LED Lighting Carbon Footprint

There’s much talk of LED lighting carbon footprint. Here we show a comparison with traditional lighting and Compact Fluorescent (CFL) lighting. Below is a striking image to represent the real savings over time of one LED bulb in comparison to a traditional incandescent bulb:


So how do we work out that 1 LED bulb is worth 120 traditional bulbs? Well, efficiency and lifetime. If you multiply them together, 1 LED bulb is up to 10 times more efficient than a traditional bulb and will last at least 12 times longer. So 10 * 12 = 120. Quite simply amazing. LEDs are also twice as efficient as Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) and last 3 or 4 times longer over normal usage which still means 1 LED bulb is worth 8 CFL bulbs.

So that’s all good but how does their impact on the environment compare, taking into account manufacturing processes and materials?

Firstly, the use of the latest LEDs compared to traditional lighting can be shown in this excellent diagram taken from the Natural Resources Defence Council website:

The mercury figures shown indicate the amount of mercury released into the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels in power stations. CFL bulbs also contain a small amount of mercury that is released when the bulb is discarded.

Secondly, the materials used to produce different types of lighting have different impacts on both carbon footprint and the environment. Modern LED lights are made using Gallium Nitride that is a crystal substance grown on various substrates. This substance is essentially harmless but has traditionally been fiddly to introduce to a material that can conduct electricity. UK company Plessey Semiconductors are pioneering a new method of efficient production of Gallium Nitride on Silicon which is dramatically reducing the cost of manufacture of the raw LED material used in lighting products.

What about other meterials used in the light products themselves? Some LED lightbulbs use aluminium as a heat sink to take heat away from the LED material to ensure the life of the product. Many NGPS lighting products use a ceramic heat sink which has proven to be even more effective. Production of ceramic also has a lower carbon footprint than smelting bauxite to produce aluminium.

The conclusion of this is that LED lighting really does seem to be the holy grail of efficiency and lower environmental impact. With new manufacturing processes coming on line, this means everyone is a winner – consumer and environment.