Lighting: a comparison

LED (light-emitting diode) lamps are an energy-efficient form of lighting that perform even better than compact fluorescent lights in terms of energy consumption and lifetime. They are already starting to be widely used in traffic lights and introduction as a form of domestic lighting in now underway. At the request of LED lamp producer Lemnis, CE has investigated how the environmental impact of LED lights compares with that of traditional incandescent light bulbs and compact fluorescent lights (CFLs). Besides the electrical power consumption of the lamps, this also meant looking at “cradle-to-grave” materials consumption by means of life cycle assessment (LCA). Even when materials consumption is also factored in, LED lighting units prove to be a sustainable alternative with considerably less environmental impact. Power consumption is substantially lower, even compared with a standard CFL, and less materials are used to manufacture a LED unit than for either of other two types of lamp. This is because 100,000 hours of lighting is provided by just one LED unit, but requires 100 traditional light bulbs or 17 CFLs. The materials-related environmental impact of LED lighting units can still be sub-stantially improved by using less aluminium, an enhancement that is to be incorporated in the new design.

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Delft, May 2006