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LEDs Are The 21st Century Lighting

Mark my words! LEDs will become the primary artificial lighting source in the 21st century. LEDs will replace incandescent bulbs, halogen bulbs, and fluorescent tubes. LEDs are the future of lighting.

Why will we see this wholesale replacement?

Reasons LEDs = 21st Century Lighting First, Efficiency -- LEDs use a fraction of the power used by an incandescent, halogen, or fluorescent to produce the same amount of light.

Second, Heat -- LEDs run cool and don't waste energy heating the room or cabinets.

Third, Lifetime -- LEDs last 50 to 100 times longer than the bulbs and tubes used in 20th century lighting.

Fourth, Law -- by law, production of incandescent bulbs will no longer be legal in three years, and fluorescent tubes, including CFLs, are hazardous waste requiring special handling. By the process of elimination, that leaves wood fires and LEDs.

How efficient is "More Efficient?"  Compare the power to produce 100 lumens of light.

Efficiency of LEDsIncandescent -- a brand-new 1156 bulb running at 12.8 volts draws 2.1 amps, totalling 26.9 watts, to produce 402 lumens of light, or 6.6 watts for 100 lumens. Within 300 hours, this will rise to over 10 watts as the filament thins and wears out.

Halogen -- a new J12v10w halogen bulb running at 12.0 volts draws 0.833 amps, totalling 10.0 watts, to produce 175 lumens of light, or 5.8 watts for 100 lumens. By 1000 hours, you cannot get 100 lumens out of the bulb as it turns brown and grows old.

Fluorescent -- Thinlite's 612 with two F8T5 tubes is rated for 12 volts drawing 1.4 amps, totalling 16 watts, to produce 800 lumens of light, or 2.0 watts for 100 lumens. Light is constant until the tubes or ballast start flickering or burn out.

LEDs -- LightBlaster's zipLED LightSticks are rated for 12.5 volts drawing 0.07 amps, totalling 0.875 watts, to produce 60 lumens of light, or 1.46 watts for 100 lumens. You can add LEDs to get more light as you need; there is power to spare in the circuit.

How much power for lighting is lost into heat? Why?

Excess wattage from lighting becomes heat

The secret is how the light is produced. In the 1870s Thomas Edison found that if he ran an electrical current through a carbon hair in a vacuum bulb, he could heat the carbon so hot it would glow. They made improvements on the process and now use tungsten filaments and alternating current, but with all the improvements, incandescent bulbs still use 85% of the electrical power to heat the filament, and only 15% goes into producing light.

Halogen lights are a variation on the incandescent bulb where the tungsten is heated so hot it starts to boil off the filament and creates a brighter light when it falls back to rejoin the metal filament. This improves the efficiency, maybe by 20%, but it heats the quartz bulb to more than 1,000 degrees Farenheit on the outside. I promise you will have third degree burns if you touch it. Paper will flame if it touches the bulb. Your coach can burn down if the surrounding panels char too much.

Fluorescent tubes offered an alternative. By 1990 the efficiency of fluorescent tubes had improved to nearly 50% over incandescents, but noisy ballasts created havoc in closed environments and with sensitive electronics. Then they found the mercury used in the tubes was a serious environmental hazard, and more recently they found the UV light from fluorescents could be a factor with cataracts. The recent push on Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL) increased efficiency to 70%, but LEDs still are the best, and all the other objections are still there.

LEDs are the lighting of choice. And by the way, if you don't live in the NorthWest Territories where you require extra heating, it will cost you three times as much electrical energy to remove the excess heat with air conditioning as it cost you to produce it by using inefficient lighting.

Does lifetime matter? How Long Will You Need Lighting?

LED costsIncandescent -- a 1156 bulb uses 26.9 watts, to produce 402 lumens of light. Its design life is 1200 hours. Typical bulb cost is $3.50 -- 83 of them will cost $300, the power will cost $900, for a total of $1,200

Halogen -- a J12v10w halogen bulb uses 10.0 watts to produce 175 lumens of light. Its design life is 2000 hours. Typical bulb cost is $4.00, times 50 is $200, plus ....

Fluorescent -- Thinlite's 612 with two F8T5 tubes uses 16 watts to produce 800 lumens of light. The fixture has a 7500 hour lifetime. Ballasts can be more expensive. Typical replacement cost per tube is $10.00.

LEDs -- a LightBlaster's zipLED LightSticks use 0.875 watts to produce 60 lumens of light. Its design life is 100,000 hours, or over eleven years of continuous lighting. Typical cost is $20 for 100 lumens, once.

By the way, generated power in a motorcoach costs from $0.40 to $3 per kilowatt-hour.

What is this about being the Law?

The Federal Government passed a law in 2007 to phase out all 40 to 100 watt general-service incandescents by 2012, and requiring that all light bulbs be 25% to 35% more efficient by 2014.

The reason for this law is the inefficiency of the incandescent type of bulbs for producing useful light. Though much of the push has been for the Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL), the real winner will be the LED. The problems with mercury wastes will continue to plague the CFL, and as the price of the LEDs drop and technology solves the problems of working in the 120 volt AC environment, the LEDs will become the standard lighting for the United States.

The good news is that the technology for LED lighting is already here for RVs and Boats. RVs are LED-Ready. The 12-volt DC based product set is in place, and it provides a good replacement for the incandescent, halogen, and fluorescent lighting found in most such environments. It does not require a new law to make LEDs work in RVs.