What if you never had to buy another light bulb again? How much would that "light bulb of the future" be worth? This weekend, you'll decide. The L-Prize Philips bulb goes on sale Sunday. In Georgia, you can only buy it online.
It seems like just yesterday that a light bulb was a light bulb, and your toughest choice was 60 watt or 75 watt. But the incandescent bulb you've been buying for decade is about to expire. New federal legislation went into effect January 1. The 100 watt bulb is already being phased out. Other wattages will fade from the market over the next few years.
The reason is one we've known for years: they are energy hogs.
Brad Paulsen is the light bulb merchant at the Home Depot in Buckhead. He hooked up an incandescent bulb and a LED bulb to compare their energy use. "This is measured in kilowatts," he said pointing to the old-style light bulb. "It's using .33 kilowatts, while the L.E.D. is using .06. So, a big difference in energy costs, especially over time."
Despite the obvious savings and the beginning of the ban, 40 percent of people still buy incandescent bulbs. There was a major push for CFLs, compact florescent lights, but consumers gave it mixed reviews. The biggest complaint: those florescent lights are not flattering to skin tones and harsh on the eyes.
"CFLs are a florescent light," Paulsen said. "Some people like florescent, some people don't. If you like it and price is a main concern, that's what I recommend."
But now, Light-Emitting Diodes, or LEDs, are lighting up the scene. The new L-Prize Philips LED is at the forefront of the newer technology.
The Philips LED won the Department of Energy's L-Prize. It was the first-ever government sponsored technology competition. It set rigorous requirements and challenged companies to rethink the way we see light. The prize was $11 million.
This latest light bulb is the result.
Its stats are impressive: lasts 27 years, will save you $165 in energy costs, it's mercury-free, and the light looks like an incandescent bulb.
The retail prize in Georgia is $50. Other states have utility subsidies that help bring down the cost. Philips could negotiate those for Georgia in the future. Starting Sunday, you can buy it at HomeDepot.com. Select stores will carry it, but none in our state.
But the L-Prize bulb has a little brother.
"This platform took us 12 months to develop," said Tom Kilkelly from Philips. "But then it had to go through 18 months of testing [to win the L-Prize]. During that time, we've developed some related products."
Paulsen points it out on the shelves of Home Depot: "It looks very similar, but it's $25 everyday, so a much more practical solution for customers."
It's a 12 watt bulb using a bit more energy, putting off just a bit less light, at half the cost. This one will last 23 years. It's the first of many products inspired by the L-Prize bulb.