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  (Source: Philips)
Bulb will debut at $50; nobody said "perfection" was cheap

Nearly four years have passed since the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the "L Prize", a $20M USD reward to the first company who successfully produced a light-emitting diode (LED) bulb meeting a special set of criteria in terms of energy efficiency and lighting performance.  The prize took money from allocations made by the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007, signed into law by former President George W. Bush.

I. Koninklijke Philips Wins the L Prize

The years have passed and at last there is a winner.  The prize has been awarded to a design from Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V. (AMS:PHIA), an Amsterdam, Netherlands-based global electronics company.

The winning design is dubbed the "Philips Award Winning LED Bulb".  Its specs easily meet the L Prize criteria:
Philips L Prize

A video on the testing process is seen below:



The Philips bulb survived all the tests, emerging with flying colors.  It did particularly well in longevity testing, showing almost no performance degradation after predicted at 25,000 hours (1041 days, or almost 3 years of continuous operation).

II. For $50 is the L Prize Bulb Worth It?

The bulb trims over 2.5W off Philip's previous generation LED bulb designs, a power savings of roughly 20 percent.  Unfortunately those savings come at a cost -- where as Philip's previous generation models are retailing for around $33 USD, the new bulb retails for $49.95 USD, nearly 50% more expensive.  The bulb is assembled in the U.S. from components manufactured in Shenzhen, China with LED chips made in San Jose, Calif.

L Prize award
Philips Professional Luminaires CEO Zia Eftekhar (left) and Philips Lighting North America CEO Ed Crawford accept the L-Prize award from Dr. Arun Majumdar, a senior DOE official.
[Image Source: DOE/Koninklijke Philips]

The pricey bulb has a 29 percent wall-plug efficiency ratio -- compared to the 60W incandescent lamp’s 12% and a CFL’s 19% wall-plug efficiency.  The new design delivers 90 lm/W (an efficiency measure) –compared to an average 60W incandescent with about 13 lm/W or a CFL with about 53 lm/W.

Detailed information about its color and luminosity performance is available here [PDF], direct from Philips.

The bulb carries a distinct yellowish hue when powered off, but Philips assures that the "remote phosphor" (yellow) disappears when the bulb is powered on.  The emitted light is white with a slightly yellowish hue (as with the standard off-the-shelf incandescent bulbs).

Philips L Prize Bulb
The L-Prize winning bulb design [Image Source: Koninklijke Philips]

Philips is offering a 3-year warranty on the bulb.  And it rates it at 30,000+ hours of life.

Given a $0.10 USD per kWH cost of electricity -- a "middle of the road" scenario in the U.S. [source] -- the bulb would save approximately $150 USD over its lifetime ($0.10 USD/kWh * 3e4 h * 0.050 kW) versus an incandescent design.  However, the additional 2.5 watts of power savings over previous generation models only represents approximately $7.50 USD more in savings.

Aside from the cost savings, the LED lights also offer smoother dimming than incandescent bulbs, with less impact on longevity.  And unlike compact fluorescent lighbulbs (CFLs), a rival energy efficient design, they lack toxic compounds like mercury.

Thus the bulb may be sought after by LED lighting enthusiasts, but will likely be overlooked by businesses, which would tend to prefer cheaper, more mature LED designs.  However, the technology should eventually fall into line with current generation models price-wise, offering the best of both worlds.

We're still a long way from the promises of some LED researchers -- a 60-year light bulb that costs $2.85 USD -- but the industry is starting to get to the point where LED lighting makes sense for businesses and consumers from a financial perspective.

You can order the bulb from various sources, such as Light Bulb Emporium.  It should ship in March.

For its win, Philips receives $10M USD, and free promotion from the DOE.  The DOE still has more money to give to other L-Prize winners.

Note:
Be careful when browsing sites or shops looking for this bulb as there's many different models out here.  Note this is the <10 W Endura series model.  This should not be confused with the last-gen 12.5W Endura series model (linked above) or the (last-gen) 8W Ambient Light series.

