Oftentimes, we take lighting for granted. Having light in your room is just something that you are used to. It seems like a thing has always been like that and that it can never go away. Having electricity and lighting has become a staple in everyday lives now.
What Makes LED Lights More Efficient
Before people had to depend on daytime light a lot more and when the night fell, all they could depend on were candles.
Seems pretty ancient for sure, but the light bulb did not appear in common households until the end of the 19th century. We came a pretty long way since then when it came to light sources.
Due to physics and electrochemistry, we now have pretty sophisticated light sources that can only compete in which one is more efficient than the other. The most prominent competitor here is the LED lights, and here is what makes them stand out more than the others.
What is an LED?
LED is short for light-emitting diode, where a diode is an electric component that conducts current in one direction. There is a high voltage difference between the cathode (negative end) and the anode (positive end) thus creating a big difference in energy. The high-energy electrons want to get to a lower energy state on the anode, and thus ‘’move’’ to it by ionizing the inert gas in the bulb.
When they move from that higher energy state to a lower state, the energy that is relieved is emitted as light. This is the basic principle of this quite revolutionary lamp that is not only to light our homes but also as a part of some very important laboratory devices. There are many kinds of LED lamps, one of them being PL lamps where PL stands for plug-in lamps. These are currently one of the most energy-saving lamps available. To better understand how this process of lighting is more efficient, we need to better understand how a classical light bulb works.
How a classic light bulb works
Classic light bulbs are much more simple in design. They are made out of a tungsten coil which is cased in a glass bulb filled with inert gas, similiar to ones used in high bay lights. The inert gas here does not have the same role in LEDs, it is here to replace the oxygen. The reason why oxygen is not wanted in these lamps is because of the heat that these tungsten coils make.
In order for this light bulb to work, the coil needs to heat up to get to a higher state of energy. When it gets there, the energy is again relieved by going to a lower state of being by emitting light. The difference here is that you need to get it quite hot so that the tungsten can produce the white light that your light bulb does.
If you ever touched one of these by accident when it was on you can remember the burn that you got. This type of radiation is in physical terms called black body radiation and an example of it is when your stove gets quite hot that it starts glowing red.
The energy difference between these two processes
The math here is quite simple and it is not hard to imagine it. In order to make the tungsten that hot it requires a lot more energy input than to make the voltage difference in LEDs. When a classic tungsten light bulb is on, it just keeps consuming electricity like a furnace. The more you use it, the more heat it creates so it can keep on working.
LEDs on the other hand do not require the same amount of energy to keep on going once the energy difference is established. That does not mean that the LED can not get heated, it can. The ionized inert gas does move around and produce heat, but not as much as the classic light bulb.
Also, many of the more modern designs are made to sequester this movement. This is important because the heat can damage your light bulb, and sooner or later, you will need to get a new one. With LEDs, they are also great because they last longer because they do not get overheated as much.
This is just the basic principle that is going on behind these two lamps. As with many other things in life, it is much more complicated than this. For example, from these descriptions, you may think that it takes some time for these processes to occur.
When in reality, as you can see when you flick on the light switch, all of these processes happen in a fraction of a second. It is important to stay curious not only to understand this but also to know what is better but to also know what is more beneficial to you.