Searching for a great PAR38 LED lamp

-November 19, 2013

In May 2008, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) launched a competition known as the “L Prize”, designed to challenge LED lighting manufacturers to develop high quality lamps that pushed the envelope of lighting efficacy and performance. The L Prize for the 60 watt A19 (classic screw-in) incandescent replacement bulb was awarded to Philips in August 2011 and included a $10 million cash prize and eligibility for federal purchasing agreements.

The DOE has now restarted its search for the best PAR38 LED incandescent replacement lamp, publishing modified requirements for the second part of the competition. The prize, $5 million (plus bragging rights and potential government contracts), goes to the first manufacturer who successfully meets the tough performance goals which include reducing current energy use by 85% and lasting 10 times longer than halogen lamps. 

Chart 1. Prize requirements vs. current PAR38 performance

The PAR38 competition calls for high reflector lamp beam performance, color quality, and energy efficiency. PAR38 LED lamps that meet the L Prize specifications will enable their use in high-intensity spot lighting applications requiring excellent color rendering such as retail displays, museums galleries, and hotel lobbies.  

Modifications to the original requirements include:

  • The allowance of a broader beam angle
  • The dropping of production requirement of >250,000 units
  • The dropping of the requirement that LED chips be U.S. produced (lamps must still be assembled in the U.S.)

Some of the key requirements are shown below in Table 1 below.

  Table 1. PAR-38 L-Prize requirements (partial listing) 


To learn more about the DOE’s lighting programs and to download the complete PAR38 L Prize competition requirements, click here.

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