Philips has won the equivalent of grueling car rally race for lighting.
The Department of Energy today awarded Philips' 60-watt equivalent LED bulb with the first L Prize for energy-efficiency lighting. Philips wins a $10 million cash prize. The product could be in stores as soon as early 2012, according to the DOE.
To win, the bulb needed to generate as much light as a 60-watt incandescent at 900 lumens but consume less than 10 watts. Its life has to be rated at over 25,000 hours, or 17 years of using a bulb four hours a day.
The bulb, or lamp, that Philips submitted to the contest went through 18 months of testing for durability and performance, including temperature extremes, humidity and vibration. Philips said it was the only company to submit a lamp to the L Prize.
"Not only does the L Prize challenge innovative companies like Philips to make LED technology even more energy efficient, it also spurs the lighting industry to make LEDs affordable for American families," said Energy secretary Steven Chu in a statement.
Philips is already selling a 60-watt equivalent LED bulb and recently released its 75-watt replacement. The efficiency of those products, though, is not quite at the mark of the L Prize winner.
The L Prize submission had an efficiency of more than 90 lumens per watt, while the current 60-watt replacement has an efficiency of about 67 lumens per watt. That's in the same range of EnergyStar-rated compact florescent lights.
Improving the efficiency of LEDs will give it an advantage over CFLs, which are far less expensive than the $30 to $40 for bright LED lamps. LED lamps also have full brightness when turned on, are designed to last longer, and don't degrade from frequent on/off cycling.
Cree, which makes LED light sources which are built into bulbs, earlier this week showed off a prototype LED lamp with an efficiency of over 150 lumens per watt, which was built for demonstration purposes.