In 1879, Thomas Edison invented the conventional light bulb. But nowadays, the efficiency of this bulb has changed. These traditional bulbs work on the simple premise that when metal is heated enough, it lights up. And to heat up this metal, electricity is used. This all sounds very good, but unfortunately, only a small 10 per cent of the electricity needed to heat up the metal is actually converted into light. The rest is all used to produce the heat. So this makes for a lot of energy loss and new, more efficient ways to create light are needed.
This is all especially interesting with all the concerns for the environment that go around these days. The world decided to look for better energy saving options and that’s why the whole world searched for a better technology that efficiently converts energy to light. An example of a new and more efficient way to create light is the compact fluorescent lamp (CFL). There is less energy loss but the downside here is that this technology is very hostile to the environment. They contain for example mercury, which is poisonous. So disposal of such lamps created a challenge that is an environmental nightmare.
With CFLs and fluorescent light bulbs being at the peak of their technology curve in terms of energy efficiency, the need arose to create again a new technology. This new technology has all the answers to energy efficiency and doesn’t have the downside of environmental issues. This fast emerging technology is called light emitting diodes, better known as LED. It is believed that this will become the next major shift in lightening standards worldwide.
When this technology was first commercialized, it was associated with lighting signs, architectural and decorative lights, and the back lightening for TV’s, computers and mobile phones. But today, LED technology has taken a quantum leap and products using LED technology are being produced for public, industrial, commercial and household use.
Lee Choo Boo, Group MD and CEO of ItraMAS Group Malaysia, says that for the last few years, there has been a global shift towards pursuing better technologies that promote energy efficiency. That’s why better energy saving options for the incandescent bulbs were needed and that’s why CFL and LED are new technologies that are very welcome.
In Malaysia, the Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water, announced the phasing out of the traditional, incandescent bulbs. This will culminate in a ban for these light bulbs in 2014. This is in line with the worldwide trend and it shows the commitment of the Malaysian government to energy efficiency and savings.
ItraMAS, a home-grown Malaysian company, says that it will be difficult for Malaysians to shift their mindset to the new LED lights. They say that people in Malaysia are wary of change. That’s why knowledge and awareness of LEDs is very important.
So one of the most important things to know is how these LED lights work and what the advantages are. They create light by converting electricity, this is what all the light bulbs do. But it is important to realize that LED lights consumer far less energy than any other form of lightening. The conversion of electricity into light happens much more efficient than any other lightening technology because LEDs use semiconductor materials. That’s why they use only 20 per cent of the electricity a traditional incandescent light uses. So this also translates into a 80 per cent less energy cost.
Another advantage is that LED lights last longer. They can last for up to 20 years . Other advantages are that they generate little or no heat and are mercury-free and therefore completely safe for the environment.
There is only one more issues that needs to be addressed and that is that when you are choosing between different LED lights, the packages label the bulb’s brightness in lumens. S you need to know and understand this term if you want to find a light bulb that suits you the most. Lumens are a measurement of the total amounts of light while watts, which people generally associate with light, measure how much energy is used by the light bulb.
So a change today is that when people select lights, they have to choose by brightness and not by energy use. The desirable light is probably one with a high lumens and a low wattage. This means more light for every watt put in, and this is called efficacy in the LED industry. So the higher the efficacy, the more energy saving. And another important thing to know is the higher the lumen count, the brighter the light.
A downside, especially for people that don’t like change, is that the LED lights look very expensive at first. But you have to realize that they have a lifespan of 20 years and that they cut electricity bills. So the money you pay extra on your bulbs is quickly recouped. In the long run, this technology will save money for individuals, businesses and societies as a whole.