty years. If you replace all of your bulbs (an average of 25 per household), you’re looking at $4,425 in savings!
Unlike other energy-efficient lights, LEDs light up almost immediately. As soon as you connect them to an energy source, they start producing light. And that light doesn’t change in color as the lamp warms up! This fact makes LEDs much more reliable than fluorescent light bulbs.
Both incandescent and fluorescent lights are easy to break. With fluorescent lights, crashing them comes with additional risks, because each bulb contains a small amount of mercury, which evaporates if you break it. On the other hand, with LEDs, you have much better shock resistance and, even if you do manage to break them, you’re not exposing yourself to dangerous chemicals.
Incandescent light bulbs can go out in a split second, and often with a bang. Unlike them, LEDs just get dimmer over time. This happens as the individual light diodes that form the lamp burn out one by one.
When you notice the brightness going down, you know it’s time to change the bulb. However, you won’t be left with a light that doesn’t function right away. So, there won’t be a need to run to the supermarket for a new bulb, either.
Advantages and Disadvantages of LED Lights: The Downsides
While LEDs are a great option for homeowners and businesses alike, they do have some downsides that we can’t ignore.
High Upfront Costs
The average incandescent lightbulb costs $1. In comparison, LEDs cost around $4 per light. So, you are looking at upfront costs that are four times higher, right? Still, keep in mind that it does pay off over time. Both the lifespan and energy consumption of a LED light will save you money. In the end, LEDs are still a more budget-friendly choice.
Lack of Industry Standardization
Unlike incandescent or fluorescent lights, there is no standardization for LED lights on the market. Unfortunately, this means quality can vary drastically from one manufacturer to the next. While ‘good enough’ LEDs come with competitive pricing, they are also more likely to become defective and ultimately have a much shorter lifespan.
Conditions Affect Performance
If you expose LEDs to high heat, though, you significantly downgrade their performance. That’s why LED lights aren’t ideal for outdoor settings, especially if they will be out in the sun a lot.
Furthermore, you should also avoid placing LED lights near sources of heat — even your radiator can damage them! Both the quality of the light, its efficiency, and lifespan will be affected.
If you’re wondering about cold, however, LEDs thrive at a lower temperature.
LED Color Shift
Color shift is a form of failure LED lights can experience. It happens when the LED changes its spectrum (i.e., in color temperature and rendering) over time. This can either be a temporary change because of the working conditions or the result of permanent damage.
With older LEDs, as well as the cheaper options on the market, the color stability isn’t great. Why? Because the manufacturer has not invested in improvements to the LED packages and their phosphor coating. But, even with their products, homeowners will barely notice the difference as the change in the spectrum is very subtle.
Yes, the color shift is often mentioned when discussing the advantages and disadvantages of LED lights. However, it’s only truly a problem for specific spaces like hospital rooms.
Final Words: Making the Most of LED Lights
All things considered, LEDs are still a solid option for homeowners and businesses alike. But to ensure you do end up saving money:
- Invest in high-quality LEDs from a trusted company
- Double-check the transformer compatibility
- Consider the operating conditions
- Mind the color shift and make sure it doesn’t seriously affect your work
Ultimately, knowing the advantages and disadvantages of LED lights will help you make an informed decision as a customer!