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Lemnis unwraps LED bulb under $5

Lemnis Lighting introduces two no-frills LED bulbs--one priced under $5 and one under $7--that don't give off much light but may tempt consumers to try efficient LEDs for general lighting.

The no-frills Pharox 200 Blu from Lemnis Lighting, priced at $4.95, is designed to tempt consumers to try out LED lighting.
The no-frills Pharox 200 Blu from Lemnis Lighting, priced at $4.95, is designed to tempt consumers to try out LED lighting.
Lemnis Lighting

Lemnis Lighting is taking a foot-in-the-door approach to LED lightbulbs.

The startup company today announced a new line of bulbs, priced at $4.95 and $6.95, respectively, aimed at getting consumers to try out LEDs for general lighting. The bulbs, though, have some limitations.

The Pharox Blu line comes in 200-lumen and 350-lumen versions, both of which give off less light a 40-watt incandescent bulb's 450 lumens. That means that the bulbs, which consume less than 5 watts and 8 watts, respectively, won't give off enough light for many uses, such as lighting a whole room.

The Blu line also has a one-year warranty, versus a three-year warranty for existing Pharox line. They don't work with a dimmer, a move to save money on manufacturing.

Lemnis is deliberately taking a no-frills approach to get consumers familiar with LED lighting, said Lemnis Lighting co-founder Warner Philips. "Customers want higher-lumen products, but they also want a model that gets them in the game and starts them testing LEDs," he said.

In the past two years, large lighting companies have introduced LED bulbs able to give off as much light as a 60-watt or 75-watt incandescent priced around $35 or $40. They use about 80 percent less power than incandescent bulbs and are designed to last 15 to 25 years, depending on usage.

Based on online reviews, consumers who have bought LED bulbs are generally happy with the performance of the products. And costs have fallen significantly over the past several months, aided in some places by state or utility rebates.

But most consumers are not willing to do the math on how quickly LEDs pay for themselves in energy savings, Philips said. That's causing concern in the lighting industry over how strong consumer demand is for general-lighting LEDs.

Even though they give off relatively little light, Philips suggested that the new Blu bulbs can be used for downward directional lighting in offices or in recessed cans in a kitchen. Both will be sold only through the company's Web site, with sales yielding a low-margin profit, Philips said.

Lemnis is working on brighter LED bulbs too. In the second quarter, it plans to introduce three higher-priced models with a lighting range between 400 lumens and 800 lumens, or roughly from that of a 40-watt to a 60-watt incandescent. Prices for those will start around $10, be dimmable, and have a longer, three-year warranty, Philips said.