Race for Better Light Bulb Heats Up

Philips bids for US government's $10M 'L Prize'
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 25, 2009 10:08 AM CDT
In this May 10, 2007 file photo, an LED floodlight from Lighting Science Group Corp. is shown in New York.   (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
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(Newser) – Dutch electronics giant Philips has created an LED light bulb that, if it lives up to its billing, could claim the US government’s coveted “L Prize.” More important, the new bulb could inherit the 60-watt bulb’s throne. The Energy Department is offering $10 million—and a pile of juicy government contracts—to the first company that crafts an energy-efficient bulb that meets its standards, the New York Times reports.

Old-fashioned incandescent bulbs are set to be banned in 2012. Compact fluorescent bulbs were supposed to step in to replace them, but the department initially didn’t have any quality standards for them. Consumers, saddled with shoddy products, rebelled. So the standards for the L Prize are especially high, and testing rigorous. “We’ve probably eliminated almost 25 products that were horrible,” said the program’s manager.