Note 2:
While the bulb design was an international effort based on the multi-national Koninklijke Philips company, the award winning design was submitted by Philips Lighting North America, who will be producing and marketing the bulb in the U.S.

Sources: DOE, Philips, Light Bulb Emporium [order]



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I would buy this over CCFL any time.
By AnnihilatorX on 2/27/2012 11:09:16 AM , Rating: 1
$50 sounds a nice deal. In theory LED would never break. I have reasons to believe it will last much much longer than the rated figure. It will also be much better than CCFL in terms of cold-start performance (CCFL is dimmer the moment you turn them on and gradually improves).

Good for the enviornment not in terms of the tiny savings, but halogen, mercury free.




RE: I would buy this over CCFL any time.
By chmilz on 2/27/2012 11:17:12 AM , Rating: 5
I'd consider these as they drop in price. CCFL, while cheap, seem to be less reliable than good 'ol incandescent bulbs, but are full of nasty stuff that makes me cringe when I have to throw them out.


By GulWestfale on 2/27/2012 11:48:13 AM , Rating: 2
i've been thinking of switching s well, and while i'm not going to buy 50 dollar light bulbs anytime soon, i hope that these philips' bulbs will help to lower the cost and improve the performance of other, 'lesser' LED bulbs.

oh, and at the top of the article it says the prize was 20 million, why did philips on get half of that?


By fic2 on 2/27/2012 12:07:58 PM , Rating: 3
You should recycle them. The very few times that I have had one burn out I put it in a ziplock bag and take it to home depot which has a recycling box.

BTW, they aren't "full of" - the amount of mercury in an average CFL is about the size of a period (.).


RE: I would buy this over CCFL any time.
By Schrag4 on 2/27/2012 12:12:05 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I'd consider these as they drop in price. CCFL, while cheap, seem to be less reliable than good 'ol incandescent bulbs, but are full of nasty stuff that makes me cringe when I have to throw them out.


I, too, am considering switching to LEDs, but I don't understand why you cringe at that "nasty stuff". Where do you think the mercury in CFLs came from? It's not like we imported it from a different planet. Not only that, but many areas have a place you can drop off old CFLs if you're really that worried about it (and if you're really REALLY worried about it, you can send them somewhere).


RE: I would buy this over CCFL any time.
By AnnihilatorX on 2/27/2012 12:25:31 PM , Rating: 2
Mercury is either mined or from recycled material. That's irrelevant though, mineral mercury is not harmful, but the metallic form is.

The problem is, not everyone does bother to recycle, and some do end up in landfills and ultimately ground water.

Even if everyone recycles, CCFL is still not as good as LEDs for handling. If you drop one, it's still a health hazard. There's absolutely no advantage to them apart from efficiency and cost. The latter is only due to economy of scale. Once LEDs fill the shelves, they will become dirt cheap.


By mindless1 on 3/3/2012 12:18:45 PM , Rating: 2
Answer this: Do you eat fish? The average person who uses CFL bulbs ingests more mercury from fish than they come in contact with from CFL bulbs. Personally I've never come in contact with any mercury from CFLs. None.

There are lots of things in your home and life which are potentially "toxic", you merely have to act accordingly. Don't rub fertilizer all over your body. Don't put drain cleaner in your soup. Don't lick the circuit boards from old electronic equipment.

To put down something because it's not compatible with the human body is irrelevant when it's not meant to be worn or eaten. PS - don't rub your hands all over broken shards of CFL glass either, since you seen to think this is likely enough to mention.


By VahnTitrio on 2/27/2012 1:08:59 PM , Rating: 2
There should be bulbs at the $20 price point that aren't quite as efficient. I think most are about 800 lumens for about 12 watts of power. Also if the bulb meets energy star there should be a mail in rebate.


