An LED Ready for Prime Time?
Philips 'L Prize' LED replacement lamp is on the way - but what of its price?
May 12, 2010 by Steven Castle

An LED lamp that looks like a traditional incandescent bulb? That glows like an incandescent?

Sort of, kind of.

I got to see the screw-in replacement LED lamp that Philips has produced for the Department of Energy’’ Bright Tomorrow Lighting Prize (L Prize) competition.

The 10-watt lamp, which should be available sometime in 2011, is the equivalent of a 60-watt incandescent bulb and produces 900 lumens, which, in technical terms, is pretty darned good. Lumens denote the output of a bulb, and most 60-watt incandescent lamps produce 800-900 lumens.

The lamp also doesn’t look like a screw-in Franken-LED, with the diodes fused onto a traditional Edison-style base. Its shape resembles a traditional incandescent bulb, and you don’t see multiple LEDs shining within. A yellow phosphor above the LEDs gives an incandescent-like yellowish glow to the light. The “bulb” part of the lamp also has notches that form a heat sink, which is useful because LED lamps can throw quite a bit of heat that must be dissipated.

The lamp can also be dimmed by any off-the-shelf dimmer. Dimming was also a requirement of the L Prize program.

No word on pricing yet, but expect it to be a pretty penny to start - in the neighborhood of $50. Many screw-in replacement LED lamps on store shelves today are still priced similarly, but costs of LEDs are bound to decrease as manufacturing volume accelerates. Several of my sources say a “sweet spot” for most consumers to by LED replacement lamps would be $20 or less. And LED lamps should last for years.

How long before prices come down to that level? My bet is by around 2012.

That’s when 100-watt incandescent bulbs will begin to be phased out, followed by other incandescent lights in the years to follow.

Replacing incandescent bulbs with the L Prize LED lamp, says Zia Eftekhar, CEO of Philips Luminaires, can save $24 billion in energy costs worldwide.

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Steven Castle - Contributing Writer
Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates.

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