Are LED Lights ready for Home Use?

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by Firemark, Aug 20, 2009.

  1. Firemark

    Firemark New Member

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Southern NJ
    I'm not sure if this is the proper forum.

    I've noticed some new LED light bulbs are available in the box stores and a few references online by web retailers. The problem with the items in the box stores are they're very low light output, about 25 to 40 watt equivalent.

    I saw one online ad claiming 100 watt equivalent with a built in fan for about $90.

    I'm not really interested in compact flourescents due to the mercury pollution issues.

    Does anyone have information on useful LED lights that are ready to everyday home use?
  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    They're expensive, but power efficient. The color on some tends to be blueish, so you need to see what color temp they provide. There may be help coming, but it will likely be a few more years.

    My local newspaper had an interesting article yesterday on the way the crystals are grown to make LEDs. Today, they're grown into a cylinder, but the axis is along the length, not across it, so you end up wasting a lot of the material getting slices to then cut up to make the LED. There's a local start-up company that has patented a new machine/techinque to grow them with the axis along the length, so they can be sliced into disks rather than slabs like lumber from a tree. They're getting close. The axis of the crystal has to be within about 1/10'th of a degree...they've got it down to about 1 and feel they can get it to zero to maximize the yield. Don't expect this to show up for at least a few years, but there's hope, they're close.

    This could be big, but development and mass production will take awhile. One source of a good variety is www.smarthome.com.
  3. Ian Gills

    Ian Gills Senior Robin Hood Guy

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    Location:
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    I keep watching these and they are really only still powerful enough for a few limited applications: fridge lights (LEDs work even better when cold); lights in range hoods (dodgy, if they get hot the life cycle is massively reduced, but seems to work OK) and ambient lighting inside and out.

    For room lighting, I just do not think they cut the mustard yet.

    Oh, I also use them for car lights, everywhere except the headlamps.

    The thing to remember about LEDs are that they are bright (so are good at being seen from a long distance) but do not throw out much light (so are relatively weak at lighting other things up).

    So keep waiting.

    I talk to light bulb manufacturers every now and again. The future will be LED "panels" that go on walls and ceilings for lighting.
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2009
  4. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

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    8,997
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    For a thumbrule, fluourescents give about 4 times as much light output per watt, as incandescent. I think LED's are about twice as good as flourescent, although it varies.

    The basic LED itself is not readily dimmable, but for many applications, an LED "bulb" will be an array of multiple LED's. Special circuitry will selectively turn groups on and off, for dimming.

    In general, they are still quite pricey.
  5. FloridaOrange

    FloridaOrange Plumbing Designer

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    1,317
    Location:
    SW Florida
    You should chat with those mfr's again. We've got LED's for parking lights down here. Bright as hell but with relatively little power draw. There's one or two car dealerships using them and some parking garages.

    They are very expensive though.
  6. Scuba_Dave

    Scuba_Dave Extreme DIY Homeowner

    Messages:
    885
    Location:
    South of Boston, MA
    I have 3 LED hockey pucks as under cabinet lighting - they use 4w TOTAL for all 3
    They put out better light then the 20w Halogen bulbs did

    I also use LED ropelight - uses 10w - all the light we need at night in the kitchen to grab a drink/snack
    I have a LED light string on the 3 season porch for light - uses 3-4w

    Using a CFL reduces your electric use & in most cases (depending upon energy production method) REDUCES the overall Mercury released into the environment
  7. tjbaudio

    tjbaudio Sound and Light Suppervisor for a School District

    Messages:
    162
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    yes, but:

    Yes LEDs are ready. I use LED in theatrical applications. I have some LED lights that are equivalent to a 500 Watt + wash unit. They use less than 36 watts. And I get colour mixing to boot. They also make brighter units with better whites.

    Now here is the "but"
    You have to spend the money to get good ones for home use. Some of the units at the big box stores are CRAP. They use 5 to 10 year old technology because they can make and sell the for low cost. However the newer technology has a MUCH better light out put. But you pay for it.

    Look out for dim blueish light. Also look out for flicker. The better units provide a more pure DC to the LED. The first string leds to come out made me sick to be around because they used unfiltered 1/2 wave rectification 1 diode vs 4 diodes and a capacitor to do it right.

