The Best LED Bulb

by Matt Bushey, August 11, 2011

In 2008, the U.S. Department of Energy opened a competition for the best LED replacement light bulb.  It had to be super-efficient, using less than 10 watts, last for over 25,000 hours (that’s 17 years of using it 4 hours a day) and produce a warm, high quality light that is comparable to incandescent sources (less than 3000K and greater than 90 CRI, for those of you keeping score.)
The winner walks away with a $10 million cash prize.

The competition is known as the L-Prize, and its intent is to encourage the lighting industry to develop high-quality, low-energy LED bulbs to replace the common incandescent, scheduled to be phased-out starting next year.  For the past 18 months, the DOE has been conducting vigorous product testing (on its sole applicant), and last week they announced the big winner: Philips Lighting.
The winning bulb has a very cool form factor.  Dark yellow when off, the bulb glows a bright white when turned on.  The metal grooves along the shaft serve as a heat sink, keeping this cool-looking bulb running cool as well.
A year ago, we named the Philips EnduraLED light bulb as one of our top five green products.  At the time, the EnduraLED used 7 watts and was a replacement for a 25 watt incandescent, with a CRI of 80.  Now, a year later, the L-prize winner is better and brighter, providing enough light to replace a standard 60 watt incandescent while using only 9.7 watts of electricity.  Best of all, the quality of light is much improved, with a Color Rendering Index (CRI) value of 93.  That means it will look and feel like the standard incandescent bulb we all know and love.
The new Philips LED is expected to be on store shelves in early 2012.   Start saving your pennies, because the price is reportedly going to be $39.95.

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