What is an LED Lamp and How Does it Work?

  • Home Decor 101
  • Posted by: amy-golden
  • Apr 27, 2024

Sapo: “What is an LED Lamp?” is a question that many people haven’t had the answer to. We can call an LED Lamp by a different name, such as an “LED light bulb”. LED is an abbreviation for the word “lighting-emitting diode”. As the name suggests, the LED uses the light-emitting diodes to generate light. It has come to the realization that LED lamps are more power-efficient than traditional incandescent lamps and other lamps.

History of LED Lamps

Led lamps | source: ledlightdepot
Led lamps | source: ledlightdepot

In 1907, a British scientist named H.J. Round discovered electroluminescence, set a stone to the LED technology. But it wasn't until 1962 - an engineer at General Electric -  Nick Holonyak Jr. invented the first practical visible-spectrum LED Light. At that time, LEDs were only available in red. Over the years, we had LED Light Bulbs in green, yellow and blue. Finally, Shuji Nakamura - a Japanese scientist gave a demonstration about blue and white LED Light in 1990. 

The Anatomy of LED Bulb

A LED Light has 06 main parts: Diffuser, Light Emitting Diode, Transfer Pad, Control Chip, Housing/Heat Sink and Socket/ Base.

What is an led lamp the anatomy of the led bulb | source: nlr-green
What is an led lamp the anatomy of the led bulb | source: nlr-green

LED Chips

Many led chips with high power | source: vi. Aliexpress
Many led chips with high power | source: vi. Aliexpress

This is the most important part of LED Light, although it is very tiny. It will emit light/illuminate when an *electrical current goes through. Generally, LED bulbs contain a lot of LED Chips and they maybe can be configured in different ways to reach power output and beam pattern.

Heat Sink

Heat sink of the led light | source: jp. Gentwin
Heat sink of the led light | source: jp. Gentwin

An LED Light Bulb often runs with a high power consumption, so it may overheat. Therefore, the heat sink is used to reduce heat emission from the LED Light. Besides, it helps the LED Lamps maintain the lifespan because they will be broken down in case they are too hot.

Circuit Board/Driver

Review/test of 17mm 2-mode led driver circuit board | source: budget light forum
Review/test of 17mm 2-mode led driver circuit board | source: budget light forum

An LED Light requires direct current (DC) to operate. The circuit board/driver is small. Its main function is adjusting the alternating current (AC), as well as, the voltage to a safe, efficient level for LED Light Bulbs. There are some driver circuits that may include dimming functionality.


Housing of led lights | source: amazon
Housing of led lights | source: amazon

People claimed that housing is a guard of the Light Emitting Diode, because it can protect all of the components' LED Light from dust and any harmful impact of the environment. Another use of housing is diffusing the light from the LED Chip.


Light bulb bases | source: americanwarmoms
Light bulb bases | source: americanwarmoms

This is the part that we fit into the lighting equipment. There are many kinds of base from mini to big size base. These bases are the same as the traditional incandescent bulbs. Thus, the LED Light Bulb can be used to replace. Nowadays, E26 (medium base) and GU10 (bi-pin base) are two types that are the most common for households.


Introduction to lens: led optics explained | source: amazon
Introduction to lens: led optics explained | source: amazon

A lens is put over the LED Chip to direct the light and create a beam pattern. A bulb maybe has a diffusing lens to enlarge the light out for general room illumination. It also can have a collimating lens to create a focused beam for the lighting task.

How do LEDs work?

Light emitting diode working | source: eleobo
Light emitting diode working | source: eleobo

Many people are curious about how LED light bulbs work. Let’s explain it simply. LED bulbs function through the use of semiconductors, specifically N-Type and P-Type. The N-Type semiconductor has extra electrons, making it negatively charged, while the P-Type has extra holes, making it positively charged.

When an LED is turned on, the N-Type semiconductor’s extra electrons move towards the P-Type’s holes. This movement occurs between the bulb’s electrodes. As the electrons flow from the negative side (N-Type) to the positive side (P-Type), they emit light.

