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.
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.