LED Lighting Sees Improvements with the Addition of Hybrid Capacitors

by | Oct 4, 2011

An influx of devices containing light emitting diodes, or LEDs, provides a greater opportunity for efficient and long-lasting technology in the solid-state lighting industry.  Applications include off-grid street signage, medical devices, garden lighting and vehicles. With a brighter output, longer life, lower consumption of power and little to no required maintenance, LEDs are a much-improved lighting option over incandescent bulbs. When powered by a technology called hybrid capacitors, the benefits of LED lighting are only furthered.

Hybrid Capacitors Provide Long-term Energy

A combination of an ultracapacitor and a lithium-ion battery, hybrid capacitors are an ideal choice to power LEDs, which have bright output with low input power. Because of the low energy and power of LEDs, hybrid capacitors are a longer term energy source than other alternative energy storage solutions on the market.  They provide for more energy storage with an energy density up to 115 percent more than standard electric double-layer capacitors (ELDCs).

Before hybrid capacitors became available, energy storage options for LED lights were limited to rechargeable batteries. These were not ideal, since the batteries could not support wide temperature ranges and did not function as they should in extreme hot or cold conditions. A second concern was that batteries had a relatively short life span. For example, LEDs used in garden lighting lasted for an average of two years. Because the batteries are not replaceable, consumers had to purchase entirely new lighting systems.

Consumers sought a solution with a quick recharge, high power and long life. Hybrid capacitors solve the shortcomings of batteries and allow engineers and manufacturers to meet the demands of their customers. Hybrid capacitors also allow for power to be supplied for an extended amount of time since LEDs do not need a high amount of power. With an extended life span, the device requires little to no maintenance, which saves time and reduces cost. An added benefit is that without a battery, there is no environmental damage stemming from disposal of contaminated materials.

LEDs Well-suited for a Variety of Applications

Hybrid capacitors provide more than 20 times the cycle life and 60 times faster recharge rates than nickel cadmium or lithium-ion batteries, which greatly improves the energy output of LED lighting. With these benefits, LEDs are likely to be used in a wide range of industry applications.

Hybrid capacitors provide faster and more efficient power to LED lights used in medical devices. Manufacturers can now permanently design LEDs powered by hybrid capacitors into medical devices. With a cycle life of 10 years, the hybrid capacitor will typically outlast that of the device. These devices see charging times as fast as 60 seconds, and enough power is generated to last the entire day without a recharge.

LEDs are also used in emergency lighting on the roads. During a power outage, safety lighting requires an off-grid solution to work. During daylight hours, solar cells are used to capture solar energy, which is then converted to electricity and stored in the hybrid capacitor. When the power is out, the hybrid capacitor automatically provides the stored energy to power the LED lighting.

With added benefits of reduced energy use, increased gas mileage and minimal maintenance, LEDs are replacing traditional light bulbs in car headlights and taillights. Hybrid capacitors can provide the needed power to LEDs in emergency situations when there is no other power source available.

Another common use of LED lighting is in walkway and garden lighting. This includes commercial applications such as crosswalks, sidewalks and medians, as well as residential uses in patios, pool decks and landscaping. LEDs provide a convenient solution, as they don’t need to be replaced due to the hybrid capacitor’s extended life span.

By incorporating flashing light into the LEDs, manufacturers can use them for several of the aforementioned applications in an attention-drawing manner. This includes exit or stop signs, caution signs, ad boards, storefront signs, and other decorative building lighting.

Bright Future in Store for LED Technology

Asia has widely integrated hybrid capacitor powered LEDs into the continent’s lighting sources. The lights are used to provide pool, sidewalk and walkway lighting, as well as decorative building lighting. Solar power is used to store backup power for unexpected power outages in all of these applications.

Further improvements to this technology could potentially result in a light bulb that contains a hybrid capacitor already inside, instead of as a backup source. In the case of lost power, there would be no additional need for a separate backup source to provide power, as the hybrid capacitor will automatically take over in the LED bulb. A surprise to many, this technology wouldn’t require a large increase in price.

The adoption of light emitting diodes (LEDs) is on the rise, as makers of flashlights, street signs and medical devices look for ways to extend the lifespans of their products. As interest in LEDs grows, the use of hybrid capacitors will also increase. Consumers, medical professionals, business owners, municipalities and others like that LED devices last longer, charge faster, incur fewer maintenance costs, consume less power and are more environmentally friendly. Hybrid capacitors are responsible for these benefits, and they make LEDs an attractive solution for solid-state lighting.

Chad Hall (chall@ioxus.com) is founder and a vice president of sales at Ioxus, Inc., focusing on European sales.  Previously, he spent 14 years with Ioxus’ parent company, Custom Electronics, Inc. (CEI).  His extensive mechanical engineering and business experience helped establish Ioxus from funding to factory to launch.

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