Rebates to cut price of $60 LED bulb

April 16, 2012 By PETER SVENSSON , AP Technology Writer
This product image provided by Philips shows a state-of-the-art LED light bulb. The bulb is the most energy-efficient yet, lasts about 20 years and is supposed to give off a pleasing, natural-looking light. But what separates it from the pack most is the price tag: $60. (AP Photo/Philips)

(AP) -- How much would you pay for an amazing, state-of-the-art light bulb? Shoppers will be asking themselves that very question at Home Depot and other outlets starting Sunday - Earth Day - when the bulb that won a $10 million government contest goes on sale.

The bulb is the most energy-efficient yet, lasts about 20 years and is supposed to give off a pleasing, natural-looking light. But what separates it from the pack most is the price: $60.

That price reflects the cost of the components, especially the top-notch chips, or diodes, that give off the light, and is the price commercial customers will pay. But the manufacturer, Netherlands-based Philips, is discounting it right away to $50 for consumers, and working on deals with electric utilities to discount it even further, by as much as $20 to $30.

This means the bulb will cost anywhere from $20 to $60, depending on where it's found. Online, consumers will be paying $50 for each bulb, because utilities don't subsidize online sales.

Congress launched the L Prize contest in 2007, with the goal of creating a bulb to replace the standard, energy-wasting "incandescent" 60-watt bulb. The requirements were rigorous, and Philips was the only entrant. Its bulb was declared the winner last year, after a year and a half of testing. The contest stipulated that the winning bulb be sold for $22 in its first year on the market.

In that context, the $60 price tag has raised some eyebrows. Ed Crawford, the head of Philips' U.S. lighting division, said it was always part of the plan to have utility rebates bring the price down to the $22 range.

Utilities already offer rebates on energy-saving products such as compact-fluorescent bulbs, or CFLs. In return for efforts to curb energy use, regulators allow utilities to raise their rates. The discounts are invisible to consumers - the utilities pay the stores directly.

For $25, or even $35, the bulb looks like a good investment compared to an incandescent bulb. It uses only 10 watts of power, meaning saves about $8 per year in electricity if it's used four hours a day. It's expected to last at least 30,000 hours, or 30 times longer than an incandescent. At four hours per day, that's 20 years.

But the Philips bulb is not only up against $1 incandescent bulbs. CFL are nearly as energy efficient. They use about 15 watts for 60 watts worth of light. They're much cheaper too, typically costing around $5. The Philips bulb looks odd too -the light-emitting surfaces are yellow when the bulb isn't lit, yet shine white when it is.

The Philips bulb has some advantages over a CFL: It lasts three times longer and gives off a more natural-looking light. It doesn't contain the toxic mercury vapor inside CFLs, which creates a minor hazard when they break.

Philips has been selling a cheaper, less efficient version of the L Prize bulb since 2010, and Crawford says it's done well - LEDs now account for about 20 percent of Philips' U.S. lighting sales, up from nearly zero three years ago.

Crawford credits the L Prize with pushing the company to focus research efforts on LED bulbs. The finished product may be expensive, but the technology the company developed for the prize submission has already been used successfully in its cheaper AmbientLED lights.

"It's the question we always receive: `Well gee, wouldn't the technology have developed this way without the L Prize?' I think it absolutely would have. The real question is: `How quickly would it have happened?'" Crawford said.

The company is three to five years ahead of where it would have been without the goading of the prize, he said.

The race is now on to produce LED bulbs that produce 100 watts worth of light. The incandescent equivalents are no longer made or imported, victims of a federal ban that kicked in at the beginning of the year. They're now starting to disappear from store shelves. Squeezing enough LEDs into a bulb-sized space to produce that much light is a big technical challenge - LEDs generate heat, which destroys them over time unless they're well-cooled.

Incandescent bulbs of 40 watts and above will be banned in 2014.

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gar37bic
not rated yet Apr 17, 2012
I just bought two replacement bulbs for a living room standing/reading lamp (two sockets) for $9.99 each at Home Depot. Don't recall what brand but they are being promoted by National Grid, the local utility. They work great, they are about the same size and shape as the old bulbs, and the light color (warm white) matches incandescent bulbs well.

There was one tiny little side effect - I was reading last night with the windows open. Some tiny little bugs managed to fly right through the window screens, and I looked up to see hundreds of these little bugs flitting about the light circle on the ceiling! None of the other lights in the house had a single bug, so apparently these bulbs attract the bugs more than regular incandescents. I opened another window onto my porch, left the porch light on and turned out the LEDs and by morning all the bugs had flitted back out through the screens.

