LED Bulbs to dip from pricey to just expensive!

Lighting companies are within reach of a price point they think will make bright LED light bulbs a mass-market item: $10.

High-quality LED bulbs in the popular 60-watt category will fall to about $10 by the end of this year, a price that will be a “breakthrough” for LED lighting, the CEO Philips Lighting Ed Crawford told me earlier this week.

Yesterday, competitor Cree introduced a 40-watt equivalent priced at under $10, while 60-watt equivalent bulbs cost $12.97 or $13.97…The company deliberately chose to have one bulb under $10 because it’s an important threshold for consumer products.

“For pretty much any product sold in a big box retail store, ten dollars is a magic number to get consumers to try them,” says Mike Watson, the vice president of corporate marketing at Cree. “This price point is quite strategic.”

About 80 percent of the light bulbs sold in the U.S. give off as much light as a 40-watt or 60-watt incandescent light, which is why this product category is so important to lighting companies. A few years ago, a 60-watt equivalent bulb cost $40, but higher production volume and design innovations have allowed manufacturers to continually shave prices down…

There are already LED light bulbs below $10, but they tend to be for dimmer bulbs or lamps that give off light in one direction. By contrast, the lastest LED bulbs give off light in all directions and can be used nearly anywhere, whether it’s for an overhead fixture or desk lamp…

Philips is bringing down costs through a combination of process improvements and design changes. For example, it has a more efficient binning process for testing the light of LEDs. It’s also saving money on material by using smaller heat sinks and a patented air circulation system for cooling LED semiconductors, Crawford says.

Meanwhile, the efficiency of LED semiconductors, as measured in lumens per watt, is improving, which means the payback on LED bulbs will also get better. “Those price hurdles mean a lot,” says Crawford. “When you look at the payback versus a halogen or CFL for operating costs, you start to get paybacks well under two years.”

Manufacturers say the LED prices will never get as low as CFLs; but, added benefits will make the difference.

For most folks, it’s still a tough coming up with sufficient cash to start down the road to more savings on electricity.

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2 comments

  1. Kanerva

    We are slowly turning to 100% LED. One light at a tiem… While the initial outlaw may be on the high side, the long term savings make it worthwhile.

  2. drugsandotherthings

    Almost 20 years later (and 4 moves I think) I still am running CFL bulbs I bought back in the mid-late 90’s. When they were “new” and $20-$25 a pop. But I have more then paid for them in replacement costs alone. Never mind the energy bill savings.

    I am slowly starting the transition to LED as my old bulbs die.

    I’ll be the first to admit that it’s hard to shell out the cost of these bulbs. But I guess I learned a long time ago that quality tends to pay for itself in the long run. And in virtually every product we buy there are a myriad of hidden costs, social, environmental, etc- that are hidden from us up front but that ultimately we pay for in taxes.

    And I would argue that one of the hidden sides of capitalism that we never discuss is the idea that the “working class” must be able to meet their basic needs as cheaply as possible in order to keep wages down/profits up. Even though it often means spending far more in the long run to keep meeting those needs- and absorbing the true cost of them.

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