Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

GE to Phase Out Compact Fluorescent Bulbs in 2016 in LED Shift

General Electric Co. will stop producing compact fluorescent lights this year as the company founded by Thomas Edison shifts focus to more advanced bulbs.

Light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, are growing in popularity as their prices decline, enticing consumers away from compact fluorescents, the company said in a statement Monday. The less-efficient CFLs accounted for 15 percent of light bulb sales in the U.S. last year, about half of what they did in their heyday, GE said.

The transition to LEDs, which can be used in smart-home systems, reflects a broader effort across the company to marry software and sensors with older technology. Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Immelt has pushed to incorporate GE’s so-called industrial Internet capabilities in heavy-duty products such as jet engines, oilfield equipment and gas turbines.

GE’s CFL operations grew in part out of the search for more efficient lighting options amid government efforts to phase out the old-fashioned incandescent bulbs that Edison commercialized. The CFLs were never really popular, GE said, as consumers complained that the light they gave was too harsh and that the bulbs’ usefulness was limited.

LEDs, which can last significantly longer than other types of lights, represent about 15 percent of the 1.7 billion bulbs now sold annually in the U.S., GE said. The company projects LEDs will account for about half of the bulbs used domestically by 2020.

Bloomberg reported last week that GE was evaluating options for its legacy lighting business as it shifted its focus to LED production.