Complete Guide on LED Lights [Data & Facts]

what are led lights made of

The lights used in homes have evolved through the years. From the humble candles and gas lamps, we now have a host of lighting solutions, such as the traditional incandescent bulbs to globes with light-emitting diodes. Technology advancements helped develop energy-efficient fixtures that can illuminate our living areas without consuming plenty of electricity. 

LED bulbs are the current superstars in the rapidly evolving lighting industry. LED light bulbs are not only more durable, but they arguably produce better light output than other solutions. Despite the popularity of these light bulbs, there may still be a thing or two about LED lighting you haven’t heard about. 

How about we explore the story behind these light bulbs that top the list regarding energy efficiency? 

What Are LED Lights?

LED stands for light-emitting diode. It’s a light source that emits light when electric current flows through it. Light gets created when the particles that carry electricity combine with the semiconductor material. Unlike an incandescent bulb, a LED light doesn’t contain filaments that burn out, thus prolonging the bulb’s lifespan.  

Moreover, unlike traditional incandescent bulbs, the light-emitting diode in LED bulbs doesn’t need plenty of heat to produce light. This cuts down the bulb’s electricity demand considerably. 

A Bit Of History

Many presume that LED technology is a modern innovation. But would you believe that the concept behind the LED that we know today has been around for over half a decade?  

Electroluminescence, the phenomenon that drives LED lighting, was discovered by an English engineer of Marconi Labs in 1907. The first light-emitting diode came into being in 1927 from the hands of Oleg Losev, a Russian inventor. 

After several discoveries and innovations, Robert Biard and Gary Pittman created an infra-red LED light in 1961 while working at Texas Instruments. The following year, a General Electric scientist, Nick Holonyak, Jr., produced visible light using GaAsP (Gallium Arsenide Phosphide), a semiconductor. 

Through the 1960s, experiments with various chemical substrates continued with the goal of producing more efficient light-emitting diodes. These experiments eventually produced bright red and orange LED lights. 

Subsequent experiments with substrate materials led to the creation of different LED bulb colors. This eventually led to producing LEDs with white light output, which became famous for commercial and residential use. 

How They Work

A process called electroluminescence is behind the workings of LEDs. When an electrical current passes through a semiconducting material (a diode or microchip), the current stimulates the light chip leading to the production of visible light.   

A diode is a combination of different materials. The selection of conducting materials can control the colors and intensities of the light the diode emits. 

Although a light-emitting diode doesn’t produce much heat, what it creates can still lead to performance issues. To prevent such problems, LED light bulbs come with heatsinks to absorb the heat and disperse it into the surrounding environment. 

What The Colors Mean

Discussion of the colors of LED light bulbs, especially in residential lighting, often refers to two things – white light and RGB or red, green, and blue light that LED light bulbs to produce. 

White LED Light Color 

LED light colors typically range from cool white to warm yellow, which relates to the temperatures of the LED bulbs. Although LED lighting often means less heat, you can check the listed color temperature of a LED bulb before making a purchase. 

The color temperatures have numerical values measured in degrees of Kelvin. Using the Kelvin scale as a guide, here’s what a specific LED bulb color means. 

  • Warm White (2700K to 3000K): These LEDs emit visible light containing candlelight hues. They give off a soft glow similar to traditional light bulbs or that of sunset. LED lighting of this color is ideal for guest spaces, lobbies, and living areas as they produce a cozy ambiance. 
  • Soft White/Warm White (3000K to 3500K): These LED light bulbs produce soft white light with a slightly higher intensity than those produced by Warm White LED bulbs. Their glow is closer to that given off by halogen lamps. The color still evokes warmth, but it gives more clarity that’s suited for performing tasks. The light these LEDs emit is perfect for bathrooms and utility spaces. 
  • Bright white (4000-5000K): LED light bulbs with this color temperature produce a radiant, cool white glow. They give the area a light, airy feel that lessens the effect of being indoors all day. They work best in workspaces, such as kitchens, warehouses, and garages. 
  • Daylight (5500K to 6500K): The light-emitting diodes of these bulbs radiate a crisp, daylight color that appears almost bluish, mimicking natural sunlight. This white light helps improve concentration, so they’re great for study areas and home offices. 

