LED technology has advanced to a level enabling a broad range of new home lighting products.
Previously, the LED has appeared in numerous low power indicator applications.
For example, a green 5mm LED incorporated into the speakers on a sound system for a personal computer provides a reminder that the sound system has been left on.
Within the past several years, LED technology has advanced dramatically and now provides the possibility for "illumination applications".
Several newer LED products include outdoor floodlights, hand held flash lights, and area or task lighting.
The benefits of LED technology are most beneficial in the low voltage ( 12 to 24 volt DC) automotive, marine and alternative power areas.
The next level of advancement will include a line of products incorporating capable of providing an even higher level of illumination.
Consumers are now seeing traditional fluorescent, incandescent, and halogen light bulbs being replaced by high power LED lights.
In fact, some existing technologies have already extended beyond the limits of most well known LED applications! The key to advancement within the realm of LED lighting starts with a good understanding of LED efficiencies.
The two primary industry standard concepts of efficiency include, LED power efficiency, and LED cost efficiency.
Power efficiency provides engineers and designers with a means to calculate and compare various lighting systems.
Power efficiency, commonly expressed in "lumens per watt", provides an indication of the total luminous output compared to overall power dissipation of the device.
On the other hand, sales and marketing agencies tend to focus more on LED cost efficiency.
Cost efficiency, commonly expressed in "lumens per dollar", provides an indication of luminous output compared to actual costs associated with manufacturing the product.
A truly successful LED product will most likely feature a combination of superior power as well as cost efficiencies. Existing LED technology can provide lumen outputs equivalent to many incandescent, halogen, and florescent bulbs found within the home or office.
In most cases, a professionally designed LED circuit can provide a level of energy efficiency equal to or better than most traditional light sources.
However, high production costs offset energy efficiency to the point where overall cost savings only occur over an extended period of use.
Over several years, a modern LED light fixture in the home or office will eventually lead to justification of the initial investment. However, many consumers are looking for more immediate results!
Unfortunately, this only becomes possible after manufacturing costs have dramatically decreased. There are many legitimate reasons for the high manufacturing costs associated with LED lighting.
Most traditional light sources produce heat that is dissipated directly into the surrounding atmosphere.
For example, a 100 watt incandescent light bulb dissipates a significant amount heat directly from the glass bulb, and outward into the air.
The light bulb does not require any additional thermal management.
LEDs operate much differently! Most of the thermal energy produced during the operation of an LED light moves in a reverse direction, downward into the circuit board.
Standard circuit boards feature a relatively high thermal resistance, and do not transfer heat very efficiently.
For this reason, designers and engineers must pay additional attention to thermal management to ensure that heat can properly dissipate away from the LED.
Otherwise, the LED and surrounding electronics may suffer as a result of induced thermal stresses.