Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Markets in Everything: A New 19 Year Light Bulb

Panasonic is touting a new LED bulb that will last a whopping 19 years. Can you imagine putting new bulbs in your infant’s room and not having to change them until they’re already in college? What’s even better is that this 60-watt equivalent bulb will only cost around $3 per year (as opposed to around $26 for a standard incandescent bulb) to operate. Even at $40 a pop, these things will definitely pay for themselves in the long-run. Unfortunately they’ve only been announced for Japan, hopefully we’ll be getting them over here before long.


At 9/16/2009 8:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

$40 a pop? I can't wait until the competitive market we get from capitalism brings them down in price.

At 9/16/2009 8:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How much mercury is in them?

At 9/16/2009 8:58 AM, Anonymous Rand said...

Since it is LED technology and not CF, it probably does not suffer from the two faults found in most CF bulbs.

1. Slow "warm up" - they take a while to get to full brightness.

2. Potential for mercury contamination.

We have seen LED technology in small flashlights for years. Now it is starting to show up in full size light bulbs and even in automotive headlights.

Another advantage of LED technology is that it is even more efficient in converting electricity to light than are fluorescent bulbs.

At 9/16/2009 9:36 AM, Anonymous Eben said...

I'm all well and good with new light bulbs but all the LED lights I see have a blue tinge to them which I can't stand, will these?

At 9/16/2009 9:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but I was taken for a ride on CF bulbs making the same claim. I replaced every light bulb we had in our old house with a CF bulb and maintained that for about 2 years of listening to my wife complain about the lower light levels.

The CF bulbs lasted NO longer than regular bulbs, and I saw no appreciable difference in our electricity bill.

Maybe these new LED bulbs are as wonderful as they say, but I can replace a lot of incandescent bulbs for $40.

At 9/16/2009 9:46 AM, Blogger threecollie said...

I want them. We have LED flashlights and two D-cell batteries last a year or more in them...with them in constant use.

At 9/16/2009 10:42 AM, Blogger misterjosh said...

I got some LED lightbulbs from Costco for my entry way, and they suck. One popped and died, and when I replaced it I noticed that the older bulbs (3 months or so) had faded immensely compared to the fresh bulb.

LEDs might be good for nightlights or flashlights, but I don't recommend them for home lighting.

At 9/16/2009 10:42 AM, Anonymous Rand said...

$40 a pop? I can't wait until the competitive market we get from capitalism brings them down in price.

I predict that the price will be halved within five years.

At 9/16/2009 12:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw no appreciable difference in our electricity bill.

That's because electric lighting is a small fraction of your electricity usage. Most of it goes to HVAC. Claims that you'll save money rely on far too long a recovery period and assume far more of your electricity use is lighting that is actually the case.

At 9/16/2009 12:54 PM, Anonymous Benny The Free Man said...

These new bulbs are great.
For homes, maybe lighting is not too important.
Hotels spend up to 60 percent of their electrical bill on lighting. Imagine what LED means to them.
Imagine every street light in America going to LED.
The newer-gen cfl bulbs are brighter and getting better all the time.

At 9/16/2009 1:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

randian has it correctly about the main component of electric bills. The second component is refrigeration if you have an old fridge in the basement it is costing a lot. A 100 watt incandescent run 6 hours a day takes about 18 kwh/month or about $1.80 a 25 watt cfl would take about 5 or $.50. So it would be hard to see. It is over bulb lifetimes that the difference becomes significant. In particular look at lights on timers as ideal candidates for these lights when they become cheaper. The trick is that a lot of little things can mount up when added.

At 9/16/2009 2:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And how long before the utilities raise their rates because of falling revenue?

At 9/16/2009 3:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To answer the rate question, it first depends on the regulatory system in place. In California the answer is never since the system is designed to encourage conservation.
IN a traditional regulatory environment it goes both ways, you need to build less power plants, but have less revenue.
In a seperate generation and distribution environment, then the reduced costs go for the energy componet 80% while the costs of the distribution system need to be shared over less usage.

At 9/16/2009 3:37 PM, Blogger KO said...

Traffic lights are being converted to LEDs. One of the lights in the unit is on 24 hours a day so the electrical savings is substantial. Plus they save on labor to replace the bulbs 3 or 4 times as often or whatever the multiple is. It easily makes up for the startup costs.

For home use, LEDs are not quite worth it yet. I did a payback calc on LEDs when the CFL post came up. CFLs are in single digit years for reasonably high usage lights. At $40, it'd take about 10 years for a 12 hours/day LED to break even. For 8 hours/day usage, it's over 15 years.

Cut the $40 in half and then we're getting somewhere.

At 9/16/2009 4:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gee, may be if Obama had one of these lights he could cut health care spending....Suppose we put all the lights in hospitals and doctors offices and use the savings for the President' health care plan...Yeah....Geniuses

At 9/16/2009 5:16 PM, Blogger QT said...


Low pressure sodium has efficacy of over 200 lumens per watt. Additionally, the capital cost must be factored in. Chances are that you will not see this anytime soon. Signalization is seeing LED technology but this is supplanting incandescent technology not LPS.


The colour temperature on this bulb is 6,000 kelvin. A daylight CFL is 5,000 kelvin where as warm white is about 3500 kelvin if memory serves me correctly. This LED light bulb will definitely be a very blue light although colour rendering tends to be better than fluorescent.

As Anon. has observed, LED also fades as the bulb ages. Note also that rated life is an average not a guarantee.


A couple more disadvantages to CFLs. Lower light transmission in cold temperatures. Premature lamp failure when used in enclosed fixtures. The spiral jobs are the worst of CFL technology building the ballast into each light bulb rather than into the efficient is that?

At 9/16/2009 9:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, this is a transformative product if you think of design possibilities different than the traditional bulb, and in places where you don't have light now. Also expect to see significant signage changes beyond those that have already happened.

Have a client that does high end lighting here and in Europe.

LED technology is hot and cool.

At 9/16/2009 10:00 PM, Blogger QT said...


I agree with you on LED. There is phenominal potential here which we will see develop in the next few years. The real innovations will come in fixtures and ballast technology as well as lamp or bulb design.

Replacements for the "A" type incandescent bulb will not be where the big technological shifts will occur.

At 9/17/2009 9:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is another product that is transformative lurking in the woodwork the OLED panel. No fixture needed , just hang the lite source on the wall like a picture.
However while both may be transformative in a design sense, it will be at least 20 years before a significant impact is made as lighting appliances have long life times, and with the new frugality, it will be hard to show the cost effectivness of a new fixture versus a led device in a bulb form factor

At 9/21/2009 10:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A 60W new "green" CF light < 60W of old incandescent light. I'm still a skeptic for indoor lighting, but I do appreciate not having to replace outdoor lights as often even if they are a little dimmer.


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