Technically, LED stands for Light-Emitting Diode. Basically, it’s a semiconductor that lights up when electricity passes through it. Electroluminescence.
While the rise of LED lighting is a recent phenomenon, it was developed in the early 1960s along with computer technology. The first LED lights emitted infrared rays. Then they radiated the color red. Over the ensuing 50 years, the color options increased and the cost of production decreased.
Today’s LEDs use less energy than the incandescent and fluorescent lighting that have for several decades been the lighting industry standard – 50% to 80% less energy. The lifespan of a typical LED bulb is between 35,000 and 50,000 hours. That makes it two to three times longer lasting than fluorescents and a whopping 25 to 50 times longer than Thomas Edison’s incandescent bulbs. Unlike a blown bulb or flickering tube, when LED bulbs fail, they dim over time.
Smaller light units allow LED strips to be tucked under display shelves to illuminate products below. They’re even better for lighting products in coolers. Because LEDs operate at a temperature of 42 degrees, drinks and frozen foods stay colder and refrigeration units don’t have to work as hard. Bonus: That could also extend cooler life.
Safety is a big factor in LED lighting’s upward trend. Because of their significantly longer lifespans, LEDs need to be replaced less frequently. Workers will take fewer trips up and down ladders or reaching atop rented heavy equipment like a cherry picker.
And because they’re made with semiconductors, they are what’s called solid state devices. That’s what makes them tougher. Drop a unit and it’ll likely still operate. Try that with a fragile incandescent bulb and you’ll have glass cleanup on your hands. Even worse, a shattered fluorescent tube will also release dangerous mercury and phosphor powder that are hazardous if touched or inhaled.
All of these factors explain the swift rise of LED use across a multitude of industries. LEDs are now the lamp of choice not only for c-store interiors and gas canopies, but for street lamps and desk lamps, flashlights and stoplights, and even big screens from the basement to football stadiums.
All of these things add up to illumination technology that is far superior to its predecessors.