You might have noticed how the use of LED strip lights has risen to fame these past few years. Many people consider installing strip lights in their rooms or workplace, not only for their dynamic color capabilities but also because of their superior energy efficiency to traditional light sources. However, some people are still asking the question: do LED strip lights use a lot of electricity? For some, LED strip lights seem too good to be true and this is due to a lack of understanding. This article will discuss how LED strip lights save energy and the benefits of switching to this lighting option.
What is LED?
LED (Light-Emitting Diode) is an electric constituent that releases light when connected to a direct current. It goes through a process called ‘electroluminescence’ using a compound of semiconductor materials. These semiconductor materials include gallium arsenide (GaAs) and gallium phosphide (GaP) commonly referred to “III-V materials” because they are from group III and group V of the periodic table.
LEDs are an invention that dates to the 21st century. In 1907, British experimenter Henry Joseph Round observed that potential as little as 10 volts could produce a yellowish light. However, the light was too faint to be used. Unfortunately, after this phenomenon, no research progressed any further for decades. Many researchers tried to expand upon the procedure with improvements in the technology, but the light emitted was still too faint to be of any actual use.
After many years of trial and error, in 1994, Shuji Nakamura invented a bright and cost-efficient blue LED that received the approval of the U.S. Department of Energy. Just a few years later, white-colored LEDs were made and encouraged the invention of brighter and more cost-efficient LEDs. These advancements made it economical for companies to manufacture LEDs and enter the space which propelled the industry forward.
In the early 2000s, LEDs were already set up for commercial use and expanded dramatically as schools, homes, and businesses adopted the technology rapidly. Throughout the 2010’s, other traditional lighting sources lost market share, and LED lights became the primary lighting source.
Do LED Strip Lights Use a Lot of Electricity?
Let’s circle back to the primary purpose of this article – do LED strip lights use a lot of electricity? To answer this question in short, no, they do not. In fact, LEDs utilize as much as 75% less energy than other traditional light forms. The way LEDs emit light is different from incandescent and fluorescent lights. Incandescent, fluorescent, and other traditional lighting sources use much more energy than LED light strips. And due to their inefficiency about 90% of energy is lost to thermal radiation while about 10% left is to be converted into light.
On the other hand, LEDs themselves are a source of photons. It doesn’t need heat to produce illumination, which allows them to convert more electricity into light. Aside from the fact that LEDs save more energy, they also illuminate brighter than other forms of light. LEDs emit much more lumens through a minimal usage of only 6-8 watts, while other lights use up 60 watts for only 900 lumens.
LED lights have lifespans of as long as 50,000 hours – approximately 20 times longer than other lights. That 50,000 hours can be equated to about 10 years, which means installing an LED strip light can last you a very long time. Though environmental factors can affect its longevity, it can work for an extended period provided conditions are amenable. Unlike other lights, LEDs are not enclosed with filaments, eliminating the risk of filament thinning, breaking, or burning, ensuring your safety while also saving you from the costs and hassle of frequent bulb replacements.
Overall, the estimated energy consumption of LED lights ranges from 2-10 watts, approximately less than half of the watt usage of other lights. According to the U.S. The Department of Energy, if many people will switch to the use of LED lights for the next twenty years, about $265B can be saved, which is enough to fund as much as forty power plants.
LED Strip Chips
To expand further on LED strip lights cost-saving abilities, let’s talk about the chips installed in LED strips. When you decide to buy LED strip lights, you’ll come across various numbers and letters that indicate what type of chips are used on the strip. LEDs might contain separate chips or only one chip.
For instance, you might come across a LED strip light labeled as RGB+CCT. RGB means Red, Green, and Blue, while the CCT means Color Correlated Temperature. These indicate the color the strip can produce. The plus sign in the middle is an indication that the strip contains separate chips.
The numbers on the strip indicate the size of the chip. For example, you came across a strip labeled with RGB5050. The numbers show that the strip contains a 5050 chip that measures 5.0mm in width and 5.0mm in length.
But how are these chips relevant to the LED strip light’s energy efficiency? Because the strip’s chip describes how much lumens a strip can produce, and the number of lumens correlates to its wattage use. Many factors such as the chip circuit, material, and power usage can affect the brightness of a strip. However, the size of the chip is the most significant factor. The larger the chip, the brighter its light.
For instance, a 5054 LED strip light has a chip surface area of 27 mm2, luminous power of 55, and consumes 0.5 watts. In contrast to a 2835 LED strip light that has a chip surface area of 9.8 mm2, it consumes only 0.2 watts but also produces only 24 lumens.
The measurement of the number of lumens per watt is called the luminous efficacy. It’s the ratio by which a light source converts power to light. This allows you to quickly calculate the amount of light you’re getting for each watt of electricity you consume. As of now, white LED lights, a variety almost all strip lights contain, are considered the most efficacious lights for their high levels of CCTs (Correlated Color Temperatures).
Therefore, it’s essential to determine how many lumens you require in an area to determine the strip light that best serves its needs. Knowledge of the calculation of a light’s luminous efficacy is also a great help as it will allow you to ensure that the light it produces is more than the space requires. Knowledge of the calculation of a light’s luminous efficacy is also a great help as it will allow you to ensure that the light it produces is more than the power it will consume.
LED strip lights are best known for their luminous efficacy, given their ability to reduce loss of energy through thermal radiation. Strips produce higher lumens with lesser wattage use compared to other lights that produce the same number of lumens but with a lot higher wattage use. Light emitted from LED strip lights is much more focused and controlled compared to other lighting sources ensuring that the light is more effectively used rather than radiating aimlessly.
Power Supply Efficiency
There are a lot of factors that you should consider when buying an LED light strip, such as the type, color temperature, size, and such. Still, since we’re discussing energy efficiency, the factor that you should pay more attention to is the power supply that you’re going to use. Choosing a suitable power supply for your light strips will make a big difference in the efficiency of your power usage. These are the factors that you should consider when choosing a power supply.
Two factors contribute to the amount of power a light strip consumes. These are the density of LEDs and the LED size. Longer, larger, and more dense LEDs will consume more power, so if you’re on a budget, it’s best to opt for smaller less dense LEDs.
To calculate the amount of power your strips will need, take the length of your LED strip in terms of feet, multiply it by the power per unit length, then multiply it by 1.2. While this will not give you a completely accurate result, you will get the minimum-sized power supply you’ll need.
However, to ensure your safety and prevent power supply failure, getting a power supply higher than the required amount is recommended. If you decide to add more strips, it will come in handy. Besides, LED strip lights are already equipped with current-limiting resistors that will prevent them from consuming more power than they need, allowing you to save more energy. Don’t be bothered by the spare wattage of the power supply, for it will help the power supply run more smoothly and provide you with more efficiency.
It’s a MUST to get a power supply that matches the voltage of the LED strip. For instance, if you have a 12V LED strip, then you must get a power supply with 120 volts in its input range and 12-Volt in its output. If you get something lower than that, it will not light up at all. Otherwise, getting something higher will overpower the strips until they burn out.
Choosing the proper power supply plays a significant role in the cost-saving abilities of LED strip lights. Power supplies might be a little expensive but consider it as an investment because better power supplies will provide you with more efficiency, consistent current and ensure your safety.
We hope this article was able to provide clear and concise answers to your queries regarding LED strip light’s energy efficiency. By choosing LED lights instead of other conventional forms of light, you are contributing to the preservation of our environment while doing yourself the favor of saving up a lot on electricity bills.