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$60 Light Bulb Debuts On Earth Day 743

theodp writes "How much would you pay for an amazing light bulb? On Sunday — Earth Day — Philips' $60 LED light bulb goes on sale at Home Depot and other outlets. The bulb, which lasts 20 years, won a $10 million DOE contest that stipulated the winning bulb should cost consumers $22 in its first year on the market. Ed Crawford, the head of Philips' U.S. lighting division, said it was always part of the plan to have utility rebates bring the price down to the $22 range."
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$60 Light Bulb Debuts On Earth Day

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @01:51PM (#39712957)

    How many people does it take to change it?

    • by crazyjj ( 2598719 ) * on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @02:03PM (#39713149)


      1 person to change the bulb

      20 taxpayers to subsidize him.

    • by Frankie70 ( 803801 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @03:21PM (#39714449)

      No point in buying a bulb which lasts 20 years. By 2020, there would be more efficient bulbs and this would be banned. And by 2020, both Google and Facebook would have capability to report to the Govt what bulb you turn on, the ban will also work on products which have already been purchased before the ban.

  • by captbob2002 ( 411323 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @01:53PM (#39712991)
    Given the disappointing lifespan I've been seeing with the CFL lights in my home I really have a difficult time believing their claims.

    Reading lights on the bus I ride have been replaced with multi-LED cluster bulbs - in less than 18 months most have several dead LEDs in the cluster.

    • The dead lights could also be cheep wiring. As for CFLs, when I used them I had them go out with approximately the frequency they said.

      • by Iskender ( 1040286 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @02:10PM (#39713259)

        The dead lights could also be cheep wiring. As for CFLs, when I used them I had them go out with approximately the frequency they said.

        This is most likely the case. I've heard many accounts of CFLs lasting only weeks vs. my many brands of CFLs which have always lasted years. There's no way I'm using them that much "better".

        Incadescent longevity is also tied to the power quality, so I see this as more of the same. Have your wiring checked if possible if you're having problems.

        The Philips softone CFLs I've had have had the most light bulb-like light out of all I've used, so I have confidence in the colour quality of this LED one. Can't speak for the longevity of course.

        Those worrying about the price should realize that you (at least here) very recently had to pay the same amount for a LED with one tenth the output. These things are developing really fast, and will most likely be an excellent deal soon.

        • by cpu6502 ( 1960974 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @02:48PM (#39713927)

          >>>Have your wiring checked

          Yeah that really saves me money. Spend hundreds of dollars on electrician to save a few pennies per year with CFLs. Besides it's NOT the wiring. I have CFLs that date back to the 90s and still work, but newer Philips and GE CFLs that only last 6 months. The problem is in the bulb not the wires..... I'd sooner go back to incandescent than deal with the hassle (similar to how I downgraded to the older XP rather than deal with the hassle of vista).

          • by swb ( 14022 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @03:52PM (#39714899)

            I think CFLs seem happiest when they have a lot of ventilation.

            Like you, I've found wildly varying longevity. Store-brand yellow "bug" CFLs have run for years in our outdoor fixtures, and light reliably even in below-zero F temperatures. I'm pretty sure I still have one of the very old late 90s CFLs in the cupboard that I haven't thrown out because it still works (but the shape doesn't really fit any fixture).

            The problems have always come with fixtures that enclose or partially enclose the CFL -- with fixtures like that, I've seen as little as a week out of a light run a few hours per week. PAR-60 recessed CFLs are a waste of money -- I've had none last longer than six months, one fixture ate 3 in six months and the incandescent replacement has being going strong for at least 2 years.

    • by Anne_Nonymous ( 313852 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @02:02PM (#39713115) Homepage Journal

      >> disappointing lifespan

      Yeah it works both ways: money back if not delighted or money back if de-lighted.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @02:06PM (#39713197)

      I am the R&D engineer for the LED chip that goes to the said light bulb. Just like CFL, there are a huge range of qualities when comes to LED chips, from top level power chips that undergoes die-level visual inspection to the crap that is spewing out of Asian countries.

      Power LEDs have come a long way with tremendous amount of engineering behind them. The longevity is not exaggerated, but it is also why the lamps are expensive.
      Having good rel is expensive. We can easily push out cheaper stuff, but longevity suffers as a result.

