​A Short Lesson in LED Lighting

What are LEDs?

Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) are a semiconductor that produces light using the principle of electroluminescence. Depending on what material the semiconductor is made of, the LEDs range from Infrared, through the visible light spectrum to Ultra Violet light.


LEDs have many useful purposes in society. For example, they are the reason televisions are now flat, they replaced the large tubes that used to be in the old ones and act as a backlight for the liquid crystal display (LCD). LEDs that emit Infrared light are used in devices such as remote controls to communicate between electrical devices.

LEDs are popular in electrical circuits because they are simple to use and have a very long life span. As the technology improves, they are being used for more purposes, such as street lights and lighting up our homes. And more importantly they now make up the majority of products for Christmas Lights.

Why should we prefer LEDs over other lighting?

LEDs are a relatively new lighting technology, replacing old incandescent lights. Incandescent lighting uses a filament to convert electricity to heat, which produces light. This was a very costly way to produce light and created fire hazards. LEDs do not use a filament and convert electricity straight to light with minimal heating. This means they do not burn out the same way an incandescent light would and last longer.

They are also an advantage over the fluorescent lights that some people use. Compact Fluorescent (CFL) lights, that are most commonly used, contain poisonous mercury. LEDs have the benefit of no hazardous materials and so are safer. The best way to test your Christmas Lighting to see if it is LED or incandescent is to hold it after it has been turned on for a few minutes. If it still feels cool, chances are its LED, if it has a lot of heat, chances are its and incandescent light.

Why do they cost more?

In most stores you will find that LED lighting costs a little more than incandescent lighting. This is simply because they cost more to manufacture. LEDs are made of a semiconductor, which is more advanced technology than traditional lighting. The cost of the materials means that they cost more to produce and therefore end up having a higher cost on the shop floor.

This cost however is made up for by their longer life spans and low electricity use. This means that they end up cheaper in the long term.