With many countries planning or having already implemented the phase out of incandescent bulbs, lighting company GE has unveiled a 40W equivalent Energy Smart LED bulb that consumes 9W, hence providing a 77 percent energy saving over its old-fashioned technological incandescent cousin. GE says the Energy Smart LED will produce nearly the same light output as a 40W bulb but will last 25 times longer. It is expected to be available to consumers later this year or early 2011.

While 40W doesn’t sound like a very bright light, the new LEDs have been designed by GE scientists and engineers to better direct light downward, and not just for use in lampshades and other low-light devices. The company hinted that many consumers are unimpressed with current LED bulbs that produce around 350 lumens. These LEDs will deliver 450 lumens, the equivalent of a 40W globe, which is the threshold to achieve the Energy Star rating the company has applied for.

“This is a bulb that can virtually light your kid's bedroom desk lamp from birth through high school graduation,” says John Strainic, global product general manager, GE Lighting. “It's an incredible advancement that's emblematic of the imagination and innovation that GE's applying to solve some of the world's biggest challenges.”

GE Energy Smart LED bulb is expected to consume just 9W - compared with 40W incandescent/halogen or 10W CFL, while delivering nearly the same light output. It’s also expected to last 25,000 hours, or 17 years if used for four hours per day.

The bulbs are manufactured with a durable solid-state design and no filament to break, they contain no mercury and will be RoHS compliant; and are cooler to the touch than CFLs and far cooler than incandescent bulbs.

“The introduction of high-quality retrofit light bulbs, like the GE Energy Smart LED bulb, is a key next step in the LED lighting revolution,” notes Norbert Hiller, Cree vice president and general manager, LED Components.

The bad news … the bulbs are expected to retail for between US$40-50, but that initial cost is more than offset by their long life.

US lighting facts/legislation

Starting in 2012 and continuing through 2014, standard incandescent light bulbs are being removed from sale as a result of US federal lighting efficiency standards. Also, 100W bulbs can no longer be made after January 2012; 75W bulbs cease in January 2013; and wave goodbye to 60W and 40W bulbs from January 2014.