It's official: LEDs are now priced for the masses

One of the main arguments against using LED lamps in homes, offices and elsewhere – high upfront costs – is all but fading away, as prices have now declined to a par with what has been the more popular low energy choice, compact fluorescent bulbs.

So observes none other than the New York Times, which spotted a three-pack of General Electric's recently released Bright Stik 60-watt equivalent LED bulb selling for $9.97 at retail giant Home Depot. Yes, three for $9.97. It seems like only yesterday that LED bulb vendors routinely charged 40 or 50 bucks for one.

The GE cheapie 'follows a new LED from Philips, which last month came on the market at $4.97, with a two-for-one deal for the first 90 days,' the Times wrote. 'And TCP, a company that makes energy-efficient lighting under its own brand as well as for Home Depot and Walmart, has an LED on the market for $4.88.'

That was enough for the paper to declare that pricing is close enough to CFLs so that the purchasing tide will start to run much faster toward LEDs and away from CFLs. LEDs are meant to last for some 20 years – much longer than CFLs – cutting down on replacement and maintenance costs. They also do not contain environmentally hazardous mercury, while CFLs do.

'The only thing CFLs had going for them for a number of years is that they were a lot cheaper,” said Jesse Foote, a lighting industry analyst at Navigant, a research and consulting firm. 'The cost difference at this point is not big enough to really justify the rest of the differences.'

It will still take a while for LEDs to dominate. The Times noted:

  • 'Compact fluorescents still far outsell LEDs, representing 40 percent of bulb shipments for the most popular consumer models in the first quarter of this year, versus 6 percent for LEDs, according to the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, a trade group. But experts say that demand for compact fluorescents is dwindling, while it is rising for LEDs. Compact fluorescent shipments were down by almost 10 percent for the first quarter compared with the same period last year, while shipments of LEDs were up by more than 150 percent, according to the manufacturers’ association.'

Nevertheless, it seems as though the tipping point has arrived.

Energy savings? Low prices? Those will soon be yesterday's LED stories. Now it's time to start fully tapping them for their  enormous digital potential, controlling them via the Internet and tying them into everything (see related stories below).

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Photo is from Lidar Sagdejev via Wikimedia