Department of Energy sponsors ‘L Prize’ for next generation light bulbs

Posted by Humphrey Cheung

Washington DC – The Department of Energy is hoping cold hard cash will lure companies in developing a solid state replacement for the regular household light bulb.  The agency announced the Bright Tomorrow Lighting Prize or L Prize at the LIGHTFAIR conference in Las Vegas California this week and has partnered up with four major California utilities to help with the evaluation process.  Companies that produce a suitable replacement for the common 60 watt incandescent bulb and the PAR 38 halogen bulb will receive up to $20 million in cash and much more importantly federal government procurement opportunities.


The L Prize aims to cut the energy usage of household and business lighting by 17% by focusing the research on replacing probably the most common incandescent bulb (you know those bulbs that always pop when you flip the light switch) and the PAR 38 halogen bulb that’s used in many businesses.  For the 60 watt incandescent replacement, companies have to make a bulb that delivers more than 90 lumens per watt and the bulb has to consume less than 10 watts.  Furthermore the next generation bulb has to last at least 25,000 hours.  The halogen bulb replacement must output 123 lumens per watt at less than 11 watt with the same longevity.


Four Southern California utilities, Pacific Gas & Electric, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison will team up with the DOE to help with the two step evaluation process.  Performance and light output will be measured in the first step while manufacturing ease (or difficulty), longevity and stress testing will be done in the second phase.  The utilities will also install the bulbs in homes and business for real hands on testing.


As an added incentive, the utilities have agreed to promote the eventual winner by offering installation incentives like discounts and rebates on power bills.  They also promise to feature the next generation bulbs in print and broadcast television advertisements.


The DOE itself will contribute up to $1 million while the rest of the up to $20 million in prize money has been authorized by Congress. 


To learn more about the L Prize, you can go the contest webpage here.