LED Lighting Series Part I: Where We’ve Come From, Where We are Going

By Ebony Porter, May 23, 2015, Energy Efficiency


The Buffalo Bayou Trail in Houston illuminated with LED lighting. Image courtesy of www.downtownhouston.org

You’ve heard of LED lighting, but how and why is it becoming a part of your daily life? Light emitting diode (LED) lighting is the light of the future, embraced by lighting designers, city planners, artists and home owners, alike. And it’s not going anywhere!

Most current city street lights across the US are lit using high-pressure-sodium bulbs (HPS). They emit an amber-orange color, and don’t provide the best visibility due to its poor color rendering. Cities are changing their street lighting to LED which offers better visibility as a white light source, and reduces power consumption by 50%-75%. LEDs also have a much longer life span which helps reduce long term maintenance costs, such as the labor costs to change lamps and fixtures out. My own street in Houston was recently updated to LED lights, and now a bright full moon glow hangs above our neighborhood at night. It’s brilliant! Especially when we need to walk to the store at night.

While city lighting affects your daily living, particularly driving at night, why bring LEDs into your home?

The most common upgrade to ‘green’ or energy conscious lighting in the last 10 years has been incorporating CFL’s (compact fluorescents) into your lamps and ceiling fan fixtures. These are problematic due to their inability to dim, not to mention that their color rendering is poor. Still not sure if these are familiar? They are the curly bulbs that throw a very bright, almost ghoulish light into the room. LED’s now offer significantly better color rendering, and even less power consumption. Plus, dimming is much more stable.


Cartoon image courtesy of the Creators Syndicate, www.creators.com

If you are not using CFL’s or LED’s then most likely you’re using the old-school incandescent bulbs. These are extremely inefficient, and produce heat that causes your HVAC system in your home to work harder to cool your house in the summer months. In addition, incandescent bulbs will be effectively non-existent after 2016. Yes, this is true! If your heart is set on the warm glow of a 60 watt bulb, you better stock pile now! Your only available choices for lighting in the near future will be either CFL, LED or efficient halogen lamps.

Stay tuned for the next installment in our LED Lighting Series! We will go over the best practical ways to incorporate LED lighting into your home.


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