The lifetime lightbulb

Have you ever walked into a room and turned on a lamp, only to have the bulb burn out on you? Frustrating, isn’t it?

What if you could buy a lightbulb that would last for 20 years, so you would rarely ever have to replace bulbs in lamps and light fixtures?

Photo courtesy of Philips.

As it happens, such a lightbulb has just come on the market. It’s the new 20-year LED lightbulb developed by Philips and the winner of the U.S. Department of Energy’s L Prize, which is an initiative to develop alternative sources of lighting.

According to Philips, the bulb will use only 10 watts of power and will save $8 per year if it’s used four hours a day. It’s expected to last 30,000 hours, which is 30x longer than incandescent bulbs.  (Not that it matters, since those are being phased out anyway.)

Compared to compact fluorescent bulbs, the energy savings are similar, but the Philips bulb will last three times longer than a CFL and gives off a more natural-looking light. It doesn’t contain the mercury vapor that’s inside CFL’s and which creates a toxic hazard when they break.

One thing that is problematic is that this new bulb will cost significantly more than CFL’s, which average around $5. The new bulb costs $60 but Philips is discounting it to $50 and looking for other ways to bring the price down, including making deals with electric companies. The eventual goal is to price the bulbs in the $20-30 range.

What do you think fellow Eco Warriors? Would you spend that much money on a lightbulb if it meant that it would last far longer?


4 thoughts on “The lifetime lightbulb

  1. Oof. That’s a steep price for ANYONE (except maybe the Pentagon) to pay for a lightbulb. I don’t think I would mainly because it’s SO new–when it’s around a few years and proven, I’d consider paying 30 for a lifetime lightbulb, but I’ve been burned on “new technology” before–and have friends who’ve bought LED ligthbulbs just to watch them burn out months later–perhaps it was a bad brand or whatever, but you remember that kind of thing.

  2. I’d consider $20 or $30 for a lifetime bulb but never the price it is now. I have to put food on my table too. It’s a great idea, and it’s definitely a step in the right direction…but unfortunately money is a necessary evil and a bulb isn’t something to splurge on.

  3. This is an excellent next step for greener light bulbs. Excellent work Philips!
    My question, which is really the next step in the process, is what is the net-energy gain? How much fossil fuels and nonrenewable materials go into the creation of the bulb? What happens after it burns out–can it be recycled, or is it thrown away and sits in a landfill for centuries?

  4. I bought (a very expensive at the time) big round CFL lightbulb in 1991 – it is still working today and is used every day. I love the idea of things being made to last but I agree it is a bit steep in price at the moment. I have a hallway light that is left on permanently (I know it’s naughty but it is always dark in our hall) so that might be a good contender for one of these bulbs. I’ll have to investigate if they are available in the UK.

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