The day of the LED

31 03 2015

It was at least 10 years ago that I read in a Scientific American magazine that the future of lighting was the LED (Light Emitting Diode). Being a bit of a geek I have followed its development over the years but up until now have been disappointed. Now it is everywhere. Just in Harare I have seen it in traffic lights, car headlights, brake lights, advertising billboards, replacements for flourescent light tubes, shop lighting, TVs, torches (flashlights to the Americans), security lights on industrial sites and domestic lighting.

The LED is a hugely efficient converter of electricity into light and according to this article has surpassed the compact fluorescent light in terms of lumens per watt used. The cool white colour problem of LEDs has largely been overcome too.

led typesIn my local hardware store I spotted this brand of lights. The 5 Watt globe replacement cost $7 and the small spot cost $9 without the mounting. It was also available in a 12 volt version as well as in a flood version. A 12V transformer also needs to be purchased if running off mains though it will also run off a 12 volt battery which makes a solar setup quite attractive (a deep cycle 100Ah battery is over $200 though). Solar panels (photovoltaic cells) are not cheap here at $2/Watt which is well above the break even of 50c/Watt in order to compete with conventional mains. However with the mains supply in this country becoming ever more erratic it does offer a way of at least getting SOME independence from the endless power cuts. For those who can afford it.

Old style incandescent globes (or bulbs as they are called here) cost all of 50c which is awfully attractive if you are on the breadline as a lot of Zimbabweans are. Even if the lights pictured really do live up to their 25,000 hr advertised lifetime it would still be awfully difficult to persuade someone unemployed to buy one.

For me the day of the LED has arrived but for most people in this country it will have to wait a little longer.





2 responses

13 04 2015
Mr Bunny Chow

just spent two weeks in Zimbabwe and I don’t think we went a full day without having to use some solar power

14 04 2015

Yes, and it’s not going to improve in the foreseeable future. That is not entirely a negative outcome as we will be forced along the solar path which has to become one of the major renewable energy resources of this planet.

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