Philips says its found a way to make LED lighting that’s twice as efficient as existing fluorescent bulbs. It would mean bringing the type of energy savings found in many homes to offices and factories.
Although mention of energy-saving bulbs usually brings to mind domestic light fittings, Philips says around half of all energy used in lighting around the world is in fluorescent strip lights. To date businesses have been slow to switch those to more efficient lighting technologies that lose less of the energy in the form of heat.
Revene van Schooten, who heads up lighting technology for Philips, says the company has developed a prototype LED strip light and plans to have it on sale by 2015. He also predicts that within a decade, half of all fluorescent bulbs will have been replaced with LEDs.
It should be noted that, contrary to the impression given by some headlines today, van Schooten specifically did not forecast the “death” of the traditional bulb.
Light is measured in lumens, which refers to a given amount of light in a given space. According to an Associated Press source, the best fluorescent tubes currently achieve around 100 lumens for every watt of power, while LED lamps can get 120 lumens per watt; the Department of Energy had forecast this would improve to 160 lumens per watt over the next two years.
The Philips prototype can achieve 200 lumens per watt. While that figure has been achieved before, it seems the Philips model is the first that can do consistently across different temperatures and with a light that has a similar “warmth” to fluorescent tubes.
Although the LED strips will cost more than their fluorescent counterparts at launch, Philips believes the additional purchase costs will be recouped in lower electricity consumption with one year, compared with an average of three years at the moment.
In the long run, the cost of LED strips could fall to or below those of fluorescent lights, simply because increased production runs will allow for greater economies of scale.