LED technology dominates current R&D in most, if not all lighting manufacturers. Fluorescent and HID lighting is now, for the most part, considered legacy technology. As LEDs further evolve, they will become more efficient, more available, and at reduced cost.
LED technology also offers advancement in ways which were impossible for traditional light sources. As one example, LED luminaires are available in RGB (Red Green Blue) color-changing. By including a variety of colored LEDs in a single luminaire, a user can select from millions of colors, and by mixing intensities of the colored LEDs, the luminaire can accurately reproduce those colors. In the past, colored lighting was achieved using gels, or colored panels that were placed in front of the light source. The limitation of a gel is that the luminaire on which the gel was placed could only reproduce that specific gel color. If another color was desired, the gel had to be physically changed to another color. The gels also became worn out, and did not filter the light as efficiently, and needed to be replaced often.
Incandescent lamps also have very low inherent blue light. In order to get blue out of an incandescent light source, a very high wattage incandescent lamp must be used in conjunction with a blue filter gel. This results in a very high level of inefficiency of blue light output from an incandescent lamp. LEDs, however, are much more efficient in the blue light spectrum. The use of individual RGB LEDs allows for much more efficient use of blue light, as well as high efficiency through the entire color spectrum.
RGB LED lighting allows all colors to be available with a press of a button. This is particularly useful in theatrical applications. And not only RGB, but LED technology has pushed beyond the standard red, green, and blue, where some manufacturers offer specific color mixes that incorporate a lime or violet, or colors better suited for skin tones in broadcasting or motion picture applications.
RGB technology has also spawned LED “tunable white” lighting. Tunable white luminaires are not RGB, but are instead capable of a broad range of “white” color temperatures from a single luminaire. By incorporating red, amber, white, and blue LEDs, luminaires can produce from 1800K to 6000K color temperatures. The application of such a product is in areas where circadian rhythm is emphasized. Circadian rhythm is the biological process that drives our internal 24-hour clock. The main driver of the circadian process is exposure to blue light. The circadian process is most naturally driven via the sun, which produces a range of color temperatures from 2,000K in the early morning or at dusk, to as high as 12,000K on a clear day at noon. By altering artificial light color temperatures to mimic natural light, research is indicating we can achieve positive health benefits, from reduced hospitalization after surgery, to helping normalize Alzheimer’s patients.
LED technology is progressing and allowing for positive effects on our health and lifestyle, and will do so into the foreseeable future.