Types of LED Lamps

Depending on your room size or your demand, you have to choose the suitable LED Light Bulb. We have summarized them down below for you:

Types of LED Lamps Usage Price Range
LED Strip Lamps

Led strip lamps

  • Illuminate offices, retail spaces, and storage areas.
  • Create accent lighting and decorate rooms.
  • Serve as backlight in TVs and monitors to reduce eye strain.
  • Enhance pools, fountains, and aquariums with waterproof lighting.
Over $50

(depending on the length and the quality)

LED Parking & Area Lamps

Led parking & area lamps

  • Install this type of LED light in parking lots, sidewalks, building perimeters, or any outdoor spaces.
  • Improve visibility for drivers.
  • Low-power LED parking lot lights: $20 - $50 (for walkways and small parking lots)
  • Standard LED parking lot lights: $50 - $200 (for commercial parking lots)
  • High-power LED parking lot lights: Over $200 (used for large areas)
LED High Bay Lamps

Led high bay lamps

Suitable for big indoor spaces such as: fitness centers, factories, warehouses
  • 50 - 100W LED high bay lights: $50 - $100.
  • 100 - 200W LED high bay lights: $100 - $300.
  • Over 200W LED high bay lights: More than $300.
LED Troffer Lamps

Led troffer lamps

  • Place LED Troffer Lamps in offices, schools, hospitals, clinics, stores, and more.
  • Reduce eye strain for everyone, particularly students.
  • Basic LED troffer lights: $50 - $100 (suitable for offices and hallway)
  • Standard LED troffer lights: $100 - $200 (most common for offices, schools, and retail)
  • High-end LED troffer lights: Over $200 (used for architectural applications, demanding environments)
LED Gas Station Lamps

Led gas station lamps

Used for gas stations and other fueling areas.
  • Canopy lights: $100 - $500
  • Flood lights: $50 - $200
  • Wall packs: $50 - $200
  • Under-canopy lights: $25 - $100
LED Flood Lamps

Led flood lamps

  • Suitable for both indoor and outdoor areas.
  • Provide a high power, intense lighting for security and landscape lighting.
  • Under 30W (Low power): $15 - $50
  • From 30 - 100W (Mid range): $30 - 150&
  • Over 100W: $100 - $150
LED Panel Lamps

Led panel lamps

  • Illuminaarge commercial spaces with even lighting.
  • Enhance the aesthetic of modern interiors.
  • Replace traditional fluorescent ceiling lights for a cleaner look.
  • Under 40W (Low power): $20 - $50
  • From 40 - 60W (Mid range): $30 - 75&
  • Over 100W: $50 - $100
LED Sports Lamps

Led sports lamps

  • Illuminate stadiums and arenas for various sports events.
  • Promote safety during nighttime sports activities.
  • Enhance visibility for players and spectators alike.
  • Individual court or field lights (under 50W): $100 - $300
  • Mid-range flood lights (50 - 100W): $500 - $1,500
  • High-power stadium lights (over 100W): $1,000 - $10,000

Note: Please note that prices as shown are valid at the time of publication and are subject to change without prior notice.

Materials of LED Lamps

Materials of led lamps | source: divilabs 
Materials of led lamps | source: divilabs

To complete a LED Light, we have to conduct many steps and choose materials to be suitable for each kind of LED Lamps. We have found out some materials to make a LED Light Bulb. If you want to make one by yourself, save these notes to find the best materials for your LED Lamp.

  • Indium gallium nitride (InGaN): This material is only used for blue, green and  ultraviolet high-brightness LEDs.
  • Aluminum gallium indium phosphide (AlGaInP): This material is suitable for yellow, orange and red high-brightness LEDs.
  • Aluminum gallium arsenide (AlGaAs): People use this material to make red and infrared LEDs.
  • Gallium phosphide (GaP): You should use this material for yellow and green LEDs.

Advantages and Disadvantages of LED Lamps

What are advantages and disadvantages of led lamps | source: elite home ideas
What are advantages and disadvantages of led lamps | source: elite home ideas

Advantages of LED Lamps:

  • Long lifespan: The average lifespan of LED Light Bulb is at least 35,000 hours, while a typical incandescent bulb can only last approximately 1,000 hours. The long lifespan of LED lighting is in great contrast with the halogen lamp with a lifespan of 2000 hours. If we use an LED Light, we will reduce the replacement fee. As a result, this is the biggest advantage of LED Lamps.
  • Energy efficiency: LED lights are highly efficient and consume less energy than fluorescent or incandescent light bulbs.We also save our money in electricity bills per month, since the LED Light Bulb can use up 80% less power than traditional bulbs, as well as it lasts much longer.
  • Eco-friendliness: The LED Light is very environmentally friendly, as it emits minimal heat and UV radiation. It is also free of harmful mercury. That is the reason why the LED Lamp is safe for the environment.
  • Small size: The LED Lamp is more multipurpose than a typical incandescent bulb because of its small size. We can bring it wherever we want and use it in the smallest spaces.
  • Better light quality: The LED Light provides more efficient light distribution, directing light in one direction rather than emitting it in all directions like other types of lighting. This targeted illumination reduces the need for as many LED lights to achieve the same brightness as fluorescents and incandescent bulbs. Consequently, fewer lights result in decreased energy consumption, offering environmental benefits. 

Disadvantages of LED Lamps:

  • Skin and eyes risk: The potential effects of LED lights emitting optical radiation on the eyes and skin, depending on various factors like spectrum, intensity, duration of exposure, and eye health. Although exposure to LED radiation is possible, it's usually insignificant compared to natural sunlight exposure. The human eye is exposed to optical radiation from various sources throughout life, which may contribute to degenerative eye diseases like age-related macular degeneration.
  • Higher initial cost: The price of the LED Light Bulb is more expensive than the traditional bulb. However, the LEDs’ lifespan is significantly longer. Although its initial cost is higher, we do not need to pay too much the replacement fee thanks to its quality.
  • Voltage sensitivity: To ensure safe and reliable operation, LEDs require a voltage within a specific range and a current that stays below their maximum rating. This can be achieved by using either series resistors or current-controlled power supplies.
  • Temperature dependence: The quality of diode lighting is significantly influenced by the surrounding operating temperature. Elevated temperatures cause fluctuations in the parameters of current flowing through the semiconductor elements, leading to potential degradation of the LED module. This concern specifically impacts areas and surfaces exposed to rapid temperature spikes or extremely high temperatures.
  • Light dispersion: The problem of light dispersion arises with LED lights that have narrow beam angles. Additional lighting fixtures might be necessary to achieve the desired light coverage in a room or area. While this could lead to higher installation costs, it ultimately aids in creating superior illumination effects by dispersing light more evenly throughout the space.
  • LED flicker: Because flicker may not be immediately noticeable to our eyes, our bodies can still subconsciously react and respond to what essentially amounts to a rapid strobe light. Flickering has been linked to eye strain, fatigue, headaches, and even an increased risk of seizures.

LED Lamps vs Traditional Incandescent vs Fluorescent Lamps

In this post, we also create a table to compare LED Lamps, traditional incandescent Lamps and Fluorescent Lamps in many perspectives.