      The fact that the bus uses multi LED cluster means that they are crap by default. The cheaper manufactures can't make dies as bright, or phosphorus as efficient, so in order to get the same intensity output, they have to rely on a cluster. OTOH, a quality LED component will have a large die, and smaller number of components.

      • by fnj ( 64210 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @02:26PM (#39713567)

        This is very true. Cheap low end multi-LED lights are garbage. The worst ones use extremely poor 5mm LEDs with no heat sinking which typically degrade to half brightness within SINGLE DIGIT to double digit hours of use, and suffer significant complete burnout of individual LEDs within the same period. The LEDs used in the Philips bulb are cutting edge high power LEDs with very sophisticated heat sinking and remote phosphor. They are also designed to have an extremely high CRI (color rendering index) almost as good as incandescent, and far superior to common CFLs and less-elite LED "bulbs". I have seen a tear-down of the Philips, and the evident quality in every respect is astonishing.

      • by marcop ( 205587 )

        So true. I'm also an R&D engineer for a specialty lighting company. The cheap stuff is poor quality in terms of build, components, and quality of light. The better stuff is light years better. The Philips bulb is of the later type.

        The industry is really frustrating. I am basically resorting to making my own under-cabinet and path lighting for my home because of this. The inexpensive stuff looks awful, but the good stuff is priced way too high still.

        • The better stuff is light years better.

          I don't know if that was intentional, but... *chuckle*

      • by YesIAmAScript ( 886271 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @02:42PM (#39713829)

        I've had it for a month.

        I love it. Very bright, great light.

        To be honest, the only place it falls down is in the electronics.

        Compared to $30 EcoSmart 60W bulb I got from Home Depot, the L Prize starts up slower (about 0.25sec versus instant), can turn red when it dims (sometimes the blue LED driver circuit cuts out and the red stays on) and sometimes when you turn the L Prize off it flashes once about 0.25sec after you turn it off.

        Finally, putting both bulbs on an oscilloscope, the L Prize also has a messier current waveform, far more harmonic distortion than the other bulb.

        What gives? This is a great bulb, but the electrics seem like they could use some improvement.

        Any comments?

    • by gmarsh ( 839707 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @02:15PM (#39713333)

      Don't buy your CFLs at Walmart, the grocery store, etc - the Sunbeam/Great Value/etc bulbs that you find at those kinds of stores are shit.

      Buy professional CFL bulbs. Hit up the GE or Osram/Sylvania online product catalogs, write down some part numbers with the size/color temp/lifetime that you want, and call up a local industrial/lighting supplier - Harris & Roome is my go-to place here in Canada.

      My house is full of GE "FLE10HT2/827" bulbs, 40W equivalents that pull 10W, have a warm color temperature (2700K) and have a 12000 hour lifetime. Which I can believe - I bought a case of these bulbs about 4-5 years ago when I swapped out every incandescent I could find, I still have plenty of them left, and I honestly can't remember the last time I changed a lightbulb in my house - it's been years.

  • by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland&yahoo,com> on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @01:54PM (#39713005) Homepage Journal

    Yeah, I'd consider 60 bucks.

    • by Myopic ( 18616 ) * on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @02:06PM (#39713191)

      Agreed. If you are selling me a twenty-year light bulb, then you can give me an 18-year warranty on that.

      Years ago I bought a bunch of CF bulbs which definitely definitely lasted a shorter time than traditional bulbs, despite claims of multiple times longer lifespan. I know that CF bulbs have now progressed, and get about the lifespan claimed, but it makes me a bit skeptical of new bulbs. Twenty years from now, if these things are still burning bright in households across America, then I will check my skepticism.

      • by vlm ( 69642 )

        That kind of bulb dies mostly because of heat. Its (degrees above room temp) * (years of operation) thats constant, not (years of operation), in my experience.

        In my chilly basement workshop, zero LED fails. outside unvented fixture, they fail, and only fail during summer.

        Thats the problem with your 18 year suggestion for all bulbs, the bulbs over your kitchen stove etc are not going to last 1/10th as long as the LED bulb in your fridge.

    • A guarantee would be nice. But I've got some CFLs with an 8 year guarantee. It's right there on the package:

      *Limted Warranty: Guaranteed to last 8 years based on rated life at 4 hours consumer use per day at 120V. If this bulb (sic) does not last 8 years, return UPC and register receipt [to GE]

      I can think of at least 2 problems in pursuing that claim. I might be more diligent keeping the receipt and packaging with a $20 lamp, but probably not.

