By Grey Lee
by Chris Liston
Say goodbye to the incandescent lamp – and perhaps the CFL? As the federal government continues to phase-out A-type incandescent light bulbs, a price war between Cree Lighting and Philips Lighting has pushed the life-cycle cost of A-type LEDs below the life-cycle cost of A-type CFLs.
The A-type light bulb is the most common type of lamp uses in Massachusetts homes. Under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA), the 100-watt incandescent was phased-out in 2012, the 75-watt incandescent will be phased out in 2013 and the 40-watt and 60-watt incandescent will be phased out in 2014. Since EISA was announced, LED manufacturers have been scrambling to develop cost-effective alternatives.
In March 2013, Cree Lighting shattered LED price points with a 9.5-watt A-type LED at a cost just under $15 and Philips responded by lowering the price point of its own A-type LED. As of June 2013 Home Depot locations in Massachusetts are carrying the Cree 9.5-watt LED (60-watt equivalent) for $12.97 and the Philips 12.5-watt LED (60-watt equivalent) for $10.97. Analysts expect these prices to fall below the $10 mark sometime before the end of the year.
How is a $13 LED less expensive than a $5 CFL? The answer is in the life-cycle cost. Over a 25,000 hour period a 9.5-watt LED will cost approximately $51 in lamp costs and energy costs. Over the same period a 13-watt CFL will cost approximately $61 in lamp costs and energy costs. When Philips and Cree dropped below the $15 price point, LEDs became a better financial investment than CFLs.
Life-cycle cost analysis remains a difficult sell for budget conscious consumers. When CFLs hit the market in the mid-1990s they retailed for $20-$30 and claimed a $40 savings over the life of the lamp, but by 1999 incandescent lamps still outsold CFLs 25-to-1. In a similar trend, analysts expect LED sales to surpass CFL sales sometime between 2018 and 2020.