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In celebration of Earth Day, the LED light bulb that won a $10 million government competition to replace the standard 60-watt incandescent with something more green will go on sale at Home Depot — for $60. Ok, the manufacturer Phillips is “discounting” it to $50. Actually, Phillips claims that it’s working with other organizations to subsidize the bulb in order to get that price down to around $20-$30. But still: Is this cheap enough to encourage you to make the leap?

What sets the Phillips bulb apart from the many cheaper offerings already available is its output. While most LED bulbs deliver significantly less light than “equivalent” incandescents, the Phillips is reportedly pretty much interchangeable with a good ‘ole 60W. The Phillips light isn’t blue-white, either, but instead a more yellowish “warm” light like you’ve come to expect. So if these claims are true, it’s probably a lot easier sell for the family than the ones I’ve tried out, which made my room feel like a dimly-lit hospital.

Bottom line: I’m glad to see these available, and I hope that sooner or later we see them readily available in the $20 range, because that’s my price point. When I can pay $20 for a bulb that’ll (theoretically) last 25,000 hours and actually look pretty decent, I’ll go for it, replacing bulbs as they burn out around the house. But $50 is just way too much for one bulb.

Am I wrong?

Rebates to Cut Price of $60 Light Bulb [PhysOrg]


44 Responses to Would You Pay $60 for an LED Bulb? $30?

  1. Paul Roberts says:

    $25 is the magical number for 60watt comparable $30 for 100watt comparable for me. Switch need to get their bulbs out to public.

  2. Matt says:

    I’d say $25 might do it for me too – I’d love to get the bulbs, but I’ve had too many instances of broken bulbs, lights that don’t work correctly and burn out a bulb prematurely, etc. to feel like spending that much for a single bulb.

    Theoretically it sounds great… practically, I’m not sure!

  3. Frank says:

    Sorry – I would not pay more than $3.99 for a lamp that my .60 cent bulb does.

    • Jerry says:

      I gotta go with Frank. I have had incandescent bulbs last several years and I’ve had CFL’s and LED’s that died within a few weeks of use.
      Energy conservation is an issue I also wonder about. I would question the pollution generated in the manufacture of the new bulbs. I might be a bit more generous but $5 would be the max I would pay for these.

    • KoKo the Talking Ape says:

      I wonder if Frank has done the math on these lamps. It is true, CFLs and LEDs do the same job as the 60 cent bulbs, but do it for 1/4 the electricity. Even if CFLs last half of what they are supposed to (and none of mine ever have, and I have dozens), they could still cost $30 or so and still be as cheap overall as those 60 cent incandescents. And that is not factoring in environmental concerns.

      LEDs are supposed to be more likely to reach their rated lifetime than CFLs, and don’t have any mercury. So for an LED bulb, I would pay $50 and consider myself ahead of the game.

  4. Jim says:

    I have the 12.5 watt version (to win the prize they had to get below 10 watt) and picked it up at HD for like $20 because my state was subsidizing. We replaced the bulbs that we use all the time and for multiple hours at a stretch. One is in a lamp with a table side dimmer and 3 are in a dining room over head light. The bulbs are shaded so you don’t see them directly. They dim fine. I think I hear a hum but it’s not something you hear over any other noise. They are bright enough. I can’t tell if there’s a greenish (very slight) cast to the light. They’re a huge improvement over CFL and we used to to replace true color bulbs with no complaints from the wife or any comments from guests. I’ve been to other people’s houses and the CFLs stand out like a sore thumb and many times people buy the dimmable kind but don’t realize that not all dimmers are compatible. I don’t intend on dropping these lights but they feel solid like they could take a light “whack” without breaking. We’ve been using them for 6 or so months. I’m looking at the recessed LED light cans for some other locations. I’m not sure I’d try the LEDs in a ceiling fan though and we have several of those. Oh and the LEDs are instant on, no warmup required.

  5. Rick says:

    $10 is the max I would go and even that is kinda doubtful. $5 and I’m 100% in.

  6. Fong says:

    It’s not the absolute price but the value you get with it. The CFL’s came out, they touted much of the same thing we’re hearing about LEDs now. Energy savings, low heat, great performance, etc. What happened instead were long “warm up” times, inconsistent lumens from brand to brand and even from bulb to bulb from the same manufacturer. Also, the bulbs themselves were not ecofriendly to dispose of and they didn’t last. The dozen or so I’ve tried have all been a complete disappointment costing me more in bulb premium than energy savings.

