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posted by evolution on Jun 27

Essentials: How Do LED Lights Work? | Part 1



LED Technology in Tensor Desk Lamps; Plus the Incandescent to LED Bulb Chart. 


Harnessing the power of light has led to a plethora of innovations –none bigger than the ability to see anywhere at all times. This groundbreaking innovation has thrived for over a century now, mainly in a specific form –the incandescent light bulb. But like everything in life, change is inevitable. Where would a change in lighting come from? Technology of course!


Evolving from Thomas Edison, the grand master of electric manipulation who invented the light bulb way back in 1878, a man by the name of Nick Holonyak decided that it was time to take a step forward into the future of lighting. You might’ve heard of LED in all of the fanciest new gadgets, including Tensor’s Desk Lamps, well Holonyak is to thank for this new phase of lighting in the digital era. The father of LED, Nick Holonyak created a new type of light manipulation in 1962 – almost one hundred years after Edison– that has revolutionized our world and ushered in a major facet of the digital landscape in today’s society. LED has certainly turned heads, however, there are still questions that need to be fleshed out. How does the technology work? What are the true benefits of LED? To fill us in on some of the facts, we sat down with Michael Islas, one of our top engineers here at Evolution Lighting, to expound on LED (Light Emitting Diode) technology.


Evolution: Why is LED such a revolutionary step in the lighting industry, Mr. Islas?


Michael Islas: It’s a step forward to a different technology…you really can’t compare incandescent, or traditional bulbs, to LED anymore because it’s just a superior technology. So much more advanced, so much more technology-related. And it started at the material level, with the core understanding of silicone. [Silicone] is extremely, widely available in the world, unlike a resource like coal or oil, silicone is everywhere. [Silicone]’s extremely cheap, and the process they use…it’s very easy to get and use. LED is like the pinnacle of thousands of other advances in other areas that all lead up to our ability to manipulate silicone the way we do today.


Evolution: For those of us out there who don’t know much about the lighting industry, what’s the difference between LED and incandescent?


M.I.: Incandescent is an extremely primitive form of using electricity for light. You have a filament, typically of tungsten or a metal filament that you are passing electricity through to heat it up so hot that it glows…extremely energy inefficient. It’s basically how an incandescent works; it’s just passing electricity through metal. Amazing how long that technology lasted. Most people using incandescent in the year 2000, were using technology that was invented in the 1800s. LED is kind of the digital revolution for lighting.


Evolution: So then what’s the reason for the recent change of heart in the consumer? What held LED back for so long?


M.I.: I think [the reason] was price-driven because with a regular bulb, you were paying .25 cents per light bulb for an incandescent. LED light bulbs…were like $20 to $30 a bulb. When people are used to paying .25 cents, nobody wants to invest in a $30 bulb, even though, theoretically, it would save money long-term. Now that LED bulbs today are in that $2 a bulb range, it’s a lot easier to digest.


Evolution: Seems like price is always a catalyst. Let’s get into the technology itself. We know that LED stands for Light-Emitting Diode, but what does that really mean? What is a diode?


M.I.: A diode, in laymen’s terms, is an electrical device for essentially creating a switch. It was a huge step in electrical device history; that we could now digitally control current, voltage, etc. As for the light-emitting diode, basically what [happens] at the physics level is you’re exciting electrons to a higher orbit. Diodes for light-emitting purposes are exciting electrons that stimulate up, and when they drop back down, they’re releasing that energy as light. And depending on how much energy they release actually determines the color of the wavelength of the light.


Please check back with us next week to catch the second part of our interview with Mr. Islas. Part 2 is coming soon, where we will talk more about the LED technology in our Tensor Desk Lamps.


To provide a clear buying guide for LED bulbs, we’ve created a handy table that details the traditional incandescent bulb wattage and its LED equivalent.


                      Incandescent                                  LED
                  1E633_AS01                    led
                           Wattage                          Equivalent
                                40w                                 6-9w
                                60w                               8-12w
                              100w                             16-20w
                              150w                            25-28w

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