Although LED light bulbs are a relatively new addition to many Scottsdale homes, the light-emitting diode (LED) itself has been around for decades.
The history of LEDs can be traced back to the discovery of electroluminescence by H.J. Round in 1907 and experiments by Oleg Losev in 1927. Although the concept of LEDs spread throughout Europe at the time, LED technology did not take off for commercial development until the late 1960s.
Back then LEDs were first used as replacements for neon and incandescent indicator lights on electronic test and laboratory equipment. Much later, they began to appear in consumer electronic devices such as telephones, TVs, calculators, radios, watches, and of course, home lighting.
But even LED light bulbs themselves have gone through their own evolutionary process. Read on to find out how.
Energy Efficiency and Brightness
A single LED (think red LEDs, such as the ones used as an indicator) uses about 298 watt-hours (Wh) or 0.3 kilowatt-hours (kWh) a year of electricity. This kind of low light output once limited an LED’s usefulness to nothing more than just indicator lights.
Over the years, developments in the LED industry have turned LEDs into a viable light source by boosting their lumen (the measure of a light’s brightness) output without compromising energy efficiency. Today, LED bulbs are 75% more efficient compared to incandescent light bulbs. In fact, it’s common to see LED replacements for the usual 100-watt incandescent bulb requiring just 10 to 15 watts of electricity.
In their early years, LEDs were only capable of generating light in the color red. By the early 1970s, the first yellow and violet LEDs were developed. This paved way to the creation of the first bright blue LED using GaN (Gallium nitride) later that decade.
With new color options available for LEDs, development of LED bulbs became possible. Today, LED light bulbs can produce a practically limitless range of colors, with many manufacturers designing LED bulbs that can generate a million different colors of light. This has led to the use of LEDs as a viable tool for light therapy, which requires a light source that mimics the hue of natural sunlight.
Lifespan and Reliability
LEDs made for the perfect indicator lights because they were pretty much guaranteed never to go out. Unlike incandescents, LEDs don’t need a fragile filament prone to burning out to generate light. Instead, they produce light by the movement of electrons in a semiconductor material.
This gives the ordinary LED an incredibly long lifespan when compared to all other light bulbs in the market. Indeed, a common 10-watt LED bulb (the equivalent of a 60-watt incandescent) will last well over 15,000 hours.
In addition, solid-state devices like LEDs are resistant to wear and tear when operated in low temperatures and subjected to fluctuating electricity currents.
More and More Cool Features
LEDs have only become cooler over the years. This is especially true when it comes to the design and engineering of LED bulbs, with manufacturers competing to add more features to their LEDs. In recent years, we’ve seen the development of ‘smart’ LED bulbs, which can connect to any local wireless network and allow users to control them through a smartphone app. Smart LEDs can also be scheduled to switch on and off at specific times of the day, dim and brighten via voice commands, and even play music.
If anything, modern LEDs have come a long way since being used exclusively as indicator lights. With state-of-the-art features that range from color changing, dimming, and automation, only time will tell how LEDs will continue to evolve in the future.