By Evan Ackerman
Although this might look like a bisected metallic artichoke, it is in fact a super duper efficient LED light bulb. When LEDs are powered up to levels capable of replacing standard household incandescent bulbs, they start putting out a whole bunch of heat, which progressively degrades the LEDs. This is bad. To mitigate the situation, high powered LED lighting systems are getting their very own funky looking heat sinks, which can extend the life of the system and its color accuracy “dramatically.” This particular model, the SoL R38 from the Lighting Science Group Corporation, is about 70% more efficient than the 60 watt incandescent bulb it’s designed to replace, and it’s good for a minimum of 50,000 hours, or over 5 and a half years of continuous on time.
Sounds great, huh? So that was the carrot, here’s the stick: each SoL R38 costs $145. But wait, I have another carrot for you: over the lifetime of the LED non-bulb, you’ll still save about $82. Aaaand, another stick: if you need to buy a new LED light after 50,000 hours, you’ll be in the hole again by $60. Last carrot: in the mean time, using the LED system will have saved 1.72 tons of carbon dioxide (numbers pulled out of my ass via here).
So, maybe it makes sense to buy one of these right now, maybe it doesn’t. They sure do look cool, if nothing else. But as with CFLs, my guess is that if you just wait a little bit, high power LEDs will start being used by more than just inexplicably rich techno-hippy duck-squeezers and the price will drop like… Like… Oh, I know: like the DJIA. It would be funny if it wasn’t my retirement fund.