LED Lights vs Incandescent LightsPosted on February 27, 2014
Back in the day, incandescent light bulbs were the only option for landscape lighting. We’ve all seen, used, changed, bought, and even broke incandescent light bulbs. They’re in light fixtures in the house and in light fixtures outside the house. But as a refresher…an incandescent light bulb produces heat with a filament wire heated to a high temperature by an electric current passing through it until it glows. The hot filament is protected from oxidation with a glass or quartz bulb that is filled with inert gas or is evacuated.
Then along came the light-emitting diode (LED). Actually, LEDs have been around since the 1960s and were originally used as electronic components; however, they did not start becoming integrated into landscape lighting until several years ago. The LED consists of a diode chip made of semi-conducting material, encased within an epoxy, plastic, resin or ceramic housing and attached to the electrical circuit and light is emitted when an electric current passes through it. One filament is used in an incandescent light bulb, whereas several LEDs are used to make up a LED lamp.
Previously, using LEDs in landscape lighting involved using different equipment and more equipment than what was used for incandescent light bulbs. Retrofitting an existing lighting system formerly required new fixtures, new equipment and LED drivers in order to switch from incandescent light bulbs to LEDs. Recently, the LED landscape light has evolved – there are now “incandescent” light bulbs equipped with an LED in place of the filament within the light bulb. It looks like an incandescent, fits into a fixture like an incandescent; however, it’s an LED! This evolution has drastically cut down the cost of retrofitting an existing landscape lighting system to use LEDs and has also cut down the cost of installing a new LED system.
LEDs are more expensive than their incandescent counterpart; however…
- LEDs will last longer than incandescent light bulbs;
- Increased life means that LEDs will need to be replaced less often;
- The less often LEDs are removed from fixtures, the longer the fixtures will last;
- LEDs require less energy than incandescent light bulbs (LEDs are more energy efficient);
- Decrease in energy requirements means that more LEDs can be added to a landscape lighting system;
- Decrease in energy requirements means that you can use a smaller transformer;
- LEDs emit more light per watt than incandescent light bulbs;
- Increase in light emitted means that when incandescent light bulbs are replaced with LEDs, the dimness of the incandescent light bulbs will be replaced with the brightness of LEDs;
- LEDs radiate very little heat when compared to incandescent light bulbs;
- LEDs are difficult to damage with external shock (jarring and bumping), unlike incandescent bulbs, which are fragile;
- Aside from the initial operating cost of LED lights, the annual operating cost of LEDs is approximately 1/10th of an incandescent light bulb
When it really comes down to it, using LED or incandescent bulbs and their respective equipment and fixtures is all about personal preference. There are pros and cons to both (cost versus energy efficiency), and it’s up to the consumer to weight what is important to them and base their decision on that.
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