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Summary:

Standard-household-sized LED bulbs have long raised a common complaint: They don’t dim easily. Yeah, some can be dimmed by controlling the current instead of the voltage, or by making them flicker at high speeds undetectable by the human eye, but homeowners can’t just plug them into […]

Lemnis_Pharox_PICStandard-household-sized LED bulbs have long raised a common complaint: They don’t dim easily. Yeah, some can be dimmed by controlling the current instead of the voltage, or by making them flicker at high speeds undetectable by the human eye, but homeowners can’t just plug them into their normal light sockets and expect their dimmers to work. But that looks to be changing, with the launch of an LED bulb to replace a standard 60-watt incandescent bulb from Netherlands-based Lemnis Lighting on Friday.

The company claims the bulb, called Pharox60, is up to 90 percent more energy-efficient — and lasts up to 25 times longer — than an incandescent bulb, and six times longer than a compact fluorescent bulb, with an estimated 25-year lifespan. According to the press announcement, the bulb features “technologically advanced” dimming capabilities, and a warm, soft glow, and is made of non-toxic materials than can be recycled with other metals and glass.

The company hopes the bulb will help it reach its commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative to distribute 10 million LED bulbs globally by the end of next year. The company also is partnering with the initiative to provide LEDs to U.S. cities.

Other dimmable LED bulbs – for applications like track and down lighting – have come out earlier this year from companies like EarthLED. But the arrival of dimmable LED bulbs that can act as plug-and-play replacements for standard-household-sized incandescents could open a potentially huge market, especially once the sale of incandescent bulbs starts phasing out in 2014. The bulb could have the greatest impact in existing homes, as these bulbs don’t require any building conversion, and other options already exist for new buildings under construction or ones that are being remodeled.

But with such an attractive market at stake, Lemnis is bound to see competition coming up fast. The $39.95 price tag will also be a deterrent for most customers, no matter how warm and soft the Pharox60′s glow is. Incandescent bulbs cost less than $1 each (33 cents per bulb at Home Depot) and dimmable compact fluorescent lights are available for less than $5 each (although some cost as much as $13 each). In the recession, it’s unclear how many buyers will feel the cost is worth it, even with the much longer lifespan and the electricity savings.

  1. LEDs use approximately half the power as CFLs for an equal amount of light.

    CFLs go on sale around here for $0.50 each 2-3 times a year thanks to utility company subsidies.

    It’s good to see the cost of LEDs coming down, but until they get a lot less expensive it would be hard to justify them on a cost basis. I can buy six CFLs for $3 vs. this LED at $40.

    Using one of these LEDs four hours per day would use less than $1 in electricity in a year than would a CFL. You would save about $23 in 25 years. In other words, you won’t get your money back and you’ll have to pay the largest amount up front (think lost earnings opportunity).

    Then there’s the problem of directionality. They aren’t a good replacement for the typical table lamp.

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  2. What we need most is some helpful consumer information to sort out the hype from the reality. I’ve been burned many times recently purchasing CFLs that buzz in my fixtures, are not as warm as others of the same “color” (warm white rarely is), The same has been true of a couple of LEDs I’ve bought (weak, bluish light). To aid adoption among people who have thus been disappointed, we need a required, standardized label that would show total lumens, lumens per watt, specific kelvin rating with color description (e.g. 2700k “warm white”), CRI (color rendering index, look it up), directionality (beam angle), dimmability, and if possible some way to tell if it’s compatible with older wiring, perhaps. (Some CFLs buzz in my house, some don’t).

    All this would in my opinion greatly aid adoption, and avoid an incandescent backlash. I myself will never recoup my investment in CFLs given how many I’ve had to throw out just in the last couple of years, and I don’t want to do this with LEDs.

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  3. Surprisingly (at least to me) this thing comes out pretty good when plugged into a total cost calculator. http://www.yourmoneypage.com/energy/lightbulb.php

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  4. It’s going to depend on the numbers you use.

    If I use what I would pay ($0.50 for a CFL, 10,000 hours bulb life, four hours per day, CA electricity price of $0.1523 per kWh) the LED never comes out better. And as far as I can tell the calculator doesn’t include the cost of spending the $40 up front.

    If you live in Alaska, and pay $5 for the bulb, pay $0.1751 kWh, and average 12 hours of use a day then the LED moves ahead after 65 months.

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  5. It’s not hard to dim LEDs. The main problem (other than the cost) is the form-factor, as LEDs are quite directional but we are used to omni-glowing bulbs. Life would also be easier (and cheaper) for LEDs if we had DC wired in our homes.

    I’d normally agree that LEDs can’t compete with CFLs price-wise, but I’ve NEVER had a CFL actually last the 8,000-10,000 hours that they are supposed to. They seem to burn out nearly as fast as the incandescents. What a rip-off! LEDs routinely last 50,000-100,000 hours.

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  6. Quality of CFLs differs across manufacturers. There are some inferior products on the market which do have lower life spans. Testing of major brand CFLs confirms long life spans.

    I’ve been using CFLs for 15+ years and have yet have one burn out. Just a warning, if you contain them in a fixture where they are unable to shed heat their life probably will be shortened.

    If, for example, you are sticking them in a ceiling can with a front lens you are likely cooking your CFLs to death.

    As for dimming, perhaps that’s a big issue for a few people, but I suspect it might be a red herring. I deal with dimming by just turning off a light or two.

    LEDs someday. When their price justifies. I have to say that I am totally sold on LED flashlights. I use my LED flashlight every day, change batteries about once a year, and the bulb doesn’t break when the flashlight gets dropped.

    Right now LEDs make major sense in places where changing the bulb is expensive (traffic lights, some commercial applications, but for home use if you buy bulbs that last for years and years and it takes only a couple of minutes to screw a new bulb into your table lamp….

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  7. Tommy Rowlett Monday, November 2, 2009

    The current crop of “60 watt replacement” LED bulbs do not give out the same amount of light as a 60 watt bulb. Far from it. Depending on who you ask a 60 watt bulb puts out 800 to 1500 lumens. The bulb in this article puts out 330 lumens. That’s 1/3 to 1/5 as much light. I’m not going to be comfortable slicing things in the kitchen using 1/3 the light I need. So I’d have to install another 8 cans in the kitchen to get equal the amount of light.

    At triple the stated cost and triple the energy to 18 watts that pushes the payback for me from the 51st month out to the 192nd month. That’s almost 16 years! And that doesn’t include the cost of having someone out to install the 8 additional cans.

    It just doesn’t add up.

    The cost has to come way down. Maybe at 1/3 their current price they’d be worth it.

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  8. [...] onto the market. This morning GE announced its latest bulb, and late last year Netherlands-based Lemnis Lighting announced its LED bulb that can replace a 60-watt incandescent. But the rub — both of these LED bulbs cost around [...]

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  9. [...] LED bulb could last up to six times longer than a typical compact fluorescent bulb. Lemnis even introduced a dimmable version in [...]

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  10. [...] currently sells its bulb for between $40 and $50 and launched a dimmable version in October that lasts for 36,000 hours (or 25 years at 4 hours per day), is 90 percent more [...]

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