A Road Map to New Lighting

By Michael Kanellos on October 19, 2009

Lighting technology is about to undergo a radical change in the next few years due to regulation, inefficiency of incandescent sources, LED price reduction, and networked lighting.

A year ago, LED bulbs cost close to $100. This year, Panasonic, Sharp and others plan to sell 60-watt equivalent bulbs for $40. In two years, LED bulbs that could replace conventional bulbs could cost around $25, say executives from U.S. companies like Bridgelux and Luminus Devices. LED bulbs can save anywhere from $2 to $10 more than incandescent or CFLs, depending on how and when you need light (Figure four to six hours a day with some peak period pricing thrown in where electricity costs more than the 11 cent per kilowatt hour figure.) Payoff, therefore, will become more palatable.

Perhaps more importantly, the color tone has improved. The latest bulbs don't sport that blue, harsh "E.T.'s Finger" tone as much anymore. Since the start of 2008, VCs have invested $290 million into lighting and large part of the total has gone to LEDs.

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