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How environmentally friendly are LEDs?

The study shows that: latest generation of lights is already extremely environmentally friendly. In the context of the study, the entire life cycle was investigated. Research was carried out into how much energy and how many raw materials the lamp consumes during its manufacture, use and disposal and what environmental impacts this has. The service life of the lamp – 25,000 hours – was used as the basis for comparison. This means that a Hifint LED lamp was compared with 2.5 energy saving lamps and 25 incandescent lamps. The result: Current LED lamps achieve the same ecological balance values as compact fluorescent lamps and are miles ahead of conventional incandescent lamps.
The study shows that: As with compact fluorescent lamps, LED-based lamps consume over 98 percent of the energy supplied during operation, i.e. in the generation of light. Less than two percent is used in production. This disproves the fear that manufacturing LEDs in particular can be very energy intensive. In contrast to the primary energy consumption of the incandescent lamps of roughly 3300 kWh, less than 700 kWh is used for manufacturing and operating LED lamps. Therefore the LED lamps are considerably more efficient than conventional incandescent lamps. As the efficiency of the LEDs is continually increasing, we can expect even better ecological balance results of the LED lamps in the future.

How much can we save with LEDs?

With regard to current consumption, CO2 emissions and maintenance costs, LEDs offer huge potential for savings – without making any reductions in light quality. When the longer service life is taken into account, the overall balance is clearly positive, even if the procurement costs are comparatively higher than conventional incandescent lamps. Depending on the system solution, clever technical solutions can reduce power costs by up to 80%.
LEDs are very efficient when compared to standard lights such as incandescent lamps or halogen lamps. Whilst incandescent lamps offer efficiency of a good 10 lm/W, and halogen lamp around 20 lm/W, the efficiency of white LEDs is between 70 and 100 lm/W (depending on the type and light color). Fluorescent lamps have an efficiency of 70-90 lm/W. In the laboratory, the efficiencies of LEDs are over 140 lm/W. Depending on the type, the power consumption is only 0.1 to 15 W. This means: Even small LEDs can provide powerful lighting.
However, a sound efficiency comparison is only meaningful in a complete, functioning system, as the efficiency of electronics and optics also have a decisive role to play here. In addition to that, standardization committees take system efficiencies into consideration, as a detached observation is not sufficient.
Whilst a white incandescent lamp converts only five percent of the input energy into light, with LEDs, this value has already reached around 35 percent. In the case of colored light, the ratio of 0.5 to 40 percent comes down even more in favor of LEDs. And whilst the incandescent lamp has reached the end of its development, this is certainly not the case for the LED. There is still the potential to increase efficacy, in order to make LEDs even more efficient light sources than they are today.

What advantages do LEDs have over conventional light technologies?

LEDs are point light sources and emit targeted light. They are extremely small and allow great design freedom for lighting applications. In contrast to incandescent lamps, their light and heat components are separate. LEDs have neither UV nor infrared components in their light. This means that they can be used more flexibly, particularly in heat sensitive areas, such as lighting for food or cosmetics, or in applications with very limited space.
LEDs have a considerably longer service life than other light sources. A white LED with more than 50,000 hours will last between three and seven times longer than conventional fluorescent and energy saving lamps and 50 times longer than an incandescent lamp.
LEDs are “green” products: They do not contain any environmentally harmful substances such as mercury or lead. The life cycle assessment for LED lamps has confirmed the environmental friendliness of LEDs, even during manufacture.
LEDs shine in saturated colors, allowing a very wide variety. There is no need for color filters. They can also be dimmed infinitely and with low loss.
White LEDs offer better color reproduction than many conventional light technologies. In street lighting, where yellowish sodium vapor lamps are frequently used, their color reproduction index is noticeably better.
In some areas, the total cost of ownership – the costs viewed over the entire life cycle of the application – is already lower than that of conventional lamps. These include illumination of chilled cabinets, in museums and street lighting.

Which areas are LEDs particularly suitable for?

As a high efficiency point light source, LEDs are the ideal solution when targeted light is required: For example in shop, street and automotive lighting, but also in private housing and in hotels. The RGB LEDs, which can be used to create millions of colors, also present attractive opportunities, for example in stage lighting.
In outdoor areas, LEDs prove their worth through their long service life – even when lit for long periods of time – and due to their resilience against low temperatures.
LEDs are also perfectly suited to the lighting of displays or deep freezing devices in shops and supermarkets: In contrast to high pressure discharge lamps for example, LEDs do not emit any infrared components (these can be felt in the form of heat) and thus do not cause any increase in operating costs for air-conditioning and cooling systems. In shops, the targeted light of LEDs allows optimal presentation of goods. A light management system can be used to play with color dynamics and various effects. With the right light control system, users have full control over the color spectrum and color temperature spectrum and can thus integrate light into their rooms as a new design element.
In financial terms, LEDs quickly become a sound investment for professional applications where lights are on for more than eight hours a day – such as in hotels, restaurants or shops.