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Why the US Lighting Industry Is Moving to LEDs
As a lighting technology, Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs), offer clear material advantages in respect to energy consumption, durability, longevity, long-term environmental effect, and cost. Both in macro and micro terms, the technology outdoes older methods of lighting.
Over the past 15 years, the US has seen a major push involving LEDs by both private and public entities. Corporate and private end-users are switching to garner benefits in cost and performance, while the US Department of Energy is seeking to implement more sustainable energy consumption and generation processes. The DOE estimates that by 2020, LEDs will comprise nearly 50% of lighting sold in the US, and 84% by 2030. This is very quick uptake, considering LED lighting was hardly even a nascent market one decade ago.
The DOE forecast in 2014 that "LED lighting in general-illumination applications will reduce U.S. lighting energy consumption by nearly one-half in 2030."
Commercial Benefits
The material benefits of LED lighting over traditional incandescent lighting and other types of energy-saving lighting are significant.
Incandescent lighting draws 4-5 times as much electricity as LED lighting for an equivalent amount of lumens produced. Additionally, incandescent bulbs have a lifespan of 1/25 as many operational hours as LED lights, which are usually rated to 25,000 hours or more before reaching 70% lumen output.
Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) are a more dated technology that achieved limited adoption, mostly in specific use cases. They draw slightly more power than LEDs, but their primary drawbacks are the harsh, flat quality of the lighting produced, as well as the lifespan of their bulbs. LEDs, good for 25,000 hours of high output, will exceed CFLs by 15,000 hours, or a ratio of 2.5:1.
The low maintenance nature of LEDs means not only many fewer fixtures replaced, but also many fewer employee hours dedicated to their maintenance.
Additionally, LEDs, because of their compact form factor, are much more durable than their bulb counterparts. They can be installed underfoot or in small areas where a traditional fixture simply would not fit.
And with the tens of millions every year put into Solid State Lighting research (LEDs and OLEDs) by the DOE, the technical limits and applications of LEDs are constantly expanding.
Department of Energy Initiatives
A lessened energy footprint is a priority for both public and private entities in the US. The United States Department of Energy has launched multiple initiatives to forward the development of solid state lighting (which includes LED lighting) and clean energy.
In 2016, the DOE issued $10.9 million in research funds for its Solid-State Lighting Advanced Technology fund, aimed at improving LED and OLED technologies.
Over the past 15 years, the DOE has issued approximately $320 million in funding, yielding, by its own estimate, some 260 patents and $2.8 billion in energy savings.
Programs have also been created at the state and national level for utility companies to offer end-user rebates for LED adoption. These rebates run the gamut of usage, from small businesses to very large facilities in virtually any industry.
Many of these rebates are currently ongoing and have proven very effective in aiding LED adoption and in helping regional companies lower their energy spending.
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