Thursday, April 4, 2013

Old is Gold!

After the rush for CFLs now the spotlight is on LEDs. But how reliable are the claims? A Down To Earth report uncovers not so well known facts. CFLs were 300 per cent more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs; the figure has improved to 400 per cent now. The efficiency graph is not the same for LEDs. They are just five per cent more energy efficient than CFLs, according to the 2012 report by the US department of energy. But this report also predicts that by 2015 LED technology could become 300 per cent more efficient than CFL.
What about lifespan? It is said that LEDs have a lifespan of 25,000 hours compared to CFLs’ 8,000 hours. But LEDs have not been used in the real world for 25,000 hours, so the numbers are mere speculations. Low-end LED products, especially those made in China, are bound to flood the market, but they will surely not last 25,000 hours, say experts. CFLs, meanwhile, are eight times longer lasting than incandescent bulbs.
LED fixtures might be promoted as the way ahead, but they come with problems. For instance, an LED bulb is difficult to replace as it is available in panels. LEDs demand more controlled conditions and the lifetime of fixtures depends upon the source of energy supply. Even a nominal voltage fluctuation can damage LEDs. Another problem with LED lights is the amount of heat they produce.  Although LED chips, which work on DC current, generate negligible amount of heat, each light fixture has a transformer which converts the regular 120 volt AC current to 12 volt or lesser DC current. This conversion produces considerable amount of heat which is dissipated using heat sinks, adding equal if not more heat to the room than a tubelight.
Though the LED lobby often flags the absence of mercury in LED lights, researchers at the University of California have found presence of heavy metals in them. A 2010-11 study published in the Environmental Science and Technology states LEDs contain lead, arsenic and a dozen other dangerous substances. The study adds low intensity red LED bulbs are the worst offenders, while white LED bulbs, which contain the least amount of lead, have high levels of nickel. Like CFLs, disposal problems also plague LEDS.
The tubelight might be at the bottom of the lighting technology hierarchy but it beats both CFLs and LEDs at most levels. Not only is it cheaper but also almost twice as efficient as CFL and LED fixtures. With a proven lifespan of 20,000 to 30,000 hours, a tubelight is perhaps the best lighting option at our disposal today. Shows why it is prudent to wait and watch before jumping onto new technology bandwagons!

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