GE to Phase out CFLs, Focus on LED Lighting

Earlier this year, General Electric announced it was breaking up with compact fluorescent lights (CFLs). Read more to find out what that means for lighting technology and for advances in small business energy efficiency.

According to the announcement GE will cease production and phase out CFL bulbs, choosing instead to focus on LED lamps. The decision likely signals the end for the once promising lighting technology, but it also signals GE’s confidence in advances in LED lighting. In recent years, the cost of LED lights has dropped rapidly. Customers can now purchase the superior LED lights for the same price as CFL equivalents. The very reasons why GE is making the shift to LED – they are inexpensive, emit warmer light colors, and are more energy efficient – are the same reasons small business customers should consider transitioning to LED lights.

About ten years ago, CFLs seemed to represent the lighting technology of the future. Sales took off after endorsements from Oprah in 2007 and 2009. New federal regulations in 2012 mandated more efficient light bulbs, allowing CFLs to capture the market share of traditional incandescent bulbs. But CFL lamps never accounted for more than 30 percent of light bulb sales in the U.S. The technology never completely took off.

Consumer preference was one of the major motivators for GE’s decision to phase out CFLs. Customers were often unsatisfied with their CFL bulbs, complaining that they produced a cool, unappealing light and took too long to light a room. General Electric understood customers’ frustrations. As John Strainic, Chief Operating Officer for GE Lighting, explained, “CFL’s kind of been the light bulb that everybody loves to hate.”

The other inspiration for the rise of LEDs and the end of CFLs? Price. In 2009 when Oprah recommended her audience change their lightbulbs, Americans could upgrade to efficient CFL bulbs for three dollars, or they could pay forty dollars for the superior LED bulbs. That price difference remained through 2014, suppressing LED sales. Now, with CFL and LED bulbs selling for similar prices, today’s customers prefer the LED option. You can find LED bulbs on the shelf for less than five dollars. This price drop led GE to conclude, in the words of John Strainic, “the time for LED is now.”

This growth of LED technology comes as no surprise to Lime Energy. We have been ahead of the LED curve, helping tens of thousands of small business owners install bright, clean, efficient LED lights to improve their facilities. With little cost and little effort, Lime Energy can upgrade lighting and bring dramatic savings on a business’s energy bill, all while brightening and modernizing the premises. If you are interested in how LED technology can boost your savings and productivity, visit our small business page to learn more about how Lime Energy can help.

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