A brighter design emerges for low-cost, 'greener' LED light bulbs

October 15, 2014, American Chemical Society

The phase-out of traditional incandescent bulbs in the U.S. and elsewhere, as well as a growing interest in energy efficiency, has given LED lighting a sales boost. However, that trend could be short-lived as key materials known as rare earth elements become more expensive. Scientists have now designed new materials for making household LED bulbs without using these ingredients. They report their development in ACS' Journal of the American Chemical Society.

LED lighting, which can last years longer than conventional bulbs, is an energy-efficient alternative. Switching lighting to LEDs over the next two decades, reports the U.S. Department of Energy, "could save the country $250 billion in energy costs over that period, reduce the electricity consumption for lighting by nearly one half, and avoid 1,800 million metric tons of carbon emission." White LED bulbs are already on store shelves, but the light is generally "colder" than the warm glow of traditional bulbs. Plus, most of these lights are made with that are increasingly in-demand for use in almost all other high-tech devices, thus adding to the cost of the technology. Jing Li's research team set out to solve the issues of material sources and pricing.

The researchers designed a family of materials that don't include rare earths but instead are made out of copper iodide, which is an abundant compound. They tuned them to glow a warm white shade or various other colors using a low-cost solution process. "Combining these features, this material class shows significant promise for use in general lighting applications," the scientists conclude.

Explore further: Researchers find LEDs attract more flying invertebrates than conventional lighting

More information: J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2014, 136 (40), pp 14230–14236. DOI: 10.1021/ja507927a

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RichManJoe
5 / 5 (3) Oct 15, 2014
If we start extensively using LEDs in house lighting, do we need to rethink house wiring? We do not need to be using 110 volt and 12 or 14 gauge wiring (in the U. S.) for lighting when we are only using a few watts of power - this is wasteful. We could go to a low voltage wiring, such as 48 volts, and use smaller size wiring and less insulation, plus increase safety with reduced arcing and shock threat.
gkam
3 / 5 (4) Oct 15, 2014
Joe, I had run two 20 Amp circuits to my pergola, but never used them. Instead, I found it easier to staple up appliance wire, use LED's, cute little open-knife switches, and power it all with a 12 Volt ATV battery charged by the sun.

Caifornia has many off the grid homes.
alfie_null
2.7 / 5 (3) Oct 16, 2014
If we start extensively using LEDs in house lighting, do we need to rethink house wiring? We do not need to be using 110 volt and 12 or 14 gauge wiring (in the U. S.) for lighting when we are only using a few watts of power - this is wasteful. We could go to a low voltage wiring, such as 48 volts, and use smaller size wiring and less insulation, plus increase safety with reduced arcing and shock threat.

Conserve copper by increasing voltage, not decreasing it.

Aside from lights, we're stuck with ~1500-2000 watt outlets, as we still expect stuff like air conditioners, TVs, microwaves, space heaters, to work.
gkam
2.3 / 5 (3) Oct 16, 2014
alfie, it is already changing. As I said, we already have off-the-grid homes.

And do not assume everything will change right away, it will be a gradual evolution allowed by technology.
Lord_jag
5 / 5 (1) Oct 20, 2014
Alfie:

I have a room at home with 10 GU10 lights. The fixtures are supposed to use 600 W of halogen lights. Instead I installed 4W LED's. 40W total and it's bright as day in there.

So... why am I wasting 14AWG wire to every 4W bulb as per current code? EVEN IF I reduce voltage to 12V per 4W fixture(0.33A) I could still get away with 24AWG copper and still have plenty of current ability to spare.

The point is that LED's use so little power you *could* drop voltage and still conserve plenty of copper and be much safer as 12V/3A couldn't possibly hurt you without great effort.

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