RGB LED Light Color

Lighting using red, green, and blue LEDs isn’t as common as those that produce white light. Still, these LEDs emit a seemingly endless variation of colors that can create different moods. 

Here are some colors that come from combining varying RGB hues and the emotion they evoke: 

  • Orange LED Light Color: Health, Success, Confidence, Cheer, Vibrance, Innovation 
  • Blue LED Light Color: Trust, Stability, Dependability, Harmony, Loyalty, Integrity, Peace 
  • Yellow LED Light Color: Warmth, Happiness, Friendliness, Stimulation, Creativity, Energy 
  • Red LED Light Color: Passion, Love, Strength, Anger, Urgency, Danger, Excitement 
  • Green LED Light Color: Peace, Safety, Growth, Money, Freshness, Healing, Quality 
  • Purple LED Light Color: Wisdom, Fashion, Luxury, Success, Ambition, Creativity, Royalty 

Common Uses Of LED Lights

Since their invention several decades ago, light-emitting diodes have become the unacknowledged heroes of the electronic world. That’s due to the multitude of applications they’re been used in and the functions they perform in different devices and equipment. 

Because of the advantages LED bulbs have over incandescent light bulbs, they have replaced traditional light bulbs in homes and businesses. Aside from providing illumination, LED lighting technology has been utilized for other purposes. 

Lighting for Residential, Commercial, and Industrial Uses

The advances in LED technology benefit a broad spectrum of light users, as LED light bulbs can be used for general and special-purpose lighting. Being energy-efficient light bulbs, even the usage of hundreds of LED bulbs won’t create that big a spike in electricity bills. 

LED lighting can showcase areas of interest for the home, such as landscapes, artworks, or recessed walls. LED bulbs are perfect for this purpose as they generally give off more directional light than other illuminating solutions such as incandescent ones. 60-watt incandescent light bulbs produce between 750-900 lumens, but you can get the same light output from LED bulbs with 6-8 wattages. That’s how energy-efficient LEDs are. 

LED lighting can be easily customized, too, as LEDs come in a wide range of colors. Using these bulbs, you can create patterns and designs for your business’s facade.  

Switching to LED lighting in offices not only updates the area’s look but also offers more illumination, which can help reduce eye fatigue. 

Signage Displays and Status Indicators

LED lighting technology is an excellent fit for applications that require several bulbs, such as for signage displays. The low energy consumption of LEDs makes LED lighting superior to incandescent lighting. LED displays in large areas like stadiums, railway stations, and airports have become familiar sights. Dynamic message signs and decorative displays also function with upgraded energy efficiency by utilizing LED lighting technology. 

The small size, low consumption, and maintenance of bulbs with light-emitting diodes also led to their use as status indicators. Examples of these are: 

  • traffic lights and signals 
  • ships’ navigation lights 
  • exit signs 
  • vehicle brake lights and turn indicator lights 
  • emergency vehicle lighting 

Data Communication Devices

Light-emitting diodes can be used to transmit data over fiber optic cables. Owing to LED lights’ ability to cycle on and off millions of times per second, using them can help achieve extremely high bandwidth. This makes Visible Light Communication (VLC) a viable alternative to competitive radio bandwidth. Because VLC operates in the visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum, data transmission occurs outside of the frequencies of radio communication. 

Assistive listening devices in theaters and similar spaces rely on infrared LEDs to send sound to the devices’ receivers. 

Machine Vision Devices

Machine vision systems need bright and homogenous lighting to enable quicker processing of features of interest. LEDs are ideal for this requirement as they provide a solid and steady illumination source. The lights can be turned on and off depending on the system’s needs, and the beam can be modified to match the requirements of the vision device. 

A barcode scanner is a common machine vision device that utilizes LED lighting technology. Many of these scanners now use red LEDs in place of lasers. Meanwhile, LEDs often serve as a light source for the miniature camera inside an optical mouse. 

Biological Agent Detectors

The radiative recombination in Aluminum Gallium Nitride (AlGaN) alloys made it possible to integrate UV light-emitting diodes in light-induced fluorescence sensors used for detecting biological agents. This led to the creation of a biological detector named TAC-BIO.  

