State of Technology in the LED Industry

The following guest post was written by Stephan JukicThe opinions expressed in guest posts are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of E-Cat World.
Light Emitting Diode (LED) technology may seem like something that doesn’t undergo an enormous amount of development over the years, but only at first glance. In reality, LED lights have not only evolved enormously since their initial commercial introduction back in 1976, but have also seen their commercial use steadily expand into new industries over the years.

Today the technology that goes into LEDs has allowed these small lights to be used in communications, lighting, advertising and visual display technology applications. Developments in LED brightness have been especially important in making diodes useful for commercial and residential lighting functions.
Here’s an overview of the state of the industry and what it means in terms of practical applications.

The LED Industry’s Growing Brightness

More than anything else, the one development that has made LEDs into something with enormous commercial potential is their literally increasing brightness, or illumination capacity. Since diodes were first developed in the 1960’s, their illumination capacity has doubled every 36 months on average to date.
This exponential growth trend, very similar in nature to Moore’s Law in computing power, is called Haitz’s Law and it is bringing LED lights constantly closer to their theoretical illumination maximum, which is 251 lumens per watt (lm/W). Already, the brightest white LEDs can produce more than 100lm/W and by 2020 they are likely to be capable of creating brightness in excess of 200 lm/W.

But what does this mean for lighting? Well, if LED technology reaches the extremely bright (brighter than conventional lighting) 200 lm/W mark soon, the widespread adoption of LEDs in most lighting applications will not only be extremely feasible but will also lead to 50% savings on the electricity needed for all light generation wherever LEDs are used.

According to the U.S department of Energy, the above scenario (widespread adoption of LEDs over their alternatives) could create energy savings of 350 TWh (terawatt hours) by 2027. And LEDs will start being used in every application where other light sources are still being used now. You can be sure of this because the bottom line with LED bulbs is their enormously superior lasting power: For example, a single 60 W LED bulb can last as many as 40,000 hours while its incandescent equivalent won’t live for more than 1000. And for each of those 40,000 hours, the LED bulb will create 60 W of light at a much smaller energy cost.

The main deterrent to application so far is the per-unit cost of LED lighting, but this is already dropping fast and will continue to fall as the production industry becomes more efficient. Given all these LED advances, it’s no surprise that LED lighting is being applied all over the place in ways that are creating powerful savings and practical simplification in the consumer market.

LED
Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Replacement Lighting for Offices, Homes

The most obvious and potentially impactful industry application for LEDs lies in their power as replacement lights for the traditional incandescent bulb and even its fluorescent replacement.
With aesthetic advances in lighting quality and color, modern LED fixtures can create light that is just as warm as what we as consumers are used to but with the immense light bulb lifespan and energy savings already mentioned above.

LED Strips

This application of LEDs is almost exclusively unique to their unique design qualities. Essentially a long line of small but extremely bright diodes is attached to a flexible thin strip of rubber with a circuit running through it and adhesive along its backing. The result is a lighting system that can be used in an enormous assortment of innovative scenarios.

Illuminating homes creatively, creating commercial signage illumination or even installing safety lighting for boats and property are all easy with these long lasting and extremely hard to break LED strips, and companies are taking advantage of this by offering creative LED retrofitting services to their commercial customers.

Assorted Other Uses
Large and small Light emitting diodes are also being installed in vehicle displays, in the illumination that goes into our electronics and in all sorts of other industrial and commercial situations. With increasing LED lm/W brightness, we’re even starting to see the use of LED arrays as a means of lighting immense spaces such as sports fields and auditoriums.

The bottom line is that the LED industry is no longer a small electronics niche; it’s a business that’s set to overtake the entire conventional lighting industry.

Stephan Jukic is a freelance writer who covers online data protection, anti-intrusion protocols and digital security. When he gets a chance, he also indulges in writing about SEO, mobile technology, marketing techniques and non-localized digital business strategies. When not busy writing or consulting on digital security to groups and individuals, he spends his days enjoying life’s adventures either in Canada or Mexico, where he spends part of the year. Stephan’s writing has been featured on Sitepoint, Duct Tape Marketing, Infosec Institute, The Marketing Robot, Security Hunk and Search Engine Journal. Connect with Stephan on LinkedIn and Google+.

