How much cheaper will LED light bulbs get by 2020?

How much cheaper will LED light bulbs get by 2020?

Summary: If we hope to see $11 per bulb prices by the end of the decade, Lux Research says innovation must center on thermal management, dimming and secondary optics.

TOPICS: Emerging Tech
ECOSMART bulbs from Lighting Science Group are among the most cost-effective current alternatives to incandescent bulbs.

Despite the lifetime energy and maintenance savings potential of LED lightbulbs, mainstream adoption for the technology has been slow to develop -- mainly because many bulbs still cost at least $20 each and often double that, considerably more expensive than the alternative.

Pricetags for 60-watt equivalent LED bulbs should be cut almost in half to $11.06 by 2020, suggests a new report by Lux Research. But only if LED manufacturers work on reducing costs for these four areas:

  • Central packaging (which account for about 19 percent of a bulb's costs)
  • Thermal management (the biggest area after overall system design, but not until 2017)
  • Secondary optics for controlling where a light is focused and how the beam is shaped (5 percent)
  • Dimmable drivers (which offer a chance for 1 percent improvement in pricing)

"We find that today's balance of system technology solutions fall short of the dramatic cost reductions needed to mirror the LED package and existing alternate technology solutions are ineffective and uneconomical, presenting opportunities for technology innovation," said Pallavi Madakasira, analyst for Lux research and author of the report, "Cheaper, Brighter, Cooler: The Need for Cost Reduction Past the Package." 

Related stories:

Topic: Emerging Tech

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Switch Lighting Company?

    Not to hijack your column, but what happened to Switch Lighting Company? There was an article in November 2011 in Newsweek that said their innovative bulbs would be out in "early 2012". Have they overslept?
  • Will it save energy?

    Absolutely not. Once the price is cheap to run the lights, people will leave the lights on to keep the monthly payment (which is acceptable, obviously) the same. Proof? Take San Diego when they replaced traffic bulbs with LEDs. They saved a lot of money. They promptly changed out downtown orange mercury-vapor lights with energy guzzling white street lights, and didn't stop until the monthly cost of electricity was exactly the same as before. Bwaaaahahaaa!!
    Tony Burzio
    • Agreed Tony

      Tony - Good point!
      cheaper to run appliances are simply used more,
      also proven in 2010 by Cambridge (Uk) research

      In any case, highly dubious the morality of telling people HOW they can use the electricity they pay for:
      If its such a big deal - tax the thing, or tax the coal behind it
      • Comment in Moderation

        Made an additional comment re this with reference but seems to be in a spam folder...
    • Interesting.


      Yeah, there is a bit of truth to this - the "problem" isn't how we use energy, but rather how macroeconomics works.

      Currently, our economic systems are designed to be self-regulating: A common resource will be used as fast as possible, as the price will be low. A rare resource will be used more slowly, as the price will be high. If electricity is plentiful, then we'll find ways to use it, one way or another.

      It's actually quite normal to use electricity. I don't really see any problem with it, as it's clearly an abundant resource.
    • Tony...

      San Diego is replacing their mercury-vapor lamps with more efficient ones. Don't assume that just because the light isn't orange, it isn't more efficient.