      • by mark-t ( 151149 ) <markt@nerdfl[ ]com ['at.' in gap]> on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @03:51PM (#39714889) Journal

        A number of years ago... I don't recall when. Maybe around 2005 or so, I tried claiming a replacement on a CFL once that came with an alleged 2 year guarantee when it lasted only something like 2 months.

        The replacement policy required the original receipt... no photocopies or duplicates... and I had to send the bulb I had purchased, along with the receipt I had for it to the manufacturer myself, all at my own expense.

        This was problematic for three reasons. The first was that I would not be able to claim any warranty at all on the replacement bulb.... if it was faulty and burned out within 20 minutes of my plugging it in, I'd be SOL. Even the store where I had bought it from would have allowed me an immediate over-the-counter replacement in such a circumstance.

        The second factor was that actually sending them the bulb in a box, with postage, worked out to almost as much as buying a brand new light bulb.

        Finally, in my case, the receipt had many other items on it... including other bulbs. If I sent them the entire receipt just to replace this one bulb, if another one went, I'd have no receipt to send them anymore... in addition to being unable to prove my date of purchase for any other items on the bill.

        I came to conclusion then and there that that their guarantees are just a scam to get you buy their bulbs.

  • 20 years? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by residieu ( 577863 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @01:55PM (#39713015)
    Hopefully it comes closer to these claims than the CFLs, which claimed 5 year lives, but often failed within a few weeks.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @01:56PM (#39713029)

    Philips AmberLEDs i bought for $20 each from home depot. In some areas they are now $15. Awesome light color and brightness. When they first went on sale they were $50-$60 each. now they are $20. Wait for a year and the pricing of these will also drop to $15-$20 making them affordable.

  • by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @02:02PM (#39713103) Homepage

    In my experience CFLs last no longer than incandescents. Why should I believe that these claims about LEDs are not also lies?

  • Good for some... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheCarp ( 96830 ) <sjc@carpanet.PERIODnet minus punct> on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @02:02PM (#39713121) Homepage

    I wont be buying any though....well maybe a few as a stop-gap but, not many.

    I have been getting RGB LED strips, and looking to totally replace the house lighting. Part of the problem here is the "bulb". Yes, if you stick to a bulb form factor, and be backwards compartible, it can be hard to get enough light from LEDs, and expensive to build out etc.

    However, bulbs were just the first invention....what makes that form factor so superior except for backwards compatibility?

    I am looking at long strips, more like flourecent tube fixtures than bulbs. Can use many cheaper LEDs instead of a few expensive big ones... can use RBG LEDs and thus be able to change colors, or even white temp.

    Of course, the stips are cheap pre-made, cheaper than I can find the LEDs on them in fact (cheapest price for 1000 in bulk was more expensive per LED than buying strips of 150 at a time) and the strips have limiting resistors, which are a major source of power loss (would be better to drop the resistor and use a constant current circuit.... but having to desolder or jumper smd resistors on each and every segment of the strip defeats the purpose of buying strips to make it easy)

    Still though.... at $60/bulb.... ouch. and...its still just a bulb... with a single light color?

  • Made in USA (Score:5, Informative)

    by b0bby ( 201198 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @02:11PM (#39713263)

    This article doesn't mention it, but part of the increased cost is the fact that the parts are made in CA & they are assembled in WI. So you're going to pay more for them compared to the same thing from China. And these seem pretty advanced, so you may not be able to buy an equivalent yet. Certainly, if I see them subsidized, I'll pick up a few.

  • For what my anecdotal account is worth, I'm completely satisfied with my CFLs. I've had nothing but CFLs in my house since about '04 and have only had to replace a half-dozen or so.

    The energy savings justified the cost of the switch from incandescent bulbs to CFLs. Going from CFLs to LEDs, it isn't even close.

  • by negativeduck ( 2510256 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @02:16PM (#39713353)

    I mean really, you can't drive adoption with a $60 bulb. Most people at the store going I've got 3 bulbs out are going to go "hrm $15 dollars or $180" Which do you think they are going to pick?

    I'd love to know the Margins on this.

  • by Hamsterdan ( 815291 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @02:17PM (#39713365)

    Since you can get el-cheapo incandescents at around 50 cents each, I've changed maybe 3-4 in the last 10 years, no thanks...

