What is the future of lighting? With all the government regulations about what can and cannot be produced, the reports of mercury in the curly fluorescent bulbs, and the aisles and aisles of confusing choices with unfamiliar shapes, names and bases...how do you figure out what to buy? These are fairly common questions today. Government regulations regarding the efficiency of light bulbs have spurred incredible research and development in lighting. The technologies are evolving so fast that some of the exciting developments from a year ago are already obsolete. The performance has improved while the price is dropping. Of course, we are talking about LED. LED is a light emitting diode. This technology has been around for a long time. Lights in cars and cellphones have used LED for years. Now you can get recessed lights, surface mounted lights, track lights, ornamental hanging lights and exterior lights with LED as the light source. It’s being used in businesses and universities, as well as residences, to replace the energy hogs of the past. Wall mounted LED lights for the exterior of buildings use thirty watts, give the light equivalent to a 150-watt bulb (or more) and last 50,000 hours. 50,000 hours, burning twelve hours a day, 365 days a year equals nearly eleven and a half years. That’s a huge reduction in energy consumption for those eleven and a half years, but the owner saves even more in reduced maintenance costs: no bulbs to replace, no ladders to climb, no time spent on keeping the lights working. This all adds up to long-term savings. So are all LED replacement bulbs sitting on store shelves of equal quality? Absolutely not. A client bought a two-pack of LED bulbs from one of the big box stores, and when turned on, the light from each was not the same. And they were out of the same package! When buying LED, it is important to take a look at samples to evaluate the Kelvin temperature and light output. If you can’t see a sample in application, are you sure you want to spend that much to try it out? And some of the most exciting developments are not bulb replacements. Many new products have LED’s as a part of their make-up: LED tape that comes in sixteen-foot spools, LED recessed lights, thin metal strips with integral LED’s to light counter tops and toe kicks, self-contained under cabinet lighting with LEDs. While there is so much more to come, LED’s have evolved to a reasonable state of cost effectiveness. The performance of LED continues to rise while the price is improving. LED’s have long been the promise of the future. The future is now.