With the introduction of the commercially viable incandescent bulb in 1879, our ability to control and apply light was forever altered. One hundred and thirty years later, as governments step up lighting regulations and energy concerns fuel the innovation of illumination, lights are undergoing another revolution, and light-emitting diodes are leading the charge.
Both smaller and more durable than incandescent or fluorescent bulbs, LEDs—–which forgo interior filaments and photons for semiconductor diodes—–expend less energy as heat than traditional types of lights, consume up to 75 percent less electricity, and last up to 50 times longer than an incandescent bulb—–and almost five times longer than a compact fluorescent light (CFL), according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). In an effort to help consumers better understand the facts and figures, the DOE has developed an easy-to-read, Energy Star–approved Lighting Facts label for LED products that provides specific performance information, focusing on features like light output (measured in lumens) and color accuracy.
The potential of these products extends far beyond energy efficiency and savings. “LED solutions that work well in general illumination situations, like task or accent lighting in your home, are really just coming onto the market now,” explains Mary Beth Gotti, manager at General Electric’s Lighting & Electrical Institute. “But the really intriguing part of LED solutions moving forward is that we’re going to learn how to apply light more effectively than ever before.” As designers begin to experiment with the technology, fixtures employing it will become more fully integrated into our homes—–in risers and stairs for safety and even furniture and furnishings.
Jaime Salm, cofounder of environmentally focused design studio MIO—–and designer of the Trask lamp featured in our lineup—–agrees, and he foresees a radical transformation. ”How we light space, what constitutes a lighting fixture, and the service of light in all aspects of our lives will soon be redefined.” It looks like there’s a bright future for the nascent technology, and it has only just begun to shine.