Our Christmas Lights are LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes)

victxmastree.jpgEveryone knows the common light bulb is doomed.  It has been in use, almost unchanged, for over 100 years.  It features a glass bulb with a carbon filament and a metal (brass?) socket that screws into the lamp.  I have some light bulbs that are over 100 years old, have a little point on the top, and still work.  Pretty cool.

Well, not so cool.  Light bulbs generate a lot of heat and are painful to touch when they’ve been on for a few minutes.  That’s why they are made of glass — glass won’t melt or burn from the heat.  Plastic bulbs would burn or melt fairly quickly. 

In the future, light bulbs will be replaced with LEDs, or light-emitting diodes.  LEDs are some kind of substrate that glows when a current is passed through it.  By impregnating the substrate with different elements, scientists can change the color.  So LED’s glow red, blue, green, yellow or white.  All those little tiny lights on your computer are most likely LEDs, not bulbs.  The light in your computer mouse is also an LED, as are the lights in your automobile dashboard.  I understand that stop lights are made of LEDs – take a look and you will see that traffic lights are made up of hundreds of tiny components, not one big bulb.

The great thing about LEDs is that they may be operated with very low power, generate much less heat, and last much longer than traditional light bulbs with filaments.  The move to LEDs for a light source has already begun.  Our Christmas lights this year are actually LEDs, though they look much like old-fashioned bulb lights.

We have LED lights strung around the exterior of the house in blue, red, and green.  All of these lights are about 60 watts in power, the same as a single low-power light bulb.  Our Christmas tree has the same lights and consume about 12 watts of power in total.  Pretty small power outlay, I’d say.

Last night I checked the heat of these bulbs by touching the ones outside.  They are in plastic, not glass, bulbs and were cool to the touch.  The lights on the tree inside were about room temperature.  They are not quite as bright as traditional glass bulbs, but they come close. 

We didn’t convert to LEDs because we fear global warming (a hoax if there ever was one), but because we like saving money and taking money out of the oil Sheiks’ pockets.   Our Christmas lights are totally cool, in more ways than one.

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