Light Fair 2011: All about LEDs


When Judy and I visited Light Fair International this year, one thing was immediately obvious – the future of lighting is LED technology.  In fact, more than 90% of the new products we saw used some sort of LED as a light source.

So what exactly is an LED?  And what are the advantages/disadvantages of using them?  I’ll answer these questions so that you can feel comfortable about bringing LED technology into your life.  It’s just a matter of time before we see them everywhere!


What is an LED?

LED stands for “light emitting diode.”  It is a semiconductor light source that has been used since 1962 as indicator lights in many devices.   Recent advances in technology have increased the color range and brightness of LEDs, so that they are now widely used in all types of lighting – from street lamps to desk lamps.

Advantages of LEDs

LEDs have two main advantages – they are extremely energy efficient, and they have a very long life.  It only takes about 13Watts to power an LED with the light output of a 100Watt Incandescent!  And they have a life span of 50,000-100,000 hours.   These attributes make LEDs a favorite among green designers.

LEDs can be very compact and give off little heat.  This allows them to be used in places where traditional light sources would not work.  Flexible LED strips are available that are paper thin and can be placed in almost any location – including outdoors.

Disadvantages (and things to watch out for)

Despite advances in technology, many LEDs are known to have inconsistent light color output.  This means that two “identical” LED fixtures placed side-by-side could give off different colors of light.  Usually, the differences are small.   But in some cases the differences can be noticeable and ugly.  The only way to be sure is to order samples or see the products in person before you buy.

LEDs can also be prone to “flicker,” a phenomenon where the diode turns on and off in rapid succession.  Flicker can lead to all sorts of problems – hyperactivity or distraction in children, migraines, and even epileptic seizures.  In most cases, flicker can be avoided by choosing a better ballast for your light fixture.  As with fluorescent lights, electronic ballasts are usually better than magnetic ballasts.

LEDs are typically more expensive than older lighting technologies.  But their increased efficiency means that they will “pay for themselves” in the form of reduced electricity bills.

There’s no avoiding LEDs – they are quickly becoming the future of lighting.  I hope these tips will make the transition easier for you!


image 1 &  6: studio1onethousand.com

image 2: wikipedia

image 3: frogdesign

image 4: google

image 5: tech lighting

3 thoughts on “Light Fair 2011: All about LEDs”

  1. Thanks for all the new info on lighting, great info. I recently used LED can lights in a large kitchen renovation. My client and I love the light and no heat! The LED under-counter fixtures had great inconsistencies in color from fixture to fixture, so we opted to switch them out to Xenon.

  2. Thanks for the comment Jennifer! Unfortunately, a lot of people experience color inconsistencies in new LED fixtures. We learned at Light Fair that the problem usually lies in the LED driver. Investing in better quality drivers is usually worth it.

    You can also learn about the color consistency of an LED fixture by looking for it’s MacAdams Ellipse rating. A lower number like 2 indicates more consistency between fixtures.

    When choosing LED lighting, the experts we spoke with suggested the following:
    1. Always invest in a good driver.
    2. Check with the manufacturer for compatible drivers for your fixture.
    3. Get samples of the fixtures with the actual driver.
    4. Use only components approved by the manufacturer and avoid substitutions.

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