Limousine light bulb: $22 each

The good news is that Philips Electronics has designed a 60-watt LED bulb that supposedly gives off the same warm glow as an incandescent bulb but that uses 83% less electricity.

The bad news is that the bulb will cost $22 (after rebates). The bulb will possibly cost only $8 by year 3 of production.

So while the bulb uses 83% less energy than existing 50-cent 60-watt incandescents, its cost is 4,400% more. Such a deal!

Even more appalling is that Phillips just won $10 million from taxpayers for designing this limousine light bulb.

20 thoughts on “Limousine light bulb: $22 each”

  1. Yes, it’d be stupid to put $40 bulbs in your garage door opener and expect a savings, duh.

    As far as running bulbs at a lower voltage for increased life, its true, but its a tradeoff. Incandescent bulbs are manufactured for a tradeoff between lifetime and efficiency. For instance, the element in your oven will probably light your house for centuries if you turn it on high is a nice warm red glow BUT it will be mostly heat.

    You can buy long life bulbs that take advantage of the effect, but I’m sure those will be the first to the the axe.

  2. Some 40 years ago, I remember reading an application note on extending the life of small incandescent lamps which were then in common use in push-button switches. The graphed data indicated that reducing the voltage to 90% of rated resulted in a 10X increase in lamp life.

    In addition, a major enemy of incandescent lamps is their very low filament resistance when cold. This accounts for a 10X increase in current when they are first turned on–it’s not merely an anecdote that incandescent lamps fail at turn-on. The solution to this in low-power lamps is to trickle about 5% of the current they are rated to consume. This is sufficient to keep the filament warm, and therefore, to minimize the steep current inrush at turn-on.

    Of course, the application of reduced voltage will warm the hearts of those who think all problems are solved by conservation of resources, but the trickle current applied will equally horrify them. Hysteria is its own justification.

  3. If an LED bulb can be made as diffuse as an incandescent, I would probably buy it even at that price. The reason is its longevity. There are lights in my house which are difficult to get to and can be dangerous to access if you are not careful (like the top of the stairwell). I am willing to pay a premium to not have to replace them every six to nine months.

    Yes, there have been “lifetime” incandescent bulbs sold over the years, but the market for them quickly saturates and the companies go out of business (when they last a lifetime, there are no repeat customers). I have some which are still running after a couple of decades, but I currently cannot replace them.

    I am told that one way to get longer lasting bulbs in the USA is to buy them in Canada. Apparently, they make them a little beefier to work with 120 volts and so last longer with our 110 volts. I have not tried this experiment.

  4. Russ,

    Where I live we heat the house 8 or 9 months a year. During the heating season the heat from the bulbs is heat the furnace doesn’t have to supply. Energy savings for those 8 or 9 months … pretty much zero. FWIW, the lights are on in the dead of winter from 4:30 pm till 11:00, in the summer they don’t go on till 8:00 pm or so.

    The spectral power distribution still makes it an apples and oranges comparison.

  5. Russ,
    not sure which bulb you mean by limousine bulb

    The overall point is surely that all bulbs have their advantages,
    RE 4 hr per day, 365 days per year. that certainly does not apply to all bulbs in an average 45-light US household,
    so in the usual CFLs or LEDs talk, the “switch all your lights and save lots of money per year” is deception if nothing else,
    quite apart from other reasons to choose bulbs, light quality, the aesthetics of (cheap decorative) transparent bulbs in some situations etc….

  6. 50 Watt savings. 4 hr per day, 365 days per year. 73000 Wh, or 73kWh. Where I live, phoenix, electricity is $0.25 per kWh. That equates to $18.25 per year. It doesn’t take a genius to understand which bulb is the limousine one.

  7. I usually dim my tungsten lamps (save’s electricity too), ever think of this EPA? Can you dim the LCD lamps? I DOUBT IT! Better stockpile the old bulbs…

  8. Technical data sheet for a PAR38 EnduraLED if anyone is interested.

    One of the first things I look at is the spectral power distribution. Since the visible light spectrum runs from about 400 to 750 nano-meters that is what we are primarily interested in.

    Incandescent bulbs (including tungsten halogen) mimic the spectral power distribution of the sun (black body radiator). The second graph on page 10 of the following PDF link has a graph of the spectral power distribution of a halogen lamp that covers roughly the same wavelengths as the above EnduraLED graph.

    If anything, the difference in the spectral power distribution between the two light sources should tell you that the lumens rating of a light bulb is over simplistic and misleading at best. Brings to mind something about comparing apples and oranges.

  9. Mike,

    As you say, the incandescent lifespan can be “tweaked” to be much longer
    “This means that a 5% reduction in operating voltage will more than double the life of the bulb, at the expense of reducing its light output by about 20%. This may be a very acceptable trade off for a light bulb that is in a difficult-to-access location”

    Also filament thickness etc comes into it….

    The REASON for a deliberate and relatively short 1000 hour standard incandescent lifespan, has its origins in the Phoebus Light Bulb Cartel between GE, Philips, Osram etc
    The extent -and consequences- of this has only recently been uncovered by American and European research

    Basically, they stopped anyonme making long-life versions, as it would hit sales
    — and the lifespan standard survived (surprise surprise).
    This is also why you should not be “too surprised”,
    either by major manufacturer reluctance to continue to make ANY cheap incandescent, or that the CFLs and LEDs are unlikely to last as long as is claimed…..

