Aug 8, 2011

Philips Lighting Wins the Prize

Conserv-A-Store does not have the largest display of light bulbs on the web but we do try hard to offer a unique set of bulbs including long life 20,000 hour incandescents and 9000 hour chandelier bulbs.

We are still trying to find an LED selection we are happy with. The CFL bulb universe has become so competitive that it is harder for us to compete on price but we have found a better source and will be lowering our prices soon.

Thankfully lighting is a place that man can save energy and we complement him for trying hard in that arena. Here's a blogpost from the NY Times Greenblog, 8/3/11, on a recent competition held to "Make the next Great Light Bulb"

Philips, the Netherlands-based consumer electronics giant, is now $10 million richer, having just won the L Prize, awarded by the federal Department of Energy in a contest to invent the next generation of solid-state lighting.

Formally titled the Bright Lighting Tomorrow Prize, the award was introduced to encourage companies to create highly efficient alternatives to standard incandescent lamps.

Two categories were established: a 60-watt LED equivalent to the standard light bulb, and a new version of the large PAR 38 reflector lamp commonly found on ceilings. (That second contest has been delayed by the Department of Energy as it re-evaluates the competition’s specifications.)

Philips submitted its prototype 60-watt-equivalent lamp almost two years ago, in September 2009. As the first in, the entry was guaranteed to win if it met specifications.

The prize bulb uses just 9.7 watts to match the light output of a 60-watt incandescent, compared with 12.5 watts for the product currently sold. The new lamp is also brighter than the one marketed now, at 910 lumens versus 800 lumens. And it is closer in color to a standard incandescent.
Both lamps last 25,000 hours, compared with 1,000 to 2,000 for a standard incandescent.

“The L Prize lamp absolutely mimics an incandescent lamp,” said Ed Crawford, chief executive of Philips Lighting North America.

One way it doesn’t mimic a standard lamp is in its look when it is turned off. The lamp itself is bright yellow when it is not illuminated, which prompted Philips to clarify on its planned packaging that the lamp produces “white light when lit.” The company decided not to change the color of its off state because “this is the best way to achieve the performance,” Mr. Crawford said.

A final price has not yet been determined for the bulb, which is to reach stores later this year.
While LED lamps save money in the long run, they are not cheap. The 60-watt equivalent that is currently sold costs about $40, and the better-performing L Prize version, because of the higher cost of its materials, will be somewhat more expensive.

Despite the economics, there is no question that consumers (and often, commercial customers) still tend to choose light bulbs based on their initial costs, not the hundreds of dollars they may save over the life of a bulb.

In an article I wrote about the L Prize, I quoted a Philips executive who was confident that the industry could get the cost of LED lamps down to the $20 to 25 range. Already the company is predicting that this will be a no-brainer.

“A $10 price is when these lamps will take off,” Mr. Crawford said. “That is absolutely achievable in five to six years.”

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