Saima Shafi, Co-Founder of LED lighting specialist LED Eco Lights, offers a view on why LED filament lamps offer many advantages over traditional incandescent light bulbs.
For almost 150 years, the incandescent light bulb has been shining bright to provide a reliable and effective means of illumination for millions of homes, hotels and businesses. Originally invented in parallel by Sir Joseph Swan (UK) and Thomas Edison (USA) as the world’s first electric light bulb, it comprises a filament wire with an electric current running through it, which heats the wire to a high temperature until it glows, producing light or incandescence.
Incandescent bulbs are manufactured in a range of wattages, shapes and sizes and have been very well adopted in household and commercial lighting for more than a century. Their widespread universal usage was based on good performance, reliability and the lack of any better alternative. However, during the last few years, the industrial interiors trend has really taken off utilising vintage, reclaimed or retro inspired furniture and fittings. This popularity has been achieved by suppliers restoring them to their former glory, paying particular attention to surfaces, finishes, unique quirks and original imperfections, and bringing them all together to showcase design creativity. It’s no surprise that vintage lighting has had a similar resurgence, particularly to complement retro interiors, and this had led to the interest in incandescent lighting being re-ignited.
This time however, with the advent of modern lighting technology and its most used buzzword in the last decade, LED has rapidly become a definite game changer. With the arrival of LED filament technology, there are some major shifts in the way we are lighting our interiors and, now that an alternative has been developed, we take a look at the way our lighting – nostalgic or not – is evolving for the better.
LED Lighting has been around for a little longer than a decade in commercially viable options. Significantly, even during the last year, continual development and technological advances have seen an enormous leap from its early performance to delivering a range of white colour temperatures. This is in stark contrast to the warm and cosy ambient light so appealing and unique to incandescent lamps. We are now able to see a range of colour temperatures being accurately mimicked in LED, particularly with the advent of LED filament lamps, which are able to recreate the familiar warm glow that was previously the sole domain of traditional incandescent bulbs. Not only does the latest generation of LED filament lamps replicate the traditional lighting ambience, it also delivers two critical improvements –a ten times longer lifespan whilst providing staggering energy savings of up to 85%. Add to this the ability of LED filament lamps to achieve any colour temperature with clearer, brighter and dimmable light output and it’s easy to see why designers, architects, and shopfitters are rapidly embracing the versatility offered by this new LED technology.
To better explain the performance characteristics of LED filament lamps, it is wise to consider the technological features and advantages. LED filament lamps incorporate all the design-favoured aesthetics, the warm glow given off by the lamp, beautifully encased in glass covers – which add a reflectional dimension with vintage brass lamp holders. In essence, it is the re-creation of a classic. One could argue that only a discerning lighting buyer would notice that the filament light source is not traditional but a cutting-edge modern LED equivalent.
Incandescent lamps have been relied upon in numerous applications for decades. One of their most favoured environments for installation is that of hospitality interiors including pubs, bars, restaurants, cafes and hotels plus a handful of retail outlets. However, with no viable alternative in the past, we have learned to accept the high temperatures generated from these lamps, as well as their unreliability and frequent failure. Where they are installed in high volume, it is common to find lamps being blown, not working and requiring constant lamp swap outs. Indeed the high operating heat of the wire filaments is one of the main culprits. By contrast, technologically advanced LED filaments suffer none of these problems, and are proven to offer a lifespan of up to ten times that of incandescent filaments. The average lifespan of an incandescent bulb is around 2,000 hours compared to 20,000 hours or more of its LED equivalent.
There is certainly a huge energy saving benefit to replacing energy hungry incandescent lamps with LED lamps. A standard incandescent filament lamp would consume 60 watts, for example. Its LED rival would use a mere 6W in comparison, to provide an equivalent light output. To demonstrate the point, we like to say that the cheapest kilowatt is the one you don’t use – by dropping 54W you are saving 90% on the energy consumption. This really starts becoming crucial, where these lamps are installed en masse and, in a single installation of 100 lamps – typical across a 100-seater restaurant – then this saving would become very important to the business owner or bill payer. These incredible savings then translate into extremely short payback times, so the argument to consider LED filament lamps is compelling. Added to the fantastic energy savings, a similar level of carbon is saved thereby ensuring a valuable contribution to protecting the environment.
It’s true to say that the cost of raw materials used in all manufacturing scenarios falls in line with increased production volumes. This relationship is particularly true in new technologies such as LED lighting where, as more users adopt the technology, the pricing improves. Furthermore, the combination of lower purchasing prices with dramatically reduced energy and maintenance costs, frequently results in extremely short payback periods.
Reputable manufacturers will be keen to show existing LED filament installations to potential customers and provide comprehensive details of energy and carbon savings for comparison against those featuring traditional incandescent lighting. Furthermore, the same manufacturers should also offer genuine guarantees for their products that are unmatchable by producers of traditional incandescent lamps.