In any case, I look forward to exchanging all of my bulbs as and when I can.
Ryan_Petko
1 / 5 (1) Apr 17, 2012
I have three philips LED bulbs above me right now, although only one is on at the moments. It contains two pads about .6 cm**2 - the size of the fingernail on my pinky. This pad produces the equivalent of 25 watts of light using only 4 watts of power.

The pad is warm to the touch and two pads were enclosed in a glass enclosure to make them look more like a regular bulb.

The pads themselves are astonishingly bright, and the bulb works exceptionally well.

There is more than enough room to add ten times as many pads in the bulb, and two more very easily. So roughly 100 watts equivalent would use 16 watts conventional.


You say "easily"... engineers say "not so much". It may be easy to slap another LED or a few onto a bulb, but you also have to add extra means of cooling that bulb, too. I still remember seeing some of the first LED bulbs that were actually actively cooled by a tiny fan in the base of the bulb, and i don't think they were even close to 100w equivalent.
Gingerstyx
1 / 5 (2) Apr 17, 2012
pretty easy to win a contest if you're the only contestant
Husky
1 / 5 (1) Apr 17, 2012
i wonder wgho lost the contest?
kaasinees
0.2 / 5 (25) Apr 17, 2012
IT would be better to put multiple cheap ones around the room instead of one bulky expensive one that needs active cooling or a large aluminium case for passive cooling.
For 60$ you can buy LED strips.
deatopmg
3 / 5 (2) Apr 17, 2012
@VD Your numbers don't compute! Incandescent bulbs; 20 lumens/Watt, 2700 deg K, CRI 100. Commercial "white" LED's; 40 to 65 lumens/Watt, color temp 2700 to ca. 5500 deg K, CRI 60 to ca. 90 inversely related to L/W and color temp. CFL; 50 - 75 L/W, color temp. 2700 - 6300 deg K, CRI 75 - ca. 93 related to cost. Note: most cheap CFL's never mention CRI and L/W because they suck.

What is the CRI of this LED? L/W? Color temp? Obviously the yellow filter needed to improve the spectral output (reduce the blue peak) is cheaper than using a more expensive phosphor system to get the desired spectral output but it reduces L/W. The filter appears to be what is unique about this device.
Lurker2358
1 / 5 (1) Apr 17, 2012
I don't get this at all, particularly since we just had an article a few weeks ago claiming to have discovered LED's actually converting background heat to light!

I have an LED flashlight with one LED, which uses 2 1.5v D batteries, and about 1/4th as much light as a 13 watt CFL.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (3) Apr 17, 2012
For those who want or need incandescent light bulbs made in the USA check out Newcandescent.com.
They have a broad selection.
I also suggest another way to increase the lifetime in incandescent bulbs is to buy 220VAC bulbs and use 120VAC.
Terriva
1 / 5 (3) Apr 17, 2012
lasts about 20 years
This is just a utopia, the life-time of power LED as measured by their luminosity is way lower. They will gradually lose their brightness over a period of several years.

http://www.photon...ID=31912

It's fooling of customers. Recently I bought a cyclist head lamp powered with LED. But I forget to shutdown it accidentally, so this LED has shinned about 60 hours in single run, until the batteries depleted. I was surprised, when I exchanged the batteries, because the light of LED was much more dim and yellowish, than before.
kaasinees
0.3 / 5 (23) Apr 17, 2012
But I forget to shutdown it accidentally, so this LED has shinned about 60 hours in single run, until the batteries depleted. I was surprised, when I exchanged the batteries, because the light of LED was much more dim and yellowish, than before.

