# Why are white LEDs so expensive?

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#### Brian

Jan 1, 1970
0
Does anyone know why white LEDs are so expensive? Looking through the
Mouser catalog, I noticed that $2 a piece is a cheap as they get, versus$0.10 for Red/Green/Yellow. Why is that?

M

#### Michael Black

Jan 1, 1970
0
Brian said:
Does anyone know why white LEDs are so expensive? Looking through the
Mouser catalog, I noticed that $2 a piece is a cheap as they get, versus$0.10 for Red/Green/Yellow. Why is that?

An immediate reason is that Red LEDs have been around for at least 35 years,
with green and yellow following soon after, while white are still
relatively new. It takes time for things to ramp up so production can
reduce costs, and for there to be demand which also drives prices lower.

And while I have no idea how it affects cost, each of the colors of LEDs
use a different scheme. White LEDs took so many decades to arrive after
the original LEDs because they had to figure out how to make them (same
with blue LEDs); it's not a minor change for every color. There may
be something about white LEDs that cause a higher price, even taking out
of the equation the early price of any device.

Michael

D

#### Dominic-Luc Webb

Jan 1, 1970
0
And while I have no idea how it affects cost, each of the colors of LEDs
use a different scheme. White LEDs took so many decades to arrive after
the original LEDs because they had to figure out how to make them (same
with blue LEDs); it's not a minor change for every color.

Not only that, but the blue LEDs have now been around for quite some time,
along with UV. Yet, they are still considerably more expensive. People
don't use these if they don't need to. Also, my local electronics supplier
tells me that, at least in the case of the blue LEDs, they actually do
cost more to produce. One could ask if this is material costs, equipment,
higher rejection rate, etc. It would be interesting to compare the
manufacturing methodolgy for these different LEDs, and also their
photodiode detector counterparts.

Dominic

J

#### Jonathan Kirwan

Jan 1, 1970
0
Does anyone know why white LEDs are so expensive? Looking through the
Mouser catalog, I noticed that $2 a piece is a cheap as they get, versus$0.10 for Red/Green/Yellow. Why is that?

Whites, I believe, use fluorescence in order to generate the apparent white.
Since fluorescence is almost always towards longer wavelengths, they require
blue led technology to generate the primary source of energetic photons which
then stimulate the fluorescent responses in the rare-earth materials. Blue leds
are more expensive to begin with, partly because the processes they use are
"difficult" and partly because Cree, I believe, has a patent on one of the key
wafer types often used (silicon carbide?) and anyone using that technology has

I suspect that many of the applications which would otherwise consider the use
of blue leds for aesthetic purposes (product sales) don't believe that blue
counts for enough additional value in their products to be worth the very high
cost, so they use other colors that are much cheaper and live with it. So the
volume on blue doesn't pick up that quickly, on its own legs. So, probably, the
price of blue leds is being more driven by the white led usage and that itself
is more driven by flashlight sales, I'd guess.

That's just my own meandering and I'm probably wrong on several counts, at
least. It may also be that there is a perceived value to white and that the
number of players is small and the market 'controlled' to a sense (at least to
the degree that Cree controls it), but I've no idea about that. In any case,
they are more expensive.

Perhaps Don K. will chip in here and inform us all about it or provide a link to
a web site that does.

Jon

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#### Danny T

Jan 1, 1970
0
Michael said:
An immediate reason is that Red LEDs have been around for at least 35 years,
with green and yellow following soon after, while white are still
relatively new. It takes time for things to ramp up so production can
reduce costs, and for there to be demand which also drives prices lower.

And while I have no idea how it affects cost, each of the colors of LEDs
use a different scheme. White LEDs took so many decades to arrive after
the original LEDs because they had to figure out how to make them (same
with blue LEDs); it's not a minor change for every color. There may
be something about white LEDs that cause a higher price, even taking out
of the equation the early price of any device.

Fools! If they started with white, they could easily make other colours
with a filter!

J

#### John Fields

Jan 1, 1970
0
Does anyone know why white LEDs are so expensive? Looking through the
Mouser catalog, I noticed that $2 a piece is a cheap as they get, versus$0.10 for Red/Green/Yellow. Why is that?

D

Jan 1, 1970
0
so the white LED it has must be cheaper than $2 since I got a case and an on button and a battery while I was at it . But of course, a key use for white LEDs is for flashlights, and one can see quite a variation between cheap and expensive. I bought one LED flashlight a couple of years ago, in about the same package as those cheap laser pointers. It seemed to put out decent light (and the neat thing about those was they used three button cells, that were also used in the cheap laser pointers, and the latter were even cheaper so a source of batteries). But two weeks ago, I bought a white LED bicycle headlight, because it was only fifteen dollars. That thing has way more light out of it, and it may be brighter than an 2AA Maglite. Michael T #### Tim Zimmerman Jan 1, 1970 0 Michael Black said: But two weeks ago, I bought a white LED bicycle headlight, because it was only fifteen dollars. That thing has way more light out of it, and it may be brighter than an 2AA Maglite. Michael Because the bicycle headlight uses a LED driver the and a high MCD intensity. M #### Martin Jan 1, 1970 0 I also source my LED's from Ebay, the white ones from UBIDITNOW are a very good price.$33 for 100 10000mcd whites, inclusive of shipping so
that's only 33cents per LED. They are doing 20,000mcd leds for \$79
inclusive of shipping too.
I do find them to be a little on the flaky side sometimes though.
I use these LED's for making a small (15 LED) front lamp for use on a
motorbike. I just use a very simple cct to run these in groups of 3
with a single current limiting resistor for each group of 3. I find
that every now and then one LED will blow

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