Coming July: New green light bulb lasts 25 years

Warner Philips, the founder of Lemnis Lighting of the Netherlands, is confident that his company’s new 6-watt Pharox LED Light isn’t just ready for the consumer market, it’s ready to take over the lighting market from both incandescents (increasingly being phased out in many countries) and energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs.

“C.F.L.s are officially an outdated technology,” Mr. Philips said during a recent conversation with Green Inc. “You can’t recycle C.F.L.s. You can’t get a fully dimmable product. That should make them obsolete.”

The Pharox bulb was introduced Wednesday at Lightfair International in New York, where lighting designers from around the globe are showing off their wares. According to Lemnis Lighting, the new Pharox can match the light output of a 60-watt incandescent, and it can be used smoothly and reliably with dimmer switches — unlike many C.F.L. bulbs. It’s also designed to be heat-resistant, the company notes and, also unlike C.F.L.s, mercury-free.

The packaging says the bulb will last 25 years given average use (four hours a day), or more than 36,000 hours.

Come July, the bulb will be sold on for just under $50 – still more expensive than dimmable C.F.L.s, but with a lifespan that the company says is eight times longer and with more incandescent-like dimming capabilities. The Pharox’s payback time at that price, according to Lemnis, is 3.5 years.

Mr. Philips says he sees the price dropping rather quickly, as it did with a 5-watt, 40-watt equivalent bulb the company introduced six months ago at $40. It is now selling for $35 — a decrease attributable in large part to assistance from the Clinton Climate Initiative, which is sponsoring a giveaway of 2.5 million bulbs in Europe.

(The fact that Google gave 25,000 bulbs to its employees in honor of Earth Day last month doesn’t hurt either.)

Mr. Philips said problems with heat build-up inside enclosed lighting fixtures, which cause L.E.D.s and C.F.L.s to fail early, has been addressed with a vented design that allows for better air flow.

Still, the company told us that the preferred use of the Pharox is in open fixtures. Using it in enclosed fixtures — like recessed ceiling cans — will reduce the lifetime of the bulbs by about 25 percent, the company said (a data point not evident on the bulb’s packaging, it should be noted.)

Indeed, as with many would-be replacements for the incandescent bulb, a bit of incongruity exists between performance claims that may well pertain in a laboratory, and a bulb’s performance in the real world.

For starters, the advertised light output of the Pharox is about 300 “lumens” — the metric used for measuring the light coming off a bulb. That places it somewhere between a 25-watt and 40-watt incandescent. A 60-watt incandescent emits up to 900 lumens.

The company explained that the light output is comparable to a 60-watt bulb, depending on where one uses the bulb and for what purpose. “There are 60-watt soft tone/flame bulbs that generate less light than a Pharox 6-watt,” the company said.

It’s also worth noting that an earlier version of the Pharox — a 4-watt, 40-watt equivalent bulb dubbed the Pharox LS — had some trouble when it was tested in a Department of Energy program that evaluates the performance of L.E.D. products.

Article here.


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