10 Unexpected Household Uses for LED Lighting

They're in your recessed living room lights, your TV, the candles your mother-in-law bought you for the holidays, signs, traffic lights, remote controls - and increasingly in everything else you can shake a stick at.

Tiny LEDs ("light-emitting diodes", in case it comes up on Jeopardy) are being used more and more often for a variety of purposes due to their low energy consumption, long lifetime, compact size and their adaptability to function in growing number of ways.

Already the preferred choice in lamps and light fixtures, LEDs are being incorporated into a wide range of products from high-end custom automotive interiors and large-scale art pieces, andbeing used in music videos, live performances and high-end events. We found ten ways to recreate the LED look in your home, from subtle to smashing.

1. Accent Lighting: Often used on stair wells and kitchen islands, LED accent lighting is a cost-effective way to light your home at night - and avoid stubbing your toe in the middle of the night. It's also effortless to recreate using flexible LED strips or rope lights, which can fit almost anywhere.

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2. Faucets & Showerheads: Adding LEDs to a bathroom or kitchen faucet, or a showerhead, produces a neat, futuristic effect especially when paired with streamlined chrome. All you'll need to do is install a new showerhead to enjoy a shower in bright blue or purple hues. There's even a designer line of LED sinks and tubs if you care to extend the look to the rest of your bathroom.

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3. Dining Tables: Not only can LEDs be built right into a dining table, either as a DIY project for dedicated how-to types or purchased, but they can also work as table accents. LED tablet cloths and placemats can be purchased to add a luminous glow to dinner parties.

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4. Wallpapers: LED walls are nothing new; folks have been rigging those up through various methods for years, but now there is LED wallpaper - in a few different styles from high-tech geekery, to more subtle designs. If that's far too much effort, you can still take part in the trend with the LED wave projector, which drapes your wall in cool blue tones. There are also some lovely ceiling designs that use fibre optics that would probably be quite easy to duplicate with LEDs as well.

5. Centerpieces: Much like adding a tiny, cool plastic LED light disk into a faux candle provides you with a warm flame effect, putting colored LED disks into centerpieces will add atmosphere to the party. Likewise, waterproof LEDs can be added to glasses, and strands of LEDs can be worked into flower arraignments.

6. Bike Wheels: Extreme sports fans have already seen LEDs incorporated into surfboards, skateboards, even snowboarder's suits. A less extreme way to utilize LEDs is to weave strands through your bicycle spokes (there are companies that specialize in LEDs for bikes), or check online for tons of inspirational photos of bicycles decked out with LEDs. Not only can you trick out your bike like a lowrider, but you'll also be much easier to see on the road - making the upgrade both functional and fun.

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7. Planter Pots: Green thumbs don't get left out when it comes to LEDs - far from it. In fact, LEDs are commonly used to help plants grow. So, an LED planter pot is another perfect combination of style and substance. Studio Shulab's Lightpot and Rotoluxe both have excellent examples; Firebox has a solar powered version.

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8. Animal Harness: Much like you want to be seen on your bike late at night, your probably also want your pooch to remain pretty visisble. Mhughu has you covered there with their LED dog harnesses. Also available as a leash and a collar, the LED harnesses are lightweight, water-proof and have a long life - the lights should last for up to 100,000 hours.

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9. Umbrella: A sure-fire way to make you feel better on grey and rainy days, LED umbrellas can also help keep you visible while crossing the street. With glowing raindrop and Skywalker-esque versions available for purchase, and an Instructables how-to on creating your own, it's hard to resist this LED addition.

10. Light Therapy: LEDs have been used in skin care (usually by professionals) but have also been used for pain relief, to accelerate healing and to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder. While there is some debate about the effectiveness of LEDs to treat different symptoms, it couldn't hurt to experiment some and see if adding LEDs to your living space helps to perk you up!

(Images Courtesy DigsDigs, Amazon, OpulentItems, Ingo Maurer, DesignBoom, Mhughu)

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