LEDs are slowly creeping into the mainstream despite their high price tags. Lemnis Lighting recently unveiled the first household dimmable LED bulb, Digital Lumens offered up its system of networked LED lights, and companies like Philips, Panasonic, and Toshiba have rolled out LEDs of their own. But perhaps the biggest evidence of the LED's growing popularity is that GE, the inventor of the first visible light-emitting diode, has debuted a household LED bulb of its own.
GE's Energy Smart LED bulb, expected to go on sale this year or in early 2011, produces the same amount of light as a 40-watt incandescent bulb while only using 9 watts. It lasts 17 years—25 times longer than an equivalent incandescent bulb and three times as long as a standard CFL. The LED bulb won't be cheap, of course. It is expected to cost $40 to $50, which isn't that expensive when the device's lifespan is taken into account, but may still be too pricey for people used to paying a few bucks per bulb.
Soon enough, though, Americans will have to make the choice between mercury-filled CFLs and long-lasting LEDs. Incandescent light bulbs will no longer be produced in the U.S. as of 2014.