As Lights Dim on Incandescents, LEDs Twinkle Brighter


The days of cheap, incandescents are coming to an end. While many green-holiday gift givers are handing compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) to their unenlightened friends and family, the real future is in light-emitting diodes (LEDs), despite some of fluorescents recent successes. LEDs are even more energy efficient than CFLs and could replace everything from your bedside reading light to your laptop screen.

Last week two lighting companies raised millions. Light-emitting capacitor (LEC) maker CeeLite pulled in $4 million in private equity for their paper-thin luminous plastic sheets. LED maker Element Labs raised $12.7 million in Series B funding for their gigantic LED displays.


The world’s lighting giants are in a scramble to acquire LED companies. Philips, the world’s largest producer of light bulbs, has purchased a number of LED companies, most recently acquiring Genlyte for $2.7 billion. This is a direct threat to General Electric, North America’s largest light bulb maker, who has been shrinking their incandescent manufacturing and was rumored to be eying LED maker Cree.

In five years cheap, inefficient incandescent bulbs will be illegal as mandated by the recently inked Energy Bill. It’s estimated that the switch from incandescents to CFLs will save $40 billion and 50 million tons of carbon emissions. While this will surely help CFL sales, in five years LEDs could make big strides in snapping up a big part of this shifting market share. While some say the Energy Bill is just putting on paper an existing trend, the flux in the lighting industry will allow next generation lighting startups to shine and see new products roll out from established lighting giants.

Here’s quick rundown of Earth2Tech coverage of next-gen light makers:

Light comparison data from


A Siegel

While a serious supporter of moving toward (ASAP) high-efficiency lighting and with LEDs in my own home, the chart is somewhat misleading.

There are very few parts of America where a $0.23 per kwh rate is in effect. The US average is $0.095 (loaded, with T&D charges), or about 40% of the price used in this lighting comparison chart. And, the $54.95 for buying a single LED is quite extreme, roughly double (+) what I see out there.

Also, might want to mention that the latest Energy Bill has changed the game when it comes to lighting options.

Jay Parkhill

Looking forward to high-lumen LEDs sooner rather than later. CFLs (like regular fluorescents) give me headaches and my wife migraines.

Jason Morris

Interesting post, Craig. Do you know if there are any recycling issues with LEDs like there with CFLs? The big fear is that people will adopt CFLs and not understand that they contain mercury (or at least that is what I’ve read).

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