The development of LEDs is truly a silent technological revolution. While we have come to rely on them for so many devices, from mobile phones to DVD players, few of us dwell on the importance of these tiny light emitting diodes. However, the current interest in investing in LED street lights could change all that by bringing LEDs out into the open to light up our cities.
Although scientists developed primitive LEDs in the late sixties, it has taken some time to improve the efficiency enough to expand the practical uses of the technology. One major improvement, which is still a concern for some, is the intensity of the light. Some city administrators worry that LEDs are not bright enough to use on the streets. However, LEDs are constantly evolving and getting better, which has led many cities across the world to use them for street lighting.
A major reason for this is efficiency. City governments facing tight budgets have opted for LED street lights in an effort to save money. Compared to incandescent lights, LEDs are 50% more efficient. This saves money, despite the higher initial cost. They also last longer, which translates into even greater savings in the long term.
A more altruistic reason that accompanies the economic motive is to reduce carbon emissions. As global warming has become a concern, more local governments are waking up to the fact that their cities can help stave off carbon usage. Using this new form of lighting can mean a much smaller carbon footprint, as LEDs use fifty percent less carbon compared to other, more traditional forms of lighting.
LEDs also contain no mercury, a toxic material that has to be dealt with when lights are disposed of. While the amounts in each bulb are not large, given the millions of light fixtures across the world, making this change can have a positive impact on pollution levels.
Several countries already use LEDs for a variety of purposes, from street lights and traffic lights to signs in public spaces. The US has also seen a surge of interest in the technology as the federal government has encouraged investment in green technology as part of the stimulus package. This may help push LEDs into more common use in the United States.
Government administrators and citizens alike hope that LED street lights can bring about a brighter, cheaper and more eco-friendly future. If nothing else, these new lights will highlight the importance of this tiny technology that we so often overlook.

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