In 2007 Congress launched the “Lighting Prize” competition in order to replace 60W incandescent bulbs and Phillips was the only entrant. Four years later in 2011, Phillips won the $10 million award after its bulb was sufficiently tested. Made with high quality diodes this bulb uses around 10W of power and lasts for about 20 years (when used four hours a day). The bulb is the world’s first LED Standard Type lightbulb and went on sale Sunday, April 15 for the steep price of $60 for consumers. Phillips is also offering a manufacture discount of $10, brining the online price down to $50; and is working out several deals with utilities companies which would discount the bulb down to $20-$30.
Even at this price though, although the Phillips bulb competes with its 60W incandescent counterpart, it doesn’t stand much of a chance against compact fluorescents (CFLs), which have already rendered the incandescent nearly obsolete. The LED bulb competes against CFLs, which use only 15W for 60W of light and only cost about $5. The only advantages it has to offer is the fact that it lasts three times as long, doesn’t contain hazardous toxic mercury vapor like CFLs, and has more natural looking light.
More natural looking light may be the only thing this bulb can bank on, when considering the federal ban on 100W and above incandescents which began this year, and the 2016 ban on 40W and up incandescents. The next goal is to come up with an LED bulb that produces 100W of light, which will be a huge technical challenge. This leaves us all wondering, is this goal worth pursuing?