Green

Cree’s new hyper-efficient light bulb may still be too expensive

cree led l prize

Cree unveiled a new light-emitting diode (LED) light bulb that boasts the same output as a 75-watt incandescent bulb while consuming about one tenth of the electricity.

The bulb produces 152 lumens — a measure of the visible light emitted by a bulb — per watt of electricity consumed, while a typical incandescent bulb only generates around 14.6 lumens per watt. The new bulb, producing around 1,300 lumens using Cree’s new “TrueWhite” technology, exceeds the performance goals set by the U.S. Department of Energy’s L Prize competition.

Should the new bulbs make it to the larger market, they could reduce energy usage in the United States by 16.5 percent, the company said. But that’s a bold claim, given the very high price tags that most LED light bulbs carry. Cree did not indicate how much the new light bulb would cost.

In general, LED lighting is still much too expensive for typical consumers based on cost-per-lumen production, Lux Research analyst Murray McCutcheon told VentureBeat. LED lighting cost around $18 per kilolumen produced, while incandescent bulbs were around $2.20 per kilolumen. LED lighting bulbs probably won’t reach that point until 2015, he said.

“LEDs will gain their first traction in the government and some commercial buildings, because of the longer return on investment and payback horizons,” McCutcheon said. “However we see no in-roads into the residential market until 2020 because the payback period residential consumers demand is 2 years.”

LED lighting providers like Cree should capture around 30 percent of the commercial lighting market by 2015. But LED lighting won’t even crack the residential markets until around 2020, when it will have an opportunity to capture around 40 percent of the market, McCutcheon said.