When shopping for a new liquid-crystal display (LCD), you’ll probably come across the term “LED-backlit LCD.” Whether it’s a computer monitor, TV, automotive infotainment system or a human machine interface (HMI), all LCDs require a backlight. Found behind the front panel, the backlight is responsible for illuminating the display device’s liquid crystals. An LED-backlit LCD, as the name suggests, is an LCD display device that features LED backlighting.

LED-backlit LCDs usually contain a few hundred LED bulbs, each of which provides illumination for the display device’s liquid crystals. When the bulbs are activated, they shine light through the front of the device’s display, thereby illuminating the liquid crystals to create a visual image.

The 2 Types of LED-Backlit LCDs

There are two primary types of LED-backlit LCDs: edge-lit and direct full array. The former is characterized by arrangement of LEDs around the outer edge of the display, whereas the latter is characterized by an equally spaced arrangement of LEDs directly behind the display. LED-backlit LCDs are relatively new when compared to other display technologies, but they’ve quickly become the world’s leading display technology.

Alternative Backlighting Solutions for LCDs

LED is just one type of backlighting solutions available for LCDs. Another common type of cold cathode florescent (CCFL). In the past, most LCDs were designed with CCFL backlighting, which consists of two cathode fluorescent bulbs on opposite sides of the display. CCFL backlighting is still used in some LCDs, though most device manufacturers have since transitioned to LED backlighting.

LED vs CCFL Backlighting: Which Is Best?

Being that CCFL backlighting has been around for over a half-century, you might be wondering why manufacturers have switched to LED backlighting for LCDs. For starters, LED backlighting consumes less energy than CCFL. Statistics show that LED-backlit LCDs are 20% to 30% more energy efficient than their CCFL counterparts. And with lower energy consumption, they are also cheaper to operate.

LED backlighting also provides better contrast — as well as brightness — than CCFL. For LCDs and other display devices, this is a huge benefit that translates into a better all-around image quality.

Of course, LED backlighting requires less physical space than CCFL. In some cases, LED-backlit LCDs are as thin as 0.5 inches, making them ideal for key applications like smartphones, tablet computers and other small devices.

LED backlighting even lasts longer than CCFL backlighting. For these reasons and others, most LCD manufacturers now use it instead of CCFL backlighting.