Light-emitting diode (LED) lighting is perhaps the most popular solid state lighting (SSL) technology today, making enormous gains in virtually every facet of the consumer, commercial, and industrial lighting markets. Their rugged design and outstanding performance characteristics make them ideal for a wide range of applications and uses, particularly in directional lighting situations in which the maximum amount of light is required to shine in a particular area.
LEDs are now preferred for many lighting designs that have in the past typically used compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) and formerly dominant incandescent lamps. LEDs are now finding success in replacing these previously-preferred lamp types because LEDs offer:
- Outstanding directional light emission
- Compact design profile
- Superior optical control
- Greater energy efficiency
- Better breakage resistance
- Reduced maintenance
- Longer life
As with any evolving technology and rapidly-changing marketplace, LEDs can vary greatly in quality, consistency, and reliability so it’s important to research the type of LED fixtures in which you’re interested and how they perform in the real world, independent of manufacturer’s claims. To help you do that, there are several good Department of Energy information resources you can check out, including:
Gateway Program Conducts real-world LED demonstrations that enable detailed LED product evaluations through hands-on experience that can’t be replicated in a laboratory setting.
CALiPER Program (Commercially-Available LED Product Evaluation and Reporting) Conducts LED product testing and analysis using accredited test laboratories and industry-standard test procedures to provide unbiased, trusted product performance information. This program, along with Gateway, helps discourage low-quality LED products and inflated manufacturer claims. CALiPER test results and analyses are also used to help further develop SSL test procedures and standards (see below).
Standards References Working closely with a network of standards-setting organizations, the DOE has made available a number of white papers, webinars, and other reference materials that provide a wide range of technical assistance and support and help facilitate “apples to apples” LED product comparisons.
There are, of course, many well-designed and high-quality LED products and fixtures on the market today that, in addition to providing superior performance and light output, also offer substantial energy savings. Matching the right LED components to your project will not only provide outstanding performance, but years of virtually maintenance-free operation that can add up to a significant and faster ROI.