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A World Record for Energy-Efficient Lighting

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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On Thursday, Philips announced that it has developed the world’s most efficient “warm white” LED lamp. Designed to replace the fluorescent tube lighting that is ubiquitous in offices and industrial facilities, the new TLED (tube-style light emitting diode) has the potential to reduce worldwide energy consumption by more than 7%.

Innovation in the LED lighting industry is generally measured in terms of two categories – cost reductions and efficiency improvements. The former is reflected in the final price tag. The latter is measured in terms of “lumens per watt,” describing the amount of visible light that a source emits at a certain rate of energy consumption.

According to a Philips, their new prototype tube lighting produces 200 lumens per watt (200 lm/W). And it is expected to cost only slightly more than the equivalent strip lighting set-up (at 100 lm/W). Traditional bulbs only produce 15 lm/W.

But, the arguably more significant accomplishment with Philip’s new TLED is that it produces warm white (~2700K) light, the type of light prehat most people prefer for indoor lighting. An easy way to increase the efficiency of a bulb design is to increase the color temperature. So, the fact that Phillips managed to keep the temperature in this lower range, while still hitting the 200 lm/W rating, is even more impressive.

Globally, building lighting represents 15-19% of total energy consumption and florescent tube lighting accounts for more than half of the lighting market. In the context of Thursday’s announcement – if Philips’s new bulb makes it to market by the summer of 2015, it will have the potential to reduce worldwide energy use by more than 7%.

Photo Credit:
1. Photo of Coen Liedenbaum at Philips Research shows the first prototype TLED, providing 200 lumens per watt with high quality of light courtesy of Philips.

Melissa C. Lott About the Author: An engineer and researcher who works at the intersection of energy, environment, technology, and policy. Follow on Twitter @mclott.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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  1. 1. sault 2:40 am 04/14/2013

    Add in reduced building cooling needs to the 7% because the bulbs will be giving off less heat. Other retrofits like better insulation and more efficient HVAC systems can have an even greater effect. Add up all those reductions and we probably have HALF of this whole climate change problem solved!

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  2. 2. mahonj 6:27 pm 04/14/2013

    I presume they mean 200 Trillion watt hours per year rather than 200 Trillion watts per year.

    Either way, 200 l/w @ a colour temperature of 2700K is very good – very very good.

    Nice to see them accept that existing fluorescent strip-lights get 100 l/w (which is better than most LEDs you can actually buy), but then Philips sell them and they should know.

    Lets see them go on sale and see how much they cost.

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  3. 3. @Nancy 1:59 am 04/15/2013

    Fluorescent tube lighting will be replaced by new TLED, it means that less energy emitted and the rate of warm climate will be controded efficiently.However,as the autor saying, the new TLED face to a limitation which can not produce lots of warm white light,so it is negative for person who like to stay at home all day.
    Undoutedly, this technology should be used widely.I look forward to it.

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  4. 4. Leroy 12:39 pm 04/15/2013

    @ @Nancy – These actually do produce warm white light. The big advance here is being able to produce warmer (ie. lower color temp.) light efficiently.

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  5. 5. Brain 10:25 am 04/18/2013

    While I think the near future will hold similar press releases from various companies that have “developed the world’s most efficient LED” this is no doubt significant. The fact that this is a lower color temp can not be understated as to how important it could be in gaining rapid and significant penetration in the market upon its release.

    Like @Mahonj said, curious to where the price point will be and if it is large enough to scare away corporations the way price has acted as an entry barrier for widespread residential use. I will be interested to see when the price of LED’s reaches a point where the general public has greater access. I have used LED’s for a few years now during the holidays with product I found on christmas lights etc. Big fan of using LED’s during the holidays and am interested to see what happens as their use throughout the year is implemented. I know that Cree has make a lot of progress in creating a bulb that has characteristics of traditional bulb

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