Over the last decade LED’s (Light Emitting Diode) have become the technology of choice in the lighting industry. Another technology called Light Emitting Plasma (LEP) has begun to gain traction as a viable alternative for applications requiring high illumination. Not only is the lighting industry taking notice, even the mainstream media has started reporting on the benefits of LEP lighting.
How LEP Lighting Works
Plasma in the lighting industry, refers to sources that have a continuous spectrum. LEP systems have three components: an emitter, a driver, and a power supply. Each emitter has a quartz capsule with a blend of gases and halides that emit light at a certain spectrum. A highly reflective material in the housing causes the light to emit forward. The driver is, at its simplest, a solid-state RF amplifier that creates electrical energy to a fully-sealed quartz lamp without electrodes or filaments. Because the electrical field is highly concentrated, it ionizes the gases and vaporizes the halides to create a plasma inside that lamp to produce and intense light source.
No electrodes, glass-to-metal seals, or other materials offer simple construction allowing the LEP to be efficient yet rugged. Benefits of this design include:
- no waste of heat energy.
- elimination of glass-to-metal seals.
- no quartz wall darketing that produces lumen depreciation and failure.
- faster warm-up and restrike times.
LEP light sources are possible today because the wireless revolution has produced cost effective, efficient, and reliable solid-state amplifiers. In addition to energy savings, LEP technology has other important attributes. LEP lighting may be dimmed to 20% output. These lamps also have a 50,000-hour life at 70% lumen maintenance, where has halide lamps have a life of 18,000 hours. Warmer color temperatures for LEP are also on the horizon.
Complements LED Usage
In most applications where high illumination is required, LEP does not compete with LED lighting. Rather, it serves as a high-output complement. To that end, LED may be used for low and medium illuminance while LEP can take over high illuminance needs because of smaller lamp size. LED and LEP lighting have the same approximate cost at the 5,000-lumen level, but LEP’s small size makes it much more cost effective as lumen output increases. LED’s, however, are more effective in their ability to scale down.