  • Robb Cundick

    Thanks for sharing this. Very interesting. We use LED for some of our home lighting just on the principle of reducing energy and I agree it’s getting much better.

  • AlainCo

    LED are note competitive yet to replace home lightbulbes, but they have huge advantage despite their price :
    – they las longet so can be replaced much less… very important when most of the cost is replacement

    – they endure much more shocks, good for vehicle and hand held devices, especially compared to CFL
    – they are much more easy to regulate, becaus ethey already need a regulator.
    – they allow multiple colors… and can change it through control, with no filter

    anywaythis explain why LENR conquer the domain of vehicle, of streetlight, hand held devices

  • Argon

    Actually LED lightning only starts to approach lightning quality of CFL:s, CCFL:s and ordinary bulbs. LED Colour Rendering Index is far behind traditional indoor lightning, especially true with Chinese unbranded LED:s where index can be even below 80, whereas bulb and sunlight both have 100. Verifying colour print quality requires > 90. Those branded LED:s with 84, 86 are pretty ok if you don’t want to enjoy quality photos. Index is not about colour temp but illumination level equality across the colour spectrum, and most LED:s are still lacking behind.

    • US_Citizen71

      As a photographer I can say your post is a bit misleading. The current best top end light sources for photography/film making are LED panels. The brightness and color can be be fine tuned on these panels to match what is creatively desired. Want to bring out the flesh tones turn up the red or maybe you want to make the center of that daisy pop then turn up the yellow.

      As for home use they are just beginning to be of reasonable cost and light quality for general lighting use. I have had candelabra LED bulbs in my dining room for almost 4 years they were expensive ($12 a bulb) and do not produce much light at 3 watts each but are completely dimable and will likely outlast me. Recently I added a Philips 9W coolwhite to my kitchen for $9 it puts out about the light equivalent of the 13W CFC it replaced with none of the warm up time. I believe the ultimate boon to mankind beyond energy savings will be the use of LEDs to sterilize water with UV variants and for indoor growing with targeted spectrums.

  • Nixter

    What is it about LED generated light that makes it so visually attractive compared to other types? It goes beyond simple metrics like energy consumption, there is something about the aesthetic qualities of LED light, it has a kind of of “pureness” not achieved by conventional lighting.

    • Omega Z

      I don’t think the light color is quite there yet, but it’s getting there.
      Also, Price drops have drastically slowed, but will continue at a slower pace.
      2 reasons for this I think.

      Price reduction has slowed at the manufacturer. New manufacturing tech is needed. It will come.

      Distributors/Middle people are hanging on to larger profit margins. Because they can at this time. Competition will eventual catch up & change this dynamic.

      Note: There’s another lighting tech that may soon appear(Don’t recall it’s name) & cost competitive, but Eventually OLED Technology will likely be the final generation lighting. Theoretically far cheaper & long-life. But it still has some hurdles to overcome.
      What I Read was 400 to 500(lm/w) & 60K hours plus, but it has a long way to go yet.
      Also, Very expensive at this time. Note OLED TV’s $10K, but eventually cheap enough to have advertising Video labels on your cereal box & throw it away. Cheap enough to wallpaper your house & change pattern/colors at a flip of a switch or instant wall size TV. But this is theoretical capability.Not yet realized.

      • Fortyniner
        • Omega Z

          Yes
          http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-20553143

          Thanks Peter. I appreciate it. The (Fipel) technology was the one. George 1st posted about it I think. I lost my link when my PC took a hit by Virus to the BIOS. Built a new system & haven’t gotten around to salvaging the old one.

          LED’s can be more efficient, but this Bulb is supposed to have a more natural light. Should they all get down to about 8-watt range with 100 watt luminance, I’m not going to quibble with a 1 or 2 watt difference if I get the quality of light I prefer.

