Philips LEDbulb first look

Is this the next big thing in energy-efficient home lighting?
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Philips Master LEDbulb MV 12W

Price $60 (expected)Philips LEDbulb

Light-emitting diodes (LED), the newest player in energy-efficient lighting, may take over from compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) in the next few years. Unlike CFLs they don’t contain mercury, and they’re very energy-efficient and long-lasting – potentially 10 times longer than CFLs.

LED downlights have been available for some time, but now general lighting LED lamps for ordinary household light fittings are also appearing on the market. The dimmable Master LEDbulb, slated for retail release in August and available for B22 and E27 fittings, is one of the first 60W incandescent-equivalents from a major manufacturer.

The unusual design hints at technical challenges that must be overcome for LED bulbs to become a reliable equivalent to a 60W globe. LEDs are sensitive to heat, which considerably diminishes lifespan, so a heat sink is used to keep them cooler. And a yellow plastic coating filters the typically blue-white LED light to a warm white colour.

The Master LEDbulb activates almost instantly with good, bright light. Output diminishes a little over an hour or more, but this isn’t noticeable to the naked eye. The claimed output is 806 lumens, which is consistent with our test results, and is easily equivalent to a 60W incandescent.

We’ll keep the LEDbulb on our test rig for several months of lifecycle testing, along with a new batch of CFLs. Look for our 2000 hour report on energy-efficient lights (which will include CFLs and the LEDbulb) in November for more information.

For more information on energy-efficient products and more see Saving energy.

CHOICE verdict

Exciting as this new light bulb is, is it worth the expected retail price of $60? Philips claims an impressive 25,000 hour (15 year) lifespan for the Master LEDbulb, but you could use four good 6000-hour 12W CFLs instead, and at only about $6 each, they are much cheaper overall. However, prices will come down as LED bulbs become more common, and the fact they are mercury-free and longer-lasting is good news for the environment.

We’ve checked several samples after 100 hours and so far they’re performing well. But it’s too soon to judge them properly, so we’re reserving a score until our 2000 hour report.



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