…None. They are all too busy trying to design the perfect LED lighting application!”…
It seems to me that LED lighting applications (Light Emitting Diodes) are popping up everywhere, from handheld torches and Christmas Tree lights to large scale stadium and theme park installations.
It’s hard to believe that in the 21st century we are still using Incandescent light bulbs, or “Classic Light Bulbs”, as they are now often refereed to. The concept of an Incandescent light bulb was originally invented back in 1835 by a Scotsman, James Bowmen Lindsey. One or two others then began to develop and improve the technology, however Thomas Edison’s is acknowledged to be the first to make it commercially available in 1878 by his company, The Edison Electric Light Company.
The problem with Incandescent light bulbs is that they are incredibly inefficient, give off allot of heat, and have a relatively short life. The world we live in today is all about saving energy and reducing carbon footprints, so this has spelled the end of the incandescent light bulb.
The developed world already has a phase out plan for Incandescents. Here in Europe for example Incandescent light bulbs are already in the process of being phased out, although I’m struggling to find the actually date when you can no longer legally buy them. 100W and 60W I believe are no longer being manufactured and 40W’s will stop by the end of 2012.
So what are the more ecological alternatives?
Compact and strip Fluorescent’s have been common place for a number of years now, but more recently LED lighting applications are popping up everywhere. First used by NASA to grow plants in space, LED lighting is available in a variety of colours, offers high efficiency at low power levels, and have a much longer life expectancy than classic incandescent bulbs, upto 20 years depending on the application and usage.
What are the negatives?
Yes LED’s cost more, and the technology is still evolving , and as the technology develops and economies of scale take effect, the cost to produce will improve further. However, even with today’s LED technology, the saving in energy bills quickly recoups these costs, as not only are they lower power, but because they need replacing much less frequently they cost less to maintain. This is especially beneficial in applications such as street lighting, where you need to be energy efficient and have low maintenance. Another downside compared to Classic lighting is the greater complexity of design. For example, poorly designed applications can give cause problems such as dim lighting, shift in colour, flicker, draw current when off, or even cause radio interference, often in the 2.4Ghz space which means it could interfere with many commercial wireless products!
How do I get started in LED Design?
If you’re your new to LED lighting and are thinking about designing an application, Microchip have recently released their Digital LED Lighting Development Kit , which is now available from RS Components.
A cool example of a LED Lighting Application