Saturday, March 10, 2012

It Took $10M in Taxpayer-Funded Subsidies To Create $50 "Green" Light Bulb to Replace a $1 Bulb

From the Washington Post:

"The U.S. government last year announced a that it would spend $10 million award of taxpayer money to fund dubbed the “L Prize,” for any manufacturer that could create a “green” but affordable light bulb. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said the prize would spur industry to offer the costly bulbs, known as LEDs, at prices “affordable for American families.” There was also a “Buy America” component. Portions of the bulb would have to be made in the United States.

Now the winning bulb is on the market. The price tag is $50 (currently $60 on eBay). 

Officials added that they are working with utilities to provide rebates for consumers. That could lower the price of the L Prize bulbs. But existing rebates, which max out around $10, are too small to take a big slice out of the $50 price tag. By comparison, the typical 60-watt bulb that it would replace, an old-fashioned energy hog, can cost as little as $1."

MP: For the government to spend $10 million in taxpayer money to create a $50 light bulb to replace a $1 bulb reminds me that only the government could make a common weed (marijuana) illegal and make it artificially more valuable than gold (at least until 2005 when gold was $400 per ounce or less).  

14 Comments:

At 3/10/2012 3:41 PM, Blogger BBL Jr said...

Plus it is very hard to read by the light of marijuana.

 
At 3/10/2012 3:42 PM, Blogger BBL Jr said...

Plus it is very hard to read by the light of marijuana.

 
At 3/10/2012 4:09 PM, Blogger juandos said...

Hmmm, I wonder what the real difference is between this Lighting Science Group/Philips bulb and the LED bulbs that have already been on the market for a couple of years besides the huge difference in price?

Could it be that Lighting Science Group has to cover the costs of the $18.8 Million in Federal Economic Stimulus Bonds?

From the wonderful world of coincidences isn't it kind of interesting is that known Obama bundler Michael Kemper sits on the board of the Lighting Science Group...

 
At 3/10/2012 4:57 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

"...reminds me that only the government could make a common weed (marijuana) illegal and make it artificially more valuable than gold..."

And the government takes a common dirt road, paves it, places stop lights, signs, rules, police, courts, jails, etc. and makes it "artificially more valuable than gold."

 
At 3/10/2012 7:12 PM, Blogger Ironman said...

Would a $50 LED lamp make sense for you? Use this tool to see if it does.

P.S. The default LED data in the tool applies for the 12.5W version of the 60-Watt incandescent light bulb replacement - compared to that version, the 10W winner of the L-Prize most definitely does not make sense!

 
At 3/10/2012 8:09 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Peak: "And the government takes a common dirt road, paves it, places stop lights, signs, rules, police, courts, jails, etc. and makes it "artificially more valuable than gold."

Maybe instead of "valuable", a better word is "costly".

 
At 3/10/2012 8:19 PM, Blogger crj said...

Reminds me of quote by Milton Friedman that "if you put the Government in charge of the Sahara Desert I guarantee they would report a sand shortage within 4 years."

 
At 3/10/2012 9:54 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Ironman,

Thanks for the handy tool. You have made my life easier. I don't usually take the time to do those calculations.

I used the default values left in the tool, but changed estimated usage to 25000 hrs, the estimated lifetime of the LED light bulb, the savings for the LED is significant.

If I use my top marginal rate of $.28/kwh, the savings is spectacular. Maybe these LEDs aren't so bad after all, if they truly last that long.

Thats not even taking into account the time I would spend replacing 25 60w incandescents in that time.

 
At 3/11/2012 8:36 AM, Blogger Rick Parker said...

LED's are now about $25.00 at Home Depot but I still wouldn't buy them except to use it very hard to reach locations like a can light in a 20' ceiling. While an LED may last 25,000 hours that only means that the last diode in the bulb will last that long, all the others have died along the way. I don't know the exact numbers but it may be that 10,000 hours in your 60 watt LED bulb is really only 25 or 30 watts.
I've used Bright White or Daylight color CFLs in my house for the last 7 years. A four pack at Home Depot is about $9.00. I date each bulb with a marker and find that on average each one lasts about 5 years. I'll get my shorts in a knot about the mercury when the Feds start worrying about the billions of 4 and 8 foot florescent bulbs used in commercial buildings that end up in the dump every year.

 
At 3/11/2012 10:42 AM, Blogger Ironman said...

Rick Parker wrote:

While an LED may last 25,000 hours that only means that the last diode in the bulb will last that long, all the others have died along the way.

That's a good point. One thing to balance against it though is that the LED products typically carry three year warranties, as opposed to CFLs and incandescent bulbs, which often have no warranty.

That should give you some indication of how well the LED (or perhaps more accurately, the individual LEDs within each lamp) performs with respect to the alternatives over the lifespan of the alternatives.

 
At 3/11/2012 12:21 PM, Blogger rjs said...

10 million is not that much per bulb usage in the US...

that said, i've got enough cheap bulbs bought to last as long as i will...

 
At 3/12/2012 8:59 AM, Blogger Hydra said...

What is the life cycle cost or an equivalent amount of light, plus the energy used?

The dollar price of the bulbs means nothing.The savings from the bulbs might not men much. I once had a teneant who replaced all the bulbs with enegy saving fluorecents.

She did not realize that the heating ystem was designed to consider the heat given off y the lighting. When she changed bulbs she had to turn the thermostat up.

 
At 3/12/2012 3:21 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"She did not realize that the heating ystem was designed to consider the heat given off y the lighting. When she changed bulbs she had to turn the thermostat up."

Why didn't the automatic thermostat just run the heater longer to make up the difference? Don't tell me you force tenants to suffer with manual controls!

I assume you are referring to a residence, not a large commercial building, so unless you can provide some support for your claim about heating system design, I will continue to believe you made that one up.

And no, I'm not unaware that incandescent bulbs contribute to heating, just as the number of bodies present, cooking, appliances, and other sources of heat do.

The thermostat is designed to shut off the heater at a certain temperature - period. It's irelevant how that temperature is reached.

 
At 3/19/2012 3:00 AM, Blogger Andy said...

$1 seems like a lot. I think I paid something like 40-50 cents for incandescent bulbs before they were banned.

 

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