Whether you’re shopping for a new TV, computer monitor or any other device with an integrated display, you’ll need to choose the right display technology. There are several different types of display technologies, one of the most common being light-emitting diode (LED). LED displays are energy efficient, long-lasting and provide excellent image clarity. What are LED displays exactly, and how do they differ from other display technologies?

LED Displays Defined

The term “LED display” is typically used to describe a liquid-crystal display (LCD) with LED backlighting. LED isn’t a true display technology. Rather, it’s a backlighting technology. Nonetheless, many manufacturers refer to LED-backlit LCDs as “LED displays.”

If you come across an LED display, it’s safe to assume it’s an LCD with LED backlighting. LCDs are displays that use liquid crystals made of an organic material. The pixels aren’t electroluminescent, so they can’t produce their own lighting. Instead, they require illumination via backlighting. LCDs that use LED backlighting are colloquially known as “LED displays.”

LED vs Fluorescent-Backlit LCD

While some LCDs use LED backlighting, others use fluorescent backlighting. Fluorescent-backlit LCDs were popular many years ago. In the past, most LCDs used cold-cathode fluorescent lamp (CCFL) backlighting. CCFL backlighting consists of fluorescent light tubes placed behind the pixel layer. When turned on, the fluorescent light tubes would illuminate so that the appropriate pixels would become visible.

LED has since replaced CCFL as the leading backlighting technology for LCDs. Some LCDs use edge-lit LED backlighting, whereas others use full-array LED backlighting. Regardless, most LCDs have stopped using CCFL backlighting; they now use LED backlighting, instead.

Benefits of LED Displays

Being that so many LCDs now use LED backlighting over CCFL backlighting, you might be wondering what benefits they offer. LED displays — LCDs with LED backlighting — offer several benefits. For starters, they are more energy efficient.

All displays consume energy during use. Most of their energy consumption is spent on the backlighting, which requires electricity to illuminate the pixel layers. LED backlighting, though, requires less energy than CCFL backlighting. LED is a highly efficient lighting technology. LED bulbs, LED backlighting and other LED lighting systems are prized for their energy-efficient properties. As a result, LED displays are energy efficient.

LED displays support smaller sizes and thinner profiles. This is because they use LED backlighting. CCFL backlighting consists of fluorescent tubes that take up more space. LED backlighting consists of small diodes that take up less space.