    So, will I pay $60 for an LED bulb. Yes, IF:
    1. The bulb saves me more money in its lifetime than it costs.
    2. It doesn’t create more problems environmentally than it solves (contains mercury, lead, etc)
    3. It works like it’s supposed to (no flickering, overheating, shortened life etc)
    4. Doesn’t make everything look wierd, especially skin tone and food (2 of my favorite things to look at =P )

    It would go a long way for bulb manufacturers to certify somethow that bulbs fit a specific set of standards so we can all trust what’s on the box.

  7. NickC says:

    From what I understand that except for overloading an LED it doesn’t ever burn out, it just gets dimmer. So when they say 25k hours that is until it reaches a % dimmer, sometimes 80% of peek sometimes 60%, just what the manufacturer wants to say. But what I really wonder about is the AC to DC converter that is inside the bulb (LEDs run on DC). Whats the life span of that? I’m sure they aren’t at all modular or repairable. Also does anyone know if these bulbs include breakers or fuses?

  8. JR says:

    I need it to be around $5. I have already converted almost every light in the house to CFL, the math is simple

    $1 or less for a 14-15 watt CFL or $20-$30 for a 12.5 watt LED?

    2.5 watts is not enough of a savings to make me buy an expensive bulb, especially when you starting adding them up. I’ll keep buying CFL and dispose of them properly when they fail.

  9. Blind says:

    But I like the blue-ish tint. I would love every bulb in my house to have a 10KK color. Too bad Metal Halides are so expensive.

  10. Kevin says:

    Considering I’ve had 5 Philips G25 CFL bulbs die in under 2 years, and twice the company dropped the ball when I contacted them with this issue, NO!

    Besides, LED bulbs dim over time. I wonder how many of those 25,000 hours are actually going to be at a useful output level?

  11. Aaron says:

    I bought a 8w (40watt equivalent) version a Home Depot for $12.97 on sale. It’s replacing a GE CFL bulb (not coil) A19 for my bedside lamp. I like that it lights up instantly and has better color rendition.

    Considering how much dimmable CFLs cost, these are a much better option. I’ll probably leave the CFL bulbs in the apartment I’m living in now and put LED bulbs in my next place when I move in two years.

  12. Mike says:

    I would have to work a fair amount of math to possibly justify a $50 or $60 purchase. It would also depend on the same things others said. Will it actually be useful for 25K hours? What is the quality and usability of the light? $15 might be max that I would spend without researching it more.

  13. Pat Clay says:

    I was skeptical about whether it was worth spending the big money on these bulbs, so I did the maths. Short answer is they are worth it, the saving in running cost and replacements really adds up, so I have just started switching them out at home. I threw together a web page so I can check when I am at the store & have the specs and prices in front of me. Hope Chuck doesn’t get upset with me posting it 🙂 Zapsavings – a site to check to see if energy efficient bulbs will save you money

  14. Tim says:

    If it were my choice, I would like to spend the big money on outfitting my fixtures with nice well-built power supplies with decent heat dissipation. Then I wouldn’t be paying for a tiny power supply incorporated into every bulb.

    A led-only bulb will have a somewhat set lifetime, but a well built power supply should last for years.

    Unfortunately consumer demand is pushing for a direct screw-in replacement. (I honestly can’t blame them).

    I rewired my whole house a couple years ago, and the thought of installing remote low voltage transformers just to supply all my recessed can lights with led-only bulbs seems like more work than it is worth.

    If I had to do it again with off the shelf parts today, I might be shopping fixtures and lighting wiring from the marine and rv industry, allowing the use of 12v dc and 120a in the same fixture.

    It would be a neat to see a small transformer that would fit and pass code in a j-box, then you could buy low voltage fixtures and the less expensive to produce led bulbs.

    • Jonathan Moore says:

      I would tend to agree with this, especially for new construction. A power supply will last much longer if not crammed into a tiny bulb, and is also replaceable should it ever kick the bucket. A J-box mountable power supply is a neat idea, but I’m not sure how it’d deal with the fact that heat from the transformer still needs to be dissipated.

  15. Byron says:

    $60? Are they insane? $30 is still insane. Doubly so given the abysmal failure of CFLs to live down.

    At the moment I’m only replacing lamps in the $8-15 range, and they have to be dimmable, and they can’t look like ass, and even then it’s much more for the heat reduction then energy (my house isn’t air conditioned). Luckily for spotlights (most of the blubs in my house) there’s a ton on the market.

