LEDs Are The 21st Century
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
Why will we see this wholesale
Efficiency -- LEDs use a fraction
of the power used by an incandescent, halogen,
or fluorescent to produce the same amount
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
How efficient is "More
Efficient?" Compare the
power to produce 100 lumens of light.
Incandescent -- 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
How much power for
lighting is lost into 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
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
Incandescent -- 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
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
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
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
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.