Contrary to popular belief, the technology for emergency LED lights was not recently developed.
LEDs certainly seem to be state-of-the-art products, particularly in comparison to incandescent bulbs. However, the scientific discovery leading to the development of LED technology did not occur just a few decades ago, as many people believe. That actually happened over a century ago!
Here, the lighting specialists at LED Equipped explain the evolution of emergency LED lights, the science behind the technology and the various vehicle lighting options for firefighters, police officers and first responders.
History of LED Lighting
It all began back in 1907, when Henry Joseph Round, a British researcher working with the Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi, decided to perform a few experiments. He passed an electrical current through a cat’s-whisker detector – a component in early 20th century radio receivers – and observed that the silicon carbide crystal it contained emitted a yellowish glow.
At the time, this natural phenomena, which is known as electroluminescence, was thought to have no practical use. Further investigation into the discovery did not occur until the 1920’s. A Russian engineer named Oleg Vladmirovich Losov studied light emission from silicon carbide detectors and noted that the effect arose from the semiconductor action.
When new point contact diodes were developed after the World War II, the idea for light emitting diodes (LEDs) came about. Over the next several years, a number of people made significant discoveries regarding LED technology.
In 1962, the first visible LED was invented by Nick Holonyack, Jr., an engineer working for General Electric. However, mass production and commercial use of LED lights did not begin until 1968.
Commercial LED Light Use
The first commercially available LED lights were used as indicators in expensive laboratory and electronics test equipment. Later, manufacturers started using them in calculators, radios, TVs, telephones and other devices.
Early LEDs were red, and did not produce much visible illumination. As research continued, brighter red lights were developed and soon afterwards, manufacturers were able to create orange, yellow, green and blue lights.
By the late 1980’s, LEDs were put to use in car brake lights, vehicle indicators and traffic signals. Then, in 1993, Shuji Nakamura of the Nichia Corporation invented high-intensity, ultra-bright LED lights – and these led to the development of cost-effective white LEDs, which revolutionized the lighting industry.
How Emergency LED Lights Work
Incandescent bulbs work by passing an electrical current through a tungsten filament, which creates enough heat to produce a glow.
LEDs have two semiconductor materials – one that contains extra negatively charged particles and one that contains extra positively charged particles. The semiconductors are connected to the device’s electrodes, and when voltage is applied, electrons flow across the junction and release energy in the form of light.
The color emergency LED lights produce varies depending upon the specific semiconductor materials they have. For instance, gallium nitride creates blue light, while indium-gallium-nitride semiconductors emit violet light. Each material yields photons with different wavelengths, and we perceive these as different colors.
Advantages of LED Lighting
LEDs are one of the most exciting technological advancements in lighting, as they have several advantages over incandescent bulbs and other conventional light sources. The many reasons to choose LED lighting include:
- Efficiency – LEDs convert electricity directly into light, which makes them far more efficient than lighting technologies that first convert energy into heat and then into light.
- Durability – With very few internal parts and rugged housing, emergency LED lights rarely fail or suffer damage. And because they do not produce heat, they cannot burn out.
- Lifespan – LED lights function for a very long time, providing powerful illumination for up to 50,000 hours. In contrast, incandescent bulbs only work for about 1000 hours.
- Brightness – Compared to most conventional light sources, LEDs offer much brighter light. They also create clear visibility, allowing drivers to see and be seen from long distances.
- Instant illumination – LEDs produce light instantly, with no warm-up period. Even bitter cold temperatures cause no delay in illumination, which makes them ideal for police cars, fire trucks and emergency response vehicles.
- Eco-friendly – Since emergency LED lights contain no hazardous substances and are 100 percent recyclable, they are less harmful to the environment than incandescent bulbs and other types of lighting.
Emergency LED Light Options
Police officers, firefighters and first responders can choose from a range of emergency LED lights for vehicles.
Those who want lighting that stays in place when needed and stashes away when not in uses can go with one of the following:
Attached to the roof of a vehicle with heavy-duty magnets, a beacon light creates amble illumination whenever necessary. And with multiple flashing effects, this lighting option can easily alert other motorists.
Strong suction cups keep a dash light in place on the windshield or dashboard. Featuring pre-set flash patterns and optimal brightness, dash lights are more than capable of catching the eyes of everyone on the road.
Emergency LED lights can also be permanently placed on a vehicle. For anyone who wants illumination and attention-getting visual effects at the flick of a switch, any of the following is a good choice:
Available in lengths of four to 50 inches, LED light bars can be mounted on a vehicle’s roof or bumper. Larger bars provide greater illumination, but even the smallest options offer ample brightness.
Installed on the grill, dashboard or bumper, grill lights can effectively brighten up the roadways. And due to their slim construction and low profile, they virtually disappear from view when not in use.
Running Board Lights
For any vehicle with running boards, they can be an ideal mounting spot for emergency lights. With small, ultra-flat frames, the lighting tucks into the recessed grooves of the steps.
Choosing Emergency LED Lights
LED lighting is a cost-effective solution for law enforcement agencies, fire departments and emergency services. However, selecting the type of lights to install on a vehicle requires careful consideration.
If you are in need of emergency vehicle lighting, take the following steps before making any decisions on which type to purchase:
- Find out about the local laws regarding the use of vehicle lighting. Rules vary, but you may not be legally allowed to choose certain flash patterns or colors.
- Measure the area on your vehicle where you plan to place LED lights. The lighting needs to fit well, so don’t take a guess on the measurement.
- Decide how you want to mount the lighting. Most LEDs come with universal brackets, but you can opt for custom-made or vehicle-specific hardware.
- Look for high-quality products from respected manufacturers. LEDs last for a long time, and the cheapest options may not make for smart investments.
In addition, shopping with a reputable lighting supplier is in your best interests. While emergency LED lights rarely break or develop problems, you want the protection of a warranty.
LED Equipped, a preferred supplier of vehicle lighting for police officers, firefighters and first responders across the country, offers a vast range of high-quality lighting solutions. Our products feature advanced technology, first-rate performance and superior construction – and they all come with a 3-year warranty.
At LED Equipped, we make shopping for emergency LED lights easy. You can browse our available options on our website or, if you like, give us a call for expert advice. Our lighting specialists are happy to answer your questions and offer input on which LED lights can best meet your needs.
To learn more about the LED lighting products we sell, or for personalized assistance choosing the right emergency LED lights for your vehicle, contact the friendly associates at LED Equipped today.