LEDs or Light Emitting Diodes work on the principle of electroluminescence and use semiconductors to produce light. LEDs were commercially used for the first time during 1960s as indicators on equipment, and since then their applications have grown by leaps and bounds. Today, they have uses as diverse as backlight sources for displays and automotive lighting. The lighting sector, in particular, has seen tremendous change since the arrival of LED based lights. LED lights have been rapidly replacing the conventional incandescent, fluorescent and halogen lights as a result of the various advantages they offer.
LED lights provide the most lumens per watts, thus consuming the least amount of energy as compared to other lighting sources. An average LED light offers a lifespan of around 50,000 hours, which converts to nearly 20 years of regular 8 hour use. This lifespan is more than 40 times of the average life of incandescent lights and more than 6 times than that of fluorescent lights. Apart from consuming less energy, LED lights do not contain any harmful elements such as mercury in CFLs. They also provide more colour varieties, better brightness control and light up faster than traditional lights. The most unique part of LED lights is that they can be designed in any shape or pattern the user desires.
As a result of the numerous advantages of LED lights they are being used in every segment of the lighting sector ranging from residential to architectural lighting. The biggest part of their production goes in to retrofitting and as efficient lighting solutions in new green buildings. Moreover, the governments of a number of countries such as the United States, Japan, China, Brazil, etc. have banned the manufacturing of energy consuming light sources in order to manage the use of energy resources. Thus, increasing the demand for LED lights.
However, in spite of the numerous advantages they offer, LED lights have their set of challenges as well, which have been holding back the growth of the LED lighting market to an extent. The major challenges faced by this market are:
High initial cost: Good quality LED lights have a higher cost than conventional lights as a result of the complicated assembly and high raw material cost. Manufacturers, however, are trying to lessen their production cost by employing new technologies and designs. Besides, LED lights are more energy efficient and have a longer lifespan than their traditional counterparts. Therefore, in the long run they prove to be lower in cost than other lighting systems.
Thermal design challenges: LED lights generate a certain amount of heat which has to be distributed properly so that the LED chip does not get damaged. In order to tackle this issue, LED lights are fitted with aluminium heatsinks which require certain design innovations to work properly. This increases the manufacturing cost as well. However, this heat generation is much less than the heat produced by incandescent lights and with a proper heat management system, the LED lights can last around 50,000 hours.
Lack of consumer awareness: Many consumers do not consider the overall cost of ownership while buying lighting products. Nevertheless, the declining prices of LEDs along with the ease of use, energy efficiency and longer life are prompting users to see the long-term benefits of switching to LED lights. Government initiatives like bans on energy consuming products and subsidies have also resulted in an increase in the sales of LED lights.
Nonetheless, these challenges are being efficiently tackled by manufacturers and as a result of the various advantages of LED lights, their market is expected to grow continuously in the future as well. Along with rising environmental concerns, limited energy resources and new findings in the LED technologies, LED lights are expected to replace the conventional lighting systems entirely in a few decades and pave way for a more efficient and greener lighting environment.
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