When Cree dropped a bombshell in March (a sub-$10 LED lamp), Philips had to respond. They promised it by the end of the year. It didn’t quite break the $10 barrier, sure. An instant rebate now got me an 8 Watt LED (40W in incandescents) for just under that mental barrier. $10 now got me 32 more negawatts.
Who doesn’t like the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007? People who can’t do math. Idiots who don’t get TCO (Total Cost of Ownership). The LED’s about $9 more than an incandescent, sure. But it’s built for a 20,000+ hour life, versus ~1000 hr incandescents. You’d buy ~$19 in new bulbs versus one LED. Meanwhile, at 8W you save $4.20 a year vs. 40W incandescents (assuming 3 hrs a day, at the US average 12¢ a kW-hour). Thus, power-bill savings alone will pay off sometime in year 3. Will pay off- the warranty is 6 years.
It’s a no-brainer, folks. Now combine its power savings with no replacements, and in its 6 years, it saves over 30 bucks- $6.50 in replacements, $25.20 in juice.
Again, I’m not counting the savings in air conditioning, from shedding 32 Watts of wasted power. Nor am I counting the labor of having to change incandescents 19 times over. Nor am I counting any bonus electricity beyond the 6-year warranty. Those who run a lamp more than three hours a day will haul in the savings even more dramatically. Who doesn’t like efficient lamps now?
LEDs are still better than compact fluorescents, though the difference is nowhere near as gaping. An LED is marginally more power efficient, and longer-lasting by a factor of around two. That’s two in the ideal locations, though. Fluorescents don’t like vibration, or high heat and cold, or cycling (e. g., bathrooms, hallways, closets, etc.). LEDs, on the other hand, are completely solid state. They can survive vibration even better than an incandescent, and on paper a good LED should handle cycling even better than an incandescent as well. In some places an LED would then beat a CFL by a bigger margin. LEDs turn on instantly, even faster than incandescents. Neither the Philips nor the Cree have any hum I can hear, though like fluorescents they shouldn’t be installed anywhere too hot (including tight fixtures, without cooling airflow). This Philips claims it can handle dampness, so bathrooms should be a no-brainer.
Still, I’m saving my receipt just in case. If my unit somehow fails before three years, I’m still certain- entitled, in fact- to save compared to three or so incandescents. That money would simply come out of Philips’ pocket, not mine. For that reason, I’m also starting with the 40W-replacements, not the higher-powered ones just yet. Since heat is what often kills an LED, small models are easier to design and build than bigger, hotter ones. I put more engineering confidence that right now, a “*40W” LED will last 6-22 years than a “*60W” one. We’ll see how the reviews and test reports go.
You might not like this lamp- Cree’s competing LED still beats it. Cree’s 40W-equivalent uses only 6 Watts, while costing less upfront, too. The warranty is longer, and Cree has them “assembled in USA,” however you count that. On the other hand, I have a fixture that happens to work with Philips’ “sno cone” shape. They’re both “warm white” (2700K spectrum, slightly reddish), so that’s not a factor.
Neither lamp makes my skin, clothes, decor, etc. look weird… though once again, I’m a guy and I don’t really care about such things. I’m a guy who rides a motorcycle; my skin, clothes, house, etc. might be weird already. There are other LEDs with different white balances/color spectra if you care about that. For that matter, combining LEDs from different manufacturers may work by itself. Odds are that two models from two manufacturers would contain different source LEDs, and different phosphors to do their white balance. Each model would then fill in peaks and valleys in each others’ spectra.
The takeaway, here, is that the future is here. Still. A competitive segment exists for lamps that not only beat incandescents, but beat them into the ground, clearly and obviously. The future is still coming. Philips has promised an even cheaper LED model (beating Cree outright), soon. Incandescents will then be totally and utterly beaten into the ground.
I’m a guy who doesn’t fear the future. What’s weird is opposing efficient lighting.