Supply chain
Personal opinion: LED light bulbs are for lazy people
Jackie Chang, DIGITIMES, Taipei
Monday 29 April 2013

This is just a personal view, but I love LED light bulbs. I also love the idea of Taiwan-based firms having own-brand LED light bulbs. Lighting is different from many other industries because it is a necessity. Even if you live in a place where sunlight is abundant during the day, at night, people still need lights. In addition, lighting is not just a necessity, it is also a type of art and a way to improve a person's lifestyle.

LED lighting is an interesting thing because it takes the semiconductor technology and turns it into products that simply give us light. An LED is often small in area (less than 1 mm2), and integrated optical components may be used to shape its radiation pattern. LEDs present many advantages over incandescent light sources including lower energy consumption, longer lifetime, improved physical robustness, smaller size, and faster switching. However, LEDs powerful enough for lighting are relatively expensive and require more precise current and heat management than compact fluorescent lamp sources of comparable output.

In short, LED lighting is more energy efficient, has a longer lifespan, but more expensive than the conventional incandescent lighting. LED lighting is also called solid state lighting because it doesn't have fuses.

The problem with LED light bulb in the Taiwan market is that there are no standards. Some brands are much cheaper than others but the type of the light bulbs is the same. According to the online store of Tsann Kuen, a large IT and consumer electronics retail chain in Taiwan, the prices for three energy-saving 23W light bulbs, each with a lifespan of 3,000 hours, are NT$155 (US$5.24) but the prices for one 10W LED light bulb (replacement for 60W incandescent light bulbs) with a lifespan of 40,000 hours are NT$188. To the average consumer, this is seen as buying three light bulbs for the price of one LED light bulb. However, when you actually evaluate the prices according to lifespan, which is easily seen on the box of the light bulbs, unlike the amount of electricity a person can save, the LED light bulb is worth it. When a person buys the three energy-saving light bulbs, in a total, the light bulbs will last for 9,000 hours. This means to match the lifespan of one LED light bulb, the consumer will have to buy 12 energy-saving light bulbs in total (that is NT$620 in total) . But if the person buys a LED light bulb, it can last for 40,000 hours.

By the way, according to the online store of WalMart in the US, the prices of 40W incandescent light bulbs from the brand Sylvania are US$2.91/unit with lifespan of 984 hours. This is cheap, but Cree just introduced retrofit 40W LED light bulbs with prices at US$9.97/unit and each light bulb has a lifespan of 25,000 hours. The price difference is about 3.4 times but the lifespan difference is 25.4 times. Something to ponder about.

LED light bulbs are for lazy people. People who just want to put the light bulb in and forget about it for the next 40,000 hours. Spending NT$188 on a light bulb that can last for 40,000 hours is much easier than spending NT$155 four times. This is just my personal opinion.

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