    They will continue to get better rapidly for the next few years. However there are some very good units if your willing to look for them.
  8. Lakee911

    Lakee911 I&C Engineer (mostly WWTP)

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    What is the name of this start-up company?
  9. Lakee911

    Lakee911 I&C Engineer (mostly WWTP)

    Messages:
    1,328
    Location:
    Columbus, OH
    What is the name of this start-up company?
  10. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    Location:
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  11. Firemark

    Firemark New Member

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    Location:
    Southern NJ
  12. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple Bathroom Design & Build - North Vancouver, B.C.

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    Location:
    North Vancouver, BC
    LED lights for your home

    There are many new LED lights out there. Try and find a large electrical supplier in your area and go in after the morning rush and talk to the counter guys.

    We are installing LED recessed pot lights, rope lights and puck lights. The cost is more but most clients are willing to pay for the down stream savings and more importantley the "Green Factor".
  13. FloridaOrange

    FloridaOrange Plumbing Designer

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    Location:
    SW Florida
    Works for me.

    Attached Files:

  14. Scuba_Dave

    Scuba_Dave Extreme DIY Homeowner

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    Page takes a bit to load & I'm on FIOS
    It stops at a blank page for a bit, then loads
  15. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
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    Location:
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    Not sure why the link didn't work, but it apparantly is timed, so wouldn't work forever, either (such is the state of news...). Anyway, hope quoting it here won't create problems. I had the orientation wrong, but the end results are the same....in today's crystals, they have to cut them like planks from a log, rather than disks from the cylinder, which means various sized wafers, and a lot more waste. If this gets to mass production, it will change the cost structure radically.
    Copyright 2009 Nashua Telegraph

    Nashua startup has plan to grow sapphires sideways for use in LEDs


    Here's an idea for a new company you probably hadn't thought of: Grow a bunch of big sapphires but do it sideways.

    That is one way (a really superficial way, I admit) to think about the core business of Nashua's ARC Energy, a company co-founded two years ago by Kedar Gupta, who is best-known for helping to create GT Solar in Merrimack.

    Located in a faceless business condo behind a Market Basket on Route 101A, ARC Energy is pretty stealthy - it doesn't even have a Web site, for crying out loud. Yet, it is exactly the sort of startup that makes New Hampshire officials ecstatic.

    ARC Energy is a small (seven employees, no sales yet) company started by a seasoned tech-industry professional that is developing new technologies with the help of the state university in order to enter the ground floor of a large, growing and "green" industry.

    From the point of view of New Hampshire, you could hardly design a better storyline. Any day now, I expect to see them featured in a "We're Geeky in The Granite State" YouTube promotional video.

    At ARC Energy, however, they're not worrying how to get the best camera angle but how to get the best angle on their crystal growth.

    Here's some background, courtesy of Gupta and Rick Schwerdtfeger, vice president of engineering.

    Most of the world's LEDs are built atop sapphires, which have to be grown inside huge, hot (3,700 degree Fahrenheit) furnaces. This is a slow and expensive process, which is why LEDs cost too much to be used as household bulbs.

    ARC Energy would like to change this fact, which would create a whole new type of ultra-efficient lighting. "The question is, how do we produce sapphires, or provide a machine that produces sapphire, that are much less expensive? We believe we have done that," Schwerdtfeger said.

    "Our machine is unique. It is the only one," said Gupta, who left GT Solar at the end of 2006 and has funded ARC Energy entirely by himself.

    ARC Energy's heart is a half-million-dollar furnace - three of which are under testing and development at semiconductor firms in Taiwan - that grows sapphire crystals.

    They melt "seed stock" of sapphire and other ingredients, including grains of aluminum oxide exactly like the ones that make sandpaper scratchy, using temperatures hot enough to melt aluminum, then cool them just the right amount for crystallization to occur.

    The result, called a "boule," looks like a 6-inch-diameter column of glass, but if properly made, can be worth tens of thousands of dollars. (Sapphire jewelry has colors because of impurities in the crystal, but commercial sapphire is usually clear.)

    LED firms cut or drill those columns to create sapphire wafers, usually 2 inches in diameter, and then use each wafer to create hundreds of tiny LEDs used in everything from stoplights to laptops, with a future market developing for ultra-thin LED television sets.

    Lots of firms grow sapphire boules. What's different about ARC Energy's product is the orientation of the crystal.

