LED lights are a type of energy-efficient lighting. LED stands for light emitting diode, which is a device that converts electricity to light. Even though LEDs have been around since the 1960's, they had not come around into widespread use until around fifteen years ago. Now, LEDs are used in are used in many household devices including lamps and flashlights.


Each diode in an LED is only ¼ of an inch in diameter and only needs 1/10 of a watt of energy to produce light. LEDs are traditionally grouped together to provide higher amounts of light. LEDs decrease in output as they age; they typically will not burn out suddenly.


LED lights have many applications. They are used in night lighting, art lighting, porch and outdoor lighting. Also, mp3 players, DVD players computers and televisions use LEDs. There are versions of LED bulbs that can be used in regular lamps and light fixtures. These bulbs, however, come with a hefty price. Newer flashlights utilize LED technology because of its ability to easily be directed in steady streams. LEDs are beginning to get use in the traffic lights and outdoor signs of some cities. Many automotive manufacturers are beginning to use LEDs for their headlights.


On average, an LED gives off around 20 lumens per watt. Incandescent bulbs give off about 15 lumens per watt and fluorescent light bulbs give off around 60 lumens per watt. LEDs give off much less heat than incandescent bulbs and they last longer, about 50,000 hours. Unlike fluorescent bulbs, LEDs contain no mercury. 80% of the energy consumed by an LED goes to producing light, unlike an incandescent bulb where 80% of the energy consumed goes to produce heat.

How They Work

LEDs work differently than others bulbs such as incandescents and fluorescents. Incandescent bulbs heat up a tungsten filament to produce light. Fluorescent bulbs emit light by passing an electric current between two electrodes and through a gaseous material containing magnesium. LEDs have no filament which is one of the reasons that they do not get very hot. They run an electric current between two electrodes but do not react with a gas like fluorescents.


Investing in LED lights is not cheap. It can cost anywhere from $25 to $60 for a bulb that gives off the same amount of light as a regular 60 or 75 watt incandescent bulb. The amount of energy savings in a given year, though, will offset the high initial cost of buying an LED light.