More and more people are making environmentally-friendly purchasing decisions, in both the commercial and industrial sectors; lighting solutions are no exception. Historically, lighting systems used ample amounts of energy in order to illuminate a space, but modern technology has facilitated the widespread availability of eco-friendly lighting solutions, with LED lighting as a clear front-runner. While engineers are concerned with aspects such as optimizing the LED performance, consumers are simply concerned with choosing, to the best of their knowledge, an eco-friendly lighting option that is also cost-effective in both the short and long term. So, what do consumers consider when making the switch to eco-friendly lighting? In this article, we will explore this, as well as where LED performance compares to other key environmentally friendly lighting options.
Consumer Considerations for Installing Lighting
Consumers first consider the utility of the space in which they are looking to install new lighting systems or alter existing light. Second to energy-efficient light bulbs, lighting control technology creates a meaningful impact on energy consumption. Lighting control refers to the mechanisms used to power light sources on or off. Eco-friendly lighting asks consumers to think beyond the conventional switch, considering motion-sensor lighting control or a photosensor switch, which would power on light bulbs only as natural light diminishes.
The fixtures used in lighting systems can also have a direct effect on energy demands. Lighting fixtures, sometimes referred to as luminaries, play a role in directing or diffusing the illumination provided by light bulbs. Therefore, selecting the appropriate fixture for a space — one that offers the best light output ratio —reduces the need for additional light sources.
The Complete Lifecycle of Eco-Friendly Lighting
The final stage of a light bulb’s life is often an afterthought when selecting lighting. However, for those wishing to center environmental consciousness in their design, it is a crucial aspect to consider; closely following LED performance. This involves the disposal and/or recycling options available in the consumer’s given area. Safe and proper disposal is a large part of mitigating the overarching ecological effect of lighting demand and production.
LEDs, for example, are constructed from certain metals and glass that are, by some accounts, up to 95% recyclable. Important here is that burnt-out or defective eco-friendly light bulbs be handed over to the proper organization to be disposed of or recycled safely—particularly when handling CFLs, which contain mercury. Consumers must check with local government authorities, hardware stores or online send-in programs that offer recycling or safe disposal programs.
How Does LED Performance Compare in Eco-Friendly Lighting?
Not only do LEDs fit the bill for the aforementioned consumer considerations, LED performance is also top-notch when compared to its more environmentally-friendly predecessors, CFLs. However, lighting solutions powered by solar energy and schemes that incorporate the use of natural light are also eco-friendly options to consider. Let’s take a closer look at the four lighting options consumers consider:
- LEDs – An abbreviation for Light Emitting Diodes, these lightbulbs are the gold standard of energy efficiency in both private and commercial spaces. They not only consume up to 80% less electricity than traditional incandescent light bulbs but offer one of the longest operating lives on the market based on their LED performance, sometimes exceeding 50K hours.
- CFLs – While Compact Fluorescent bulbs are considered to be 4 times more efficient than incandescent lighting, LED performance still offers a higher energy saving rate.
- Solar Power – Lighting that is powered by renewable sources of energy, like solar, can encompass indoor lighting which draws from grid-tied solar power systems or outdoor solar lights. The latter store solar energy in rechargeable cell batteries.
- Natural Lighting – Reducing the need for artificial lighting overall is one of the best steps to reducing energy consumption. Removing obstructions or installing windows and skylights can be incorporated into efforts to create a more eco-friendly lighting solution for a dedicated room or space.
Why LED Performance Makes the Difference
Though the upfront purchasing price is slightly higher with LEDs, the cost savings overtime offered by these energy-efficient light bulbs is unparalleled. However, economic considerations are not the only draw for consumers. LEDs break apart from the eco-friendly lighting pack in a few other key areas:
- Longevity – LEDs offer a longer burn time compared to CFLs and certainly when compared to old-guard incandescent bulbs. Whereas typical LEDs boast a lifespan of over 13 years, an incandescent bulb would have to be replaced at least 20 times in this timeframe. This allows for a convenient “set it and forget it” mentality and maximizes time-savings for consumers.
- Thermal considerations – LEDs (with some exceptions) do not produce heat in the form of infrared radiation, leaving them cool to the touch. This makes them a go-to option for lighting needs that sets light sources within reach of humans or animals or near temperature-sensitive objects like foods, textiles, etc. A major caveat to keep in mind, however, is that despite feeling cool LEDs do still generate heat, as with any light source. As such, engineers must incorporate an effective heat sink design for their LED designs, since the temperature at which an LED chip is maintained directly affects its rate of light output over time.
- Additional functionalities – Whereas CFLs can be sensitive to cold temperatures and take time to reach full brightness, LEDs power fully, straight away, and can even be used with dimmer settings. Newer LEDs even offer a range of ‘color temperatures’ to more closely recreate the warm tone produced by incandescent light bulbs making them the most versatile in the range of eco-friendly lighting options.
Making the Switch to Optimum LED Performance Lighting
Thoughtfully considering the best environmentally friendly lighting solutions for a space can not only lessen the strain on the planet’s finite resources, but also result in a lower energy bill. To best capitalize on this win-win, consumers can assess their lighting needs based on utility, budget, and energy demand. In each case, LEDs continue to offer a leading-edge eco-friendly solution which lasts longer, costs less overtime, and consumes less energy. Market prices for LEDs continue to drop making opting for a more sustainable lighting solution more accessible than ever to consumers.
To learn more about LEDs and how engineers can optimize the LED performance of their lighting designs with SimScale, check out more resources here:
- LED Cooling: Liquid Cooling Thermal Management
- Thermal Performance of Lighting Solutions: LM-80 and TM-21 Lighting Standards
- Thermal Simulation of Lighting Designs to Achieve Higher Performance
Additional input provided by:Jennifer Bell, a freelance writer for Prime Electrical Services.