    Where I really care about aesthetics, which generally is when we’re talking about good old fashioned light bulbs, they aren’t anywhere remotely close with LEDs.

  16. rg says:

    Happy Earth Day, that’ll be $10 million, please.

    $60 for a light bulb? Really? Really?
    Why? Because I’m worried about my “carbon footprint”? LOL!

    Wow, the US government is still going full-tilt at trading your family cow for a sack of magic beans. How’s that Solyndra working out for you?

  17. DoItRite says:

    I’d spend $10 or even $20 for a bulb if it would really last 20 years and came with a reliable warranty for full replacement if it failed within that time. Date stamp on the bulb: if it fails, bring it back anywhere and get a replacement. Easy and dependable.

  18. pww says:

    A 60W incandescent bulb costs about $1. I’m sure cheaper can be found, but for the sake of argument, let’s stipulate that price. From my experience, a 60W bulb under normal use will last about 1 year. From this, we can establish a price metric: $1/yr/bulb. Claims of life for cheap electronic components beyond 10 years is unrealistic. Therefore, my pricepoint for a 60W spectrum equivalent LED bulb is $10.

    • Steve says:

      Cost a $1 to buy, but how much to run? I dont own any LED bulbs, but if it brought my bills down I would weigh the arguments. I would certainly pay more up front for savings later. But that would be after passing the “let me put one in my lamp and see how it lights up my living room” test

      • KoKo the Talking Ape says:

        I agree with Steve. Here’s the math on electricity.

        Assume your electricity costs 10 cents a kilowatt-hour (some pay more, some pay less, and it makes the math easier.)

        So if you run that 60 watt bulb for 100 hours, that is 6 kilowatt-hours, which will cost you 60 cents.

        If you run that bulb about 3 hours a day, in a year that is about 1000 hours (lowballing it), or 60 kilowatt-hours, costing you $6.00.

        So in a year, it cost you $6.60 to use that bulb. Over ten years, that is $66 in electricity and replacement costs.

        An LED will use about 1/4 of the electricity, so $1.50 a year, saving you $4.50 a year. Over ten years, you save $45.

        That means that to break even, you should spend up to $45 per LED bulb, assuming it lasts ten years. Anything less than $45 means you come out ahead.

        And that is not considering environmental effects and saved electricity from lower air conditioning bills. (Ideally you would also factor in the savings in heating bills from incandescents, but that would be using the most expensive heating method, and those savings might be tiny or nonexistent.)

        • paul says:

          You forgot the time value of money. your money now could be invested differently over those 10 assumed years. Spend your 60 cents on the bulb, or $2 on a CFL from walmart.

          The other $58-59 could be tied up in something that will actually increase in value. And you just pay the electric bill as it comes.

          plus by buying 10+ year bulbs you are trusting they will last 10+ years, but you will be out $60 when in 1 year they die.

          You are only out .60 – $2 when in incandescent/CFL dies.

          • SCWetherbee says:

            All this assumes you are buying the cheapest incan./CFL bulbs available.

          • Chris says:

            You’re assuming, as SCWetherbee points out, that not only is someone purchasing the absolute cheapest CFL or incandescent bulbs, but that the money they’re saving up front can actually grow enough over the next few years to make up for:

            a) the cost of the multiple replacement bulbs they’re going to buy,
            b) the higher utility bills they’re going to pay, and
            c) inflation

            Remind me again what zero-risk investment you’re aware of that returns 4-5% annually over 10 years, because I want in.


  19. b. foo says:

    No chance in hell. I bought one of those LEDs that said it was equivalent to a 60W bulb… yeah right, maybe from 2 feet away. The light output was terrible and gave me a headache. Beyond that, it would randomly shut itself off for a few minutes and then come back on. No thanks. Maybe in a few more years when these things actually work correctly or use some kind of CREE bulbs or something. Not now and definitely not for $60 or even $50. Thats two weeks worth of fuel to get to work for me.

  20. ShopMonger says:

    I would tend to agree that the price point is getting to the point that it may become cost effective to go LED, and that is exciting. We are getting close, and just like the last post about this topic, this will drive competition.


  21. Steve says:

    There are a lot of factors that are not accounted for in the math, but the pure math supports a change to LED. At 60w vs 12.5w? (I think that was the figure I last heard proved). For the projected 25000 hours of light on the LED, you need 25 old bulbs at 1000 hours each. Total bulb cost $60 for new vs 25 for old. But the running cost is huge. Running each type of bulb for 25000 hours would cost (10 cents per kWh, its more where I live) ~32 for the new and 150! for the old. If all other things are equal, its a no brainer. But they arn’t.

