Skip to Content

Bright LED Bulbs Arrive At Last

Osram Sylvania LED bulb shows that lighting manufacturers can finally match other technologies on brightness.
November 13, 2012

Osram Sylvania this week is shipping an LED light bulb that gives off as much light as a 100-watt incandescent, a sign that lighting manufacturers have successfully tackled the technical challenge of making bright LED bulbs.

Osram Sylvania’s LED bulb gives off as much light as a 100-watt incandescent but consumes 20 watts and lasts many years longer.

The bulb gives off light in all directions, making it suitable for most applications, and consumes 20 watts of power. The expected retail price is just under $50. Osram Sylvania estimates that the bulb will save $220 over its life, assuming consumers pay the national average of 11 cents per kilowatt-hour.

It comes in the A21 shape, slightly longer than a traditional incandescent bulb, and gives off 1,600 lumens. The light color is a yellow 2700 Kelvin and has a color rendering index, which is a measure of light quality, of 80.

Next month, Philips plans to have its own 100-watt equivalent A21 bulb available in stores, which consumes 22 watts and has a CRI of 80. General Electric and startup Switch are also expected to have their own 100-watt replacements in the months ahead as well.

The arrival of these bright LED bulbs is significant because they’re in the popular 100-watt, or 1600-lumen, category. Over the past few years, lighting manufacturers have released omnidirectional LED bulbs aimed at consumers starting with 40-watt equivalents and are finally reaching a level of brightness consumesr are familiar with. LEDs have heat sinks on them to wick away heat from the LED light sources, which is important to ensuring their long life.

In the U.S., a 2007 law set efficiency standards for lighting which are leading to a phase-out of traditional incandescent bulbs, starting with 100-watt bulbs this year and then progressing next year to the 75-watt category.

Functionally, these LED bulbs are good. I’ve been using the 100-watt equivalent Philips bulb for the past few weeks and it’s great to finally have that brightness available with an LED, although it’s longer shape means it won’t fit in all light fixtures. LEDs are more energy efficient than other technologies, can last more than 20 years, don’t have mercury, and their life won’t degrade from quickly turning them on and off as CFLs do.

The steep price of these LED bulbs is still a serious barrier to wider commercialization. Consumers can still buy less-expensive CFLs or halogens, a more efficient type of incandescent technology, even when the phase-out takes effect.

At the same time, the prices of consumer LEDs have come down significantly since manufacturers first introduced them. Best Buy last month introduced LED bulbs in the 40-watt and 60-watt categories priced at just under $14 and $17. Equivalent products from other lighting manufacturers cost more than double that price two years ago. (See, LED Lighting Riding Price-Performance Curve.)

Keep Reading

Most Popular

conceptual illustration of a heart with an arrow going in on one side and a cursor coming out on the other
conceptual illustration of a heart with an arrow going in on one side and a cursor coming out on the other

Forget dating apps: Here’s how the net’s newest matchmakers help you find love

Fed up with apps, people looking for romance are finding inspiration on Twitter, TikTok—and even email newsletters.

computation concept
computation concept

How AI is reinventing what computers are

Three key ways artificial intelligence is changing what it means to compute.

still from Embodied Intelligence video
still from Embodied Intelligence video

These weird virtual creatures evolve their bodies to solve problems

They show how intelligence and body plans are closely linked—and could unlock AI for robots.

We reviewed three at-home covid tests. The results were mixed.

Over-the-counter coronavirus tests are finally available in the US. Some are more accurate and easier to use than others.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.