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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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RE: I would buy this over CCFL any time.
By Reclaimer77 on 2/27/2012 7:26:38 PM , Rating: -1
My point is very clear, it's just not jiving with the "do anything to save the planet, regardless of how little sense it makes" crowd.

I don't know how much clearer I can be. If it takes 10 LED bulbs, at $50 each, to illuminate the same space as is currently being handled by two cheap fluorescent fixtures comprised of a few tube's a no brainier which one you would go with.

Ever noticed how many restaurants and shopping centers have open unfinished ceilings? I remember when I used to do contractor work for restaurants I asked my boss why restaurants leave their ceilings open and unfinished with exposed rafters and central HVAC ducts etc etc. It looks ugly.

He told me that's because, on average, it costs $75,000 to $100,000 to finish a ceiling. And most owners simply decide to skip that expense. Even though in the long run, they are losing money from the lack of insulation that would be installed on a finished ceiling. Not to mention the eyesore.

That's just the world we live in. People will chose to slowly absorb something, even if it's cost more in the long run, than eat a massive upfront cost. Same with these bulbs. What tayb is talking about, the extra expense up front, just isn't appealing at this price point for the gains later on down the road. If it was a 1 to 1 proposition, that would be something. But we're talking about using 4 LED bulbs to replace every 1 standard shop light tube florescent bulb! That means four times the fixture expense (the bulbs screw into a fixture, hello) wiring, electrical boxes, and install labor expense.

I don't know how much more simple I can put it. Maybe I should cave man it

1. LED no put out enough light
2. LED too expensive
3. LED no putting out enough light means using many many more LED

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
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.

"A lot of people pay zero for the cellphone ... That's what it's worth." -- Apple Chief Operating Officer Timothy Cook

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