With any luck the future of the standard incandescent light bulb is fading fast as new and more efficient LEDs are developed to take their place. First the challenge was to come up with a white LED and now the race is on to make it more and more efficient. Which brings us to a short news blurb at EETimes.com reporting that the folks at Cree, Inc. have raised the efficiency bar yet again with a new LED that outputs 131 lumens:
“This is the highest level of efficacy that has been publicly reported for a white LED and raises the bar for the LED industry,” said Scott Schwab, Cree general manager, LED chips, in a statement.
Semiconductor suppliers have racing to produce higher efficiency white LEDs as the industry seeks energy-efficient alternatives to conventional lighting. In March, Japan-based Nichia Corp. reported it had developed a white LED rated 100 lumens per watt.
Last September, Cree (Durham, N.C.) said its white XLamp 7090 Power LED was capable of producing 86 lumens per watt.
To put that into perspective consider that your standard incandescent light bulbs are only about 10 to 20 lumens per watt and compact fluorescent lamps manage 50 to 60 lumens per watt and the advantages to using LEDs for lighting become a little more apparent. You can already buy LED “bulbs” that’ll screw into a standard socket today, but they’re still on the expensive side. For example ThinkGeek.com offers three models from $21.99 – $38.99 compared to a $1.50 or so for a standard incandescent bulb, but on the plus side they claim that the cheapest of the LED bulbs they sell will allow you to run it for twelve hours a day for a whole year at a cost of about 80 cents. The lighting industry figures that Solid State Lighting (SSL)—their name for LED based lighting—will probably become common by the year 2020, but if things keep advancing at this pace perhaps it’ll become more common earlier, especially if energy prices remain high. Being the geek that I am I’m ready to switch over to SSL now as I’m all for anything that uses less energy, but then that’s just me.