Features LED Lamps

Led lamps

Traditional Incandescent Lamps

Traditional incandescent lamps

Fluorescent Lamps

Fluorescent lamps
Fluorescent lamps
Energy efficiency
  • Highly efficient.
  • Converting more energy to light than heat
  • Inefficient
  • Generating significant heat
  • More efficient than incandescent lamps
  • Less efficient than LED lamps
  • Long lifespan
  • Typically lasting 20,000 to 50,000 hours
  • Short lifespan
  • Typically lasting 750 to 2,000 hours
  • Moderate lifespan
  • Typically lasting 7,000 to 15,000 hours
Environmental impact
  • Environmentally friendly
  • No mercury or harmful substances
  • Not environmentally friendly
  • Contains mercury
  • Contains mercury
  • Requires special disposal
Brightness Produces high-quality light with excellent color rendering Produces warm, yellowish light
  • Initially produces harsh light, but improves over time
Heat generation LED lamps produce very little heat Incandescent lamps generate a significant amount of heat, as they rely on heating a filament to produce light Fluorescent lamps generate moderate heat, mainly from the ballast and phosphor coating inside the lamp
Size and design flexibility Wide range of sizes and shapes available Limited size and shape options Limited size and shape options
Watts Typically ranges from 2 to 20 watts for most household applications Typically ranges from 15 to 150 watts Typically ranges from 5 to 50 watts
Lumens (mean)
  • A typical LED lamp falls around 1000 lumens
  • The actual lumens can be much higher or lower
Lumen output is lower compared to LEDs for the same wattage
  • Lumen output can vary depending on the type and size
  • They offer better efficiency than incandescent bulbs but are less efficient than LEDs.
Lumens/watt Typical range: 75 to 110 lm/W ~14 lm/W
  • Low-output: 30-50 lm/W
  • Standard: 50-70 lm/W
  • High-output: 70-100 lm/W
Color temperature
  • Having high CRI
  • Providing excellent color rendering and clarity
  • Incandescent lamps have high CRI
  • Providing warm and natural colors
  • Fluorescent lamps have moderate to high CRI
  • Providing good color rendering but may vary depending on the type of lamp
Energy cost
  • Higher initial cost
  • Cost-effective in the long run due to energy savings and long lifespan
  • Low initial cost.
  • Higher operating cost due to energy consumption and frequent replacement
  • Moderate initial cost
  • Moderate operating cost

Common Applications of LED Lamps

Common applications of led lamps | source: eneltec-led
Common applications of led lamps | source: eneltec-led

It is very helpful for us to use LED Lamps in our life. It is quite different from torchiere lamps. We have summarized the common applications of LED Light below:

  • Residential lighting: They are used to brighten homes with energy-efficient residential lighting. LED lamps are increasingly popular for decorative purposes at home due to their versatility, energy efficiency, and ability to produce vibrant and customizable lighting effects. For example, epoxy lamps are also LED decorative selections for the very best in unique or custom, handmade pieces.
  • Commercial, industrial lighting and automotives: Many factories are built currently, the employees also have to do the night shift. LEDs used for TV Backlighting. It is used for Smartphone Backlighting, microprocessors and multiplexers, digital computers, calculators, camera flashes and automotive heat lamps, optical communication, indicator lamps in electric equipment, LED television. 
  • Outdoor lighting: LED Light plays an important role for outdoor spaces such as: parking lots, parks, streets, paths. Its durability and ability to withstand harsh weather conditions make it a good idea for outdoor use.
  • Entertainment and Stage Lighting: With the flexible colors and small size, people always use the LED Lamp at stages, because it can create a dynamic effect. It can help the audience feel excited.
  • Emergency Lighting: LED Light Bulbs are used for emergency cases. For example, alarms, ambulances, traffic signals and burglar alarms systems or they can be placed on anything to inform people of dangerous things.
  • Healthcare: Hospitals and medical offices, like any other business, operate within tight budgets. To address this, many are switching to LED lighting for its longevity and energy efficiency. LED lamps emit minimal heat, reducing air conditioning costs, and pose no risk of heat radiation, making them safer for medical environments. The variety of color temperatures in LEDs allows hospitals to create soothing environments, helping calm stressed or upset patients.


In conclusion, this post has provided information about the subject “What is an LED Lamps”. We have mentioned the meaning, how LED Lamps run, types of LED Light, materials. Besides, we have also analyzed advantages, disadvantages and compared LED Light with other kinds of light. We hope that this post will come as handy to you.


Can I leave my LED lamp on all night?

Yes, of course. You can leave your LED light on all night because LEDs are engineered for prolonged usage, unlike traditional incandescent bulbs. However, in case you do not need to use your LED Lamp, you should turn it off to save your money. 

Are LED lamps good for reading?

Yes, they are good for reading, since they provide bright, focused illumination with less glare, reducing eye strain. Moreover, LED lamps offer adjustable color temperatures, allowing users to customize the lighting to their preference for comfortable reading conditions.

Is LED lamp bad for skin?

No, LED Lamp is not bad for skin, because it does not emit harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation like traditional incandescent or fluorescent bulbs.



I work as a freelance blogger in Seattle, Washington. I've been freelancing full-time for 5 years. I'm interested in anime, resin art, and mechanical keyboards.


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