All Lit Up

April 9, 2014

LED lighting technology is not a new concept. It has been around for over fifty years now; it first appeared in 1962 as practical electronic components. These early versions of LEDs were found in indicator lamps for electronic devices, and shortly afterwards they were packaged into numeric readouts in the form of seven digit displays and were often found in digital clocks.

However it is only in the last few years that LED lighting is really beginning to hit its peak in the residential market for space lighting. Though the change has taken its time, there are several reasons why LED lighting is suddenly growing in popularity. The streets of Britain are now becoming, in the words of Buck Cherry, ‘all lit up’ by LED lights.

The Idea.

Street lights are of more importance than you think for many reasons. Perhaps of most importance is the safety they offer to citizens. It is a well documented statistic that crime is a lot lower in well-lit areas than poorly-lit ones. With this in mind, no wonder councils choose to make adequate lighting a high priority. However this does not come cheaply. Councils now are finding that street lighting accounts for as much as 30% of their total energy consumption which results in it being one of their largest, single costs resulting in an electricity bill of more than £300 million per year. It is no surprise therefore, that they are interested in reducing this cost – which is where the LED street lighting option comes in. Rather than the familiar yellow lights, LEDs provide a much brighter, white light. Among a host of benefits of these lights are that they can cut energy bills, reduce carbon emissions, be operated remotely and linked to smart technology. This makes them arguably the most useful and versatile lights around. For example, Gemma Lighting have supplied LED lights to customers as diverse as the Marriott Hotel group and Leicestershire Police; there is a real market building for this type of lighting.


In June 2012 The Climate Group ran 15 LED lighting trials in 12 cities, including London and New York. The results from 12 cities involved in the trial suggested a lower power cost, improved visibility and safer citizens. Particular things of note from this trial included:

–          Improved visibility, and therefore improved safety.

–          That the LED light lifespan ranges from 50,000 hours to 100,000 hours, thus providing a good return on investment.

–          In 6,000 LED lights studied, there was only a 1% failure rate.

This positive data strongly suggests that LED lights are the most economic, environmentally-friendly lighting option available. And it seems that some big bodies agree.


The UK Green Investment Bank (UK GIB) has come up with the new idea of a Green Loan. As the name suggests, the concept behind this is to facilitate public sector energy efficiency projects, with the repayments being made out of the savings the councils will make. Glasgow City Council is leading the way in this initiative by being the first council to receive a Green Loan. They claim that it not only saves money but increases community safety and dramatically reduces the UK carbon footprint.

Other high-profile companies joining in the LED lighting revolution include oil companies Shell and BP who are leading the way by retrofitting their petrol station with LED powered luminaires. These replace metal halide lamps, improving the full spectrum of light and cutting energy use by 50%.

To see more details about the positive environmental impact of LED lights, read this report.