Since the light bulb was first invented in 1879 by Thomas Edison, we’ve seen multitudes of different versions. First there was the humble incandescent light bulb. This was just a little electric light with a wire filament heated to such a high temperature that it glowed with visible light. Like the candles used as primary light sources for millennia before 1879, the visible light was a byproduct of the heat it generated.
Later on, we saw the advent of fluorescent lighting and halogen lighting and metal halide and sodium lighting. Each new iteration of light bulb was a version of the first one: electricity pumped through some material that was heated to such a high temperature that it produced visible light. While this is perhaps an oversimplification of the facts, the premise is undeniable.
With the invention of the light emitting diode (LED) in the 1960s for electronic components, we saw a new way for humans to create light. The LED began life as a semiconductor that produced light when an electric current flowed through it. But unlike other light sources, it doesn’t produce light as a byproduct of the heat generated. Rather when a current flows through an LED, electrons merge with electron holes inside it, discharging energy in the form of photons. This effect is called electroluminescence. Ninety percent of the energy pushed through an LED is turned into light while only 10% is turned into heat. This is the opposite of other light sources.
If you operate traditional lighting systems in your commercial building, your air conditioning is working 20-30% harder than it would if you left your lights off all the time. Why? Because all of the heat generated by the lights has to be offset by air conditioning to keep your preferred internal temperature in your building. In effect, your lighting system is acting as a small heater that runs all the time. Sure, this helps lower heat costs in the winter, but not as much as it increases the cost of your air conditioning in the other months of the year.
Building owners who convert to LEDs see a 20-30% reduction in heat load in their buildings, effectively reducing their energy use consumption by a like amount. Add that to the 70-90% reduction in energy use related simply to the lower wattage of the LEDs, savings of nearly 33% on your entire energy bill can be realized. If you’re tired of heating your building with your lighting system, give us a call at Energy Lighting Services to talk about how LEDs can help. 855.270.3300 energylightingservices.com