What is LED Lighting and What Are the Benefits of Using It?

What is LED Lighting and What Are the Benefits of Using It?

What is LED Lighting and What Are the Benefits of Using It?

A photo of five LED light bulbs in a row

LED lighting has many economic, safety, and environmental benefits, as well as a wide variety of uses, which is why LEDs are becoming more popular in commercial and industrial light fittings. And, because of the 2018 EU halogen ban, now is the perfect time to make the switch to LEDs for all your lighting projects. In this guide, we'll discuss what LEDs are, as well as the advantages of LED lighting. We'll cover:

What does LED stand for, and how do LED lights work?

The term LED stands for light-emitting diode. These are small electrical components called semiconductors that produce light when an electrical current passes through them. This is different to incandescent and halogen bulbs, which produce light when heated, or fluorescent bulbs, which use a chemical reaction to produce light. But, why should you choose LED lights for your lighting projects?

The benefits of LED lighting

LEDs have many benefits. They're better for the environment and they can save you a bit of money, too. Below, we'll go into more detail about the advantages of LED lights.

LEDs last a lot longer than other bulbs

When compared to other forms of lighting, such as incandescent, halogen, and fluorescent bulbs, LEDs can have a much longer lifespan, so you won't need to spend as much money on replacements.

How long do LED light bulbs last?

It's estimated that LED lights can last up to 50,000 hours. That's approximately 50 times longer than a typical incandescent bulb, 20 times longer than a halogen lamp, and 10 times longer than a compact fluorescent lamp. This means it could be years before your LED bulbs will have to be replaced.

Why do LEDs last so long?

Because they don't use heat to generate light, LED light bulbs don’t contain any parts that can burn out with prolonged use. This means their average lifespan is a lot longer than fluorescent, halogen, and incandescent bulbs.

The only reason LEDs do eventually need changing is because the small light emitting diodes within the bulbs gradually start to fail. So, you'll know your bulbs are on their way out when they start to get dimmer, which gives you plenty of time to order new ones.

LED lights are better for the environment

Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of LED lighting is that it's more energy efficient than other forms of lighting, which is better for the environment.

Why are LED light bulbs more energy efficient?

Because LEDs are completely powered by electrical currents, most — if not all — of the energy they use is converted into light. This makes them more energy efficient than fluorescent and incandescent light bulbs, which convert most of their energy into heat. Plus, they generally run at a lower wattage compared to fluorescent, incandescent or halogen bulbs. This means they consume less power to fully light up. You can still get the same level of light as other bulbs, but with less electricity.

LED lighting can use around 80% less electrical power when compared to traditional forms of lighting. So, whether you're installing light fittings for a large business, like a hotel or restaurant, or you just want to make more energy efficient swaps in residential homes, LEDs could help to reduce your carbon footprint significantly.

How many watts do LED lights use?

LEDs can run anywhere from 4 watts to 28 watts, and the higher the wattage, the brighter the light output. Because they use their energy more efficiently, a 4W LED light bulb could end up producing the same amount of light (lumens) as a 35–40W incandescent bulb. And, since LED lights use less energy and don't need replacing as often, they typically work out cheaper.

LED lights can save you money

LEDs aren't just energy efficient. Because they use less electricity to light up, LEDs can save you money, too.

How much do LEDs cost to run in the UK?

The amount of money you spend on running your LEDs can depend entirely on how many bulbs you have and how long you have them switched on for. But, on average, they can save you around £35 a year on your electricity bills, according to the Energy Saving Trust. To see how much you could be saving each year according to your number of bulbs and energy usage, check out our handy savings calculator.

LEDs can be recycled

A photo of a light bulb with a plant growing inside it

One of the lesser known benefits of LED bulbs is that they can actually be recycled. Most LED bulbs are made with materials that are recyclable, such as plastic. And, because they don’t contain any harmful substances like mercury or lead, individual LEDs can usually be recycled at your local recycling facility. Just make sure you read the packaging your bulb came in and ask your local facility to check it can be recycled. To find out where your nearest recycling centre is, just enter your postcode into the Recolight recycling map.