    Crystals are made up of repeating patterns of atoms - that's pretty much the definition of a crystal. Any crystal has different properties depending on how the pattern is oriented, just as wood has different properties depending on whether you are working with the grain or against it. [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Staff photo by Don Himsel
    A “boule†of sapphire created by the ARC Energy furnace holds a half-dozen wafers that can be used to make LEDs.




    Sapphire wafers for LEDs need to have what is known as the C-axis pointing up, but traditional sapphire boules have the C-axis pointing sideways.

    This doesn't sound like much of a problem, but Schwerdtfeger said this 90-degree difference greatly complicates the process of getting wafers out of boules, resulting in huge amounts of wasted sapphire.

    ARC Energy thinks it has the "recipe" - their term, not mine - to grow boules with the C-axis pointing up; in other words, to grow them sideways.

    Their furnace does this by using four different methods to precisely manipulate temperatures during the 14-day process of creating a boule.

    "Removing heat is what crystal growth is all about," Schwerdtfeger said. "How and when you remove the heat determines how well it grows, how fast, and how uniformly it grows."

    The C-axis in ARC Energy's boules is pointing in the right direction within a degree or two. Alas for the company, commercial production needs precision within a couple of tenths of a degree.

    The company is tweaking its recipe to improve this orientation. It is also working with UNH mechanical engineering Professor James Krzanowski to develop machinery to keep precise orientation even when the boule is being sliced and diced.

    "You can't just slap it into a vice and cut it with a hacksaw," Schwerdtfeger said, joking.

    Krzanowski and ARC Energy together received one of several Granite State Technology Innovation Grants from the New Hampshire Innovation Research Center, which supports research partnerships between New Hampshire companies and college laboratories.

    The process is so computerized that ARC Energy officials can control much of it through their Blackberries while sitting on the beach, if they so desire, but they still hope to automate more of it.

    That is the sort of process optimization issues that any startup faces in order to move from research and development to commercialization.

    Still, when one of your co-founders helped build a startup into the state's shining example of a green-energy company, there's hope.

    "Our philosophy is to be No. 1," Gupta said firmly. "That is what we will do."


    Granite Geek appears Wednesdays in the Telegraph, and in a blog online at granitegeek.org. David Brooks can be reached at 594-5831 or dbrooks@nashuatelegraph.com.

    Granite Geek appears Wednesdays in the Telegraph, and in a blog online at granitegeek.org. David Brooks can be reached at 594-5831 or dbrooks@nashuatelegraph.com.
  16. Agu

    Agu New Member

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    66
    Location:
    Tampa, FL
    Ten years ago compact fluorescents were leading edge technology, now you can buy them everwhere. LEDs are the next step but they're still evolving. LEDs are actually an offshot of semiconductor technology and as such early adopters will pay premium prices to be ahead of the curve.They aren't there yet but relatively cheap LED lighting is around the corner.

    Yes they're energy efficient but the real impact is their longevity added to the electrical savings. Average life with current LED lamps is 50,000 hours, at ten hours a day in a typical commercial building that means not changing bulbs for about 12 years. The commercial market will drive the demand up and prices down in the not too distant future.

    Disclaimer, I own stock in CREE ............
  17. Bill Arden

    Bill Arden Computer Programmer

    Messages:
    584
    Location:
    MN, USA
    There are two types of LED lights, the sapphire frequency conversion type are the most common and are actually slightly less efficient than florescent lights in term of total lumens.

    Where LED's really shine is in spot lights. The LED lights cast a tight narrow beam. I use two of the ones from the "w" store for my outdoor spotlights. The lights say "not for outdoor use", however I have a 2 foot overhang and I have not had any problems.

    I also see new LED technologies coming that will replace the whole sapphire process.

    I also hate to say it, but there is probably some company out there that is designing a organic LED's that will deliberately die after some set amount of time. :rolleyes:
  18. Scuba_Dave

    Scuba_Dave Extreme DIY Homeowner

    Messages:
    885
    Location:
    South of Boston, MA
    I'm on one site where someone bought (3) LED light bulbs
    They were $30 or more each
    Lightning storm & all 3 LED bulbs were dead
    Not another bulb or electrocnic in the house was effected
    They were all on different circuits
  19. Ian Gills

    Ian Gills Senior Robin Hood Guy

    Messages:
    2,777
    Location:
    USA
    I have also killed LEDs. If they get hot, they decease very very quickly.
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