    Is it bright enough, is it reliable enough, ect. People always seem to have a story where they bought one and it sucked. Ive never bought one, but I’ve had countless incandescent bulbs fail quickly. I think failure is high with new tech, but the failure of incandescent bulbs is not nil. Perhaps people pay more attention when they pay over 10 bucks for something.

  22. browndog77 says:

    Actually, when the cost reaches your “price point”, whatever that # may be, you would do well to go ahead and replace the bulk of your incandescent bulbs all at once. The savings in power won’t be much unless you go all in. I know the price will still creep down from there, but not much if sales increase. They will!

  23. Kris says:

    Over 20 years ago I helped a friend move his family into their brand-new 3,000+ square foot house. The builder had not installed any light bulbs into the fixtures. We made a list and off we went to big orange and spent over $300 for light bulbs.

    At $50 – or even $20 per bulb, my friend would have needed to stop first for a home equity loan.

    • Chuck says:

      Well, and I also think that it’s going to spawn a trend in clauses in contracts that dictate that all bulbs are left with the house when its sold. Because you can guarantee that if I bought these, they’d get replaced with CFLs on my way out.

  24. BJ Nicholls says:

    I’ll certainly buy one at $60 to evaluate it against my other LED bulbs. The price will go down, and rather quickly. But I’ve already converted most of my home’s lighting to LED. There are a few fixtures we have where current LEDs are too bulky for their output. The white body of the new bulb will make it more suitable for translucent decorative shades, but I want to see if the lamp’s body is too long for shallow shades, if there’s a lag when it’s switched on, and what happens to the light color when the bulb is dimmed.

  25. Davo says:

    Reminds me of when we bought our first microwave oven…for $1000, back in 1979.

    My question: Why are they so expensive? Is it the rare-earth elements, the high cost of super-refined silicon, the manufacturing process…what?

    Or is it that Phillips has decided that, from a marketing perspective, it just makes sense to claim the “savings” from these bulbs as their own, and incorporate that figure into the purchase price…

  26. Boss Hogg says:

    $15 is my max. My local HD has been offering the Philips 12.5W (60 equivalent) for $15 lately. Yes, they are subsidized by the local electric company.

    GE makes a nice 40W equivalent that is more directional. I got them cheap and ended selling about a 150 of them at a profit. People were more than willing to pa $30-$35 a bulb for them. Now keep in mind the 40W was probably closer to a 60W.

    ‘Dem Dukes!

  27. KenZ says:

    I guess I’m the exception. I bought some $50 75W equivalent bulbs about 1.5 years ago from http://www.qnuru.com for recessed cans that had a dimmer switch. LOVE them. The light is, frankly better than the standard bulbs I had in them (compared side by side). Dimming works great. Bulbs barely get warm to the touch after hours of use. Output is definitely MORE than a standard 60W. Yeah, $50 each, but quality through and through.

    Will they pay off? Probably not. Someone has to be the early adopter, and I guess that’s me. I love them.

    • KenZ says:

      PS- and don’t forget that if you live in a hot place in the summer, you’re saving over twice as much energy as the bulb saves you: once for the energy savings on the bulb, and 1.? times as much to run the air conditioner to cool off that extra heat dissipated inside your house…

  28. Dr Bob says:

    I’m waiting until the LED technology matures, is proven in this application and the price drops as competition gets established.

  29. cyberranger says:

    I love LEDs, but I have 2 beefs with them.

    They flicker like CFLs. I have had a running headache for 19 yrs. Flickering lights are a no go. For now I’ll stick with halogens… Don’t like the yellow tint of regular incandescents.

    The other beef is LEDs don’t like power surges. We live in a very rural area. Power surges & voltage drops are normal here. A lot of LEDs don’t survive long. I’m not droppin’ $60, $50, $25, $10 or even $5 on a bulb that might not survive a week. That makes incandescents & halogens look pretty good.

  30. dave_c says:

    I always find it funny when people quote the price after subsidizing. Yeah, that subsidy money is plucked from trees, not our wallets in one way or another.

    • Chris says:

      You’re (probably) paying the subsidy in your utility bills no matter what kind of bulbs you use. Might as well GET something for your money, right?


  31. Jerry Vandesic says:

    I’d pay the price if they guaranteed them for 20 years (with a date stamped on them and free shipping).

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