RE: I would buy this over CCFL any time.
By othercents on 2/27/12, Rating: 0
RE: I would buy this over CCFL any time.
By JasonMick (blog) on 2/27/2012 12:23:00 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
1000bulbs has this one listed at $34.71 each

http://www.1000bulbs.com/product/58963/LED-409946....

Be careful -- that's the previous generation model. Amazon has it listed for ~$33 (as linked in the article):
http://www.amazon.com/PHILIPS-Endura-Dimmable-inca...

The new bulb is <10 W.

If you see a Endura 12.5 W bulb, it means that it's the last-gen design.

Also the Endura model is different from the AmbientLight model.


RE: I would buy this over CCFL any time.
By OCedHrt on 2/27/2012 12:25:41 PM , Rating: 2
Not available at that link anymore, but 27.59 here:

http://www.amazon.com/Philips-409904-Dimmable-Ambi...


By TheRequiem on 2/27/2012 2:22:40 PM , Rating: 2
Here's a link to the actual new bulb, they are listed for $55, but there is a 10% off coupon from retailmenot that lower's it down to about $48 + free shipping + no tax. So still below msrp.

http://www.bulbamerica.com/philips-enduraled-10w-a...


By Spuke on 2/27/2012 2:49:36 PM , Rating: 2
The 12.5W is what I'm using currently. Excellent lighting.


RE: I would buy this over CCFL any time.
By tastyratz on 2/27/2012 4:16:26 PM , Rating: 2
Jason,
You compared cost savings to incandescent bulbs but that means very little when comparing green/energy efficient lighting. Why didn't you compare to typical cfl bulbs as well? wouldn't that have made more logical sense?


RE: I would buy this over CCFL any time.
By JasonMick (blog) on 2/27/2012 5:04:58 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Jason,
You compared cost savings to incandescent bulbs but that means very little when comparing green/energy efficient lighting. Why didn't you compare to typical cfl bulbs as well? wouldn't that have made more logical sense?

That's a harder figure to solidly pinpoint.

While LEDs and incadescent bulbs both have relatively well-established lifetimes, CFLs life spans are being found to be quite a bit shorter than promised in the field (see linked article).

Thus it'd be hard to give numbers without being misleading.

Clearly CFLs represent some cost savings too, with a lower buy-in price. However, they are quite toxic and also prone to certain early failure issues, in current form.


RE: I would buy this over CCFL any time.
By tastyratz on 2/28/2012 10:39:12 AM , Rating: 2
Harder yes, but not impossible.
800 lumens on a good cfl is 13 watts, 61.5 lumens per watt (src wiki)

If that bulb costs only around 3 dollars when purchased in a multipack, even if it were to have a shorter lifespan... it does not have 16+ times the lifespan considering cost.

LED is great and I hope it certainly gets there, but even with the simplest of calculations not getting into detail it is glaringly much more expensive still, even with a cheaper run cost.


RE: I would buy this over CCFL any time.
By OCedHrt on 2/29/2012 12:04:18 PM , Rating: 2
It's not that straightforward. Since this bulb is 90 lumens/watt, it uses 1/3 less energy for same lumens.

The expected life in the case of this new bulb is also about 6x rated vs CFL. Meaning the cost of equivalent CFLs would be $18.

Which bulb makes sense also depends on your cost of electricity.

For a 10W LED, after 30000 hours the electricity cost at 10cents/kwh would be $30. It would be $45 for the CFL. Meaning it would be cheaper for the CFL at $78 LED vs $63 CFL. But if electricity cost you 20cents/kwh, the LED would be the same at $108 LED vs $108 CFL.

There are also the better dimming, instant full brightness, cfl brightness decay issue, etc to consider.

And also the $3 CFL is subsidized, if LED was subsidized by your local energy provider it would likely be cheaper.


By lagomorpha on 2/29/2012 9:39:09 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
But if electricity cost you 20cents/kwh, the LED would be the same at $108 LED vs $108 CFL.


