Eventually 80% to 90% of lighting will convert to light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, says Warner Philips, co-founder of LED startup Lemnis Lighting and great-grandson of the man who founded Dutch lighting giant Philips (PHG). But based on where the market stands now, it could take a couple decades before LEDs achieve that level of dominance.
About four years ago, Lemnis introduced one of the first LED bulbs able to be screwed directly into an incandescent socket. Today just a handful of companies offer such LED bulbs, and they run about $40 to $50 each. Here are five you can buy now—or soon will be able to buy—to replace incandescents. Our cheat sheet on the metrics of the bulbs:
1) GE Energy Smart LED bulb: General Electric says it will start selling an LED bulb by the end of 2010 or early in 2011 that can directly replace a 40-watt incandescent bulb but consumes just 9 watts, which means a 77% energy savings. The company claims the bulb will last 25,000 hours (or 17 years at four hours a day), which is 25 times longer than a typical incandescent bulb. It also will provide 450 lumens, compared with most LED bulbs, which commonly produce 350 lumens or less. But like much of these early LEDs, GE (GE) says its bulbs will cost between $40 and $50 at retailers.
2) Lemnis Lighting's Pharox: Lemnis co-founder Warner Philips said at the recent Fortune Brainstorm Green conference that the company would launch "a full suite of LED products" at the Las Vegas lighting convention Lightfair next month. It also said it could one day go public: "Our philosophy is to build the company to last. An [initial public offering] is one of the opportunities for us."
Lemnis currently sells its bulb for between $40 and $50, and it launched a dimmable version in October that lasts 36,000 hours (or 25 years at 4 hours per day), is 90% more energy efficient than an incandescent bulb, and lasts six times longer than a compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL).
3) Panasonic's EverLED: Japanese electronic giant Panasonic started selling its LED bulb, meant to replace incandescents in the residential market, in October in Japan. Panasonic (PC) claims the bulbs in its EverLED line can last 40 times longer than an incandescent bulb, and if used about 5.5 hours per day, it can last up to 19 years. At the same time, the power consumption of the bulb is about an eighth of an incandescent. The price is expected to be in the $40 range in Japan.
4) Philips' LED Bulb: This week Dutch lighting conglomerate Philips announced it will start selling a 12-watt LED bulb by the end of 2010 that can replace a 60-watt incandescent. The bulb produces 806 lumens, has a lifetime of 25,000 hours, and is 80% more energy efficient than an incandescent bulb.
5) Toshiba's LED E-CORE: Japanese lighting company Toshiba (TOSYY) recently started selling its LED-CORE light bulb line in the U.S., which provides an 85% power reduction compared with an incandescent bulb and has a lifespan that's 40 times longer.
Toshiba has actually now phased out incandescent light bulbs completely (reportedly moving that deadline up by a year) after manufacturing them for more than a century. Governments, including the U.S., and companies throughout the world are phasing out incandescents to make way for compact fluorescents and LEDs.
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