LED bulbs take a lot of heat, so to speak, over their high cost. But consumers needn't spring for an LED if they want to spend a lot of money on an energy efficient light bulb. A case in point is the Plumen, billed as the world's first energy efficient designer light bulb. The Plumen is actually a compact fluorescent light which carries an LED's pricetag: It lists at $29.95. It's "dynamic, sculptured form," says Hulger, the U.K. firm that created it, "contrasts to the dull regular shapes of existing low energy bulbs, in an attempt to make the Plumen a centerpiece, not afterthought."

A pair of plumens.A pair of plumens.Here are some specifics: The bulb burns 11 W and puts out 680 lumens, making it roughly euivalent to a 60-W incandescent. It lasts 8,000 hr to its 50% lumen maintenance point, 6,000 hr to its 70% lumen maintenance. It is non-dimmable and has a color temperature of 2,700 k. It is said to last through more than 10,000 switching cycles and will warm-up in less than 30 sec. Its power factor is said to be greater than 50.

There is also a Baby Plumen version which is 158 × 74 × 70 mm (6.22× 2.91× 2.76 in) compared to the original, which was 192 × 105 × 100 mm (7.56×4.13×3.94 in)  but the Baby Plumen is not yet available in U.S. line voltages.

The new Pharaoh Plumen fixture.The new Pharaoh Plumen fixture.Most recently, Hulger showed a version of the Plumen built into a special luminaire at the Stockholm Furniture Fair. When the lamp is switched off, the shade appears to be mirror-like, reflective and robust. When the lamp is switched on, the shade takes on a metallic transparency, thereby making the bulb silhouette clearly visible.