LEDs turn up the competition in price war against CFLs

The New York Times recently reported that CFL shipments were down by almost 10 percent for the first quarter of 2015 compared with the same period last year, while shipments of LEDs were up by more than 150 percent, according to the National Electrical Manufacturers Association.

So what does this mean?

The demand for CFLs is dwindling, while the demand for LEDs is rising. For years, the cost differential was the only competitive advantage CFLs enjoyed; but now the playing field is leveling. While there are still applications that are better-suited to CFLs as opposed to LEDs, like areas which require high-intensity lighting, manufacturers like General Electric are shifting their focus towards LEDs.

In the past month or so, we’ve seen two relatively inexpensive LED bulbs come to market, thanks to GE and Philips.

The GE Bright Stik, a cylindrical 60-watt bulb, comes in a three-pack available for $9.97. The light bulb is geared toward businesses that typically use CFLs, like hotels, because its slimmer shape lets it fit into existing fixtures that were designed for CFLs.

Philips’ low-priced LED bulb was introduced to the market at $4.97 apiece, with a two-for-one deal for the first 90 days. The bulb is meant to serve as a utilitarian bulb that does not dim and can be used in places like basements, laundry rooms and anywhere that requires a consistent level of lighting.

Phillips Bulb

This is all positive news for the entire LED industry — sapphire manufacturers included. Prices for LEDs have dropped in part because of government regulations, but also because of increased efficiencies when it comes to LED and sapphire manufacturing.

By developing large diameter wafers, manufacturers have been able to maximize the usable area of a sapphire wafer, which effectively maximizes the number of LED chips produced per wafer. Then, through technologies like Patterned Sapphire Substrates, precise etching and patterning can increase the total light extraction efficiency as much as 30 percent.

With prices dropping, LEDs are now becoming a viable option for people’s lighting needs worldwide. From Africa to Asia to North America, LED lighting is helping to break new grounds. As LEDs continue catch on, the LED Revolution we have been discussing on this blog becomes less hypothetical and more a reality.

Cities Worldwide Tap LEDs to Make Skylines Sparkle

The world’s skylines are changing. They’re no longer bathed in white light or neon. Thanks to new programmable LEDs, today’s city skylines are transformed into rainbows of light promoting good causes, events and company brands in every color imaginable that can change nightly.

But first let’s take a look at how lighting in cities got its start. Skylines and exhibitions played an early role in promoting lighting. Perhaps one of the most notable points in the history of lighting is the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893.

The Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 set the stage for promoting the wonder of electric lighting. In fact it was a big part in the race to light the world between Westinghouse backing Nicola Tesla (inventor of alternating current) and General Electric, owned by JP Morgan and Thomas Edison (inventor of light bulbs and direct current).

Westinghouse outbid Edison for the contract to light and power the fair. More than 200,000 white incandescent bulbs, using Tesla’s polyphase alternating current system, amazed crowds as they lit up the world’s fair at night. How did they beat out Edison? They under-bid Edison and GE banned them from using Edison light bulbs in retaliation for losing the bid. To light the fair, Westinghouse and Tesla sidestepped Edison’s light bulb patents with a new double stopper light bulb.

Here’s a photo from the Chicago World’s Fair at night. Just imagine how impressive this display of light must have been to a population used to gas lights and candles.

Chicago World's Fair 1893

Chicago World’s Fair 1893








Back to today. LED lighting systems have given rise to a whole new look to a city skyline. Here are a few of the more colorful city skylines bathed in LED lighting.

New York, New York

New York City Skyline

New York City Skyline

Hong Kong

Hong Kong Skyline

Hong Kong Skyline

Chicago, IL

Chicago Skyline

Chicago Skyline bathed in pink for Breast Cancer Month


Dubai Skyline

Dubai Skyline

For Further Reading

NY Post, City’s towers in LED arms race to get brightest spot in skyline, http://nypost.com/2014/03/23/citys-towers-in-led-arms-race-to-get-brightest-spot-in-skyline/

City Lab, How LEDs Have Transformed the City Skyline, http://www.citylab.com/design/2013/07/how-leds-have-transformed-city-skyline/6382/

NY Post, High-tech LEDs turning NYC skyline into a lightshow, http://nypost.com/2014/01/15/high-tech-leds-turning-nyc-skyline-into-a-lightshow/