LED lights, What exactly are they?

LED, is the new buzz word when it comes to lighting, but what exactly are they.  Well first, LED is an acronym for light emitting diode.  So one may ask… what is a diode? A diode is a two-terminal electronic component with asymmetrical conductance. Ok English…. It is a device that allows the flow of electricity in one direction only.  Ideally one direction will allow minimal or zero resistance while the other direction will allow infinite resistance.  So unlike an incandescent lamp an LED is polarity sensitive, one side of the LED, the anode, is positive the other side, the cathode, is negative.

While incandescent lamps produce light as a byproduct of heat, LEDs are specifically made to create light.  Most techies have been familiar with LED technology for years and LEDs have been integrated into electronics for years. The first mass produced LED lamps where not bright enough to be a source of light but was rather used as indicator lights and calculator displays instead.  As the technology and materials used in LED production has progressed the ability to use the lamps as a source of light has improved.

Despite the popularity of LED lamps there are still a number of people who are unaware that modern LEDs are becoming more pleasing to the eye.  The first LEDs used as a lighting source where a harsh blue color that most consumers disliked more than fluorescent lamps, however that has has greatly improved over the past few years.  The LED lamps used as a lighting source now can match the pleasant color of incandescent lamps.

Somehing to remember about LED lamps is the fact that most of them operate at a much lower voltage than the standard 120v AC that is used in The United States. LEDs, for the most part, operate at anywhere from 2v DC to 24v DC.  As stated above LEDs are polarity sensitive so if they are connecting to a AC source of power they will flicker. On 60Hz power the lamps will essentially turn on and off 60 times a second, while it may not be obvious to the human eye it may cause migraines for certain individuals who are prone to them.   This is why most LEDs use a driver or transformer to supply the adequate power to them.  In a newer LED lamp that is installed directly into an existing incandescent light socket the circuity to achieve this power conversion is integrated into the actual lamp itself.

The circuity that drives an LED is where heat becomes a problem, there is essentially no heat at the point where the light is created, however the electronics behind the light source does produce heat.  While the ratio of heat to light in a LED is much lower than in incandescent lamps the electronics driving the LED are more sensitive to heat. web hosting ip  This is the reason why most LED lamps will be equiped with fins serving as a heat sink and some well acctually have an on board fan that cools the electronic components.

LED technology has come a long way over the past 40 years.  They can be found every nowadays, from televisions and cell phones to red-lights and headlights.  At the pace of current LED technology it is exciting to see what the future holds for the little lights.


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