LED lighting smackdown: Philips snags LED lightbulb prize, Cree spotlights prototype

Despite waning support from the federal government for lightbulb efficiency standards, innovation in the LED replacement lighting segment continues.

Apparently, some of the major innovators working on LED replacement options for incandescent lightbulbs didn't get the memo about the government's shift in support for lightbulb energy-efficiency regulations.

First off, it turns out that Philips has emerged as the winner of the Department of Energy's "L Prize" specifications for what the government wanted to see in a 60-watt incandescent lightbulb replacement. The L Prize competition was started in 2008 to encourage makers to invest in creating 60-watt replacements, because this particular format represents approximately half of the domestic lighting market.

The Philips bulb submitted into the competition operates at just 10 watts. The 17-watt edition of the Philips LED line just shipped at Home Depot in July at a price of just under $40.

Another lighting technology innovator, Cree, is trumpeting the fact that it has released a "concept" LED light bulb that outperforms the L Prize specifications for a separate competition for a 21st century lighting technology. (There are multiple L Prize contests going on.) The company says that independent testing shows that the new concept lamp, delivers more than 1,300 lumens at 152 lumens per watt. For those of you who aren't mathematically inclined, that means it delivers those performance at 8.7 watts, slightly below the goals set by the L Prize.

The video below explores the Cree accomplishment in more detail:

Said Neal Hunter, co-founder of Cree:

"Not long ago, fixture efficiency of 100 lumens per watt was impossible, but Cree is shipping fixtures at 110 [lumens per watt] today. We calculate that if fully deployed, LED lighting at 150 [lumens per watt] could bring a 16.5 percent reduction in the nation's electric-energy consumption, returning it to 1987 levels. By pushing the limits of what is possible in LED lighting, Cree continues to design products that help reduce global demands for energy."

So, here's the thing: I love the fact that this category is creating such fierce competition, because it is a good thing for all of us. I especially love the fact that there doesn't seem to be a slowdown in creativity in the market segment, despite the waning support from the federal government in regulations that encourage the United States to be more energy-efficient.


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