Hello friends of Fitty. It’s Marlan over here at RV 52 again. How are you today? Hey, I’m having some of my favorite coffee today. I make it with my Keurig. Do you want to know about my Keurig? I have a page just for it, RV52/Keurig. K-E-U-R-I-G
You know, there is a lot of talk about the lowly RV LED light and how efficient they are. Then you’ve got your regular lights in your house and RV. They’re called incandescent. I thought it would be useful just to go over, what’s the difference? Why is an RV LED light more efficient?
For all of those engineers who are going to listen to this and go “Oh my, gosh, you weren’t accurate to the umpteenth detail.” I am so sorry. That’s not the point. The point is to give the common man, the common gal, a basis for understanding why they’re different. What’s the big deal?
So let’s go into incandescent light. That’s the light that’s been around since Thomas Edison. Thomas Edison had over a thousand attempts to make an incandescent light bulb. What he did is he finally stuck a tungsten, which is a special metal, inside of a bulb that had no oxygen in it. By getting rid of all the oxygen, the tungsten wouldn’t burn up.
But here’s how they work, and here’s how they give off light. In engineering-speak, the light is really almost what I call a second-order effect. The first thing that happens is you put a big voltage across the terminals of the light bulb, volt, or current which is attached to voltage in a way, that’s I’m not going to get into, flows through the filament. The filament gets very got. Heating the filament is the first and primary thing that happens.
A by-product of that hot filament without burning up, there is no oxygen inside, is it gives off light. So, the first thing it has to do is get really hot, which burns up lots of energy. Then as a part of being hot, it’ll emit photons, or light. That’s how it gives off light. So they burn up a lot of energy because you spend a lot of energy making heat. To get the light, it is the second-order effect; it’s not the first effect.
LEDs on the other hand, are different. And for that matter, so are fluorescent lights. Or you’ll hear them called compact fluorescent.
Let’s just talk a little bit about compact fluorescents. I’m sure I’m going to get the technical details wrong, but I only want to get close. I think, personally, of a compact fluorescent light as kind of a candle lightening in a bottle. Lightening is caused by having a huge static electricity or differential between positive and negative in the earth. Eventually, that positive and negative gets so big of a difference that the charge finally breaks down and it wants to jump from positive to negative or negative to positive.
It’s a little unimportant for this, but you have to build up, build up, build up energy at the two terminals and find when there is enough energy, which is measured in voltage differential, the material in- between says,
“I’m going to stop holding these apart, and I’m going to let a flow of electrons go between.” And that flow, that actual flow, through the material gives off light. Lightening.
Lightning’s bright. And because, you know, it’s the build-up of differential, actually isn’t an expenditure of power. It’s one that flows. It flows in such a way that it doesn’t chew up a lot of energy, so tons of it is emitted in light energy which makes a compact fluorescent a lot more efficient. It’s about a fifth of the power consumption of an incandescent bulb for the same amount of light.
Now, let’s talk about LEDs, a completely different concept. LED, they give off light when an electron, this is going to blow your mind, goes into a hole where there’s a spot for an electron; and when it does that, it will emit a photon of light. It is very deep electrical engineering, materials engineering theory.
But, of course, when the electron jumps, it fills a hole, emits a photon of light, leaves behind a hole, another electron jumps, leaves a hole, and they just keep jumping-j-j-j-j-j-j-j-like that. But because it didn’t have to make heat, create a huge heat thing and then give off its light, it was just a jumping of the electrons which gave off the light, it’s more efficient.
So really, the simple thing is LEDs, compact fluorescents, they’re more efficient because they don’t have to start with making something white hot, make the heat, and the heat energy is what actually gives off the light radiation. They way they do it is completely different.
Please, electrical engineers, I guess if you want to do it in a positive way, put positive comments that make my explanation better. But I think for the common man the way I’m explaining it, honestly, is probably good enough. What you need to know is the foundational physical theory of how compact fluorescent and LEDs work. They’re just different.
Incandescent starts with heat, gives off light as a second-order effect. Fluorescents and LEDs give off light during their primary effect. It’s not a second- order thing. It’s kind of part of what they do. So anyway, that’s how I would explain why LEDs are more efficient, and maybe you’d find that interesting. If you like it, go to my site, RV52.com/LED.
Thanks a lot.