LED strip lights are safer than other forms of lighting

Because they don't produce as much heat, LEDs are generally a safer lighting solution compared to incandescent, halogen, and fluorescent bulbs.

Why are LED lights safer?

On average, most LED strip lights use a voltage of around 12–24V DC. Because they run at a lower voltage compared to halogen, fluorescent, and incandescent bulbs — which usually run at around 240V AC — LEDs are often considered to be safer. When installed correctly with a high-quality driver, a thick wire with a small AWG, and a low voltage fuse, there's generally a lower risk of fires or electric shocks — especially in bathrooms or kitchens where there can be moisture in the air.

Although they don't get very hot, LED strip lights can get slightly warm when they're switched on, so they should be installed on a metal surface, like an LED aluminium profile, that can dissipate some of this heat and reduce the risk of fire.

Some LEDs can be used outside

If you're looking to use lights as outdoor security or even just a bit of decoration, outdoor LED lighting is either water resistant (with an IP65 rating) or waterproof (with an IP67 or IP68 rating), so it can withstand wet and windy weather. LEDs are also better suited to colder temperatures.

Fluorescent and incandescent bulbs can stop working when the temperature drops, as they use heat to generate their light. But, because LEDs don't need any heat to light up, they can work perfectly fine in colder environments. This makes them ideal for use outdoors in colder climates, as well as in commercial fridges, freezers, and cold storage facilities.

LEDs emit very little UV radiation

While most LED light bulbs don't produce any UV rays, white LEDs — which are brilliant blue LEDs coated with phosphor — do produce very small amounts of UV light. However, the phosphor coating converts most of this UV light into white light, so the resulting amount of UV light is minute, and therefore at a safe level.

Research conducted by the Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) concluded that retrofit LED lighting can make a better lighting solution for people with photosensitive skin diseases compared to double envelope compact fluorescent lamps. This is because LEDs don't produce any significant ultraviolet radiation.

LEDs are also perfect for use in museums and art galleries, where UV rays from incandescent, fluorescent, or halogen bulbs could damage or fade artefacts and paintings. UV rays also tend to attract insects, which makes LED lights perfect for use in commercial kitchens and for food storage applications, as they won't attract small pests like other forms of lighting.

LED lighting can be dimmed

Because they use an electrical current to work, some LEDs can be dimmed. There are two types of dimmable LEDs: Pulse width modulation (PWM) and analogue. Analogue dimmable LEDs use an increase and decrease in current to control the brightness. PWM dimmable LEDs work by quickly switching themselves off and on. This pulsing light happens so quickly that you won't notice it, but the light will appear dimmer.

Dimmable LED bulbs are great for giving you more control over your lighting than you would get with other light bulbs. So, if you want to create a cosier and more relaxed atmosphere in your commercial space, dimmable LEDs might be the answer.

There are lots of different types of LED to choose from

A photo of LED light strips in an open drawer

There are many different types of LED available. These range from standard to water resistant and waterproof versions, so they can be used to light up almost anywhere. LED bulbs can replace your ordinary incandescent bulbs, while LED strip lights are perfect for under cabinets and in drawers. They even come in colour changing options, so you can offer your clients full flexibility with their lighting.

As an alternative to traditional neon lights, which can be toxic if they're broken as they’re filled with neon and argon gas, neon flex lights are plastic tubes filled with small coloured LEDs. So, you can get the same effect as traditional neon, with all the added benefits of LED lighting.

There are so many benefits to using LED lights. If you haven't already, why not make the switch to LEDs for your next lighting project?

Here at Ultra LEDs, we stock a wide range of LED bulbs, strip lights, and accessories that are perfect for domestic and commercial use. We also offer custom LED solutions that can be made to your specifications. If you're not sure what kind of LED lighting would be right for you, call us on 0800 088 3300 or email us at You can also take a look at our knowledge hub for more expert guides like this one.