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The future of LED lighting gets brighter

We revealed last week that the UK is in the top five nations in Europe for buying energy saving light bulbs, but lagging behind in the purchase of ‘next generation’ lighting such as LEDs.

More testing, information and certification of the kind we’re involved in through the PremiumLight scheme should certainly help increase consumer confidence. But outside the domestic market, it seems companies do not need much extra convincing.

Forbes grandly decreed recently that “LED retrofits are the ‘Trojan horse’ of the Internet of Things” with the market for just sensors and applications related to LED lighting set to more than double to 2020. This is not so surprising at all if we are to take the Carbon Trust’s director of implementation Myles McCarthy at his word:

A business, such as a warehouse or large hotel, can save up to 70% of its electricity costs by switching to LED lights with motion sensors...and receive a payback on the capital outlay within two years."

Efficiency, cost reductions and the kind of light quality benefits that we saw in our Lit Up report on LED lighting in social housing schemes in London are a potent combination.

Increased take-up of new technologies tends to mean falling prices and a growth in demand for fittings and extras – in this case those extras which play into the idea of a future of smart energy management. The future is suddenly looking very rosy indeed for LEDs. And that’s before we’ve even touched ‘Li-fi’.

Yes, that’s right – LED-based Wi-Fi connectivity may be another imminent boon to the LED industry, with a tussle for technological supremacy seemingly opening up between the UK and China.  Visible light communications, or VLC, can produce high data speeds at low cost, and while there was some scepticism about recent claims of a breakthrough in Shanghai, a British collaborative study seems to have backed them up.

Micro LED bulbs can handle millions of changes of light intensity, which can in turn transmit data. Parallel streams of light can multiply the amount of data transmitted – something likened water out of showerhead by a University of Strathclyde scientist.

Whether we’re bathing in an LED glow or using LED light to stream a video, this is certainly a technology we’re going to be well acquainted with over the coming years.

Gary Hartley is Energy Saving Trust's expert blogger. He has extensive experience researching and writing on a number of topics, with particular expertise in sustainable energy, policy, literature and sport. As well as providing regular blog content, Gary has also been published in numerous magazines and journals.

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