  10. Incandescent light bulbs may be around a very long time after they’re banned (if they’re banned).

    In my experience, a dimmed incandescent light bulb has an incredibly long life span. I have a pair of 50-watt mini spots that run almost 24/7 and I was having to replace one a month. I put in a dimmer and set it close to full brightness and haven’t replaced a bulb in over 2 years.

    I’d like to see the curve of lifespan as a function wattage or voltage for a normal incandescent. I suspect it has a sharp fall-off near the rated wattage/voltage and the lifespan isn’t even known below a certain level.

  11. Bulb in question has an electronics package that emits RF radiation. A friend has one and finds that it interferes with NOAA weather radio reception.

    Bulb has internal blue or ultra-violet LEDs that drive a white phosphor in the envelope. Note that the envelope apears yellow when the lamp is off. Whether the phosphor is actually white or red/green and trransparent to blue is unclear at this time. Philips data ( says it is mercury free.

    Bulb is rated for indoor use only.

  12. Hmmm,
    fancy spending millions to copy the light quality of an incandescent bulb….
    rather than developing new lighting with its own advantages.

    RE “Will be much Cheaper”
    This mirrors what others say about LEDs too (a marked price reduction as indeed has happened with CFLs, with a lot of taxpayer subsidies, directly and via utilities
    Philips LED bulb = “receives the support of 31 utilities and energy efficiency program partners who have pledged to promote the winning light bulb to more than 100 million consumers”)

    But let’s not be churlish!
    Let’s welcome all these “new great cheaper bulbs”.

    so why ban simple incandescent alternatives in that case, which of course have advantages too?
    Presumably people will soon WANT to buy all these wonderful affordable new bulbs then – without coercion?


    1. People prefer new bulbs = why ban old bulbs, little savings from a ban, and the old bulbs still have advantages in some situations
    (compare radio tubes and transistors, tubes were bought less anyway, but are still useful in some situations – any guitarists out there ?!)

    2. People still prefer old bulbs = rather odd to ban them then, as well!
    (and it is a ban, halogen type incandescents will be banned too before 2020 on the Energy Act 45 lumen per Watt specification, and anyway have different light quality as well as much greater expense for marginal savings)

    the supposed switchover savings are not there anyway, either for society (less than 1% US energy usage, 1-2% grid electricity)
    or for consumers, based on DOE ‘s own statistics
    There are as seen much more relevant ways to save energy,
    in electricity generation, grid distribution, and real consumption waste,
    than from telling people what light bulbs they can use.

    How many Congressmen should it take to change a light bulb?
    How many Citizens should be allowed to choose?

  13. It is not an incandescent lamp. It is a new LED type called EnduraLED, which resembles closely an incandescent.

  14. Whoooo, lets not condemn this new incandescent lamp till we hear more of its specifications and features compared to the compact florescent lights (CFLs) and the light emitting diodes (LEDs) mandated by congress. It may be cheap compared to all of the unforeseen adaptations that are needed to make CFLs and LEDs livable and actually meet the spirit of the EPAs general intent for a better and safer life for all of us – cost not being a factor of course.

    Specifically consider that the “new incandescent” may have he following features:

    – It may be “instant on” without needing a multi-minute warm up period to reach its maximum level of illumination as with a CFLs.

    – It may operate in freezing temperatures without the need for a heated environment or a fixture heater to bring it to an operating temperature that will allow it to give its maximum level of illumination or to allow it to even turn on at all (the cost to heat a CFL for “instant on” to function properly in extremely cold environments is never talked about).

    – It might be usable for traffic signal or warning light service IF it still gives off some heat to melt the snow and ice on the lens in place of requiring an auxiliary housing heater to use LED lighting – this may not be a reasonable hope if the new incandescent lamp is so efficient that little energy is emitted in the infrared (heating) part of the spectrum.

    – It may not need extra lightening or EMP (electro-magnetic pulse) protection adapters added to make it a survivable light source in case we have an extreme solar flare event or if terrorist attack that successfully detonates an EMP producing nuclear device near to or within the USA. LEDs and CFL can be protected to some degree by the auxiliary devices at a significant cost. However, consumer, off-the-shelf devices typically do not have protection.

    – They will not require an environmentally concerned user to invest significantly in advance for in a number of mercury spill clean up kits in the event that one or more CFLs are broken by accident or through storm or earthquake events – this is a major cost savings over the CFL if the EPA guidelines are followed to estimate the cost for a spill clean up.

    – They might be able to be manufactured simply and quickly within the USA to replace EMP destroyed CFLs and LEDs unless the design requires an electronic driver circuit or if exotic rare earth phosphors are required for filament coatings that can only be economically extracted, produced and applied in China due to EPA and OSHA regulations controlling the use of hazardous materials.

  15. The prize was to find a replacement for the incandescent. Then the contest just used$10,000,000 of debt financed stimulus to underline the fact that the incandescent should not be replaced. If they had taken the project for what it actually is, it would have been the one bit of stimulus that was helpful in some way. Instead, the U.S. just spent $10,000,000 to ignore what it should have already known.

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