Phillips Lighting CEO: Super-efficient light bulb prices will be cut in half by 2017

Wed May 18, 2011 12:31am EDT

The cost of light bulbs that use light-emitting diodes (LED), which are much more efficient than typical incandescent light bulbs, could fall by as much as 50 percent by 2017, said Phillips Lighting chief executive Zia Eftekhar.

LED light bulbs haven’t taken off yet because the price tag per LED bulb can be as high as $50. But the latest generation of light bulbs can generate as much light as a 100-watt incandescent bulb using as little as 14 watts of power. Those LED bulb versions will be out sometime next year. That means consumers can save a lot of money over the life of the LED light — but they still have to pay a lot of money upfront, which can cut out casual buyers.

LED lighting is same technology that powers back-lighting for computer screens and televisions — not like the incandescent light bulbs in traditional light sources like lamps and light fixtures. The technology is expensive, but it is much more energy-efficient than traditional light bulbs. Each LED light bulb can last up to 25 times longer than a typical incandescent bulb.

Businesses also stand to save an enormous amount of money because they are more sensitive to the costs of lighting. There are a number of companies that are also working on a “smart” lighting grid that dynamically distributes lighting where it is needed using a combination of electricity usage monitoring and motion detection. Those companies are trying to make lighting behave like a broadband network of sorts — meaning they can be controlled from a central “router” that can monitor electricity usage and turn off lights that aren’t in use.

Phillips is also releasing a 17-watt LED bulb that can generate as much light as a 75-watt bulb. That bulb will again carry a pretty hefty price tag — between $40 and $45 — and will come out sometime in the fourth quarter this year. Like most other LED bulbs, it will last around 25 times longer than an incandescent light bulb, which means that consumers who pick up the LED light will probably earn back the cost of the bulb in electricity cost and light bulb purchase savings.

Bridgelux, another provider of LED light sources, earlier released an LED-powered light source that cost $20. That’s still quite a bit higher than traditional incandescent light bulbs, though, which cost anywhere from $2 to $10 per bulb. But it’s indicative of the kind of prices LED lighting can reach.

Tags: LED, LED Lighting, light-emitting diode, smart lighting

Companies: BridgeLux, Phillips Lighting