For years, the promise of affordable LED light bulbs has inched closer. But it's remained out of reach--until now. General-purpose LEDs from Cree and Philips are hitting the market at under $10, a price tag that could give the energy efficient light bulbs a mass market appeal.
When viewed over the long term, the savings a light emitting diode bulb offers far outweighs its upfront cost. Still, the masses have been largely turned off by prices of $40, and more recently, $20 a bulb. The price of LEDs have steadily dropped in recent years and now at least some bulbs have dropped below the $10 mark, the price Royal Philips Electronics CEO Frans van Houten has called a tipping point for consumers.
Cree launched a line of low-cost LED bulbs yesterday that will be sold at Home Depot. One of the bulbs, a 40-watt warm white replacement, will retail for $9.97.
Meanwhile, Philips says it anticipates the 60-watt bulb it currently has on the market will come down to $9.99 (without rebates) by the end of the year.
Every six months to a year, Philips releases a new generation of LED light bulbs, each time more efficient and cheaper than their predecessors, a company spokeswoman told me in a phone interview. In this latest "refresh," Philips used less metal and removed the dimming capability of its 60-watt bulb in order to lower costs.
Cree and Philips certainly aren't the only companies that have introduced cheap LED bulbs. Last February, Lemnis Lighting unveiled a no-frills non-dimmable consumer LED bulbs for under $5, which are available for purchase online. Still, the Lemnis bulb has its limitations. The versions available at the time of release gave off less light than a 40-watt incandescent.
The under $10 bulbs by Cree and Philips will likely have a bigger impact on the industry, largely because the products, which are sold in big box retail stores, are more widely available to the everyday consumer.
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com