Is this the one, true Bulbzilla?

Cree (Nasdaq: CREE) today announced a household LED bulb that will provide 800 lumens of light, or about the same amount of light as a standard 60 watt incandescent bulb. The TrueWhite light, however, only uses 10 watts and likely last 25,000 plus hours. That can translate into over a decade in a single socket.

The bulb was announced on that same day that Thomas Edison received a patent for the incandescent bulb 131 years ago (and a day after Michelle Bachmann declared war against efficient lighting!).

Cree hasn't discussed pricing or how it plans to get it to market, but there is a pretty good chance that this bulb will be a contender. Cree is one of the largest and most advanced LED manufacturers in the world. It makes the LED chips that will go inside GE's 40 watt equivalent bulb. The company also holds some of the crucial U.S. intellectual property in LEDs.

Cree is banking heavily that its bulb will provide light that is similar in intensity, color, and quality that consumers will want and are familiar with through incandescents.

That's not easy. We've reviewed a number of LED bulbs. Some try to achieve a warm, yellow/white light but it comes out slightly amber. Other bulbs buzz in dimmable sockets. Some 60 watt equivalent bulbs seem dimmer than 40 watt traditional bulbs. There are good ones out there -- we particularly like the Lighting Science 40 watt equivalent LED bulb -- but not all LEDs are created equal.

"This is a significant milestone for the industry," said Chuck Swoboda, Cree chairman and chief executive officer, in prepared statement. "In the race to commercialize low-cost, energy-efficient LED bulbs, the industry has forgotten that LED lighting is supposed to look as good as the technology it is replacing. This is the first no-compromise replacement for a 60 watt incandescent bulb."

Chuck should not be confused with Mark Swoboda, CEO of Intematix, which makes phosphors and components for LEDs. Sources say they might be related.

Although pricing didn't come out, expect it to sell for around $30 or $20. Lighting Sciences sells a bright 40 watt equivalent LED bulb for $20 now, and recently announced a 60 watt equivalent that will emit 850 watts. Philips has its household bulb, too, and Bridgelux, formerly dedicated to LED technology for businesses, is moving into homes. Toshiba, Panasonic, and Sharp want to expand their bulb business as well.


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