Green alternatives to Edison's incandescent bulbs have had a reputation for poor light quality. But high-luminosity LEDs already equal or exceed traditional bulbs on all scores -- including brightness.
What Is an LED?
LED stands for "light-emitting diode." A diode is a small, tubular device containing a semiconductor. The movement of electrons through the semiconductor produces light. LED light bulbs combine the output of many individual LEDs.
LEDs that qualify for the government's Energy Star rating are required to be equal in brightness to the incandescent and compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs that are already on the market. Unlike CFL bulbs, LEDs reach their maximum brightness right when you turn on the light. Check the lumens rating on the package to ensure a bright-enough bulb: 800 lumens are needed to substitute for a 60-watt incandescent bulb.
The energy-to-light output ratio on an LED is nearly 100 percent, because LEDs lose little or none of their energy to heat. Incandescent bulbs produce far more heat than light and rarely perform at better than 7 percent, according to AccessScience. An LED bulb has a lifespan of up to 50,000 hours, while the typical incandescent shines for 2,500 hours or less.
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