If you had not yet heard starting in January of 2012, light bulbs have to be at least 25% more efficient than the ones we’ve been using for years invented by Thomas Edison way back in 1879. Bulbs that have been inexpensive and disposable will be disappearing by 2014. An excellent article last week by Gwendolyn Bounds of the Wall Street Journal http://on.wsj.com/lpUdSB outlines the features and benefits of the new and old bulb technologies.
In our discussions with Chinese companies we’ve explored the idea of helping them bring LED light bulbs into the United States. So far there has been a great deal of hesitancy on the part of the Chinese companies we have met with to lead with LED light bulbs to be marketed to American consumers. Part of the reason is that sales of building-wide lighting systems are substantially larger and easier than selling individual light bulbs to individual American consumers. However we firmly believe (as the article supports) Americans will be VERY receptive to LED light bulbs once the prices come down which they are predicted to do in a relatively short time. It is our belief that direct-to-consumer marketing of LED light bulbs would allow for lower pricing to happen even more quickly.
Compact Fluorescent Bulbs (CFL’s) have been a step in the right direction but as I have noted before (link to your previous blog post) the trace amounts of mercury found in them is of great concern and for the most part they are not dimmable which is a major drawback. That they are odd-looking unless housed in an outer bulb is more of a minor issue.
The current pricing for LED light bulbs are $20-$55 each. This is in stark contrast to traditional incandescent bulbs which are priced at 25-50 cents each or even CFL’s which average $2 to $5. We are talking 100 times the cost here! The life spans of LED are not 100 times as long as traditional incandescent – more like 25-30 times. The annual operating costs of LED bulbs however are less than 25% per bulb as compared to traditional incandescent bulbs.
Once prices for LED bulbs come down into the $10/bulb or less range the idea that they last 25 times longer and use less energy will have people clamoring to buy them. And they will have to come down in price since I wonder about how people will feel when they drop and break a $20 or even $50 bulb. Dropping and breaking a $ 0.50 bulb is mess. Dropping a $ 20 or even $ 50 bulb is a catastrophe!
What would it take for you to ‘switch’ over to an LED bulb? Is there a price threshold? Would you miss 132-year old technology?