LEDs –Life Enhancing Diodes


Prince Phillip is a big fan and wants all of us to be. Buckingham Palace has had a full lighting lift.

…the palace has installed the lighting in chandeliers and on the exterior, where illuminating the entire facade uses less electricity than running an electric teakettle.

A long article in Saturday’s NY Times, and carried by the SF Chron and others, takes a look at a small hopeful sign.

Studies suggest that a complete conversion to the lights could decrease carbon dioxide emissions from electric power use for lighting by up to 50 percent in just over 20 years; in the United States, lighting accounts for about 6 percent of all energy use. A recent report by McKinsey & Company cited conversion to LED lighting as potentially the most cost effective of a number of simple approaches to tackling global warming using existing technology.

The switch to LEDs is proceeding far more rapidly than experts had predicted just two years ago. President Obama’s stimulus package, which offers money for “green” infrastructure investment, will accelerate that pace, experts say. San Jose, Calif., plans to use $2 million in energy-efficiency grants to install 1,500 LED streetlights.

Thanks in part to the injection of federal cash, sales of the lights in new “solid state” fixtures — a $297 million industry in 2007 — are likely to become a near-billion-dollar industry by 2013, said Stephen Montgomery, director of LED research projects at Electronicast, a California consultancy. And after years of resisting what they had dismissed as a fringe technology, giants like General Electric and Philips have begun making LEDs.

So, yipee! They’re still hard to find for the house, and when you do they’re mighty expensive — though not as expensive as sea water creeping in over your hardwood floors. Watch for them. Demand them!

LED Lights Coming to a Home Near You

Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL) are now a near norm for environment minded consumers. Even with complaints about the brightness or color they’ve been installed in second bed-rooms, garages, any place people don’t sit and read by the hour. Their main shortcoming, however, has been the mercury that’s involved in their making. Use LED lights! cry the most CO2 conscious. Problem was LED lights for the home were hard to find, few in size and shape and expensive to buy. That seems to be changing if a report from LightFair International is to be believed.

LED bulbs and fixtures dominated nearly every booth on the show floor.

…the industry is rallying around LED lamps for many applications. They say LEDs last longer than current bulbs and compact fluorescent ones and their energy consumption could eventually be less than fluorescent lights’. They can also be made in many shapes and sizes, which was evident at the trade show. Unlike compact fluorescents bulbs, they contain no mercury and they work well in cold weather. They provide a more pleasing light than fluorescents.

Update: More about LEDs and new means to color correct them.

QD Vision adds an optic–a plastic cover with a special coating that snaps into place over the LEDs.

It’s that coating that makes the difference in the quality of the light. It consists of quantum dots–tiny bits of semiconductor material just a few nanometers in diameter. When excited by a light source–in this case, the LEDs–quantum dots radiate light in a wavelength that varies according to the size of the dot: a two-nanometer dot gives off blue light, a four-nanometer dot emits green, and a six-nanometer dot produces red. The company makes the dots in controlled sizes, then mixes them in the right ratio to get the desired color.