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Ikea to sell low-cost LED bulbs from Lemnis

A partnership between the giant Swedish retailer and Lemnis Lighting is designed to bring down the cost of general-purpose LED bulbs.

Swedish retailer Ikea will sell LED lightbulbs from Lemnis Lighting starting in the fourth quarter of this year, a move that will help push efficient LEDs toward broader use.

The two companies have a multiyear partnership to sell LED bulbs through Ikea stores starting in Europe, Lemnis Lighting CEO Warner Philips said today. The partnership was first reported by trade publication LEDs Magazine.

Lemnis Lighting

The collaboration is designed to make normally pricey LED bulbs appealing to consumers. In Europe the price target with tax is about 10 euros, or less than $14, for a 400 lumen lamp, which gives about the same light as a 45-watt incandescent. A 25-watt replacement will cost with tax about 7 euros, or less than $10.

The Pharox bulbs for Ikea will have relatively high light quality with a color rendering index (CRI) over 85 and a warm color at 2,700 Kelvin, Warner confirmed.

"This is going to be massive.... This is the sort of partnership that will help move markets," he said. "We need partnerships to bring down price by selling through innovative channels...and we need volume to bring the price down to get decent margins."

Lemnis Pharox bulbs are designed to work between 10 and 20 years, depending on how often they are used, and to be energy efficient. For example, the Pharox 400-lumen bulb consumes 8 watts, versus 45 watts for an incandescent.

Company Chief Technology Officer Martijn Dekker told LEDs Magazine that the two companies have created a "virtual vertically integrated company" where they collaborate on production, which will be done in India, and share project risk.

Ikea in January of this year stopped sales of incandescent lights in its U.S. stores in advance of a mandate to phase out incandescents starting next year. The company sells halogens that meet new efficient standards, compact florescent lamps, and a line of fixtures that use LEDs.

Through the Lemnis Lighting partnership, Ikea in Europe will now sell general-purpose, omnidirectional bulbs with the traditional screw-in bottom.

Lemnis Lighting is working on a line of brighter Pharox bulbs, which will be EnergyStar compliant, Philips said. The company's goal is to have a product line of about 20 bulbs that will are suitable to replace about 80 percent of the lights in a home, he said.

The partnership with Ikea has been some two years in the making, Philips said. Lemnis Lighting, which sells primarily online in the U.S., has already made "a couple million units" since 2006 and has gone through vigorous screening of its practices, including factory labor conditions, through other partnerships in Europe, he added.

The purchase price of LED bulbs is still substantially higher than it is for incandescents and CFLs, but prices are clearly on the way down and competition is heating up. For example, Philips has cut the price of its 60-watt equivalent by about $15 since earlier this year, to $24.97.

Another supplier, Lighting Sciences Group, announced in August a partnership to manufacture 60-watt equivalent LED bulbs in India and price them at about $15. A comparable product now costs $23.97.