Lighting ecosystem: LightSpeed

Electric lighting began to be developed many years ago and continues to be refined in the present day – Getting SMARTER. Lighting technology is broadly classified mainly into four types of lighting; Incandescent, Fluorescent, Halogen, LED (Light emitting diode). Each produces light using a different technique and each is manufactured a different way. Among these four technologies, LEDs are the most popular form of artificial lighting and are essential to modern society. There are of course other lighting technologies but less commonly used, including neon, argon, plasma, oil, carbon, carbide, metal halide, sodium vapour and xenon.

Traditionally based on the lighting fixture style lighting is classified into two types; Lamps and LEDs. Lamp, a replaceable component that produces light from electricity, could be an Incandescent lamp, fluorescent lamp or halogen lamp. LEDs were treated differently in the past but as LED lighting technology is rapidly progressing LEDs offer a tremendous opportunity. Nowadays LEDs are also packaged into arrays and many other configurations for the innovation in lighting form factors and fit a wider breadth of applications than traditional lighting technologies.

The incandescent lamp is almost the oldest form of lighting. The warm light source is delivered by heating a metal filament to an extremely high temperature, thus producing a usable by-product as light. Typically the life span of an incandescent light is quite short (<1000 hours) and they can be dangerous to use due to explosions at end-of-life, glass breakage and fire risk. Fluorescent lamps are more commonly Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL) and are a relatively efficient way of creating light. Heating mercury-based gas enclosed in the glass spiral tube produces an ultraviolet (UV) light, which is then passed through a white coating or filter that changes the UV to visible light. CFLs were the efficient lighting before LED technology came into the market. The lifespan of fluorescent lighting is typically higher (up to 10,000 hours) than incandescent lighting (up to 1,000 hours), but unfortunately, CFLs have their own inherent problems. Due to the mercury content in fluorescent lights, disposal at end-of-life now means special recycling facilities are required.

Like CFLs, halogens work by heating a tungsten filament surrounded by an inert gas mixed with the element halogen to an extremely high temperature. Similarly, this produces heat and a by-product as light. Halogen MR16 and GU10 down lights were recently used in homes. The MR16 version is generally a 12-volt lamp which requires a transformer to convert 240 volt AC mains power to 12 volts. This consumes power as well as complicates the installation process somewhat. Halogens pose a huge fire risk, especially when installed too close to roof insulation.

Light emitting diodes are a solid state electronic component. Recent development in the LED industry has significantly improved the quality, functionality and abilities of the new LED chips. Due to this, we have seen an incredible growth in LED products. Offering the widest range of colours, light outputs, fixtures and new features, LED technology is now perhaps the only viable solution to the world's predisposition towards a sustainable future. LED lighting technology is rapidly progressing, and it is very important to know how to control LEDs to ensure success for the end user and to achieve energy savings.

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