Better, brighter, cheaper LEDs

Although the CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) seems to have only been with us for a short time when you compare it to incandescent bulbs, LED’s (Light Emitting Diodes) seem set to capture increasing lighting market share in the years ahead.

Two of the challenges facing LED up until now have been quality of light and expense. I use LED lighting when I’m in the outback and while I’ve grown somewhat used to it, I still find the light quite harsh. As for the expense side of things, that’s definitely improved in recent years and it looks set to drop substantially again.

According to this article,  Cambridge University researchers have developed an incredibly cheap, flicker-free light-emitting diode bulb that produces very bright light, will only cost around USD$2.80, last up to an incredible 60 years, and could cut the proportion of electricity used for lights from 20 per cent to 5 per cent a year.

The researchers state their LED is 12 times more efficient than conventional incandescent bulbs and three times more efficient than CFLs. In the UK alone, the bulbs could reduce emissions of carbon dioxide by 40 million tons a year compared to the older incandescents (which are now being phased out in the UK anyway) – the amount produced by 8 one gigawatt power station.

One of the major advantages of LED bulbs is the lack of mercury; a small amount of which is used in CFL’s and has caused some concern of how to dispose of or recycle CFL‘s. These new LED’s use gallium nitride, a man-made semiconductor.