LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) represent the newest breakthrough in lighting technology. LEDs are a low-maintenance, energy efficient solution for anyone looking for dynamic lighting displays. They’re versatile and have vivid colors that don’t fade with time.
Here is a semi-technical description of LED technology. It’s not really necessary to understand the details but it is important to note LEDs have different electrical characteristics than the incandescent bulb we’ve grown used to for the last 100 years.
In the Christmas lighting world, all the manufacturers are struggling to make LED strings that appear similar to the incandescent strings of the past. The good news is LED strings are nearly indestructible, theoretically last 30 times longer and use 80-90% less electricity than incandescents, The bad news is LED technology Christmas light strings can cost 2-10 times as much as the mass produced light strings we’re so used to.
2008 was the year LED based Christmas light strings are looking as bright and consistent as incandescent strings. Prices are dropping, but there is still a real premium paid for this technology. If you can afford to buy LED Christmas strings, now is a good time to start.
Reasons why LEDs are right for you:
- Solid-state reliability
- Rated for up to 100,000 hours of use
- No glass bulbs to break
- No filaments to burn out
- Up to 90% more energy efficiency
- Nearly indestructible, solid epoxy lenses
- Rust proof, Zinc-coated lamp contacts
- Uses standard house voltage
- No transformer required
- Lamps always remain cool to the touch
LEDs are now considered “the greatest invention in lighting since Edison’s light bulb in 1879.” LEDs are rapidly replacing light bulbs in a variety of high reliability applications including traffic lights, brake lights, and emergency exit signs.
LEDs are constructed from tiny solid-state chips similar to those used in computers. These chips directly convert electricity to light without the use of a filament or glass bulb. Instead, the chips are encapsulated in solid plastic that can be made into a variety of shapes and sizes. Basic differences between conventional light bulbs and LEDs are shown in the picture to the right.
Caution! Science jargon coming in following paragraphs
Since LEDs have no filament, there is nothing to burn out and no need for a breakable bulb. Without the burning filament, very little heat is produced.
The principle behind LEDs can be made easy to understand. An LED is a special type of diode and is similar to a transistor. Diodes and transistors are “solid state” devices that are made from semiconductors such as silicon. The semiconductor is made to contain two types of special impurities. The first type of impurity, called “N” for negative, is a material with an excess of electrons. The other type of impurity, called “P” for positive, has a deficiency of electrons in “holes.” These two kinds of impurities are dispersed into the semiconductor at different regions, so that a “P-N junction,” or active layer, is created at the border.
At first glance, the flameproof bulbs in our lights look like bright conventional miniature light bulbs . A closer examination, however, reveals that our lights have a slightly different shape. This shape has facets that create a unique shimmering effect with different light levels when viewed at certain angles. The result is striking, particularly as the lights shimmer in the breeze outdoors or one walks around the tree or other object being lighted indoors.
Why Non-replaceable Bulbs?
- LEDs are polarity specific. If a bulb is removed and then turned around and reinserted, it will not work. If several bulbs have fallen out of the socket over time then it is almost impossible to determine which one is in backwards. In these cases, often the entire set will not light. Most LEDs cannot be removed.
- LEDs are power specific. Each color of LED requires a different amount of power in order to work at its highest efficiency. Most replaceable bulb sets are supplied with a red LED (which is the cheapest). If you replace a lost or defective blue LED with a red replacement LED, it will soon burn out because the socket for the blue is wired with a much higher power than that for the red. If you were to place a blue LED in a socket designed for a red LED it would hardly light. EVERY SOCKET IS SPECIFICALLY WIRED FOR THE COLOR OF LED. THAT IS INSERTED AND PERMANENTLY AFFIXED SO THAT THE BEST PERFORMANCE IS GUARANTEED.
- Rust issues make the best case for a non-replaceable LED. Because the leads of the LED. and the copper wire of the cord are different materials, they are susceptible to rust. If any moisture is introduced into the environment of the bulb either in the form of condensation or actual water, it begins to rust. And, the rusting process is very fast. In these cases, the bulb will rust and literally fall out of the socket within only a few months. THE NON-REPLACEABLE LED IS COMPLETELY WATER TIGHT – NO MOISTURE CAN ENTER THE AREA OF THE CONNECTION AND THEREFORE NO RUST CAN OCCUR.