How LEDs Have Influenced Design

Illuminating everything from the ceiling frescos in the Sistine Chapel to the iconic arch at Wembley Stadium in London, LEDs are bringing a fresh new style to interior and exterior design.

LEDs mock natural lighting

As LEDs have started to be implemented into homes and workspaces, they’ve proven that good indoor lighting can offer much more than just brightness. It can provide beauty, elegance, esthetic, comfort, ambience and character into any space when used appropriately.

The Leica Camera headquarters, for example, have a modern and sophisticated feel thanks to the tasteful mix of LED and fluorescent lighting.

Leica Headquarters

Photo credit: LEDs Magazine

The lighting in the Leica workspace blends seamlessly into the building’s design, providing a beautifully clean look and an optimum work environment. The design incorporates a mix of color temperatures to provide the look and feel of natural light.

Natural light doesn’t just enhance the look of the interior, however — it also has the ability to uplift people’s spirits.

Feeling blue? LEDs can change your mood

In addition to creating a more comfortable visual experience, LED lights have even proven to be able to change moods.

Thanks to modern technology, mood lighting can be controlled by connecting smartphones to LEDs or by using other high tech lighting systems. According to the Cooperative Research Network, adjusting the color of lighting can help people feel happier and not as tired at the end of the day.

Humans prefer daylight, and so any sort of lighting that more naturally resembles sunlight makes them more energetic. These mood-enhancing lighting systems can be programmed to shut off, however, when everyone has gone home for the night. In fact, the Leica facility has programmed its lighting system to dim when feasible to save energy and also to extinguish in areas whenever unoccupied.

LEDs brighten outdoor displays

While natural lighting may be preferable for indoor spaces, who doesn’t love a good outdoor light display?

To attract and excite onlookers, the outside of buildings and major landmarks, such as Madison Square Garden and the Calgary Tower, are receiving LED upgrades to their appearance.

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Photo credit: New York Post

Outdoor venues are beginning to see the advantages of LEDs for several reasons, including:

  • Lower energy consumptions
  • Availability in a broad range of brilliant, saturated colors
  • Lower maintenance costs
  • High efficiency
  • Very long lifetimes

Whether used for indoor or outdoor applications, there’s clearly a bright future for LED lighting.

US DOE Reports on Efficiency and Environmental Impact of LED Lighting

LED lighting has been hyped as the next best thing in lighting because of its energy efficiency. As Earth Day 2012 approaches, we would like to share the results of a new report from the US DOE, Life-Cycle Assessment of Energy and Environmental Impacts of LED Lighting Products Part I: Review of the Life-Cycle Energy Consumption of Incandescent, Compact Fluorescent, and LED Lamps, February 2012.

Part 1 of the report focuses on a comparison of the energy consumption during the lifecycle of LEDs, CFLs, halogen and Incandescent light bulbs. The lifecycle is defined as the three major lifecycle phases: manufacturing, transportation and use.  The authors of the report took on a lot of work. The report is a comprehensive look at the energy consumption of the three light technologies based on ten existing studies from academia, manufacturers and independent researchers.

The results of the report were not surprising given the buzz about LEDs.  The use phase is the most energy intensive for all — incandescent, CFLs and LED lighting.  Transportation accounted for less than one percent of the lifecycle for all. The real differences occurred during the manufacturing phase with LEDs initially being higher due to the larger “packages” required to meet the equivalent lumens, or the amount of light.  These differences in the manufacturing phase will be eliminated by advances in LEDs over time.  For example, as LED technology improves with increases in yield, wafer size and automation in LED manufacturing, LEDs will become brighter requiring fewer, smaller “packages” to make the same amount of light, lumens.  Even given these initial differences in current LEDs, they all disappeared when totaling everything up throughout the lifecycle.

According to the authors of the report, “the key results of this analysis indicate that the average life-cycle energy consumption of LED lamps and CFLs are similar, at approximately 3,900 MJ per functional unit (20 million lumen-hours). This is about one quarter of the incandescent lamp energy consumption—15,100 MJ per functional unit.”  Further, the authors estimate that, “by 2015, if LED lamps meet their performance targets, their life-cycle energy use is expected to decrease by approximately one half.” This means that as LEDs become more efficient, they’ll outshine CFLs.

This all sounds like very good news for LEDs, but it still is very early. The report is the first report from a larger DOE project to assess the lifecycle environmental and resource costs to manufacture, use and dispose of LED lighting products versus comparable traditional lighting technologies.  Look for more from the DOE.

For Further Reading:

Clearlysapphire.com, LED Manufacturing, http://www.clearlysapphire.com/LED.html

US DOE, SSL Program, http://www1.eere.energy.gov/buildings/ssl/index.html