LED Lighting 101

SYLVANIA Golden Dragon™ LED Light

While LED (Light Emitting Diodes) lighting has been around since the 1960s, it’s only now coming into widespread use and being touted as the next generation of energy efficient lighting for homes, offices, cars, and more.

How LEDs Work

LEDs—also known as solid-state lighting—use the movement of electrons through a semiconductor material to create light. While an extremely efficient form of lighting, a single LED doesn’t produce enough light for larger applications. When bundled together, however, LEDs become a powerful and efficient lighting system.

Advantages of LEDs

LEDs have many advantages over other lighting, including:

    • Energy efficient: 80% of the electricity used by an LED is converted to light, compared to just 10% for incandescent bulbs.
    • Long life: LEDs last up to 50,000 hours or more, 50 times longer than incandescents and five times that of compact fluorescents.
    • Durable: Since there are no filaments or fragile bulbs to break, LEDs can stand up to the excessive vibration found in vehicles and machinery.
    • Instant light: Unlike compact fluorescents, which can take time to reach full brightness, LEDs come on instantly and can be easily dimmed.
    • Environmentally friendly: LEDs emit very little infrared radiation and contain no mercury, two problems inherent in compact fluorescents.
    • Won’t burn out: LEDs don’t burn out, instead they just gradually dim.
    • Directional lighting: LEDs focus light in a particular direction, making them useful for spotlight and other applications.
  • Reduced Interference: Unlike fluorescents, LEDs do not interfere with electronic devices such as radios, TVs, or cordless phones.

Uses for LEDs

With the development of white LED lights and lower costs, applications for LED lighting are expanding. Some of the more common ones are:

  • Traffic signals
  • Vehicle taillights
  • Reading lamps
  • Flashlights
  • Ceiling or track lighting
  • Outdoor landscape lighting
  • Night Lights
  • Kitchen counter lighting
  • Holiday lights

Even some cultural icons have converted to LED lighting, or are considering it, including the Empire State Building, the Times Square New Year’s Ball, and Buckingham Palace.

Disadvantages of LEDs

Though the advantages of LED lighting are many, the one big disadvantage is cost. While a standard incandescent bulb sells for under a dollar and compact fluorescents are down to $2 to $3, LEDs for general lighting applications still cost many times more, though the price is coming down.

Even at a higher cost, replacing your existing incandescent lights with LED bulbs will save money over time, since LEDs use much less energy and last many times longer.

The Future is Bright

As LED lighting becomes more popular, and advancements continue to be made in research and production, costs are expected to continue to fall, and the benefits far outweigh the price disadvantage.

Further Information


  1. Although LED lights are the better overall choice for everyday lighting, I still feel LED string lights lack the warm glow off the incandescent type, especially at Christmas!

  2. 90% energy savings over traditional Christmas lights. Just paint them with a bit of yellow paint if you like the warm glow. Or buy the new ones that have colored dispersion tops.

  3. @fishboy- doesn’t work. It’s a blue light with yellow painted over it. That hardly makes a warm light like incandescent. Also, CFLs and LEDs flicker, they don’t give a constant glow like incandescent. Many people don’t notice, many people DO. It’s like constantly living in a Rave. There are so many negative effects of these new technologies that people don’t even consider.

  4. when they talk about ‘light appearance” being warm and/or cool – what exactly is the difference. for what task would each type be better suited?
    example for 880 lumens Warm-2700K Cool-6000K

  5. Good morning guys. Great show. I have a question in my master bath ive noticed the screws starting to show threw on the sheetrock. What could be causing this and what should i do to fix it

  6. warmer white colors (2700K for ex.) have higher CRI – color rendering index, which means that colors on an object lit by such LED is represented more accurate. Hope this helps

  7. Another advantage of LED’s is when used in hard wired fixtures in older houses. Over 50-60 year old houses may be wired with #14 wiring instead of minimum #12 currently mandated by many building codes. With the addition of ceiling insulation, the older wiring may overheat. Additionally, if ceiling fans have been added to the ceiling wiring circuits, the circuits can be further overloaded. Replacing incandescent (and even CFL) lights in ceiling fixtures will protect from circuit overloading and overheating of the wiring.

    Keep up the good work!

    • Clyde,
      Good point! Since LEDs draw a lot less power than comparable incandescent bulbs, it won’t cause as much resistance in the wiring.

  8. I WANT TO ILLUMINATE A HALL OF 250 X 500 feet with height 150 feet WITH 200 lumen light.




  9. Thank you for the help. My wife and I have been trying to make our home more efficient and were told that switching to LED lights would be a great step. I had no idea that they could be 80% more efficient. That seems like a great reason to switch over.

  10. I bought a FEIT LED 9.5 W bulb at Costco about a year and a half ago ago. It failed. I called FEIT at 866-326-3852 and told them. They said it has a 5 year warranty and they will send me a new bulb, no charge. The model was BPCEAG800/927/LED/3.

  11. I have a 24′ X 24′ garage with a cathedral ceiling and a center beam from
    gable end to gable end. I have three (3) 200 watt clear incandescent light fixtures mounted at equal distances. I want to replace the incandescent bulbs with LED’s. I am having a hard time finding A shape
    LED bulbs with 200 watt equivalent lumen rating. Does anyone have any suggestions? All I can find on line are the cob style and they seem to be too bright. How come this is so hard to find an equivalent bulb? HELP!


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