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Philips 22-W LED is first Energy Star 100-W equivalent bulb ... but why?

Philips 22-W LED is first Ener...
Philips 22 W (100-W incandescent equivalent) LED light bulb
Philips 22 W (100-W incandescent equivalent) LED light bulb
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A Philips 60-W LED light bulb equivalent
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A Philips 60-W LED light bulb equivalent
Philips 22 W (100-W incandescent equivalent) LED light bulb
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Philips 22 W (100-W incandescent equivalent) LED light bulb

Philips has announced that its 22-watt LED lightbulb is the first 100-watt tungsten equivalent bulb to have been awarded Energy Star certification. Often referred to as the A21, which is actually just one of several standard forms for light bulbs that this bulb happens to conform to, Philips' 22-W bulb puts out "nearly" 1,800 lumens for an efficacy of about 82 lumens/watt (lm/W). It's a fine spec, but not too dissimilar to the competition, which raises the question of why Philips' product has been singled out.

The bulb's efficiency is right up there with other 100-W equivalent LED light bulbs we've looked at from Osram Sylvania, GE and Switch. There was some confusion as to the exact efficacy of Osram Sylvania's offering at the time of its announcement, but its Amazon listing now quotes an output of 1,675 lumens giving it a superior efficacy of 84 lm/W, though other sources put the efficacy at 80 lm/W (a note on efficacy and efficiency: technically there's a distinction.) The current specs listed at Switch Lighting's website means its efficacy has to be reined in from the figures we were quoted at the time of our reporting.

The 1,600 lumen output of Osram Sylvania's, GE's and Switch's bulbs is actually worse than that of a 100 W tungsten bulb (about 1,750 lumens). Philips' bulb, on the other hand, exceeds this output. However, the 1,600 lumen output is still sufficient to achieve Energy Star rating, so why is Philips' bulb the only one to have been certified?

The Philips press release gives some insight into the requirements of the certification process for such a product. In addition to the 1,600-lumen minimum output, lamps must achieve a color rendering index of 80 (good, but not great) and a rated life of 25,000 hours (which is the time it takes for the light output of the LEDs to drop to 70 percent of their initial output).

However, though definitive spec sheets of these lightbulbs are hard to pin down, a color rendering index of 80 is not particularly onerous, and, given that LED lifespans are frequently quoted at 50,000 or even 100,000 hours, neither is a 25,000-hour rated life. Indeed, a glance at the Switch spec confirms that the bulb meets the Energy Star requirements. It seems very possible, if not downright likely, that Osram Sylvania's and GE's 100-W-equivalent LED bulbs do the same (this report in LEDs Magazine suggests that Osram Sylvania's bulb is indeed up to snuff.)

So, as fine as it is, precisely why Philips' bulb has been certified over Osram Sylvania's, Switch's, and potentially GE's is something of a mystery. If there's a reason similar products have not been certified, this would be useful to know. If there's not, the apparent singling-out of Philips would seem to be a little unfair. We've asked the manufacturers and Energy Star for insights. We'll let you know if we have any more to add.

Update 04.04.2013: Thanks to reader Daniel Henderson who pointed out that LED life span is defined as a percentage light drop, not a failure rate. The article has been amended to rectify this.

Update 04.05.2013: A Philips spokesperson has been in touch by email, and has shed some light on the Energy Star certification process. Interestingly, the results of the test put the bulb's performance as superior to the rated figures. Rather than rehash the email, here's what we received:

Anyone can submit their product for Energy Star testing, which includes 3,000 hours in lab testing, as well as other types of testing that confirm that the product lives up to its claims, including checking the beam angles, how well it performs, light quality, etc. Our bulbs are developed with Energy Star standards in mind because we want to ensure that they qualify for utility rebates that will help lower their cost for consumer, as well as giving them the assurance that they are getting a quality product. Some of stats from the testing:

  • The min lumens for ES qualified 100W incandescent equiv is 1600 [lumens], our lamp tested 1780 [lumens] – exceeded by 10.6 percent

  • Our rated wattage is 22 W, but the LM79 data showed 20.8 W
  • Based on those measurements our efficacy is 85.8 lm/W, one best in the industry for a bulb of this type
  • Though this bulb may be best in class (its 2,700 K warm appearance does no harm in this regard), it's still not precisely clear why no other products have been certified. Philips has kindly offered to answer further questions – an offer we'll certainly take them up on. Our conversations with the other players are ongoing, so stay tuned for a follow-up article in the coming days that will hopefully shed more light (if you'll pardon the phrase) on Energy Star and LED light bulbs.

