What are LED Lights?

Are LED lights the future of outdoor lighting? 

It's no secret that LED lights are becoming the norm, but why are they so popular and will they likely become the new standard when looking for outdoor lighting?

What is an LED?

An LED or Light Emitting Diode, in simple terms, is a semiconductor device that emits light when an electrical current is passed through it. Light is produced when the particles that carry the current, electrons and holes, combine with the semiconductor material.

Since light is generated within the semiconductor material, it is described as a solid-state device. This is where it is separated from other lighting technology that use heated filaments, such as incandescent and tungsten halogen bulbs.

Why are they used?

There are a few reasons why LED's are used so commonly now over traditional bulbs. Firstly, they last a lot longer than traditional bulbs, they last 50 times longer than incandescent bulbs, 20-25 times longer than halogens and 8-10 years longer than CFLs. To put this into perspective, LEDs can last 10-20 years longer than other bulbs, saving a lot of money and on a commercial scale, a lot of time.

They're also a lot brighter, an LED bulb can provide ~11,000 lumens compared to a similar halogen bulb only ~1900 lumens, this is a massive difference and can mean the difference between needing multiple lights to properly illuminate an area and only needing one.

As mentioned earlier, traditional bulbs are heated filament bulbs, this means they produce a lot of heat to produce light.

Sankey Diagram of Halogen Bulb

As can be seen in the Sankey diagram above 90% of the energy used by the bulb is heat energy, this is a highly inefficient model and will cost you, the end user, a lot.

Sankey Diagram of 100w LED bulb

The Sankey diagram above shows the typical output of an energy-saving LED bulb. as can be seen, only 25% of the energy is wasted on heat energy, making the bulb much more efficient, saving energy and saving you money.

How to dispose of lightbulbs properly

You’ve just replaced the old, burnout light bulb. In this article, we will share how to dispose of all types of lightbulbs; ensuring the safety of your family, and the environment.

Although it’s difficult to admit, the smallest things can sometimes cost the earth. A simple action of disposing of your lightbulb correctly could contribute to your house being a little bit greener.

It is tempting just to chuck the old fluorescent bulb in the bin, but new environmental laws sweeping Europe and the UK mean, that these are now classified as hazardous waste.

What’s the law on lightbulb disposal?

There will probably be a variety of different bulbs being used around your home, some safer to dispose of than others.

The legislation is called the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive. It requires the producers of lightbulbs to be responsible for the collection and treatment of the waste electrical equipment.

This means that lightbulbs that cannot be thrown into your household rubbish, can be returned to the manufacturer, to dispose of safely, free of charge.

It is easy to tell if this is the case with your lightbulb, as the packaging is marked with a symbol of a wheelie bin, with a cross through it. If you see this symbol, this bulb is not safe to throw away in normal household rubbish.

Another tip is to find your local recycling centre, to see the kind of waste they can receive and treat.

Some supermarket chains, offer lightbulb recycling points in store.

Which lightbulbs are safe for my household bin?

All lightbulbs require different disposals. Luckily, used incandescent and Halogen bulbs can be disposed of with your household waste.

Lightbulbs, cannot be recycled with other household classes, as the filament is non-recyclable.

We suggest wrapping old incandescent bulbs in something so they don’t shatter or potentially split the bin bag.

What’s wrong with chucking Fluorescent lightbulbs in the bin?

Compact Fluorescent bulbs (CFL), cannot be disposed of with normal household waste. Their correct disposal is protected under law, as the bulb contains harmful chemicals such as; mercury, lead and cadmium.

If this is disposed of with household waste, these toxic materials are more likely to enter the environment, and worse, become a health risk for you and your family.

How to dispose of Fluorescent Lightbulbs?

How you dispose of Fluorescent lightbulbs may be dependent on the area you live in. Consider these tips, before you dispose of a CFL:

  • Research what your local recycling centre does to recycle Fluorescent, and other toxic bulbs. See if you have a drop-off location nearby.
  • Wherever you bought the CFL from, the shop itself may offer to recycle the lightbulbs for you. Most manufacturers of such bulbs have a method for customers to recycle used bulbs.
  • Find out the laws in your local council area, for lightbulb disposal.

What if a Compact Fluorescent lightbulb (CFL) breaks?

Accidentally breaking a bulb, can happen when changing light. Breaking a Fluorescent lightbulb can have additional dangers that you must be aware of.

Disposing of the broken pieces safely is vital, and this is how you do it:

-      With hand protection, pick up as much of the broken bulb as you can with an old magazine or piece of cardboard.

-      Clean up tiny remains, especially the power with a fabric roller or sticky tape. Vacuum when this has been cleared.

-      Contain the broken bulb, and powder in a tight container, ready to be disposed of safely with your local choices.

Conclusion: What bin? What Bulb?

Throwing out old bulbs needn’t be a hassle. Read through our advice and start investigating green initiatives in your area for recycling bulbs.

Many manufacturers offer recycling schemes for their customers for CFL light bulbs.

Whatever the light bulb, always wrap it before disposing of it to prevent shattering the glass! 

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