It is a common assumption that switching to LED illumination for fluorescence microscopy will be advantageous on many levels, for example:
No more toxic mercury (halide bulbs also have mercury) to dispose of.
Instant on/off for ease of use
Potential for tighter & faster integration with imaging software & hardware
Much lower energy costs
These days, we are aware that replacing the 100W bulb in our kitchen with a 30W energy saving bulb (possibly LED-based) will reduce our household bills. However in a laboratory environment, the information is not so clear.
We are familiar with the use of 100W mercury bulbs or 120W Metal Halide systems, but LED microscopy illumination is never described in the same way. There is a good reason for this. The numbers quoted above refer to the power consumption of the bulb and not the usable power for the application; whether this is the size of our kitchen or the microscope configuration being used.
It is assumed that changing bulbs in our home environment saves money, and therefore this rule will work within a laboratory for microscope light sources too.
A 120W Metal Halide lamp actually uses around 150 watts
Most “white light” or “broad spectrum” LED illuminators use between 130 and 220 watts, and even the very popular CoolLED pE-300 Series has historically used 80 watts.
(All illumination systems lose energy via the transformer, cooling, and other components)
With these points in mind, we can surmise that there are many great benefits to switching to LED illumination for fluorescent microscopy, however, if you run your fluorescence lamp, whether bulb or LED for an hour, there will be savings, but nowhere near those achieved in household lighting.
Technology is always moving forward, and with the recently updated CoolLED pE-300 Series the microscope user can observe more than twice as much light with around half the power consumption – a quadrupling in efficiency!
The CoolLED pE-300 Series illumination systems use just 46 watts when operated at full power. Extensive testing since the launch of the new enhanced pE-300 Series in July 2017 has verified the LED Illumination systems, when used on a range of microscopes with a range of samples, as equal or better in performance to existing bulb and LED based solutions.
CoolLED have LED illumination systems for microscopy that deliver effectively on the microscope whilst matching up to the energy savings possible with household lighting.
Mercury and Metal Halide bulbs are traditionally kept on for long periods of time (due to warm up/cool down times) and therefore would automatically use more power, however even when LEDs are compared over the same “on” time period, energy savings via the CoolLED pE-300 Series are in excess of 60%.
In addition to this, if you control the LED with software or TTL so as to only produce light when imaging or screening, then the savings add up more and more.
CoolLED is proud to be taking LED efficiency to the next level.