LED Light Advantages and Disadvantages

Difficult to navigate in the new offering of lamps, appeared in place of incandescent bulbs, now banned. Ademe is trying to enlighten us, in a notice on the environmental performance of the LED.

In the match of the new lighting technologies, how do the LEDs (light emitting diodes)? This is the question answered Ademe in a notice published on 24 September. Between 2010 and 2012, incandescent bulbs were gradually withdrawn from the European market. Objective: Save 40 TWh across the EU by 2020.

As an alternative, consumers were able to turn to compact fluorescent lamps (or lamps low consumption), the LED or halogen (energy class A, B or C) lamps. But the latter, representing 70% of the purchased bulbs today, could be gradually banned from 2016. Lamps fluo-compact (CFLs) and LED to share the market of domestic lighting term.

For now, LEDs are “fairly widespread on the lighting market” but could gain any significant market share by improving their performance and lower prices. Very long lifespan and their low power consumption are indeed interesting. However, their overall environmental performance, while better than incandescent bulbs, can be improved, says Ademe. It reminds also that the national agency of health security (Anses) has warned, in 2010, against certain health risks the white led and advised against them sensitive individuals (children…).

A promising technology

Among the advantages of the LED with other technologies: its life expectancy. She can go “up to 40,000 hours against 2,000 hours for halogen and 8,000 lamps h CFL”. In addition, they are insensitive to shocks.

Side efficiency, Ademe points out that currently marketed LEDs are more efficient than compact fluorescent lamps. In addition, they show a strong improvement opportunities, their technology and rapidly changing. As a reminder, lighting accounts for 12% of electrical consumption of households, out of heating and hot water production.

But performance varies according to the technology. “If an isolated LED displays a very good energy performance (approximately 150 lumens per watt lm/W – and up to 220 lm/W for the most successful), a LED lamp offers a yield between 40-80 lm/W [against 60 lm/W for a neon-compact]. This decline in performance is notably linked to the heat produced by the diodes back-to-back in the lamp”. In the future, the LED should increase efficiency and reach 100 lm/W and up to 220 lm/W for “super bright” LEDs.

If we take into account the energy consumption of the entire life cycle of lamp life, two technologies become tied. Indeed, “the LED manufacturing process is relatively energy-intensive”. However, “there successively several CFLs to light as long as a single LED lamp”.

Among the other significant assets of the LED, Ademe points out that they bear ignitions and frequent extinctions, which isn’t necessarily the case of CFLs. Similarly, “they instantly emit the light output desired, without revving, which can be advantageous for specific applications such as the places of passage”. Finally, they “operate on very low voltage, which can be an advantage for electrical safety in the building”.

An environmental assessment to improve

However, the Ademe stressed that this technology is not adapted to high power lighting, due to overheating that can cause the use of many contiguous LEDs.

On the side of environmental impacts, if the LEDs don’t contain mercury unlike CFLs, some materials used in their manufacture, such as indium and the who, “are considered critical because resources are depleted”. However, today, they are not recycled. “The challenge is thus to reduce the amount of these materials in the LED and to recycle them”, considers the Ademe. Similarly, to improve the environmental performance of their life cycle, “the LED manufacturers can act by providing design, disassembly and recycling of the lamp”.

Still, shade the Ademe, “environmental impact of a light source [being] mainly determined by its effectiveness to produce light and life”, LED pull them out of the game. They display an environmental impact reduced by 75% compared to a light bulb filament. A figure that is expected to increase up to 85% thanks to technological developments.

However, the study of the Ademe does not seem to take into account the impact of the LEDs on the biodiversity, of the unknown impacts, according to the national association for the protection of the sky and the night environment (ANPCEN) that calls for a more comprehensive environmental assessment of these technologies.

Risk for sensitive people

Finally, remind the Ademe, Anses warned in 2010 on the health risks posed by white LEDs: toxic stress to the retina, caused by this blue light in proportion, and risk of glare, linked to the intensive light. She recommended against their use in places frequented by children and people sensitive to light. For fluorescent compact lamps, it is the exposure to the electromagnetic waves which was fingered and had brought the Ademe, in 2010, to formulate precautions of use… Conclusion: nothing beats natural lighting?