Currently I pay 6.79 cents/kwh for electricity ... guess I'll keep CFLs in most places, and LEDs in the most common sockets because CFLs give me headaches.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electricity_pricing

Denmark pays 40.38 cents/kwh so LEDs make sense there...
Germany 36.48
Brazil 34.18

Iceland 3.93 gotta love plentiful geothermal and hyrdo


By mindless1 on 3/3/2012 12:09:05 PM , Rating: 2
$3 per CFL is high, I get them for closer to $1 each in multipacks without subsidization.


RE: I would buy this over CCFL any time.
By HrilL on 2/27/2012 1:03:24 PM , Rating: 2
thats not the same bulb. That one is only 800 lumens. The on in the article states it is 910 lumens.


By lennylim on 2/27/2012 3:44:22 PM , Rating: 1
And according to the Amazon link, 80 CRI. The new generation is supposed to have a CRI of 93.

Less power, more light, higher CRI... might be worth the price premium after all. I won't change many of my bulbs at that price, but I might get a couple for testing.


RE: I would buy this over CCFL any time.
By Reclaimer77 on 2/27/12, Rating: -1
RE: I would buy this over CCFL any time.
By ChronoReverse on 2/27/2012 1:54:48 PM , Rating: 3
Did you notice that one of the requirements for the prize was >70% light output at 25000 hours? And that this bulb still got over 99%?


RE: I would buy this over CCFL any time.
By Reclaimer77 on 2/27/12, Rating: -1
RE: I would buy this over CCFL any time.
By tayb on 2/27/2012 2:55:21 PM , Rating: 4
What if I am using this for a facility where the lights are to remain on 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. This will pay for itself several times over the course of a few years.


RE: I would buy this over CCFL any time.
By Reclaimer77 on 2/27/12, Rating: -1
RE: I would buy this over CCFL any time.
By tayb on 2/27/2012 3:28:40 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe a diamond showroom with overhead lights that always remain on? Car showroom? I can think of plenty of cases where a light like this, even at $50, could save you a lot of money long term.


RE: I would buy this over CCFL any time.
By Reclaimer77 on 2/27/12, Rating: -1
RE: I would buy this over CCFL any time.
By tayb on 2/27/2012 4:49:59 PM , Rating: 2
You're absolutely right. Please continue telling me how right you are.


RE: I would buy this over CCFL any time.
By Spuke on 2/27/2012 6:57:06 PM , Rating: 2
I think he has a point but might not be coming across very clear. You wouldn't be using this type of bulb in a commercial setting. Or maybe I'm reading him wrong. I would not pay $50 for a LED bulb BUT I have two of the older 12.5W and they cost me $30 each. As bulbs have blown out, I have replaced them with these.

A bit OT but maybe not, I have a RV and have replaced all of the interior lighting with LED's mainly for power savings while camping off grid. Saved 260W total there. Lots of RVers are switching to LEDs for the same reason (solar installs are popular too...primarily the off grid RVers).


RE: I would buy this over CCFL any time.
By Reclaimer77 on 2/27/12, Rating: -1
RE: I would buy this over CCFL any time.
By mcnabney on 2/27/2012 11:25:07 PM , Rating: 1
$50 for a 60W equivalent bulb. That might be fine for a lamp or a ceiling fan with five of them, but these are nowhere near what the market needs. The damn prize was pathetically easy to win - no minimum costs and the light output doesn't meet typical household needs.


By Spuke on 2/27/2012 11:47:50 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
no minimum costs and the light output doesn't meet typical household needs.
Actually they do which is why I have these (the older one's mentioned). There's been a ton of blatant false advertising on LED's (CFL's too) but they finally meet (at least Philips does) incandescents. Actually, you don't need these $50 one's, the older $30, 12.5W versions work perfectly (and are TRULY 60W equivalents) and have been coming down in price. You can get a 4 pack of these on ebay for $84.


