LEDs are light emitting diodes, solid state semiconductors releasing electrical energy in the form of photons or light. LEDs have become tremendously popular in the last 10 years providing illumination for a broad array of applications from auto tail-lights to surgical lighting. A primary reason for LED’s growing popularity is energy efficiency. Unlike conventional lighting systems, LEDs do not break or burn out - lasting up to 50,000 hours. Used 8 hours a day that equates to 25 years! Long life means less replacement and maintenance, resulting in significant savings of energy, time, and money.
Of the options for powering LED’s, rechargeable (recyclable) lithium-ion batteries are best suited for surgical LED headlights, providing un-tethered mobility for the surgeon.
Compared to xenon and halogen, ORs using LED surgical headlights can save approximately $1000 annually factoring in bulb (average bulb life is 1000 hours) and fiber optic cable replacement costs. The average cost to operate a LED surgical headlight for 4 hours is less than a penny (cost of a typical re-charging) while cost of xenon is estimated to be $.10 for 4 hours.
The greatest obstacle to LED energy efficiency and longevity is heat. Low-cost LED headlights fail to properly dissipate heat by using plastic housings and optical lenses. To obtain maximum light output combined with maximum energy efficiency, LEDs should be mounted on a metal heat-sink (copper is the optimal). Highest quality LED surgical headlights use silver-coated optical reflectors combined with aluminum housing resulting in optimal light output and energy efficient design. Improper heat-sink design will decrease the LED longevity and associated energy savings.
The energy savings from using high quality LED surgical headlights make a significant contribution in achieving green initiatives, while still providing bright, pure white illumination required for surgical procedures.