    Philips also sent through an image of this 100-W incandescent equivalent LED bulb. The image we originally ran was of the similar-looking 60-W equivalent. Apologies for any confusion caused.

    Update 04.13.2013: For the resolution of some of these questions, see Gizmag's feature, A tale of two tests: why Energy Star LED light bulbs are a rare breed.

    Source: Philips

    16 comments
    Adrien
    maybe the certification is applied for by the manufacturer and paid for, like most certification systems.
    Joseph Boe
    Energy Star is a scam. The U.S. Federal government itself has found it riddled with fraud: http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d10470.pdf
    Daishi
    Most vendors have only recently announced 100 watt equivalent LED in 2011 and 20012. LED lifespan figures available now are mostly for other (60w) bulbs. If the certification requires a 25,000-hour rated life (2.8 years), it would at least partly answer why more companies are not currently energy star certified. Even if that test began on launch day that much time has not yet passed if it is something that is actually tested and not just assumed based on components.
    Dave B13
    The LED bulbs have a huge advantage in uses or locations where bulb breakage is possible. LED bulbs are tougher and can't distribute toxic mercury & cadmium and little sharp bit of glass that are the bad news when a compact flourescent breaks. I use a 17W PAR style Phillips LED bulb clamped to my plug in lawn mower to mow at night, no modifcation to mower or cord, just one of the outlet multipliers in line, Used one of those rubber light sockets for refrigerators & hose clamp on a 1/2" conduit clamp & wired a plug on it. It's been great with light on when mowing or not mowing.
    BulbsBoss
    The requirements for ENERGY STAR qualification are outlined here - http://www.energystar.gov/ia/partners/product_specs/program_reqs/Integral_LED_Lamps_Program_Requirements.pdf Included in the requirements are varying life cycle tests of the bulb sample(s) submitted by the manufacturer. For example, tested bulbs must meet lumen maintenance of 91.8% after 6,000 hours (see ENERGY STAR link provided above). Several other performance requirements must also be met for a bulb to qualify. It's likely that the other brands either began test submission after Philips or they didn't pass. We work with several LED manufacturers including Philips. In the case of LED qualification, government requirements appear to reasonably and consistently applied to all manufacturers who submit their products. Some manufacturers are just better at design and production than others. Mike Connors, CEO Bulbs.com
    Daniel Henderson
    A few factual errors in your piece. Most notably the description of lamp life. Indeed, for traditional sources like incandescent the life rating is when 50% of a sample of 100 lamps has burned out. LEDs are not rated in the same manner. When you have an L70 rating of 25,000 hours that means that at 25,000 hours the LED will put out 70% of its original output. It does not mean half of them will have failed. In comparison, an incandescent outputs 70% at about 1/3 of it's rated life but like I said the ratings are different.
    Grizzley99
    Wait, I thought the CFL's 100W equivalent were only 23-27W? Do LED's have a large lm dropoff at higher power? Plus right now they are about a tenth of the cost. I assumed LED's efficiency would be more than that. Are the savings only to be had at the lower lumens?
    solutions4circuits
    It could be as simple as being a Federal procurement requirement. What better way to lock your competitors out of bidding? Philips has all but locked up the contracts for retrofitting Federal buildings from what I know. Pretty good for a Dutch company that won the "Americans-only" LPrize.
    TechGnostic
    Notwithstanding the many details of the numbers quoted and debated here, the proof is in the pudding. Having tried many different vendor LED and CFL bulbs here, we found every other vendor's offering (and some had similar specs to this line of Phillips LED bulb) were actually much dimmer than stated in Lumens, provided light to a much narrower zone, and had a cold blue or dead-white color to their light. Whereas this line of Phillips bulb offers truer brightness per lumen rating, lights an area similar to an incandescent bulb AND provides an agreeable warm, yellow-toned light that is a very decent imitation of the light from incandescents. So far it is the only LED bulb we have found that is really an acceptable replacement to our accustomed 'traditional' lighting. (CFLs are not even a starter - revolting, toxic, fragile and unappealing things that they are).
    clevcavs
    Dave B13, why in the world do you mow your lawn at night?