By Lucien Beauley
Article Word Count: 614
6:25 PM 5/14/2006
With energy waste on the minds of many Americans these days, high gasoline prices to run the inefficient engines that power our vehicles help move the majority of us to cut energy costs in as many areas as possible, some of us are even beginning to ration our lighting usage. Is there an answer to our increasing lighting costs ? Granted, much of the cost is being passed on by the utility suppliers and with recent increases in oil prices, this amount is being noticeably felt in each of our monthly utility budgets. Energy costs are governed by the varying costs of fuel and with our major source of lighting today being the incandescent light, our lighting bill is much too high. Is there a developing technology today that shows a promising hope for our immediate future ?
We must roll back about 35 years and refresh ourselves some history when a small pea size lamp was introduced to the America’s. It was the Light Emitting Diode, more popularly known as the LED, a lighting source that emitted light through a clear molded plastic housing using a small current flow between two solid state junctions that were extended to facilitate an electrical connection. At the time of its introduction, the LED did not emit very much light, as a matter of fact in normal daylight, some were barely visible. At the time of its release to the world, the LED efficiency to produce light was very low. In the early days of the LED development, their use was fairly limited and sold for use on instrument panels where light intensity was not an issue. It would take the better of 20 years of gradual development before they began to find their way into the main stream of use in areas where contemporary lighting was truly dominant. The LED would eventually begin to show its uniqueness for applications in our lighting world.
The LED found its prime application in our traffic lighting system in the late 1990’s, where it began to replace the totally dominant use of the incandescent lamp that had been used for decades and since the inception of the system. Soon, LEDs were replacing the original incandescent lamps in many parts of the world. The electric power energy savings have been extremely high…in a few cases an average of 90 %. We must also keep in mind that there is also the ongoing savings from a much lower upkeep because the LEDs will last as much as ten years(when running 24/7). LEDs will not shatter under high vibration as do the incandescent lamps, negating their need for replacement from these causes of failure. With much of the world looking for ways to save our remaining fossil fuels, this lighting source has the definite ability to show us the way. We could say, “what about the CFL(fluorescent) lamp ?” Couldn’t they become our knight in shining armour ? The question ? Can the CFL emit an infinite number of colors ? Negative…and they are far from shatterproof. Their longevity is also several times less than the LED.
Having praised the LED for just a few of its merits, it can be seen that it is totally practical for the world’s present needs and many believe all our needs in this field in the years to come. Even in its present stage of development, It is well suited to lessen our present energy consumption overload. At the present time, the nations of the world must adopt methods of lighting which are the most efficient to lower energy use, but unless the consumer follows this same trend, our nation and the world’s efforts will be in vain.