Intelligent Energy

Affordable LED bulbs? Japan has 'em

Affordable LED bulbs? Japan has 'em

Posting in Energy

A 40-watt equivalent bulb fell to $18 in Japan, where consumers bought more LEDs than incandescent bulbs in June according to a survey that shows a 55 percent global price plunge.

The price of a 40-watt equivalent LED lightbulb plunged 55 percent in the 16 months through June to a global average of $24, falling to $18 in Japan where LED bulb sales outpaced incandescents in June.

The rapid decline, reported by Taiwanese research firm TrendForce, is the latest indication that the planet’s consumers, like those in Japan, could soon ease their resistance to LED bulbs.

Last month, India’s Economic Times reported that LED bulb prices had nearly halved in that country, to as low as $13.

Consumers have balked at buying the energy efficient bulbs because prices are considerably higher than the incandescent bulbs and the “curly cue” compact fluorescent bulbs they are meant to replace.

But that could change as prices ease.

“The continuous downtrend of LED light bulb prices is expected to increase the demand for LED applications,” TrendForce’s LEDinside division stated in a press release. “However, the initial cost of the LED light bulbs is still much higher than that of general light bulbs, so it is still too soon to say whether LED light can fully replace the latter.”

Manufacturers claim that LED bulbs are worth the higher upfront price because they cut electricity consumption – and therefore electricity bills and carbon footprints - by 80 percent or more compared to incandescent bulbs.

They also claim that LEDs save money on replacement bulbs because the bulbs for anywhere from 15-to-25 years or more, although that is not necessarily the case.

Photo: Philips

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Mark Halper

Contributing Editor

Mark Halper has written for TIME, Fortune, Financial Times, the UK's Independent on Sunday, Forbes, New York Times, Wired, Variety and The Guardian. He is based in Bristol, U.K. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure