The energy revolution is coming to the masses. Walmart announced today that it is introducing its Great Value line of super efficient LED light bulbs for under $10 in its U.S. stores and online. The company undertook a similar retail effort in 2006, with a specific goal at that time to sell 100 million to promote high efficiency (CFLs) compact fluorescent bulbs, a goal it exceeded three months ahead of schedule.
The array of products includes 26 different types of bulbs, with the least expensive – a non-dimmable 60-watt equivalent – selling for $8.88, and the dimmable version for just a dollar more.
LEDs have enormous advantages over traditional incandescent bulbs in that they consume only 20% of the energy (mostly by reducing waste heat) and last as much as 25 times longer.
In addition to the Great Value line, Walmart is also offering a new dimmable GE LED for under $11. John Strainic, GE’s Consumer Lighting General Manager notes in a press release that this is a continuation of the partnership between Walmart and GE. Until now, this has been focused on using GE lighting technology to improve efficiencies of the stores themselves and helped transform lighting markets for commercial applications. ‘We’ve taken the good collaboration we’ve made with Walmart to increase the efficiency of their facilities, and are beginning to make the same inroads in the customer lighting aisle.’
The Walmart and GE LED offerings broaden the market for cost-effective LEDs. Home Depot has offered Cree 60-watt equivalent LEDs for the past year at $12.97.
Meanwhile, IKEA just announced a plan to sell 3.36 kW solar photovoltaic kits in all ten of its UK stores for the U.S. equivalent of $9,2. IKEA will also offer a leasing option.
These announcements highlight a broad trend occurring in today’s world: the mainstreaming and reduction in price of once costly technologies when they get to scale. LED costs have fallen fast. Walmart used to offer 60-watt equivalent LEDs for around $20 (go onto their site today and that is what you will see – the Value Line LEDs don’t show up yet). Meanwhile solar costs have declined precipitously as well –over 60% in the past 18 months. It won’t be long before we see one of the large retailers offering solar panel kits in the U.S.
By Peter Kelly-Detwiler