When it comes to improving how our schools and universities function, lighting is a crucial element that unfortunately goes unnoticed quite often. Standard school lighting hasn’t seemed to change much in the past years and the status quo of blinking fluorescent tubes has been sticking around for a while.
There is a better option, though. LED lighting has gained a massive following in recent years as a low-energy alternative to standard lighting, both residentially and commercially. Schools and universities can likewise benefit from the outstanding lighting that LEDs offer. Here’s how.
What is LED lighting?
Light-emitting diode (LED) lights offer several advantages for any location that wishes to revamp their lighting system. As a semiconductor light source, it releases light only when a current flow through the system. To emit light, energy from electrons introduced to the semiconductor is released in the form of photons (light particles). Compared to more traditional light sources, like incandescent bulbs, LED lights are much more efficient and require less energy to give off even more light. This is because each diode emits a light that is focused in one direction, unlike other lights whose photons are released in all directions. These lights experience a massive inefficiency since most of the energy is lost in the form of heat.
General Benefits of LED Lighting
The general advantages that LED lights offer are incredibly useful and helpful both at home or in a business (and yes, even in a school). Here are the major factors that make LEDs a great option:
1. Energy Savings
Because LEDs are so efficient, they require much less energy to run than other types of lighting systems do. This means that your school will see much lower energy bills in the coming months. Indeed, according to the United States Department of Energy, a simple switch to LED lights may reduce energy usage by up to 80%! And with school districts getting short on budget all over the country, every little bit helps.
If that weren’t enough, keep in mind that the energy inefficiency of incandescent or other types of lights releases a lot of heat. Often, this can create learning environments in which students (and teachers) have difficulty concentrating. Schools often make up for this by running the air conditioning for longer times or at lower temperatures, further increasing the energy bill. With LEDs, this is no longer an issue.
2. More Control
With advanced LED lighting systems, users will be able to set the lights to a programmer or timer to customize the lighting experience. Classrooms and lecture halls may enjoy changes in color temperature to suit certain times of day. For example, a warm light might be used in the morning as students’ eyes adjust to daylight and daytime activities. Calming tones can be used to induce relaxation and confidence during testing. Colors can even be used during games or review activities to further add to the learning experience. Dimmable LED lights will be a godsend for teachers who regularly show films or video clips and want to lower the lights without totally blocking visibility for notetaking.
3. Better Health
You may not be aware, but standard fluorescent and incandescent bulbs can actually cause harm to one’s health. For example, the presence of Polychlorinated Biphenyls (or PCBs) in T12 fluorescent ballasts can present a risk to students and staff. These PCBs are carcinogens that can affect the nervous system, endocrine system, and immune system if the ballasts are ruptured. Even breathing contaminated air can cause minor health problems like rashes or acne. Furthermore, fluorescent bulbs also contain mercury, so a shattered tube or bulb can become a safety hazard in a matter of seconds, causing skin issues and even blindness.
Replacing these types of lights with LEDs greatly reduces the risk of coming into contact with these harmful materials.
LEDs in Schools and Universities
When schools replace standard lighting with modern LED lights, there are a host of benefits that will be introduced along the way. While anybody who changes to LEDs can experience the above-mentioned advantages, here are a few that are specifically helpful for students and teachers.
1. Improvement in Visual Performance and Comfort
Anyone in the education industry knows just how important eyesight is for school success. Most elementary students have their vision tested early in their school career so as to limit any hindrances to their learning. These precautions can be furthered aided by changing to LED lights.
Standard lights can flicker, which can lead to headaches, squinting, or constant blinking. Likewise, heavy lights can cause glares that reduce visibility for students. LED lights are made in such a way as to protect against these annoyances-turned-vision-problems.
It’s well-known that people with autism often suffer from over-stimulation from sound and light. With most schools in the US enrolling autistic students every year, it’s important that their needs are met. Because LED lights are completely adjustable, from the color to the temperature to the brightness, students with light-sensitivity issues will find a much more comfortable classroom where LEDs are used.
3. Reduction in Hyperactivity
Recent studies have shown that the temperature of light (warm or cool) can play a large part in student performance in the classroom. Specifically, cool colors in lighting have been shown to help reduce inattention and hyperactivity in those suffering from any number of hyperactivity disorders. The coolness helps them focus on reading, writing, or other activities in the classroom. And since hyperactivity is related to stress, cooling the lights simultaneously reduces that stress to induce a more focused state.
4. Better Mood
When it comes to helping students learn, behavior problems can cause serious interruptions. While there are many factors that go into why students misbehave, for less serious cases, it can often be attributed to the student’s current mood. And with an increasing number of students around the nation experiencing various disorders like depression and anxiety, lighting can become a massive help. Proper lighting can reduce the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder (a type of depression) by bringing the right type of light during the cold, dark winter months. A brightly lit room is shown to boost mood and increase productivity.