The aerosolized biological particles fluoresce and scatter light under a UV LED light. This provides a quick, accurate, and efficient way to detect biological agents as the process doesn’t require the use of a reagent to produce a visible reaction. Because of LED lighting technology, biological agent detection won’t require consumables, nor will it produce chemical byproducts. 

Advantages of LED Technology

LED technology provides residential, business, and industrial facilities with a better source of illumination. LED lighting offers many benefits in various areas as these bulb types are superior to their incandescent counterparts and other lighting solutions. Let’s look at some of the most common advantages of relying on LED lighting for your home or business. 

Energy Savings & Efficiency

Energy efficiency is one of the most popular perks of using LED lighting. LED lights are undoubtedly more efficient than incandescent bulbs and other lighting fixtures such as compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) or halogen lamps. You can measure the energy efficiency of a lighting solution by its light output (also called lumen output).  

LEDs turn about 70% of their energy into light. In contrast, incandescent lights waste 90% of their energy as it is lost as heat, and only 10% is converted into light. As a result, 6-watt LEDs have the same light output as 40-watt incandescent bulbs. 

Cost Effectivity

While LED lighting involves more costs because of the higher price of LED bulbs, the savings on your power bill can easily offset the additional amount you shell out for LEDs.  

You spend about $30 a year to power a 60-watt incandescent bulb if you keep it lit for 9 hours a day. Incandescent bulbs of this wattage usually cost 94 cents. Meanwhile, a LED bulb has an upfront cost of about $4.99. However, a 6-watt LED burning at the same rate as a 60-watt incandescent bulb only costs $4.40 a year. As you can see, the huge difference in power consumption more than makes up for the higher initial amount you put down for a LED light. 

On top of the lower electricity expenses involved with using LED lighting, LEDs have longer lifespans. This means you won’t have to replace LEDs as often as incandescent bulbs.  

The cost-effectiveness of LEDs increases exponentially the more bulbs you use in your home or business areas.

Thermal Management

Incandescent bulbs burn so much hotter than LEDs. That’s because 90% of the energy of incandescent bulbs goes to heat output and only 10% into light. In comparison, LEDs emit very little heat as they transform 70% of their energy into light. That means LEDs won’t burn your hands even if you touch them right after switching off their power. 

Whatever heat LED bulbs produced gets dissipated into the environment using heat sinks

Disadvantages of LED Technology

LEDs make excellent alternatives to other lighting technology, yet they’re not perfect. Using this lighting solution also has some drawbacks.


Incandescent lights cost around $1 per bulb, while CFL bulbs have a price tag of $2 each. Compare that with LEDs which cost about $4-5 per bulb. Although you’ll be able to recoup the money you shell out for LEDs through the savings you get on your power bill, the high initial cost still hinders some consumers from opting for LED technology.

Blue light emission

The blue light LEDs emit remains one of the biggest drawbacks of this lighting technology. LEDs produce more blue light than traditional bulbs. Some consumers find the warm glow of incandescent bulbs more pleasing to the eyes as it mimics natural daylight. Moreover, blue light can disrupt circadian rhythm and make it difficult to fall asleep, particularly if you use LEDs in your bedroom.

Dimmer compatibility

Not all LED lights work with dimmer switches. If adjustable lighting is important to you, check the packaging of the LED bulb you intend to purchase to see if it’s dimmer compatible. Also, look for one with a low flicker rate.

What Makes LED Different?

LEDs utilize a technology that differs from other lighting solutions, such as incandescent bulbs and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). Let’s look at their fundamental differences. 


Easily the most distinguishable trait of LEDs is their long lifespan. A good-quality LED bulb has an operating life of 50,000 to 100,000 hours. Compare that with incandescent bulbs that usually last 1,000 hours and CFLs that can live for up to 8,000 hours. 

Light output

LED bulbs typically produce 75-100 lumens. Incandescent lights of the same wattage provide 12-18 lumens, while CFLs will have a light output of 60 lumens. 


LEDs generate very little heat as they use about 70% of their energy to produce light. In contrast, incandescent bulbs turn 90% of the energy they use into heat. CFLs are just a little cooler than incandescents as they release 80% of their power to heat. 

