Thursday, May 13, 2010

"Did the LED Industry Hit the Tipping Point Today?"

This could be a big deal, I shall make inquiries directly.
From Greentech:
Much cheaper bulbs with high lumen from Osram, Lighting Sciences set new lows.

The LED market is becoming like lettuce. Your lead is good for a day, but soon begins to wilt.

Osram Sylvania, one of the largest lighting manufacturers in the world, said it would come out with an LED bulb in August that emits 810 lumens, or about as much light as a 60 watt incandescent bulb. The bulb will consume only 12 watts. Osram also said it would have a 75 watt equivalent in 2011.

"This will last twelve times longer than an incandescent bulb," said spokeswoman Stephanie Anderson. "We are working to make this product affordable for most purchasers."

Meanwhile, Lighting Science--which announced earlier in the week that Home Depot has started selling its LED bulbs--said it will come out with a 770 lumen, 9 watt LED bulb that will come with a suggested retail price "in the low $30 range."

The lumens-per-price ratio is the key here. For years, LED makers have said that the solid state lighting would take off in homes and commercial buildings when they could sell lumens for pennies. Osram is being vague on the price but it says the bulb will be "affordable" and in line with a 40 watt equivalent/$30 LED bulb is sells now. That indicates a $40-ish price in my mind, for the 60 watt equivalent. Thus, Osram's bulb will likely sell for around five cents a lumen. Lighting Science has it down to 4 cents. (For an overview of the modern lighting market, click here.) Alan Salzman, managing director of VantagePoint Venture Partners, recently said that utilities could start giving away LED bulbs to consumers once they hit $20: the energy saved would allow them to postpone building new power plants and make up for the cost of the bulbs. Lumens would cost 2.5 cents in a $20, 800 lumen bulb.

In other words, the industry seems really close to the point of no return.

General Electric, Panasonic, Lemnis Lighting and others have announced or already released bulbs in the $40 range. These bulbs, however, only emit 450 to 500 lumens, or as much as a 40 watt bulb. I've been testing one of these at home and, believe me, you notice the difference between a 40 watt and a 60 watt right away. While many 40 watt equivalent LED bulbs will get sold, the 800 lumen range bulbs will become the de facto standard.

Philips announced a 806 lumen, 12 watt LED bulb at LightFair yesterday. The Philips bulb comes out a few weeks after Osram, but will sell in the $60 range, or around 50 percent more. Will Philips cut their prices? No doubt. GE, Panasonic and the others, meanwhile, will face the tougher challenge of increasing their performance. (Side note: most of these bulbs have a color temperature or tone around 2700 Kelvin, the standard for consumer bulbs.)...MORE