Cree is trying to put LED lighting on the same price and performance curve that people are used to with computers.
The company today announced redesigned LED light sources that promise a significant cut in the cost of LED lighting and a quicker pace of technical improvement.
Cree estimates that the new design, which uses smaller LED chips, can cut the cost of the LED components by 50 percent. At retail, that translates to a roughly 25 percent cost reduction, said product marketing manager Paul Scheidt.
"LEDs are at the point where the technology is good enough to get broad adoption. Everyone knows that the initial cost is the thing in the way," he said.
Screw-in light bulbs and other products are built using an array of small modules of LEDs that give off light. To bring down the cost, Cree built a package around smaller but brighter LED light "engines."
Cree's smaller LED is just 2.45 millimeters on either side of the base and covered with a dome-shaped lens with a phosphor to change the light color. Having a smaller light source means that lighting designers can lower costs by using fewer or smaller components, such as lenses, heat sink, and circuit board, said Scheidt.
Cree said that the new LEDs, under the XLamp XB-D moniker, could be used in all types of lights, including screw-in bulbs, commercial lighting, and streetlights. Cree sells its silicon carbide-based packages to lighting manufacturers such as GE, and it typically takes about a year for new LEDs to be designed into consumer-ready products, Scheidt said.
In terms of efficiency, he said, a lamp giving off 1300 lumens--the equivalent of a 90-watt incandescent--would consume 19 watts, or 68 lumens per watt, an improvement over its current products. The color rendering index, a measure of light quality, will be at least 80 and can get higher, he said.