    Can they be dimmed using a *standard* inexpensive dimmer? Besides, aren't some LEDs very narrow in their color range (and too cold too)? []

  • by pesho ( 843750 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @02:18PM (#39713393)

    How is the Phillips $60 light bulb different than this $15 bulb []?

    Oh, and there are already complaints on the home depot site that it causes radio interference.

  • by MetalliQaZ ( 539913 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @02:22PM (#39713477)

    Then they can keep it.

    I don't understand why everyone is/was so excited about CFLs. When they broke into the mainstream a few years ago, they were more expensive but were long lasting and energy efficient -- at least, that's what we were told. I have owned many, and ALL of them have died prematurely. Sometimes an entire package will be dead within a few weeks of purchase. Who in their right mind pays for such garbage? The carbon footprint of making and then throwing them away must be far larger than the savings in electricity. Also they are slower to light up than the good old fashioned bulbs. Why does nobody admit that?

    So, do these new light bulbs come with a 20 year replacement warranty? If not, there's NO FRICKIN' WAY I would buy it. Also, I'm not convinced that these new bulbs actually make the same light. I'll wait until I've seen it in person.


  • by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @02:22PM (#39713493)

    They claim a 20 year lifetime at 4 hours/day, but how bright will it be after 20 years? LED's reduce their light output over time, and the end of life is based on some loss of brightness (30% loss?), so that 60 watt bulb may be more like a 40 watt bulb by the end of its lifetime. And based on previous LED lights I've seen, I'm skeptical that it's really equivalent in brightness to a 60 watt incandescent bulb in the first place.

  • by future assassin ( 639396 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @02:27PM (#39713575) Homepage

    How are they gonna make money when eventually everyone has one of these and it takes 20 years for it to die...

  • by Remus Shepherd ( 32833 ) <> on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @02:40PM (#39713787) Homepage

    With the various types of lightbulbs on the market these days, I put together some simple rules for buying them:

    1. Lights that are left on for long periods of time -- CFLs. CFLs last a long time if they are not constantly switched on and off, and they offer the best brightness and cost effectiveness. Nightlights, and my living room and kitchen lights, are all CFLs. They have lasted for years. The nightlight in my kitchen is on 24 hours a day, and I just changed it after 5 years of constant use. The trick to making CFLs last is to never turn them off.

    2. Lights that need to be turned on and off frequently -- LEDs. The lifetime of CFLs is limited by how often you switch them on and off. If you need to switch a light often but don't care if it's a little dim, put an LED there. (LEDs are dimmer than other types of lights.) My bedroom and basement/laundry lights are LEDs.

    3. Lights that need to be bright and/or that need to light up right away -- Incandescents. Yes, I still have incandescents in my bathroom and on my porch. Both locations need light that is brighter than LEDs can put out, and the light needs to come on immediately which CFLs are poor at doing. If I used either LEDs or CFLs in those spots there would be times when I would be stumbling around in dim light in a dangerous area.

    • 3. Lights that need to be bright and/or that need to light up right away -- Incandescents. Yes, I still have incandescents in my bathroom and on my porch. Both locations need light that is brighter than LEDs can put out, and the light needs to come on immediately which CFLs are poor at doing. If I used either LEDs or CFLs in those spots there would be times when I would be stumbling around in dim light in a dangerous area.

      I haven't yet had an opportunity to use LED household light bulbs, but this sounds s

  • I switched to using leds quite early (not Philips), and while the energy saving is definitely worth it I've had one die on me and another if flickering occationally.

    The issue seems to be the electronics rather than the leds themselves. And while I do plan to buy leds in the future as well I think it's premature to assume the 20 year figure will hold. Time will tell.

  • by steveha ( 103154 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @03:01PM (#39714077) Homepage

    If I am spending my own money, I'd be tempted to just get this one: []

    I wonder what the differences are? Maybe the $25 one is assembled in China?


  • by WaffleMonster ( 969671 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @03:08PM (#39714207)

    From what I can tell big difference they are using phosphor codings to correct the normally crappy led spectrum.

    Spectrum looks very clean but still a small spike around blue/purple. []

    Still think I'm going to skip leds and save up for quantum dots and carbon nano tube lighting.

Houston, Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed. -- Neil Armstrong