The U.S. Department of Energy  (DOE) announced the first recipient of the prestigious L Prize  competition on Aug. 3, naming Philips Lighting North America  as the winner of the 60W replacement category.
The DOE launched the L Prize competition in 2008 as a challenge for lighting manufacturers to create high-performance solid-state lighting.
“The L Prize challenges the best and brightest minds in the U.S. lighting industry to make the technological leaps forward that can greatly reduce the money we spend to light our homes and businesses each year,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a statement. “Not only does the L Prize challenge innovative companies like Philips to make LED technology even more energy efficient, it also spurs the lighting industry to make LEDs affordable for American families.”
Philips Lighting North America CEO Zia Eftekhar says developing LEDs has long been a top priority at Philips, and that the announcement of the L Prize competition reinforced the company’s belief in the technology.
“We committed ourselves to LED technology before the L Prize was ever announced, and we committed a lot of our research and development efforts in that area, so we did have a head start compared to the rest of the industry,” Eftekhar says.
Developing a bulb to meet the L Prize’s demanding requirements was a challenge, Eftekhar says, but the competition gave the company a lofty goal to aim for.
“The L Prize was a call to action for our company to get ourselves to a higher level than what we were working on at that time,” Eftekhar says. “It’s not just about the energy efficiency of the light bulb, but also the color, color consistency, color rendering index (CRI) and most importantly, the life. The combination of all of that made it a very challenging task.”
Since it was submitted in late 2009, the Philips bulb has undergone an intensive 18-month evaluation process, starting with short-term photometric testing in the spring of last year, followed by long-term lumen maintenance testing, where 200 samples were tested for 6,000 hours in a high-temperature test bed, and stress testing, where samples were subjected to extreme conditions including high and low temperatures, humidity and vibration. The final field-testing stage was completed earlier this summer when 1,300 samples were installed in 40 sites around the country.
The results of the testing process showed the Philips entry met the L Prize requirements for 60W replacement lamps:
• Efficacy – More than 90 lumens per watt
• Light Output – More than 900 lumens
• Wattage – Less than 10W
• CRI – Higher than 90
• Correlated Color Temperature – 2700-3000K
• Form Factor – Same lamp form as incandescent
• Beam Distribution – Equivalent to incandescent
• Usable Life – 25,000 hours
• Dimmable – Must be dimmable
According to the DOE, Philips’ prize includes a $10 million cash award as well as promotions from 31 utilities and energy efficiency program partners. The winning bulb is expected to arrive in stores by the end of the year, Eftekhar says.
The L Prize 60W replacement category is now closed to new entries, but two entries from earlier this year are still eligible for promotions from program partners if they meet the category requirements. Back in March, Lighting Science Group  announced its intent to submit for this category, and earlier this summer, GE  announced it will also submit a 60W replacement bulb that uses Cree  TrueWhite technology.
The L Prize includes two additional categories. The PAR 38 replacement lamp category is temporarily closed while the DOE revises the entry requirements. Requirements for the 21st Century Lamp, the third and final category in the L Prize competition, are still being finalized.