Only five years ago LED lighting was about fancy colours and novel applications. Do you remember the glowing wash-basins and bath-tubs that, it was predicted, were for the home of the future. Those gimmicks may not have taken off in the mainstream, but LEDs have now grown up and found a more serious role in life. Today it is their energy efficiency that is their main attraction and it is mainstream business that is the force behind their growth.
While green-living homeowners are just starting to discover LED lighting as an alternative to incandescent or CFL light bulbs, commercial businesses are already switching over to LED lighting as a major cost-saving exercise. They are discovering that it is possible to cut lighting energy costs by as much as 90% when a ‘smart’ system is installed in big centers such as warehouses and manufacturing plants.
When thousands of dollars are being saved it is less a matter of an environmental conscience and more about the bottom line, but whatever the reasoning behind the move, it has to be good for the environment in the long-term. As more businesses cotton on to the savings, LEDs could well be providing a means of cutting carbon emissions and reducing the need for building more electricity generating plants.
While energy-saving and cost cutting has been the main focus of those promoting LED lighting solutions, another major benefit to businesses has been the increased functionality offered by smart LED lighting systems. LEDs are a digital lighting solution. They can be programmed in simple or complex ways to produce the optimum lighting conditions for the business concerned. They can automatically dim, brighten and colour correct according to whatever factors have been programmed into them. This could be time of day or in response to motion sensors, ambient temperature or available daylight among others.
The technology continues to improve and develop and the good news for the home-owner is that improved technology and a bigger uptake in the commercial market has a trickle down benefit to smaller consumers. While LED light bulbs still aren’t cheap, they are improving all the time in efficiency and light output. As LEDs become more mainstream manufacturing costs and unit prices are falling, bringing them within reach of most green home-owners who want to get in on the energy-saving benefits without spending a fortune.
The simplest way to move into LED lighting remains to change your old-style incandescent and CFL light bulbs to LED versions that fit into the same sockets and fittings. This can be done a few at a time to fit into a tight monthly budget. Those with bigger budgets or who are re-modelling a building or building new should take advantage of the opportunity to get a whole LED lighting system designed for the purpose. With the versatility of LEDs you can this get the best functionality at the same time as maximizing the energy-savings. Within 18 months your system could well have paid for itself in energy costs saved and will continue to save you money over the next 20 years or so.
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