Unlike incandescent or fluorescent lighting, solid-state lighting creates light that emits virtually no heat. A "solid state" semiconductor material converts electricity into light. Light-emitting diodes, or LED's, have been around for more than 30 years, but until recently were used only in small electronic devices as indicator lamps.
Recent developments have shown that LED's can be used in some limited lighting applications. There is now a vast body of research that shows positive potential in previously unimagined applications. LED manufacturers have used that potential to create a various fascinating systems of LED's that explore the Red/Green/Blue (RGB) spectrum of light. By mixing these primary colours electronically, you are able to create up to 16,000,000 colours!
LED lighting is used in an increasing variety of applications because it offers many benefits, including light quality, flexibility, safety and energy efficiency.
Many manufacturers have gone further and developed devices to cycle those colours in many ways. From static colour through the full spectrum of the rainbow, it is possible to find exactly the precise colour to match a corporate logo for an illuminated sign, or to contrast a panel of light in a dcor situation.
Current generation LED's are manufactured then sorted into quality and consistency of colour; a process called "Binning". These bins are then graded and given a number to indicate the batch and to allow buyers to ensure colour consistency. The better the bin grade better the quality of light, longevity of the diode and consistency of colour output.
Therefore the top level lamp manufacturers will always opt for the better bin grades, hence the higher price for good quality LED's and lower price for the poorer quality, shorter life and inconsistent coloured LED's. Cheaper is not better when it comes to LED's!
What country the LED's are manufactured will also affect the quality, longevity and colour consistency of the LED's. European and American manufactured LED's tend to be the best quality, using the latest in diode technology, whereas Asian manufactured LED's tend to be of a lesser quality and will generally use older diode technology.
Some of the benefits of LED lighting are:
Reduced energy consumption –especially when coloured light is required
Smaller flexible light fixtures – useful for lighting small spaces
Long life – reduced maintenance cost and up to 6 years' non-stop use! Though LED's never completely die, they do lose anywhere between 20% and 50% of their light output over their functioning life, depending on quality of manufacture and the amount of power going through them..
Durable – no filament to break
The future of LED
The performance of digital solid state electronics roughly doubles every 18 months (Moore's Law). Hence it is hoped by many that LED development may follow a similar course. This is only physically possible up to a point. If Moore's Law keeps applying to LED's' luminous intensity, LED's may soon become more common than fluorescent lamps.
As far as applications for LED's in the future..well, your imagination will be the only limitation!