Until now, the lighting industry has provided the world a no-win option where we either choose highly inefficient incandescents or follow the advice of media and government offices to use fluorescents that contain mercury, look horrible in most cases, and are typically not or only partially dimmable. These options do not lend well to the “build a greener future” philosophy of our great nation’s leaders. Fortunately, you no longer have to consider only these outdated technologies. Recent LED technological breakthroughs have signaled an entirely new battle on the lighting front. We now have sensible alternatives that last longer than both Incandescent lighting, and Compact Fluorescent (CFL) and give off a much more beautiful light. LEDs are not only mercury free, they're also 300% more energy efficient than fluorescent lights and about 1000% more efficient than incandescent lights.
Did you know that Fluorescent lights are filled with a gas containing low-pressure mercury vapor and argon, or sometimes even krypton? The inner surface of the bulb is coated with a fluorescent coating made of varying blends of metallic and rare earth phosphor salts., Our Gov’t is in a typical knee jerk mode in telling the world to move quickly into CFL. Sure, the energy savings would be huge, and possibly almost worth the trouble caused by the mercury disposal, however – why, when there’s a much more sensible option? The problem exists because each year, an estimated 600 million fluorescent lamps are disposed of in U.S. landfills, amounting to 30,000 pounds of mercury waste. Astonishingly, that's almost half the amount of mercury emitted into the atmosphere by coal-fired power plants each year. It only takes 4mg of mercury to contaminate up to 7,000 gallons of freshwater, meaning that the 30,000 pounds of mercury thrown away in compact fluorescent light bulbs each year is enough to pollute nearly every lake, pond, river and stream in North America (not to mention the oceans). In America, 1 in 6 children born every year have been exposed to mercury levels so high that they are potentially at risk for learning disabilities, motor skill impairment and short-term memory loss. Fortunately, consumers no longer have to bring mercury into their homes, business’s and other lighted spaces through the use of fluorescent lights.
Unlike incandescent light bulbs, which light up regardless of the electrical polarity, LEDs will only light with positive electrical polarity. LEDs produce more light per watt than do incandescent bulbs, and have an extremely long life span (usually about 50,000 hours). One manufacturer has calculated the ETTF (Estimated Time To Failure) for their LEDs to be between 100,000 and 1,000,000 hours, mostly depending on the operating temperature (the cooler the environment, the longer LEDs last). Fluorescent tubes, in contrast, are typically rated at about 10,000 hours, but in practical application, they only last about 2,000 - 3,000 hours. Incandescent light bulbs typically burn out every 1,000 hours. LEDs mostly fail by dimming over time, rather than with the abrupt burnout of incandescent bulbs.
LED lights contain absolutely no mercury or toxic chemicals, and conventional LEDs are made from a variety of inorganic semiconductor materials. They don't generate RF wavelengths that cause radio interference, or emit ultraviolet (UV) light -- so LEDs will not readily attract bugs and other insects.
So what’s the downside you ask? Well, in fact – the LED is almost a PERFECT product, with one short-term exception… Cost! Sure, the cost has come down greatly over time, however it will still cost you $129 to replace a $20 recessed light fixture in your home or business. In fact, the issue should not be titled Cost, but instead “Short Term” cost, since even the cost is beneficial when stretched over multiple years. One recent estimate suggested the typical Normal Duty LED replacement lamp would last more than 25 years, or 50 times that of a standard incandescent. Figure in the cost of changing 50 lamps over that span – and the LED becomes a pretty solid deal.
In a recent study by The Department of Energy, they’ve estimated that LEDs could reduce the national energy consumption for lighting by 29% by 2025. That would save U.S. households $125 billion on their electric bills and would have a significant positive impact on our global warming, energy and emissions initiatives.