On Aug. 3, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced Philips Lighting North America to be the winner of the 60W replacement lamp category in the Bright Tomorrow Lighting Prize competition, otherwise known as the L Prize. The prize carries with it a $10 million cash sum, a federal contract purchasing agreement (the lamp will be listed as an approved option for U.S. agencies making replacement lamp purchases), and a number of L Prize partner promotions and incentives, including the support of 31 utilities and energy efficiency program partners. Philips hopes to have the prize-winning 4.1-inch-tall LED L Prize lamp in stores by early 2012. Based on photometric testing that follows LM-79 standards, the 10W 120V A19 lamp has a rated average life of 25,000 hours, an output of approximately 900 lumens, a color-rendering index of 90, and a color temperature of 2700K. The lamp is intended only for interior usage.

The competition, outlined as a provision of the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act and officially launched in 2008, is the first sponsored by the federal government that encourages the implementation of high-performance, energy-efficient lighting, as well as the research initiatives involved with such endeavors, with a specific focus on solid-state lighting products. The competition is composed of three separate categories: one for 60W incandescent replacement lamps, one for PAR38 halogen replacement lamps, and the Twenty-First Century Lamp Prize, which calls for the development of an LED replacement lamp that meets 150 lumens per watt or better. To date, the DOE has only proceeded with the 60W category. (The 60W incandescent lamp is the most widely used type of lamp in the United States, and represents approximately half of the domestic incandescent lamp market. Nearly 425 million 60W incandescent lamps are sold in the U.S. each year.) On Jan. 5, the PAR38 competition category was put on hold, and the Twenty-First Century Lamp Prize has yet to be launched.

In September 2009, Philips was the first company to submit an entry for the 60W category. Two thousand samples of Philips' 10W EnduraLED lamp were put through 18 months of rigorous testing as stipulated by the L Prize regulations and were evaluated for their ability to balance performance, quality, lifetime, cost, availability, and their ability for widespread adoption and mass production. According to the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, a substantial amount of the manufacturing process for the lamps is required to occur in the U.S., and "the manufacturer must provide evidence that it is fully prepared to produce at least 250,000 units of the winning entry in the first year and increase annual output in later years."

Short- and long-term performance testing was conducted by independent laboratories; field tests were conducted throughout North America by utilities and other competition partners. The lamps were examined under a variety of stressful conditions, including high and low temperatures, humidity, vibration, high and low voltage, and different electrical waveform distortions.

"We looked at the L Prize challenge as an opportunity to innovate and develop an energy-efficient alternative to a product that has remained largely unchanged for over a century," says Zia Eftekhar, CEO of Philips Lighting North America. "The fact that we are the first and only company capable of submitting a product and completing 18 months of rigorous testing not only underscores our commitment to innovation and quality, it highlights our ability to bring meaningful leading technologies into the mainstream."

Philips was the first and only company to submit both the letter of intent and the required 2,000 samples for testing, and their entry went essentially unchallenged by other lighting manufacturers. In March, Lighting Science Group sent a letter of intent to submit. In July, GE Lighting submitted their letter of intent to submit. However, neither company has provided the requisite number of lamps required for the 18-month testing period. The L Prize competition does remain open, and these two, as well as other, lighting manufacturers will still be eligible for federal purchasing contracts and program partner support.

According to information from the DOE, and posted on Philips' Web site dedicated to the L Prize-philips.com/Lprize-it isestimated that "if every socket in the U.S. converted their 60W incandescent lamps to this new 10W L Prize lamp, the country could save approximately 35 terawatt-hours of electricity in one year, and avoid 20 million metric tons of carbon emissions. That's enough electricity to power the lights of nearly 18 million U.S. households, or nearly triple the annual electricity consumption of the city of Washington, D.C."