Editorial Feature

A Comparison of LEDs vs. Lamps

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These days, there are so many options to light up rooms in houses, offices, schools, and more. From LED to HID to incandescent to compact fluorescent to linear fluorescent lighting - there is a lot to choose from. The main difference in lighting comes down to something much simpler: LEDs (light-emitting diode) versus lamps, or incandescent lighting. We are going to define both LEDs and lamps, as well as highlight both lighting options’ pros and cons.

What are LEDs? Pros and Cons

LEDs, which is the acronym for light-emitting diodes, are not bulbs - they are small diodes, or semiconductors, covered in plastic to safeguard the light’s parts, and focus the light’s direction. In 1962, Nick Holonyak invented and created the world’s first LED light. Since then, the introduction of white LEDs has allowed these lights to expand from indicator lights to actual display lighting. The semiconductors in an LED light can be formed into matrices that provide a lot of design freedom and flexibility for light sources.

The pros of an LED light source are: longer life span, energy efficiency, low maintenance, and high quality. LED lights tend to have a lifespan of about 50,000 to over 100,00 hours - that is over a decade of light! The typical incandescent light is only up to 5 percent as long as that. However, not everything is bigger for LED lights, because they use up to 75% less energy than typical incandescent lighting. Some LED lights use only 11 to 12 watts while performing the light output of a 50-watt incandescent bulb. The infrared radiation from LED lights allows them to waste very little energy and their light emission is naturally directional at a default of 180 degrees, and therefore requires less to alter its illumination. In addition to the low maintenance and high light quality of LEDs, they are also said to be 75% more efficient than the world’s best halogen incandescent light bulbs. As a small and low maintenance product, LEDs require very few accessories compared to lamps, and they also can be made to emit all desired colors without needing filters.

Despite all of these positives, there are a few negatives to LED lighting. First and foremost, LED lights are more expensive for initial installation, but they are cheaper to use and can be more cost-effective over time. Like all lights, some of an LED’s color quality can fade towards the end of its lifespan and not all LED bulbs are dimmable. These lights can also be incompatible or struggle with high temperatures. Since LEDs are a newer product with some installation complexities, they can be difficult to get sufficient advice and correct specifications for.

What are Lamps? Pros and Cons

The famous Thomas Edison invented the popular household, incandescent light bulb in 1879. Lamps, or incandescent light bulbs, are an electric-based light that stimulates visible illumination with heat. The wire filament gets heated to such high temperatures that the bulb begins to radiate. Only up to 25 percent of this electrical occurrence produces light, the remaining energy remains as heat.

There have been federal modifications concerning incandescent light bulbs and their energy use. Since these modifications, new incandescent bulbs known as halogen-IR bulbs were introduced to the market and they use approximately 30% less energy. Although halogen incandescent lamps save a lot more energy, they still generate up to three times more energy than LED lighting.

The pros surrounding this traditional lighting method include: safety, limited flicker, no toxic materials, cheap, and small area friendly. Incandescent lighting is a much older and longer used form of lighting, so there is a lot of expert advice to access. There are also a few different kinds of incandescent light bulbs: standard, energy-saving, and reflector. Standard incandescent light bulbs are often used in homes; they screw into lamps and are the common bulbs that generate heat through wires to produce light. Energy-saving incandescent light bulbs are more eco-friendly than the standard bulb because they contain a capsule which holds halogen gas around the filament. These particular bulbs usually cost more, but in return provide much greater efficiency. The energy-saving bulb reflects heat to the capsule and therefore recycles the extra heat energy.  Lastly, reflector lamps are frequently used for floodlighting and spotlighting - these bulbs spread and direct their glow.

More to Consider

In terms of Correlated Color Temperature, LEDs range from warm to cool-toned colors, such as yellow to blue, respectively (2200 K to 6000 K). Incandescent lights are most popularly sold in three colors: soft white, cool white, and daylight - ranging from 2700 K to 6500 K.

LED lights tend to warm up instantly, at their brightest point, whereas incandescent lighting takes a much longer time to achieve similar brightness - these heat-generated lights struggle in very cold temperatures to operate at full potential.

To conclude this comparison, LED lights manage to create an extremely narrow spectrum of visible light - meaning, these lights do not lose emissions to IR or UV radiation. LED lights are able to convert almost all energy into visible light.

Sources and Further Reading

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the author expressed in their private capacity and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited T/A AZoNetwork the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and conditions of use of this website.

Sydney Luntz

Written by

Sydney Luntz

Since graduating from the University of York with a BA Hons. in English Literature and Linguistics, Sydney has spent her time interning and freelancing before attending University of Arts College London in the fall, to complete a Master's in Data Journalism. In her spare time, you can catch Sydney reading a book, at a concert, or wandering a gallery!


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