We often get the question as to how LED lights have improved and evolved over the past few years. If we take a quick look backwards, LED really only started to hit mainstream around 2011. Up to that point we were still installing halogen downlights and replacing 60W bulbs with low energy fluorescents which seemingly took forever to light up!
Once LED options reached a critical volume the prices started to tumble and the product moved from early adopters to mainstream. So far so good for LED – or so it seemed. Unfortunately, in those early days they were actually experimental products being sold as mainstream. The products were far from perfect and failure rates were horrendous. Managing heat in small spaces, getting sufficient output and containing costs all compounded the issues. However, there were still benefits and the consumers hung in long enough to allow the industry to sort out the issues and streamline production, ultimately ushering in a new era in digital lighting.
So, where does that leave us now?
Now looking back 10 years, the changes have been huge. Not so much in the claimed product offerings, but in the actual results and performance. If you had invested in LED warehouse lighting in 2010, the chances of those lights still working are very low indeed. Likewise with downlights, sports lights or any sort of LED. Progress in chip design has continued and has now reached incremental levels of improvement rather than quantum. Heat management is better understood and the chips have become more efficient, producing more light than ever before.
In addition to the efficiency benefits and longer life than traditional light sources, LED is digital, giving another raft of benefits. This has slotted into well into the IoT systems that are now ubiquitous in residential and commercial spaces. Controlling your lights from a smartphone or Alexa was science fiction 20 years ago but is now available at extremely low cost anywhere in the world.
The digital benefits of LED have also transformed events and sporting venues. The ability to have instant on/off of hundred of lights, along with the control of colours, hues, flashes etc has brought about a wave of creativity that couldn’t have been imagined earlier this century.
As LED continues to develop improvements will still evolve. With the pressure on price, long term performance will always be restricted. However, this even is not seen as an issue as consumers are constantly looking to update and get the latest gadgets and innovations.
What the future has in store for lighting we can only guess and, from what we’ve seen by way of innovation in the past 15 years, our guesses will likely fall far short of what actually is accomplished. Even in the digital age, when 50% of the population cannot remember not having a laptop, we constantly get caught out by the rate of change and what is just around the corner.