LED Lamp Efficiency To Continue Improving As Cost Decreases

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Originally published on the EIA website.

graph of average lightning efficacy and cost per bulb, as explained in the article text

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Annual Energy Outlook 2014 Early Release

Technology improvements for general service lighting, driven by federal efficiency standards, are leading to increased reliability and bulb life. As efficiency increases, residential electricity consumption for lighting declines over time. Although the initial purchase price is higher for more efficient technologies than for traditional bulbs, significant savings are achieved over the life of the bulb (also called a lamp).

Lighting standards mandated by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 affect general service lighting, the bulbs most commonly used for residential lighting. At the beginning of 2014, these standards required the production of higher-efficiency alternatives to traditional 40- to 60-Watt-equivalent incandescent lamps, which follow prior standards for 75-Watt and 100-Watt lamps. Between now and 2020, halogen incandescent lamps will be able to comply with applicable standards for general service lighting—a standard that traditional incandescent lamps cannot meet. An additional round of standards taking effect in 2020 will likely be too stringent for halogen incandescent lamps to meet, and major manufacturers have already focused development on more-efficient technologies.

The efficiency (also called efficacy—the light output per unit of energy consumed) of incandescent lamps has increased only moderately since the introduction of the first commercially available incandescent lamps more than a century ago. Typical 60-Watt incandescent lamps produce only 16 lumens of light output per Watt with useful lifetimes of 1,000 hours on average, while a comparable halogen incandescent lamp may produce closer to 20 lumens per Watt. An equivalent compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) provides about 67 lumens per Watt and lasts 10 times as long. Solid-state light-emitting diode (LED) lamps are even more efficient—currently producing around 83 lumens per Watt—yet are rated to last more than 30 times as long as a comparable incandescent lamp. LED lighting technologies have been advancing rapidly with projections for further improvements, resulting in lower cost, increased reliability, and reduced energy consumption. By 2020, EIA projects LEDs to produce more than 150 lumens per Watt.

Decreasing prices for more-efficient lighting technologies, aided by state and local incentives and the new standards, are leading to increases in the average efficiency of installed lighting equipment over time. Improvements in bulb life mean consumers need to replace them less frequently, reducing projected purchases over the forecast horizon.

Principal contributors: Owen Comstock, Kevin Jarzomski

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US Energy Information Administration

The EIA collects, analyzes, and disseminates independent and impartial energy information to promote sound policymaking, efficient markets, and public understanding of energy and its interaction with the economy and the environment.

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19 thoughts on “LED Lamp Efficiency To Continue Improving As Cost Decreases

  • The lifetime of LED’s is so long, that we will see the end of light bulbs. All light fixtures will be sold with the LED’s included and they will outlast the product. I recently bought such a lamp at IKEA. It giives the designers much more freedom, reduces the amount of material needed, and thus cost.

  • LED Lighting is a great green solution due to their efficiency and long life!
    LED (Light Emitting Diode) uses less power and each bulb potentially lasts up to 10 times longer (40,000 hours vs. 4,000 hours).

  • Xledia makes an LED that produces 2000 lumens while consuming 16.3 watts for an output of 123 lumens/watt. This far exceeds most other manufacturers. Available through Amazon and others

  • The 40- and 60-watt equivalent LED bulbs don’t give enough light for comfortable reading. All the reading lamps in my home were made for 100-watt or the larger three-way bulbs. When will LEDs that produce that much light become available?

    • IKEA sell a 600-lumen bulb for €7, That’s about 75w incandescent.
      100W is very bright for a reading lamp: it’s more the standard for central ceiling fixtures. Of course we oldies need more light than youngsters. You can increase the local intensity with spots.

    • 100 watt LEDs – here now.

      Home Depot is now selling Cree A21 LEDs for just under $20. I bought a Phillips A21 for about $25 at HD a couple weeks ago.

      The A21s come in 2,700 lumen (softer white) and 5,000 lumen (bright white) versions. I have a 5,000 A19 which I find a bit too “brilliant” for living room use but it’s great in the shop.

      Their A21s are dimmable. Should last 22.8 years based on 3 hour per day use. Indoor and outdoor use.

      At 11 cents per kWh and 3 hours per day use they will pay for themselves in about 10 years. Roughly a 7% return on investment. Plus knowing that you’ve helped cut our CO2 emissions. 18 watts compared to a 100 watt incandescent.

      (I agree, 60w is too dim for comfortable reading, even in the floor lamp next to my chair. Might have something to do with the grey in our beards.)

      • “The A21s come in 2,700 lumen (softer white) and 5,000 lumen (bright white) versions.”

        I think you mean Kelvin.

        • Yep. Sorry.

          Was looking up the info on the Phillips 100 watt replacement I bought and saw that HD was now selling the Cree for <$20.

          I'm just an excitable boy. (And a sloppy proofreader….)

      • That Cree bulb produces 1,600 lumens and uses 18 watts making it an 89 lumens/watt device. And I don’t think Cree is done yet 🙂

      • “At 11 cents per kWh and 3 hours per day use they will pay for themselves in about 10 years.” Recheck your math. They will pay for themselves in 3 years.

        • 82 watts per hour saved. 0.082 kWh

          0.082 * $0.11 * 3 *365 = $9.88

          Cree A21 (100 watt replacement) is $19.97 at Home Depot.

          $19.97 / 9.88 = 2.02 years.

          We both were wrong.

          (That 10 years is absurdly off. As I said, sloppy proofreader.)

          But check this out! HD is now selling the Cree 60 watt replacement for $4.97.

          That’s a 60 watt replacement that uses 10 watts for a 50 watt savings.

          Payback in less than one year.

  • Its almost a shame they last so long. In 2020 new LEDs will be about twice as efficient as todays bulbs, but a lot of fixtures will still have todays bulbs in them.

    • CFLs didn’t last as long as stated on the package.. what makes you think LEDs will?


      • Mine did.

        There were some poor quality CFLs sold and some were installed inappropriately.

        Anyway, with a LED that pays for itself in a year or so but lasts only two years – would that be a loss?

      • I’ve had some CFLs that didn’t last too long, but lately they seem to have been lasting. I think there is a lot less that can go wrong with LEDs. One guy who installs them says he dropped one 12feet onto concrete, and despite a broken lense, it worked fine. CFL’s require keeping low pressure gas inside so any kind of leak and they are kaput.

  • The light quality is also very important.

    Possible replacements for LED’s:
    – visible light antenna’s light emitters.
    – silicium quantum dots, nanodots: http://lumisands.com/

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