New high mark set in super efficient LED lights.

With any luck the future of the standard incandescent light bulb is fading fast as new and more efficient LEDs are developed to take their place. First the challenge was to come up with a white LED and now the race is on to make it more and more efficient. Which brings us to a short news blurb at EETimes.com reporting that the folks at Cree, Inc. have raised the efficiency bar yet again with a new LED that outputs 131 lumens:

“This is the highest level of efficacy that has been publicly reported for a white LED and raises the bar for the LED industry,” said Scott Schwab, Cree general manager, LED chips, in a statement.

Semiconductor suppliers have racing to produce higher efficiency white LEDs as the industry seeks energy-efficient alternatives to conventional lighting. In March, Japan-based Nichia Corp. reported it had developed a white LED rated 100 lumens per watt.

Last September, Cree (Durham, N.C.) said its white XLamp 7090 Power LED was capable of producing 86 lumens per watt.

To put that into perspective consider that your standard incandescent light bulbs are only about 10 to 20 lumens per watt and compact fluorescent lamps manage 50 to 60 lumens per watt and the advantages to using LEDs for lighting become a little more apparent. You can already buy LED “bulbs” that’ll screw into a standard socket today, but they’re still on the expensive side. For example ThinkGeek.com offers three models from $21.99 – $38.99 compared to a $1.50 or so for a standard incandescent bulb, but on the plus side they claim that the cheapest of the LED bulbs they sell will allow you to run it for twelve hours a day for a whole year at a cost of about 80 cents. The lighting industry figures that Solid State Lighting (SSL)—their name for LED based lighting—will probably become common by the year 2020, but if things keep advancing at this pace perhaps it’ll become more common earlier, especially if energy prices remain high. Being the geek that I am I’m ready to switch over to SSL now as I’m all for anything that uses less energy, but then that’s just me.

11 thoughts on “New high mark set in super efficient LED lights.

  1. Wouldn’t anything over 100 lumens be a little too bright?  Something from the show “Home Improvement” rings a bell where you had to where special glasses to view Tim’s Christmas light display.  But with the cost savings I guess one could quickly get over the brightness.

  2. Do all LEDs give off that weird blueish light?  ‘Cause I kinda like the yellow-tinged light of the incandescents.

    One of the few things I know about LED’s is that you can change the color they give off by changing the color on the case (I think it is plastic but not sure) that sits over the LED.  If you look at the power light on your monitor, that is most likely an LED.

  3. Pure-color LED’s emit the colors they do right from the semiconductor; the plastic case may be colored or clear.  First ones were red, then came yellow, and green, and finally blue, UV, and white.  I used to use red LED’s as darkroom safelights, and they worked great.

    Wikipedia has (surprise) a cool article on LED history and technology.  Interesting stuff.  The guy who invented blue LED’s (very important to data transmission because of the short wavelength) really got shafted by the company he worked for.

  4. I have a feeling that technophilic cannabis growers everywhere desperately want widespread availability of SSL.  If it lowered electricity consumption dramatically it would help keep the Man from finding them out, and the lowered heat signature would help prevent thermal imaging from being used as a detection method (admittedly more important in Canada that the US).

    Perhaps this very reason can be construed as a conspiratorial theory why SSL is taking so long…

  5. Last time I was in the States, in February, I bought me an LED bike headlight.  I bike a fair amount after dark, and I haven’t had to recharge the batteries once yet.  I’m sold.

  6. Webs, I got mine in a bike store in El Sobrante, CA.  It’s a “Blackburn Quadrant” headlight, costs $25, and is probably widely available.  You can look at it here.  You might want to ask around about other models, though- there’s lots of competition, and there might be something better out now.  I’m pleased with the Blackburn, though.

  7. Thanks a lot.  I would probably venture into building one, but I do not have the time, and $25 is pretty cheap.

  8. I recently purchased a Fenix PD20 which has the cree LED in it.

    It has far exceeded my expectations and I will never go back to incandescent flashlights.

    Yes, the beam is a bit blue, which affects color rendidtion. But the power and run times provided more than make up for this.

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