May 242012


LED lighting has been around since the early 1960s providing efficient and low-heat lighting for a number of applications. “LED” is an acronym that stands for “light emitting diode.” In their earliest days LED lights were normally little bulbs that emitted a glowing red light; these balls were installed in appliances and electronic gadgets as our indicators.


In terms of consumer use LEDs have recently become all the rage for exterior accent lighting, decorative Christmas lighting, and so on. Unfortunately, for a lot of Americans the early LEDs used in Christmas lights were not all that impressive.


The Difference between Then and Now


When Christmas light manufactures first started using LEDs the colors seemed very dull and uninspiring. Even the white lights, which were typically single-chip LEDs, glowed with a faintly yellowish color that made them look cheap and unattractive. For the first couple of years they were on the market they couldn’t make a dent against traditional lighting. But then manufactures found a way to change things.


Engineers realized that when you drive more current through an LED light it becomes less efficient. Therefore, more power does not necessarily mean a brighter result. Yet some manufacturers still tried overdriving their LEDs to get as much brightness out of them as possible. The results were less than satisfactory, to say the least.


Eventually engineers decided the solution wasn’t just more raw current, it was to add more semi conductor chips. In doing so they were able to increase power without destroying efficiency. Today it’s pretty common to find a 3 chip LED that emits bright white light or spectacular colors.


State-of-the-art 3 chip LED sets are gaining popularity among Christmas decorators because they are cheaper to purchase and operate, they produce less heat, and they’re more flexible in the types of things you can do with them. Between light nets, flexible strips, and programmable sets that can change color on-the-fly, the options are more exciting than they’ve ever been.


With the popularity these lights are enjoying one wonders how long traditional incandescent lighting will survive. Perhaps the days of the old-fashioned Christmas lights and bulbs are numbered.

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