Blog Post

GE Unveils LED Bulb to Replace Incandescents: Lasts 17 Years But Costs $50

Stay on Top of Enterprise Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!

A new way of thinking about light bulbs — that’s what it’ll take for General Electric’s (s GE) new LED bulb to gain traction with consumers. GE announced this morning that it will start selling an LED bulb by the end of 2010 or in early 2011 that can replace a 40-watt incandescent bulb, but consumes just 9-watts, lasts 17 years (at four hours a day), and will cost between $40 and $50 at retailers.

If consumers are ready to start thinking about the big picture of lighting, the LED bulb could be a deal. It can provide 77 percent energy savings and last 25 times longer than an incandescent bulb. It can also fit into a standard incandescent socket, which is important, because having to buy both LED bulbs and fixtures has been one of the barriers to convincing consumers to buy LEDs. On top of that, the bulb provides 450 lumens, compared to most LED bulbs which commonly produce 350 lumens or less.

But there’s that price point that plagues the LED market. Say you buy an incandescent bulb for between 50 cents and $1 — GE’s LED bulb could cost 50 to 100 times that. You can buy a GE compact fluorescent bulb, or CFL — a bulb that is more efficient than an incandescent — for about $4, which would still cost 10 times less than the LED bulb. The cost still needs to come down for LED bulbs to convince an average consumer.

The lighting market will ultimately move completely to CFLs and LED for lighting, and governments and companies throughout the world have been phasing out incandescents and recently Toshiba was the latest company to cease incandescent production. The U.S. will be phasing out incandescents starting in 2012.

There’s been some innovation in the lighting space from startups, but it’s mostly been focused on the commercial and industrial lighting market which are willing to factor in energy savings over the long term. I’ve been waiting for Silicon Valley startup Superbulbs, which, like GE’s new product, makes LED light bulbs that look and act like traditional incandescent bulbs, to start selling. CREE (a public company but an LED innovator) is providing the LED chip for GE’s new LED bulb.

15 Responses to “GE Unveils LED Bulb to Replace Incandescents: Lasts 17 Years But Costs $50”

  1. These will cost around $50!

    I’ve been using 9 watt CFLs all over my house for years. They last me 2-5 years depending how often they get turned on & off. The one above the stairs where there’s no windows has been burning continuously 24/7 for almost 8 years. The 4100k-5600K color temperature 9 watt CFLs (pure white to daylight in color) are about as bright as a 75 watt incandescent bulb. They cost $4-$6. The 2700K 9 watt CFLs (The most common, about the slight yellowish tint of a normal incandescent bulb) are as bright as a 60 watt bulb, & cost $1-$2.

  2. Over time the cost will come down. Cree has been the leader so far in LED technology. Their stock continues to climb like crazy. As far as CFL bulbs, Im not sure why I hear some people complain about their durability. I have approximately 2 dozen that are about 3 years old and I havent lost one yet. Stick with a quality manufacturer(not chinese) and locate them where they wont see any vibration and also dont cycle them on and off frequently.

  3. I’m looking forward to LED lamps, but the specs for this GE product has a 40-watt output while consuming 9? Doesn’t a 40-watt CFL offer the same performance?

  4. Beurl Gruth

    It seems we are being forced in a way to go green. The utility company has to charge a relatively fixed value and when we all start saving money, they raise their rates? I’ve seen it happen around here, after alot of people switched from “incandescent” to “CFL” bulbs, the rates went up 30%. So in other words, if you don’t go green, you will loose big time money. Time to go green, which is a good thing.

  5. DanceRainbow

    I’m sure competions will be heating up with Household LED lighting/lightbulbs, driving prices much further down, to probably 1/4 of what they are now. If your thrifty, you can probably make something homemade by buying several $1 led 3V flashlights (that have multiple bright white led’s) and hooking them up in series to a DC power supply, just increase the voltage by 3V for every bulb set used. Lot’s of ideas, to think about, maby even have some solar powered with a battery backup.

  6. Last month we bought some Chinese made LED replacements for the abysmal CFL we have been so upset with (lousy life due to lousy ballasts). The price was 3-5 dollars for the smaller, which will go to batteries of vanity lights. I selected a single reader which has proven both bright (350 lmn) and wide beamed enough to be no problem. The price? about $15. WE must wait to see the actual lifetime proven for these, but remember they are not hazardous waste and are equal to CFL in price and yet more efficient of output per watt. So it can not be worse unless it’s really bad.

    We bought them in a large electronics supershop. They were not advertised in the flyers. So much for rushing to meet market demands ey? P.S. they also stocked the brand in small base screw in and in both 2 prong and open line formats for replacing those extra-hot hallogen spotlamps. Company says watch for them on Amazon.

  7. Adit Singh

    In addition to the issues Katie discussed, this doesn’t even comply with the form-factor of the common incandescent bulb. Goes to show how big an issue cooling these bulbs is. The heat sink is about 3/4 of the size which causes the light to be directed.