LED lights, or light-emitting diodes, are an energy-efficient alternative to incandescent or fluorescent lights. They can produce three types of light: infrared, visible or near-ultraviolet, depending on the materials used. LED lights come in a wide variety of colors, including white, yellow, red, green and the less common purple, pink and blue. Some LED lights are also programmable to change colors. For this reason, they are often used as decorative lighting, such as for Christmas lights.
LED lights are diodes, tiny semiconductors that emit light when an electrical current runs through them. The light is emitted as electrons move through the semiconductor materials (usually aluminum-gallium-arsenide). As the electrons move through them, they create something called electro luminescence. Unlike incandescent bulbs, they do not burn a filament, and thus do not get hot.
LED lights are extremely versatile, used in everything from digital alarm clocks to traffic signs. Toys, flashlights, movement lights, such as those in computer mouses, liquid crystal display or LCD televisions, brake lights, Christmas lights and night vision displays also employ LEDs for their safety and efficiency.
Homes and businesses spend an average of 30 percent of their energy on lighting needs, according to Northwest Arkansas Community College. LED lighting is very energy efficient, which means that more light will be produced with less electricity when using LED lights. While incandescent light bulbs have an energy efficiency of only between 1 to 4 percent, LED light bulbs are between 20 and 56 percent efficient on average. Some may even have 80 percent efficiency, which means they convert 80 percent of electricity to light energy.
Nontoxic and long-lived, LED lights are good for the environment. They are non-toxic and have a very long life. LED light bulbs can last up to 100 times longer than incandescent light bulbs. Extremely sturdy, they do not have any moving parts and are not made of glass. They are also small: The typical LED light is only 5 mm wide, according to Northwest Arkansas Community College. Finally, they are cool, which makes them less of a fire hazard than incandescent lights.
LED lights have many advantages. Still, some consumers may be put off by the initial higher cost of these light bulbs over traditional incandescent or fluorescent lights. Consumers need to take into account the fact that LED lights will not have to be replaced nearly as often as incandescent lights. Over time, the consumer will actually save money by using LED lights, according to the L.C. LED website.