Consumers are stubborn and hard to please. People tend to like things which they can discern as familiar. We are all creatures of habit and preference. That is why the announcement that Royal Philips Electronics has unveiled the 12 watt EnduraLED light bulb, the first LED replacement for the common 60 watt incandescent bulb, carries layered significance. In addition to delivering 80 percent energy savings, Philips has focused on creating a bulb that delivers the same soft, white light that consumers are used to.
"Philips has long been a company focused on sustainability", Peter Soares, Director of Philips USA said, "it is part of our DNA to bring products like this to the market."
The average 60 watt incandescent bulb has a life of around 1,000 hours; the EnduraLED bulb lasts 25 times longer than that. The EnduraLED also uses only 12 watts of power while delivering 806 lumens. Because of its efficiency the bulb has the potential to save 32.6 million terawatt-hours of electricity in one year, which is enough to power the lights of over 16 million U.S. households.
"The incandescent bulb is a 100 year old technology and not efficient", Soares said, "LED gives you a longer life and a rugged bulb that does not break."
Philips is also ahead of the curve in terms of future legislation. In 2014, 60 watt incandescent bulbs will not be sold anymore. The U.S. Department of Energy created the L-Prize competition as a way to facilitate development of this LED innovation; thus far Philips’ has registered the only submission, which was the basis for the 12 watt EnduraLED.
Creating a sustainable bulb was one thing, making it feasible for mass use was another. In the past alternative bulbs, like the compact fluorescent light (CFL), would give off a harsh, bluish tone. The reason for this is the CFL would have a color temperature of over 6,000 degrees Kelvin (K), the further past 5,000K a bulb goes the harsher the tone of the light it emits.
"Consumers are used to the warm color of an incandescent bulb. That is 2600K or 2700K. Philips’ products are in that 2600-2700K range," Soares said. In the past it has also been challenging developing a bulb that evenly disperses light. Soares sites the solution: "The idea is to use phosphors in conjunction with the LED, which will give it the soft light."
During manufacturing the yellow phosphor is placed adjacent to the blue LED chip to create white light.
The focus on creating a visual feel that is familiar and pleasant represents an acknowledgment on Philips’ part that it is necessary to respect what people are used to. In order to aid the transitional process it is paramount to realize that the average household is lit by 60 watt bulbs with soft, white light. To suddenly force the masses to change would be illogical. The bulb is a screw in replacement, and is also dimmable, which makes it even more accessible to the common consumer.
Soares stated, "It is difficult to put a product on the market that will satisfy consumers". He continued, "It is not about creating a new technology, it is what you do with it".
The hospitality industry is another place where the EnduraLED will have a huge impact. Restaurants and hotels are places where people go to feel comfortable and relax. "The hospitality industry is most similar to a consumer’s life", said Soares, "[The businesses] want to have the same look and feel as your home and office".
"They want to save energy, but do not want to sacrifice the mood and quality of the room. They look at the full cycle cost, and that is where LED comes in".
Since LED bulbs last so long, it is within reason to assume that Philips, and other manufacturers, have to be cognizant of the fact that since the bulbs have a longer life less bulbs will be purchased. "We are developing fixtures that integrate LED’s", Soares said. The fixtures development focuses on aesthetics and they should be available in the not too distant future.
The 12 watt EnduraLED light bulb will be available in the United States in the fourth quarter 2010. Royal Philips Electronics has high expectations for this groundbreaking product and is focused on continuing to be an industry leader in developing sustainable and consumer friendly products. As Soares excitedly stated, "It is really a revolutionary approach to how we light our homes".