The LED Industry: Past, Present, Future

Light emitting diodes (LEDs) have been around for over half a century, but it wasn’t until recently that they became a reliable, energy-efficient, and economical source of light. Today, LEDs—which are being used in a growing number of industries—last longer, provide better color performance, and cost less over their lifetime than traditional fluorescent and incandescent light bulbs.

A Brief History of LEDs

LEDs are semiconductor devices that emit a monochromatic light when an electric current passes through them. LED technology has been available for over 50 years, but up until recently, it was primarily only used for small indicator lights on electronic devices. This was partially because, up until about 25 years ago, only red and green LEDs could be produced, and these lights weren’t very energy efficient or easy to manufacture.

In 1993, however, there was a breakthrough in LED technology with the invention of the blue LED, which requires a light of a shorter wavelength than both red and green LEDs. The development of blue LEDs was important because it led to the development of white LEDs, which is similar to the light from traditional light bulbs. Blue LEDs can be converted to white light either by passing the light through a phosphor coating, or by combining blue LEDs with red and green LEDs.

The ability to generate white light using LEDs means that they can be used for a greater variety of purposes. However, as with red and green LEDs, when blue LED technology was first invented, it was not able to be used or produced efficiently. However, overtime, LED efficiency has risen, while manufacturing, material, and distribution costs have fallen.

The Changing LED Industry

The efficiency and affordability of LEDs has improved since they were originally invented. For this reason, LEDs have went from being used solely for small indicator lights on electronic gadgets, to having applications in laptops, television, and cell phone backlighting, and indoor, outdoor, and decorative lighting.

With all of the improvements to LED technology, the LED industry has been growing rapidly. According to Zion Market Research, the global LED market totalled $26.1 billion in 2016, and is expected to reach $54.3 billion by 2022. It was also estimated that 40% of the total LED market is devoted to indoor lighting needs—which is something that would have been very unlikely prior to the advent of the blue LED technology.

Using LEDs in Your Space

LEDs are more efficient and cost effective than fluorescent and incandescent bulbs over their lifetime. Modern LED light bulbs are able to convert more than half of the electricity they use into light. Incandescent bulbs can usually achieve up to a 4% electricity conversion rate, which makes LEDs over ten times more efficient than incandescents. This not only results in a lower lifetime operating cost for the user, but reduces the environmental impact of lighting due to energy consumption.

Today, on average, an LED costs $12 to own and operate over its lifetime, making LEDs a economical choice compared to incandescent bulbs, which cost almost $80 to operate standard over the same period of time. Moreover, one LED lasts between 50,000 and 100,000 hours—which is 2.5-10 times the longevity of fluorescent bulbs, and up to 100 times the longevity of incandescent bulbs. This means, if you use LEDs, you won’t have to change your light bulbs as often.

Are you interested in finding out more on how to incorporate LEDs into your space? RGB Lights specializes in custom LED lighting and fabrication, and has a wide range of LED options available for applications across multiple industries and a variety of applications.