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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.

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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By TSS on 2/27/2012 4:32:41 PM , Rating: 2
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.

You forgot to factor in the cost of purchasing the bulb.

While you save $150,90 in electricity, the endura costs $50 per bulb and incandecents cost $1,50 for a 4 pack (have to use, don't live in the US). You need 30 of those to make the rated 30,000 hours, so to get to 30 you'd have to buy 8 4packs, for a total of $12.

So you actually save more like $112,90 over it's lifetime. As cost of purchase is included in lifetime costs.

Compared to it's older brother though, it depends. If you use 25,000 hours, it'll save you around $7 on elecricity, but cost $15 more to purchase the bulb. Go for 30,000 hours, and you'll need 2 of the older bulbs (provided they break on time) which knocks it back into positive savings territory for ~$27 saved.

Then there's CFL. For $4 you can get a 4 pack with 10,000 hours per lamp, 60watt equivalent. Uses 14 watts. So you save $12,90 on elecricity, but it costs you $46 more to buy the bulb, and you don't have a spare to get to those 30,000 hours.

So basically, this baby needs to drop from $50 to $15, to compete with CFL price/efficiency wise. Enviromentally, you can name whatever price you want. But economically, this isn't a big acievement so far.

RE: Math
By Sidian on 2/28/2012 2:25:36 AM , Rating: 2
Your math would work out under perfect conditions.

An incandescent bulb's 10,000 is an overly optimistic life span that can be cut short by rough handling, excessive power cycling and even finger oil residue on its glass.

An LED's bulb's 30,000 (some have 50,000) life span is a conservative estimate. The majority of them will work well past that.

There's also the heat generation of incandescent bulbs which can increase home cooling costs during hot weather.

As prices of LED's come down, they are the best options for fixtures that see extended or heavy use.

RE: Math
By Dorkyman on 2/28/2012 11:03:02 AM , Rating: 2
And you also have to figure out the labor cost of changing bulbs. Even if you are doing it yourself at home, it still takes your time away from some other activity. How much do you value that time?

With incandescents, you will be burning (hah!) a lot of time just changing bulbs. With CCFL, a little time. With LED, hardly any.

RE: Math
By mindless1 on 3/3/2012 12:39:39 PM , Rating: 2
I find that argument invalid in a home lighting scenario because you are surfing the internet posting on a forum, and I equally reading posts. That's not /valuable/ time.

lol, how many dailytechers does it take to change a lightbulb? Over 70 replies so far.

RE: Math
By mindless1 on 3/3/2012 12:36:41 PM , Rating: 2
You forgot to include the fact that rough enough handling or different usage scenario may also affect this LED bulb. Perhaps not as much but it could easily be enough to skew the numbers quite a bit which is very significant given the much higher replacement cost.

This was an isolated test which probably had ideal power and temperature and they ran continuously. This is not real world proof of much, LOTS of things seem to last forever and a day in such testing.

Ever notice the insanely high MTBF ratings for things like computer hard drives when tested in a similar way? I have to assume you would concede everyone's hard drives aren't lasting dozens of years?

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