LED lighting isn’t a new technology; in fact, it has been with us since the 1960’s. LED light bulbs were originally used as a replacement for incandescent indicators and displays in laboratory equipment and eventually in TV’s, watches, radios and calculators. LED prices have only recently has dropped enough to make them viable for residential and commercial markets. LED home lighting can include anything from outdoor to Christmas lights. With the current looming energy crisis in South Africa, and pressure exerted on governments and businesses alike for more sustainable energy solutions, LED lights have a bright future in space lighting solutions.
Major advantages of using LED lights
First of all, LED lights are far more efficient than any other lighting alternative commercially available at the moment. LED bulbs have a 100,000 hour lifespan, and will last for 11 years at continuous operation, or 22 years at 50% operation. Compare this to the approximate lifespan of 5,000 hours for an incandescent light bulb and 10,000 hours for a fluorescent light. Many businesses find the lifespan of LED light bulbs very attractive – imagine only have to change the signage on a business property once every 11 years. With incandescent and fluorescent bulbs, the true cost of the bulb should include the labor expense and time needed to replace them. LED lights virtually eliminate lighting maintenance costs.
The second major advantage and key strength of using LED lighting over conventional lighting is the reduced power consumption. An LED bulb is capable of converting 80% of the electrical energy used into light energy. The remaining 20% electrical energy is lost as heat energy. Incandescent light bulbs only convert 20% of the electrical energy used into actual light energy, which means that a staggering 80% of electrical energy is lost as heat energy. If you compare the 80% efficiency of LED lights [http://www.sustainable.co.za/energy-efficiency/led-lights.html] with the 20% efficiency of incandescent lights, the optimal choice of light bulb is quite apparent.
Major disadvantages of using LED lights
The primary limitation is the current high cost of LED light bulbs. Even though the cost of LED lights in South Africa is steadily decreasing, replacing a 100W incandescent light bulb with an LED alternative can cost about R5,000. The startup cost may seem daunting, but LED light bulbs pay for themselves over time since they can last for up to 11 years, and saves a lot of money in terms of electricity used. For businesses, using LED lights makes a whole lot of sense since the reduced maintenance costs more than make up for the steep start-up cost.
Leading businesses are doing it
Various blue chip companies and hotels in South Africa such as Woolworths, CFC, Sasol, Caltex, Protea Hotel Group and Ster Kinekor currently use LED lighting solutions. LED lights are used from stairnose lighting, light line, wall wash lighting and signage illumination to color-changing till numbers and controls, architectural lighting and freezer lighting. These businesses have recognized LED as the preferred lighting solution for the future. With LED bulb start-up costs plummeting, more companies will follow these business leaders and discover a painless lighting solution that will last them a decade, and save them money.