Light direction

LED bulbs emit visible light in a specific path. This eliminates the need for reflectors and diffusers to cast light in a different direction. Other lighting solutions (CFLs and incandescent bulbs) throw off visible light in all directions. 

Design flexibility

LEDs are as small as flecks of pepper. Their minuscule size makes them versatile products that fit numerous applications. The same can’t be said for CFLs and incandescent lights that have limited design flexibility. 

Future Developments

Since its introduction into the lighting industry decades ago, LED technology has never stopped developing and improving. Experts say that there are more innovations in store for this lighting solution that has effortlessly made its way to the top of the market. 

So what can we expect from LEDs in the coming years? Let’s take a peek. 

Multicolor LEDs

The successful introduction of blue LEDs paved the way for the eventual creation of full-spectrum LED arrays. Recently, scientists leveraged the technology behind blue LEDs in a technique that produces the three primary colors from a single LED.

This has significant implications for active LED displays, which typically require three to four individual LEDs placed close to each other to present the entire spectrum. With this development, LED displays made up of color-tuned LEDs may begin appearing in the not-so-distant future. 

Reversed LED Cooling

Another noteworthy innovation in LED technology is reversed LED cooling. Research experts discovered that running LED backward, instead of doing nothing to the light-emitting diode, creates a cooling effect. Using the LED to pull heat away from a processor can help improve heat performance in electronic devices and machines, such as computers. 

Cheaper OLEDs

Organic LEDs (OLEDs) are unlike typical LEDs. The organic materials used for organic LEDs are flexible, allowing manufacturers to create bendable lights, leading to better and larger displays for various devices. However, OLEDs have high manufacturing costs. The future might see this price barrier disappear as several companies are working to reduce the production costs of OLEDs. 

Using LEDs for horticultural lighting

In the past, the horticulture industry relied on conventional lighting solutions, such as sodium lights, for crops grown in controlled environments. Due to the high efficiency of LEDs, experts assumed that using the technology might not create enough heat to keep the crops warm during the winter months. However, experiments yielded a different result, so more developments are in the offing when it comes to using LEDs in the horticulture space. 


Can you put an LED bulb in a regular light fixture?

If the socket is the same size as the bulb, you can put an LED bulb in a light fixture you use for incandescent lighting or other bulb types. However, using LEDs in enclosed or airtight fittings will shorten the bulb’s lifespan. 

Can LED lights cause a fire?

Unlike incandescent bulbs, LEDs don’t generate much heat. This considerably lessens the likelihood of LEDs causing a fire and makes them safer to use than incandescent lights.  

How much does it cost to run an LED light bulb for 24 hours?

How much you pay for leaving your LED light bulb burning for 24 hours depends on the bulb’s wattage and the price of electricity in your area. Let’s say you use a 10-watt LED bulb, and the per kWh rate is $0.11. This will cost you $0.80 per month and $9.64 a year if you keep your LED lamp lit for 24 hours. 

Why are half of my LED lights a different color?

One of the attractions of using LED lighting is the option to choose from different colors to suit your living or business area. However, sometimes the LEDs display a color other than the one you picked. This happens for various reasons, but the most common is overheating. When the bulbs are installed in areas where they don’t get enough cooling, they overheat. As a result, the diode can change color. 

Can I leave LED lights on all the time?

When it comes to the issue of causing fires, you have nothing to fear from leaving your LED lights on all the time. Well-manufactured LED bulbs are highly durable, with lifespans of 50,000 to 100,000 hours. Because they don’t produce much heat, you can keep them lit all the time. However, keeping them on continuously can shorten their working life. 

Final Words

LEDs have become one of the most popular lighting solutions. Because of their durability, adaptability, and energy efficiency, they can be used in various spheres of modern life such as transportation, communication, and healthcare.  

Using LEDs for your home or business lets you save money on your power bills. But that’s not all. By relying on this lighting technology to illuminate your business or living space, you also help protect the environment. Studies show that replacing a 60-watt incandescent bulb with a LED lamp reduces approximately 160 kilograms of carbon emissions a year. Imagine the positive effects to nature swapping out thousands of incandescent lights with LEDs will bring. 

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