Jan 302011
Red, yellow and green (unlit) LEDs used in a t...
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Physicists Usher In Energy-Saving LED Lighting

Thanks to advances in physics, light-emitting diodes (LEDs) will soon move from traffic lights and electronics panels to home lighting, bringing dramatic energy savings, adjustable colors for ambiance, and light-shining furnishings.

TROY, N.Y. — Do you know what your home will look like in the future? The future is now here with new lights that almost never have to be changed.

The special lights use the same technology used in newer traffic lights and on computers. They’re easy to install and can save you a lot of cash.

Changing the lighting in your home may be as easy as switching out a tile. Light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, are making light installation a do-it-yourself project. The demo room at Rensselaer Polytechnical Institute’s Lighting Research Center in Troy, N.Y., is a view into the home of the future.

Nadarajah Narendran, director of research at the Lighting Research Center at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, says, “The lighting can be rearranged just like furniture in a room.”

LEDs can be housed in flexible tiles because they’re durable, smaller, long lasting, and not hot to the touch. “In an incandescent lamp, it’s the heating that causes the filament to light up. Whereas in an LED it’s the charges — the positive and negative charges — when they come together, they combine and give light,” Narendran says.

The intensity of the light can change, along with the color, unlike traditional lights that after installed are always the same.

“So if you want to create mood lighting you have that option with LEDs because you can change the color with a touch of a button,” Narendran tells Ivanhoe.

LEDs, however, aren’t just about ambiance. Narendran says, “We are talking about 50- to100-times longer lifetime from incandescent lamps.” LED lights only need to be changed every 15 years, saving consumers 90 percent in energy costs and making the choice of LEDs a worthwhile switch.

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