Resistant to shock and temperature extremes, LEDs may be the
future of outdoor lighting.
By Jake Woland
The little red "on" light in your old transistor radio, the red
numbers on most digital clocks, probably your cable box display,
and lately even the occasional traffic light and brake light: These
are all familiar places to find LEDs (light-emitting diodes), the
tiny light sources more commonly associated with old computer systems
than with a source of any great amount of light. So why does this
technology deserve such attention in a landscape architecture publication?
Put simply, this type of illumination is the future of lighting,
indoors and outdoors. Recent installations have seen LEDs used to
throw a wash of patriotic color across the Benjamin Franklin Bridge
in Philadelphia. They have been embedded in handrails and concrete
paving to add both interest and safety.
With recent upgrades in technology, a full range of colors has
become available. Some manufacturers have been integrating red,
green, and blue LEDs into compact, microprocessor-controllable units.
In doing so they are able to create not only "white" light but also
the millions of other colors that can be had by mixing those three
colors. Besides the LEDs, the other main components in this technology
are the microprocessing unit, the power supply and, if you want
a dynamic light show with multiple fixtures acting in synchronization,
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