By mindless1 on 3/3/2012 12:14:28 PM , Rating: 2
No it won't, because those situations are not using 60W incan bulbs otherwise.

Everyone keeps overlooking the obvious answer. 4' long tube fluorescent bulbs. 40W type has higher lumens /watt and cost about $1 each. Incredibly they've been around for years and lots of homes use them and yet everyone wants to pretend they don't exist or something.

Madness! If we're not sticking with incan bulbs there is no reason to continue to gravitate to the edison incan bulb socket, ESPECIALLY if the bulb itself costs more than the average fixture does.


RE: I would buy this over CCFL any time.
By McDragon on 2/27/2012 3:03:09 PM , Rating: 1
Yeah, go buy a 1$ lightbulb...Just don't use your brain to calculate how much that will cost you over the lifetime of the bulb.


By someguy123 on 2/27/2012 3:24:06 PM , Rating: 2
The cost of these LED bulbs are more likely to drop with manufacturing improvements over the course of a year than the cost savings of having an LED bulb plugged in 24/7. So yeah, it would be better to buy a dollar bulb and swap them out once these bulbs become cheaper.

That said these are also pretty damn expensive, even for LED. You can purchase 2-4 similarly rated LED bulbs at $50, though obviously their lifespan not quite as proven as philips at this point. At this price these things only make sense in areas difficult to maintain.


By Skywalker123 on 2/28/2012 8:19:31 PM , Rating: 1
Your boyfriend and you take turns sucking each others johnson for free, thats why you won't pay 50 bucks.


By erple2 on 2/27/2012 2:26:02 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
LED's themselves die hard, but they DO fade away.


Then I'll just go buy some incandescent bulbs. I've heard that it's better to burn out than to fade away.


RE: I would buy this over CCFL any time.
By kmmatney on 2/27/2012 4:01:37 PM , Rating: 2
I've already begun switching to LEDs, starting with my recessed lights (R30). I have 34 6" light cans in the house, and have put in Cree CR-6 bulbs in 10 of them so far. They are $40 each from Home Depot, so I've been buying them only as my CFLs burn out. The CR-6 has a built-in trim kit ($12 value), are dimmable, and the color is perfect. In total I have 92 light fixtures in the entire house so it will be a few years to convert everything. I will be pissed if they don't last at least 15 years, though.


By JediJeb on 2/27/2012 4:31:11 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
In total I have 92 light fixtures in the entire house


Wow, I have 16 fixtures in my whole house, including the lamp on my nightstand. Well 18 if you include the ones outside at the front and back door.


By mindless1 on 3/3/2012 12:29:43 PM , Rating: 2
No. In theory, in practice, and factually speaking, LEDs all degrade in light output. "IF" philips has actually made one that maintains 99.3% luminous flux over 25K hours, this alone is most impressive of any spec because I doubt even the LED manufacturer claims this high.

It makes me wonder about the power supply too. They could supply *perfect* power for the test, instead of real world power with spikes and noise from other electrical appliances particularly those with motors like a refrigerator compressor.

You have no reason to believe it will last much longer, in fact based on science and available data there is every reason to believe most won't achieve the results stated by the data. It makes me wonder if these bulbs were cherry picked for the test. Go look at LED datasheets, they contradict the idea of infinite LED lifespan.

Who really cares about cold start performance? Are you posing some end of the world scenario where it might save your life if your bulb is 50% brighter within the first few seconds it is on? Most CFL bulbs are plenty bright enough by the time your eyes have adjusted to the sudden light increase.

I find your "good for the environment" claim a bit dubious too unless they are made with 100% recyclable materials AND they commit to, and actually do, recycle them all at no cost to the customer.

To be fair that could mean "less bad for the environment" instead if it were an ideal world but it is not - presently there are places you can recycle CFL bulbs, but where can you ACTUALLY recycle this bulb? In the real world we can't assume this bulb won't go into a landfill while the CFL can be recycled.


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