Folks, we have a winner. In the ultimate battle of the bulbs, Philips has won the L Prize, also known as the Department of Energy’s Bright Tomorrow Lighting Prize. Philips won with an LED bulb that replaces the 60-watt incandescent bulb. The LEDs will be in stores in early 2012, says Silvie Casanova, a Philips spokesperson.
To win, Philips had to design a bulb that met very high standards and the result is a dimmable LED that uses 10 watts of electricity, emits a soft, warm color, diffuses light evenly, and is brighter than a typical incandescent bulb. The LED must also be highly accurate in revealing the colors of objects and skin tones, and be bright enough to use for more than 25,000 hours—that’s more than 22 years if used three hours a day. In lightbulb lingo, the Philips LED produces over 900 lumens, has a color temperature of 2700 Kelvin, and a Color Rendering Index of 90 or more. Independent labs evaluated the bulbs and field-testing was extensive. More than1,300 of these LEDs were installed in sites across the country and assessments were done by utility and energy-efficiency organizations.
This is the first government-sponsored competition to fast-track efforts to find replacements for two of the most widely used inefficient bulbs, the 60-watt incandescent and the PAR 38 halogen bulb. Philips is the only manufacturer to submit a bulb for the 60-watt category; GE and Lighting Sciences Group have sent letters of intent. The DOE’s website states the agency will evaluate up to two more entrants. All L Prize winners are eligible for promotions with DOE partners, including utility companies, but only Philips claims the $10 million cash prize.
Philips hasn’t released the price of its prize-winning bulb, but the DOE’s original guidelines said the winning LED should sell for about $22 at first, with rebates and other incentives factored in, then drop significantly in the following years.
Next month Consumer Reports will release its first ever test of LEDs. Because it wasn’t for sale at the time of our testing, this particular Philips bulb wasn’t included but we will have Ratings of 10 LEDs and 26 compact fluorescents that are 60-watt equivalents.