Cree launches high-CRI LED lamp that meets California regulatory spec

Adding its True White technology to its LED retrofit lamp design, Cree launches a 93 CRI product that can meet the latest regulatory requirements of the California Energy Commission.

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Cree Lighting has announced the Cree TW (True White) Series LED retrofit lamps that deliver a CRI of 93 and meet all of the quality guidelines in the latest California Energy Commission (CEC) regulatory specifications. Cree will sell the products immediately in both 40W- and 60W-equivalent versions for $17.97 and $19.97, respectively, in a 2700K CCT that Cree calls Soft White.

The new CEC Voluntary California Quality LED Lamp Specification is as the name states a voluntary guideline, but could quickly become necessary for lamps to be included in market-incentive programs including utility rebates. The CEC hopes that the guidelines will encourage the development of higher-quality lamps that are more desirable to consumers.

"The Voluntary California Quality LED Lamp Specification was created to move consumers away from inefficient lighting of the past century and toward more efficient LED lighting technology," said Michael Siminovitch, director of the California Lighting Technology Center. "The new Cree TW Series is the first bulb to meet the CA Specification and is exactly what consumers need to see in order to finally transform this marketplace."

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Already one utility — the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) — has announced plans to provide incentives for buyers of the new Cree lamps. "SMUD sees huge value in reducing the lighting portion of electric bills and is a staunch supporter of the new California LED Quality lighting standard," said Elisabeth Brinton, chief customer officer at SMUD. "We are thrilled to see the first bulbs reach the market. This technical accomplishment makes a huge contribution to energy efficiency, while benefiting consumers with quality lighting."

The new series marks the first instance of Cree using its True White brand on a lamp for the Edison socket. True White has always implied a CRI of 90 or higher in other Cree products such as its troffer fixtures.

In the past, Cree has achieved the warm CCT and high CRI by mixing some red LEDs into True White products to both provide the warm energy needed for the CCT and maintain relatively high efficacy. Evidently, the new lamp uses a different technique in which neodymium oxide is deposited on the inside of the lamp's globe to filter some portions of the color spectrum and enhance the energy produced in the red and green areas of the spectrum. GE Lighting, for example, has used neodymium coatings in its Reveal incandescent bulbs to produce better white light.

The impact of the technology comes in efficacy and cost much as with other methods of achieving high CRI. Cree's standard Soft White A-lamp announced early this year has a CRI of 80 and the 60W-equivalent product consumes 9.5W. The new 93-CRI lamp consumes 13.5W so efficacy was clearly impacted. Moreover, the high CRI version sells for about a $5 premium.

The new 60W-equivalent lamp delivers 800 lm like the standard Soft White version. Cree rates it for a 25,000-hour life and offers a ten-year warranty. Home Depot has the products available for sale immediately.

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