Lampade a LED, vantaggi e convenienza

di Michele Costanzo 70

Lampada a Led
Le lampade a LED rappresentano quella che potremmo definire l’ultima frontiera per l’illuminazione privata e pubblica. Questa tecnologia promette una eccezionale efficienza, notevoli risparmi sulla bolletta ed una longevità superiore. Proviamo a capire meglio le grandezze in gioco e il reale livello di convenienza di questa soluzione.

Dalle lampade ad incandescenza al LED

Per diversi decenni l’illuminazione nelle abitazioni così come l’illuminazione pubblicata è stata realizzata mediante lampade ad incandescenza. In questo genere di lampade un filamento metallico sottile è fatto attraversare da una corrente elettrica in modo da surriscaldarsi ed emettere luce per irraggiamento. Perfezionata e portata al successo commerciale da Thomas Edison, la lampada a incandescenza vide l’introduzione di filamenti in tungsteno già nei primi anni del novecento con una impostazione tecnica arrivata fino ai giorni nostri.

Semplici ed economiche da costruire le lampade ad incandescenza sono però caratterizzate da una bassa efficienza. Una percentuale fino al 90% dell’energia utilizzata infatti non viene convertita in luce ma si disperde sotto forma di calore. Questa limitata efficienza energetica ha portato l’Unione Europa a mettere progressivamente al bando le lampadine a incandescenza destinate all’illuminazione che infatti già da alcuni anni sono sostanzialmente scompare dal mercato.

Lo spazio lasciato vuoto dalle lampade ad incandescenza è stato rapidamente colmato dalle lampade fluorescenti a volte genericamente indicate come lampade a neon. Lo sviluppo di questa soluzione ad opera di Nikola Tesla avvenne negli stessi anni in cui Edison industrializzava la produzione delle lampade ad incandescenza ma richiese tempi di perfezionamento più lunghi anche a causa di una struttura implicitamente più complessa. Le lampade fluorescenti sono infatti realizzate mediante un tubo di vetro rivestito di materiale fluorescente e riempito di un gas nobile (come l’argon, il neon -da cui il nome convenzionale- lo xeno o il kripton) e da piccole quantità di vapore di mercurio. Mediante il passaggio di corrente nel tubo si genera l’emissione di una radiazione nel campo dell’ultravioletto che mediate lo strato di materiale fluorescente viene ‘convertita’ in luce visibile.

Il grande vantaggio delle lampade fluorescenti sta nell’elevata efficienza energetica. A parità di luce prodotta, una lampada fluorescente consuma fino all’80% in meno di una ad incandescenza con emissioni di calore molto limitate. Una lampadina fluorescente inoltre ha una durata di diverse volte superiore rispetto ad un modello ad incandescenza. La diffusione delle lampade fluorescenti è notevolmente aumentata con l’arrivo dei modelli compatti con attacco standard (ad esempio E27) utilizzabili in sostituzione diretta dei modelli ad incandescenza. I pochi limiti della tecnologia a fluorescenza sono da individuare principalmente nell’impiego del mercurio (una sostanza estremamente inquinante e difficile da smaltire), nell’impossibilità di essere impiegata assieme ai variatori di luce (dimmer) ed in un progressivo decadimento delle prestazioni con l’uso.

Le lampadine a LED sono molto più recenti e sembrano poter risolvere molti dei limiti visti nelle tecnologie alternative. L’uso dei LED per l’illuminazione ha raggiunto una larga diffusione solo in tempi recenti, ed anche in questo caso decisivo è stato l’arrivo sul mercato di lampade con attacco standard che ha permesso l’impiego di lampadine a led in sostituzione diretta dei modelli fluorescenti o ad incandescenza.

L’innovazione delle lampade a LED

Al pari delle lampade a fluorescenza, anche le lampade a LED sono molto efficienti: a parità di luce prodotta consumano fino al 90% in meno di una lampada ad incandescenza. Altro notevole vantaggio è la grande affidabilità nel tempo tanto che per molte lampade a LED si stimano tempi di funzionamento nell’ordine delle 50.000 ore, un valore che risulta da sei ad otto volte maggiore di una lampada fluorescente e fino a 50 volte superiore ad una classica lampada ad incandescenza. La longevità della tecnologia a LED nella maggior parte dei contesti civili copre molti anni di utilizzo e compensa il maggiore costo che attualmente caratterizza le lampade a LED rispetto alle tecnologie alternative.

Ma c’è un altro aspetto che è bene includere tra i vantaggi offerti dal LED. Una lampada a LED è tipicamente caratterizzata da un bassissimo indice di decadimento delle prestazioni per cui anche a fine vita l’intensità luminosa prodotta sarà ancora pari al 90% di quella iniziale.

A livello ambientale le lampadine a LED non contengono sostanze particolarmente pericolose e soprattutto sono prive di mercurio, elemento che invece come abbiamo visto può creare diversi problemi nelle lampade fluorescenti. Sempre nel confronto con la tecnologia a fluorescenza, i sistemi di illuminazione e LED sono molto meno sensibili all’umidità e non presentano problemi di accensione anche a temperature molto rigide, proprio le condizioni che in alcuni contesti non hanno consentito l’impiego delle lampade fluorescenti. Grazie a queste caratteristiche l’uso delle lampade a LED si sta rapidamente affermando anche nell’illuminazione pubblica dove i vantaggi offerti tendono a sommarsi.

Per l’illuminazione delle strade e delle piazze infatti le lampade a LED permettono un drastico taglio dei costi dell’elettricità ed allo stesso tempo riducono il numero e l’entità degli interventi di manutenzione. Con il progressivo calo dei prezzi l’illuminazione pubblica realizzata con tecnologia a LED è diventata rapidamente competitiva permettendo in pochi anni di ammortizzare il maggiore costo iniziale dovuto al prezzo più elevato delle lampade.

Nelle abitazioni ai vantaggi già citati si aggiungono considerazioni di tipo ambientale. Le lampade a LED si prestano bene a sistemi di illuminazione modulare, diffusa o concentrata a seconda delle esigenze. La tecnologia a LED si candida inoltre come sostegno ideale per la domotica grazie all’affidabilità delle lampade ed alla compatibilità con i sistemi di variazione della luce. Molte lampade a LED infatti sono utilizzabili con i dispositivi che intervengono sull’intensità della luce; sono inoltre molto diffusi i sistemi di illuminazione a LED dotati di regolazione cromatica integrata che permettono di cambiare, anche dinamicamente, il colore della luce prodotta.

Photo | Thinkstock

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