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 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.