UPDATE: Last year, Philips Lighting unfurled a 12-watt LED bulb at LightFair that provided the same amount of light as a 60-watt incandescent.

This year the company upped it to a 75-watt equivalent.

The new EnduraLED A21 consumes 18 watts of power and lasts 25,000-plus hours. It will sell for $40 to $45 when it hits store shelves later this year.

UPDATE: NXP, a multinational chip company that spun out of the Philips conglomerate, announced that it has developed what it calls GreenChip, a low-powered networking device that can be inserted into bulbs for inexpensive networking. It is based on the 6 LoWPAN standard, a favorite because: 1) it consumes very little power; 2) it communicates with the other basic household standards; and 3) it combines both numbers and mid-word capitalization. Google last week announced plans to put networking into bulbs.

Philips proper has not announced it will use the chip, but these companies do have each other's addresses. In the past decade, executives have cycled between them.

Marvell, another chip company, announced a controller for using low-cost LEDs and a bulb reference design.

LED bulbs save between $10 and $20 a year, so the bulb will pay for itself in a few years. Philips estimates that 90 million 75 watt-ers are out there in the world. Swapping them out would save $630 million and cut energy demand by more than 5.2 gigawatts.

While that's impressive, the new EnduraLED comes to market amid increasing competition. Switch, a startup out of Silicon Valley, will have a 75-watt equivalent for $25 in the fourth quarter. Switch lowers the price by filling the bulb with liquid to dissipate heat, much in the same way computer overclockers dip motherboards in mineral oil. Better heat dissipation allows Switch to drive more power to each LED and thereby to cut component costs.

Lighting Science and Google, meanwhile, will come out with a networked LED bulb you can control from an Android phone and a DSL box at home. Marvell, with Cree, has come up with a reference design for an inexpensive LED bulb.

Thus, competition is getting tighter.

We reviewed the 60-watt EnduraLED last year. Good points: lots of light and a nice warm color. Bad points: not as much light as some other bulbs, the light was a little too yellow for some, and my wife thought the novel heat sink -- an engineering marvel -- made the bulb unattractive. More on the video with last year's bulb, which uses a similar form factor, here.

Tags: cree, enduraled, energy efficiency, google, green building, led, lightfair, marvell, philips