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Philips 75-watt LED for sale for $39.97

Lighting manufacturer initially offers bulb online only.

Philips 17-watt AmbientLED lit up.
Philips Communications

Royal Philips Electronics' new 75-watt-equivalent LED bulb is now available for sale online.

The 17-watt LED bulb is equal to a 75-watt incandescent but uses 80 percent less electricity and lasts 24 times longer than the average incandescent, according to Philips.

The bulb has a lifespan of 25,000 hours, roughly the equivalent of 17 years of daily four-hour use, and a color temperature of 2,700, which is a warm yellow light similar to that of an incandescent bulb, according to company specs.

Philips first unveiled the bulb, which is compatible to fit into any 75-watt incandescent socket, in May and announced an expected wide release for fall 2011.

For now, the 17-watt LED bulb will be exclusively available for $39.97 on HomeDepot.com. (Home Depot calls it an 18-watt LED, but that's a typo that will be updated within days, according to Philips.)

Philips already offers a 60-watt-equivalent LED that has been selling since 2010, and currently costs about $20.

As the U.S. reaches a 2014 deadline banning the sale of incandescent light bulbs, light-emitting diode light bulbs have generated a lot of consumer interest despite their hefty price tags.

One reason for this may be that their obvious competitor, the compact-fluorescent light bulb, has had a rocky reputation with consumers.

CFLs contain mercury, which could be dangerous to people if the bulb is broken to the point that the mercury is exposed and inhaled. Early versions of the CFL bulb also took a long time to heat up to full luminescence, and many cast a harsh bluish-white light.

Philips AmbientLED 17-watt turned off. Philips Communications

CFL bulb technology has vastly improved in recent years and now offer much warmer hues, light up more quickly, and contain less mercury. But it's been hard for CFLs to shake the reputation of its early versions despite being significantly cheaper than LEDs.

LED manufacturers meanwhile have been touting the facts that their bulbs are lead-free, mercury-free, long-lasting, and dimmable as a way to justify their exorbitant price.

Some companies have come out with hybrid CFL bulbs as an alternative. For example, General Electric sells a hybrid halogen-compact fluorescent light bulb that costs between about $7 and $11. The halogen portion of the bulb lights up within a half-second when switched on. Once the CFL part of bulb has brightened to full luminescence, the halogen portion then turns itself off.