L Prize Competition Now Open for PAR 38 Entries
March 9, 2012 - 12:48pm

The second category of the L Prize competition is now open, as the U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE) continues to challenge lighting manufacturers to develop high performance replacements for traditional light bulbs. The DOE is now accepting entries in the PAR 38 LED replacement lamp category after making changes to the testing process following the evaluation of the 60W entries.

The goal of the L Prize is to stimulate development of LED replacements for two common light bulbs – the 60W incandescent lamp and the PAR 38 halogen lamp.

“The L Prize competition challenges the best and brightest engineers and scientists across America's lighting industry to drive innovation in new, more efficient products and boost our nation’s competitiveness in manufacturing,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a statement. “The winning products will help expand lighting choices for consumers, reduce our nation’s energy use and save money for American families and business owners.”

According to a release from the DOE, there are an estimated 90 million PAR 38 light bulbs in use in residential and commercial applications throughout the country, and replacing them with a bulb that meets the L Prize’s efficiency requirements would save the country 11 terawatt-hours of electricity annually, or enough to power Washington, D.C. for a year.

The PAR 38 competition was opened previously but was suspended in January 2011 while the requirements were reworked. According to the L Prize website, there were concerns about the lengthy testing process delaying a product’s market introduction. The testing process has now been streamlined to reduce the total evaluation time by 25 percent, and a few of the requirements have been revised or clarified.

Congress’ technical requirements for the PAR 38 category, however, remain the same:

Efficacy – 123 lumens per watt

Light Output – 1,350 lumens (equivalent to a 70-90W halogen)

CRI – Higher than 90

Life – 25,000 hours

• Warm Color

The PAR 38 category also requires that a certain amount of the entry’s production take place in this country in order to create U.S. jobs. The category requires that 50 percent of the LEDs must be produced in the U.S. and all assembly must be done in the U.S. A complete list of requirements is available on the L Prize website.

The winning entry in the PAR 38 category will receive a $5 million prize and be promoted by utilities and energy efficiency programs around the country.

The L Prize was established by Congress in the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007, and the DOE officially launched the competition at Lightfair Intl. in 2008. Philips Lighting North America won the L Prize in the 60W category in August 2011, with the winning bulb expected to be in stores this spring. That category is now closed for entries.

Requirements for the 21st Century Lamp, the third and final category in the L Prize competition, have not been finalized. The only requirement that has been announced is that the lamp must deliver more than 150 lumens per watt. 

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