White-light LED lamps have longer life expectancy and higher efficiency (more light for the same electricity) than most other lighting when used at the proper temperature. LED sources are compact, which gives flexibility in designing lighting fixtures and good control over the distribution of light with small reflectors or lenses. Because of the small size of LEDs, control of the spatial distribution of illumination is extremely flexible, and the light output and spatial distribution of an LED array can be controlled with no efficiency loss.
The term “efficiency droop” refers to the decrease in luminous efficacy of LEDs as the electric current increases above tens of milliamps (mA). Instead of increasing current levels, luminance is usually increased by combining multiple LEDs in one lamp. Solving the problem of efficiency droop would mean that household LED lamps would require fewer LEDs, which would significantly reduce costs.
In addition to being less efficient, operating LEDs at higher electric currents produces high temperatures which compromise the lifetime of the LED. Because of this increased heating at higher currents, high-brightness LEDs have an industry standard of operating at only 350 mA, giving a good compromise between light output, efficiency, and longevity LEDs using the color-mixing principle can emit a wide range of colors by changing the proportions of light generated in each primary color. This allows full color mixing in lamps with LEDs of different color
Unlike other lighting technologies, LED emission tends to be directional (or at least Lambertian), which can be either advantageous or disadvantageous, depending on requirements. For applications where non-directional light is required, either a diffuser is used, or multiple individual LED emitters are used to emit in different directions.
Early suspicions were that the LED droop was caused by elevated temperatures. Scientists proved the opposite to be true—that, although the life of the LED would be shortened, elevated temperatures actually improved the efficiency of the LED. The mechanism causing efficiency droop was identified in 2007 as Auger recombination, which was taken with mixed reaction. A 2013 study conclusively identified Auger recombination as the cause of efficiency
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