          Ironic Note: Apparently, LED’s have trouble presenting a True Blue which causes the problem. Ironic considering the blue cast they tend to give off.

          Many Years ago when they were troubled with the light quality, I thought back to my school days(Science Class & Prisms/Splitting light waves) & wondered if they couldn’t do this in reverse producing white light.
          Which is exactly what they ended up doing. Red, Yellow, Blue. Should have gotten a patent. 🙂
          But apparently Nature doesn’t produce anything of the right shade of blue. So no true white light. Me thinks they haven’t looked hard enough. They need someone who’s persistent. They need a Rossi. These young Pup researchers give up to easy.

          The OLED is supposed to be able to surpass all of them eventually, But as in my previous post, That is Theoretical. And likely 20 years or so away. At that point if I’m still here I’ll be glad to see Period. I also wonder about the Blue Issue?

          • US_Citizen71

            The big problem with the blue light in white LEDs is that blue LEDs are used to pump up a phosphor like UV does for fluorescents. So without having a separate blue LED most of the blue light is blocked by the phosphor. Any color is possible with the right doping including the rare purple.

  • Iggy Dalrymple

    It took a long time but they finally learned how to make LED bulbs that flood a room with light, like CFLs and incandescents. I bought 3Ms but now there are other brands for 1/2 3M’s price. The instructions say not to use in an enclosed fixture.

    • Fortyniner

      Yes, major problem for LEDs given the universality of AC mains at 110-250V – they need low voltage DC. Hence a heap of conversion stuff built into the ‘bulbs’ that invariably produces waste heat. The time is probably long overdue for homes to be equipped with 12V DC circuits for electronic devices and lighting.

      • Omega Z

        I’ve looked to the possibility of dual wired, having both AC/DC outlets.
        But then I realized, you would still need all the extra hardware.
        Explain:
        110 is 110. 220 is 220. Different plugs.
        DC-,5v,1v,?,?,?,?… That’s a lot of variable possibilities & fixtures.
        So the hardware Adapters/Reducers Etc, are still needed.
        Also, both AC/DC have their place where each is better suited.
        As you can see, we wouldn’t gain much if anything in the long run.
        There is the argument for the energy loss in conversion.

        My View: Much of the heat in electronics is from conversion from AC/DC-DC/AC.
        There was a guy just a few years ago, came up with away to make this conversion at near zero loss. Lost the link on my old system.
        He patented it for AC-DC which is the most common & speculated a reverse process was likely for DC-AC. This could be incorporated into existing adapters for pennies.

        Heat is a major contributor to Electronic breakdown. This would reduce the quantity of heat allowing our electronics to last longer.

        You know what that would mean. All Manufactures would have to redesign all our electronics. Can’t have them last to long. It would disrupt our throw away economy & people might start getting ahead.

        Took a bit to make this post. I have a this Lap Dog that isn’t. She don’t get it.
        Also, History channel was interrupting me.
        Here’s for You Peter-
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4CMpsH5tE3Y

        • US_Citizen71
          • Fortyniner

            I’ve got several of the ‘plug-in’ variants in the rat’s nest hiding behind my monitor (2 outlets in what looks like a 250V plug). They run cool so maybe they contain the lossless converters that OZ mentioned. USB cables seem less prone to tangling, so a major step forward relative to the ‘figure 8’ loudspeaker stuff I suppose.

        • Fortyniner

          Lovely toys! I could spend quite some time there… (I couldn’t get any sound for some reason though).

          Perhaps these low-loss converters could be built into a single plug-in adaptor with multiple voltage outlets? My beef is with the need to have daisy-chained socket multipliers, each with a separate ‘adaptor’ plugged in, and the inevitable tangle of thin wires feeding battery chargers, ‘docking’ bases, electronics boxes of various ilk, computer peripherals, desk lights, etc.

          Unfortunately the mass of wires is unavoidable unless you want to cook your brain with the microwave ‘remote charger’ that appeared in an earlier thread (roll on Tesla ‘scalar wave’ technology).