‘L Prize’ winning light bulb hits store shelves Sunday

Doug Powers by Doug Powers on April 18th, 2012

This is article 172 of 269 in the topic energy

Last month we talked about the company that won the “L Prize” in the 60 watt replacement bulb category. This particular prize, awarded by the Department of Energy, is where taxpayers gave $10 million to the company that could develop a money and energy saving product that, as it turns out, is going to initially sell for around $50 per bulb. Somehow this all saves the taxpaying public money.

The winning bulb will be available on Earth Day:

How much would you pay for an amazing, state-of-the-art light bulb? Shoppers will be asking themselves that very question at Home Depot and other outlets starting Sunday — Earth Day — when the bulb that won a $10 million government contest goes on sale.

The bulb is the most energy-efficient yet, lasts about 20 years and is supposed to give off a pleasing, natural-looking light. But what separates it from the pack most is the price: $60.

That price reflects the cost of the components, especially the top-notch chips, or diodes, that give off the light, and is the price commercial customers will pay. But the manufacturer, Netherlands-based Philips, is discounting it right away to $50 for consumers, and working on deals with electric utilities to discount it even further, by as much as $20 to $30.

This means the bulb will cost anywhere from $20 to $60, depending on where it’s found. Online, consumers will be paying $50 for each bulb, because utilities don’t subsidize online sales.

According to the Department of Energy and Philips, at four hours of use per day, the award-winning bulb will last 20 years — a claim I’ll believe after somebody uses one for 20 years. The DOE also said their $38.6 billion “green” loan programs would “create or save” over 60,000 jobs when the actual number is a fraction of that, so pardon my skepticism about the alleged life span of DOE promoted light bulbs. If Al Gore refers to me as a “green bulb denier,” so be it.

What helped Philips win the $10 million L Prize? The best bulb? Definitely — but it was hard not to have the best bulb in this category given the fact that no other company submitted a product for DOE review.

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