You overheated it which causes degradation.
Or you put the wrong batteries.
Twin
1 / 5 (1) Apr 17, 2012
I've been buying LED's on Amazon for some time now. ALL !! way less than $60. For my purposes the G7 60W equivalent is easily bright enough, the color is good, and it's less than $20.
My only problem with most LED's is that they are top lights; not really good for table lamps. They work well in fixtures intended for horizontal or downward orientations.
easye
1 / 5 (1) Apr 17, 2012
hmmm...something stinks...lol...gotta hand it to the government for selling us all down the river. I guess we're the 'power source' to be tapped in the future. So let me get this straight - Phillips gets a $10 million dollar award of taxpayer dollars that was taken from us...so that we can pay $60 a lightbulb so that we can save money on the electricity bill? hehehe no way I must be mistaken. Of course I am, we haven't finished playing the shell game just yet. So the electricity companies will offer to pay for some of the cost of the new lightbulbs...granted a hellofalot more than current bulbs but in return they'll actually get to charge us more money for less energy while over time we'll be paying a whole HELLOFALOT more for those $60 bulbs...at least after the politicians make they cheaper ones illegal...god! ain't politics grand! Especially if you're a politician involved in the business...hehehe "your vote matters"?!?!?!?!
albatross83
not rated yet Apr 17, 2012
Recently I bought a cyclist head lamp powered with LED. But I forget to shutdown it accidentally, so this LED has shinned about 60 hours in single run, until the batteries depleted. I was surprised, when I exchanged the batteries, because the light of LED was much more dim and yellowish, than before.


From your own link:
When extrapolated to 10,000 h at maximum operating conditions, the depreciation is 9.8 percent.


That's less than 10% after 10,000 hours. More likely, your replacement batteries were either not fully charged, inferior to the original batteries, or else your memory of the original light output was not accurate.
randall_l
not rated yet Apr 17, 2012
Great, but how do they stand surges and brownouts? In the past year, my UPS has registered 167 events requiring a switch to battery. CFLs and other LED bulbs I've tried seldom last a year. I'll likely buy one to try, but I doubt it'll last.

The initial cost alone (47 bulbs in my house * $60 per bulb = $2820) is 6 times what I've paid for bulbs and electricity combined for the past 4 years.
Shootist
1 / 5 (1) Apr 17, 2012
Rebates to cut price of $60 LED bulb


Switching the expense from one to another (stealing is another word) does not lower cost.

Orwell called such utterances Newspeak. I wish our press was so honest.
vonshavingcream
not rated yet Apr 17, 2012
$50.00 buys about 50 regular energy saving bulbs, and even more standard ones. That's a pretty hefty exchange rate, considering the 35 bulbs in my house, I won't be upgrading anytime soon.

Kudos though, to big government an bigger corporations figuring out new ways to exchange money.
brunnegd
5 / 5 (1) Apr 18, 2012
You need to compare apples to apples. Quote lumens, not watts. I am aware of LED bulbs on the market that claim to be equivalent to 60 watt incandescent bulbs, but if you read the fine print, the light output, lumens, is only 50% of the incandescent.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (2) Apr 18, 2012
You need to compare apples to apples. Quote lumens, not watts. I am aware of LED bulbs on the market that claim to be equivalent to 60 watt incandescent bulbs, but if you read the fine print, the light output, lumens, is only 50% of the incandescent.

Spectral content is important as well.
EWH
5 / 5 (1) Apr 20, 2012
The actual news, from the lightingprize.org 60-watt replacement lab testing page:
Result: average of 200 bulbs
910 lumens
9.7 Watts
93.4 lumens/W
2727K color temperature
93 CRI

"With 95 percent confidence, lumen maintenance is predicted to be 99.3 percent at 25,000 hours." (7000 hours actual testing, 200 bulbs)

Color maintenance is nearly 7 times better than the prize requirement.

"stress testing consisted of a simultaneous combination of electrical, thermal, vibration, and humidity stresses which were increased over 14 stress levels. Tests were benchmarked against good-quality, commonly available 60W replacement compact fluorescent (CFL) lamps. Throughout the testing, photometric performance was conducted to assess any changes in performance as well as failures."
ALL the CFLs failed. NONE of the Phillips LED lamps failed. (!)
MandoZink
not rated yet Apr 21, 2012
I don't get this at all, particularly since we just had an article a few weeks ago claiming to have discovered LED's actually converting background heat to light!

Those LEDs in the article were being operated at an extremely low current. In their experimental configuration, they found that ambient heat energy was also being integrated into the output as more light. Due to the extremely low power put into the experiment, the light output was way too low to be of practical use.
dschlink
not rated yet Apr 22, 2012
Lighting is such a tiny part of my electrical bill (I have an electric water heater, dryer, and heat pump), that paying a nickle extra for these bulbs makes zero sense. But if my power company wants to give me a few, I'll use them.
MorituriMax
not rated yet Apr 22, 2012
If they knock them down to $16 to $20 bucks, I might buy them.

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