Philips L Prize LED bulb not worth it

In March 2012 I read an article on Triple Pundit regarding Philips defending the L Prize winning LED bulb from an article written in the Washington Post criticizing the government for handing out 10 million dollars to a company for producing a $50 light bulb.

I was all set to write a post demonizing the "right wing" Washington Post for misquoting the price of the $50 bulb when I read this line in the Triple Pundit article:

Philips states that the actual retail price of its prizewinning bulb will be closer to $20, comfortably within the L Prize requirement of $22. That’s because the bulb will be sold through partnerships with utility companies, which will offer up to $30 in rebates.

But then I saw this article on the newswire: "The award winning Philips L Prize LED bulb is now available at".  So I was interested to see what it was selling for.  And guess how surprised I was when I noticed that both Triple Pundit and the Washington Post were wrong.  The 10 watt LED bulb isn't selling for $50 dollars, it is currently selling for $59.99 at! bulb.

And when I look back at the Triple Pundit note regarding the sale price of the bulb, I notice the last sentence a little more clearly.  The part about the utility rebates.  Which you aren't getting if you buy it online.  And could utilities be wasting their money in the first place if there is a better option for consumers?

All this is surprising to me, because you can buy an almost identical LED bulb from Philips for $24.97 from Home Depot!  And I did just that earlier this week.

It seems to me that Philips is only selling the L prize bulb on the merits that it hit arbitrary targets set forth by the department of energy, when in fact a much cheaper bulb (that they also produce) makes MUCH more sense for consumers.  The two bulbs are compared in the below:

While the L prize LED bulb does consume 20% less watts and it does put out 17% more light, can someone PLEASE explain why it costs 140% more than Philips' other LED bulb?

Mapawatt is devoted to helping consumers find products, services, and strategies to help them save money and conserve energy in their homes.  I'm not sure that the L prize bulb fits that criteria at this moment. In a later post, I will go into detail on when LED bulbs can make sense (especially when compared against incandescent).  But at almost $60 per bulb the savings just aren't there right now (compared to 60 W incandescent based on 3 hrs/day over 10 year timeframe; this is not the case for the $24.95 LED bulb which would save you $30 over 10 years vs. an incandescent over that same time frame).  I'm sure hoping the price will come down, but until then...

The moral of the story: Buy LED bulbs!  They use less energy, last longer, don't contain mercury, provide great light, and the right ones are great investments.  Just shop around and beware of the hype machine.

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I believe a lot of the price difference has to due with both the ~20% more light for 20% less energy, plus the major fact that the CRI (color spectrum) is 92 vs. 80 for the cheaper bulb. The expensive LED bulb's color quality should be indistinguishable from that of a standard incandescent - which I would love to use in bathrooms. Also, I have a feeling the price is inflated because they're the first to have it available. I wouldn't be surprised to see non-discounted prices for this new bulb at $39-$45 within a couple months at big box retailers.
How about an LED bulb that produces more light than the electricity it consumes? It's coming. And for those who only dimly understand thermodynamics, it's not a violation of the Second Law. It's one aspect of Thermopower, the direct conversion of heat to electricity. See
Wow! Incandescent light never looked so good. How can a claim be so lame. The goal is to convince users to buy LED and not scare them away. I have this to say of the every day, " Normal" for now, incandescent. The company that can sell the Led bulbs at a CFL comparable or lower price will truly entroduce the Led to the "Normal".
Of course the "latest and greatest" is going to be expensive at first. With a higher efficiency (94 lumens per watt vs 71 lumens per watt) and the higher CRI they priced it higher to recover some of the R&D. I will probably buy one to check it out--CRI is important to me. Home Depot lists the bulb at $50. Price will come down. This article has the wrong focus. Consumers can decide for themselves which LED bulb to buy.
ckmapawatt's picture
Thanks for the comment. The point of the article is to let consumers know that a much cheaper option exists. Although if higher CRI is valuable to them, they should be willing to pay more, but how much more? I do like the fact that the bulb is produced in the U.S.!
Checkout this stellar teardown and spectral review of the L-Prize bulb: . That spike at about ~620nm gets to my eyes in the form of fatigue after using it in my desk area for many hours at a time. It fools the CRI rating, but not the physiology.
Reading over the comments, about all I can say (er, quote) is: First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. Go LED. :)
I own several of the new Philips AmbientLED bulbs, and they are excellent products, stated to last for 22.8 years, and using skimpy amounts of electricity compared to both incandescents and CFL's. Plus, they are mercury and lead-free. That said, the government SHOULD NOT hand out "prizes," subsidies, loans, grants, or any other form of largesse to private enterprise, in an attempt to develope "green" initiatives. If a product or idea has economic, environmental or other merit, the private sector will build it and it will be profitable and successful. The government should not interfere. Doing so leads to crony capitalism, waste of taxpayer dollars, and fiascos like Solyndra, Fisker and many other debacles.
"That said, the government SHOULD NOT hand out “prizes,” subsidies, loans, grants, or any other form of largesse to private enterprise, in an attempt to develope “green” initiatives." So, is that just for "green" initiatives, or does this tenet also hold true for things like the internet, weapons systems, fossil fuel exploration, etc?
As mentioned on your more recent post on this, no wonder the price is high, given all the lobbying money Philips has to claw back! The truth about that Philips bulb, and how Philips won the prize: The lobbying, the evading of rules, the poor quality of the bulb on testing – as referenced with competition rules, patents, lobbying finance, lab tests etc


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