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Why LEDs are taking over



In the latest instalment of our flashlight series we look at LEDs. LEDs are replacing more ‘traditional’ bulbs for more reasons than you might be aware of.


Even to the layman, it's clear to see that LEDs (light emitting diodes) are steadily replacing many other light sources that we use day to day.

Certainly, we’re probably all delighted that we can finally throw away those old- fashioned, energy-sapping bulbs that lit our homes as we grew up. They seemed to last for a few weeks at a time and have now finally been replaced with far greener LED alternatives that last much longer and are available at realistic prices.

LEDs have evolved over recent years from something that indicated your record player was switched on or off to something that can light up a field if need be – and in all sorts of colours.

The LED is actually less like a bulb as we know it – it is a computer chip-like device that emits light when power is applied. It has an epoxy protective coating to prevent damage and increase durability. This epoxy can also act as a lens or optic.

Apart from the solid-state construction helping LEDs last longer, it also makes them safer than incandescent bulbs in hazardous environments.


LEDs (5mm)

Benefits

• Up to 100,000 hours of life

• Generally, never needs to be replaced

• Can be seen up to a mile away

• Good for close work due to wide dispersion and soft focus

• E tremely long runtimes: up to 100’s of hours at low illumination levels

Disadvantages

• The LED has no focus, it requires an optic or reflector for focus

• Peak beam intensity can be lower


Power/High Flux LEDs

Benefits

• Provides the reliability of an LED with the performance surpassing most incandescent bulbs

• Latest in high power LEDs available on the market today

• Over 10x brighter than standard LEDs

• Can be focused with a reflector or optic

• Generally, never needs to be replaced

• 10,000 to 50,000 hours of run time

Disadvantages

• The LED has no focus, it requires an optic or reflector for focus

• Peak beam intensity can be lower


Incandescent bulb types

These include krypton, xenon and halogen.

Benefits

• Provide high output for their size

• Natural-appearing light

• Beam is easy to focus Disadvantages:

• Require periodic replacement

• Can fail on extreme impact


As you can see from the above points, incandescent bulbs are struggling to offer value now that the more advanced power/ high flux LEDs are on the market.

If anything, they are more of an even match with poorer quality LEDs that cheaper products might use.

The world of LEDs is extremely technical and the life expectancy, brightness and performance varies considerably with all bulbs and LEDs. LEDs are graded and are then selected by manufacturers of flashlights and other industries according to the requirements of the end user including size, performance and colour.

Quality varies considerably, as you may have experienced when replacing household ceiling lights – seemingly ‘like’ brands can last for ages, while some will last no longer than your old halogen bulbs from the 1980s, so care must be taken when choosing, especially when reliability is key.

LED bulbs have revolutionised many industries and, while there are some good reasons for considering other bulb options, it’s a good idea to see if an LED option will fit the bill.

Technology is moving at quite some pace and, if there’s not an LED solution for your specific application now, it probably won't be long before there is.


W: www.streamlight.com

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