Green

This funky-looking LED bulb could be the future of lighting

2d led lightbulb
Image Credit: NliteN

NliteN makes helping the environment as easy as changing a lightbulb.

The company launched an Indiegogo campaign today for its LED light bulb that uses 80% less energy than 60 watt incandescent lightbulbs.

Andy Turudic, who invented the bulb, said it uses lower toxicity, save energy, lasts longer, and is ultimately cheaper than traditional bulbs. It is the first LED lightbulb to hit the market at prices competitive to mainstream bulbs.

“There is a large array of LED bulbs, but the big problem is that no-one wants to pay more money for them,” Turudic said in an interview. “The lightbulb market is very price sensitive and people won’t pay more for a lightbulb, even if it saves them money over time. The big challenge is not the technology, but how to get the cost down so consumers don’t balk at the price.”

Lighting consumes a significant amount of energy, not to mention the amount of coal used in producing traditional lightbulbs. The cost of electricity is higher in developing countries and NliteN’s goal is to make LED lighting so cheap that people all around the world can use it.

“If we can get these lightbulbs into a hut in Thailand, so children can use it to do their homework and read books, our mission will be accomplished,” Turudic said. “If we can get 6 billion people with 2 to 3 lightbulbs a piece that only use 8 watts of power instead of 60, the whole planet benefits.”

NliteN’s patent-pending design is flat. It distills LED bulbs down to their necessary elements and the LEDs are back-to-back so they can act as a single source of “omnidirectional” light. The design integrates thermal management into the flat disk, so it does not require the use of expensive aluminum to conduct heat. All of these components are integrated with a circuit board which connects to a light socket and makes the electrical connection.

The design can be manufactured on automated electronics assembly systems, thereby reducing costs. Turudic said this design and manufacturing process are highly scalable, and the more volume NliteN produces, the lower the cost gets.

The U.S. Department of Energy set up a competition in 2008 challenging innovators to develop an energy efficient alternative to the 60-watt incandescent lightbulb, which has gone largely unchanged for over a century. Products were required to have a useful lifetime of 25,000 hours and be commercially viable. Phillips won the contest with a 10-watt bulb that it said could save 35 terawatt hours of electricity, or $3.9 billion a year and avoid 20 million metric tons of carbon emissions, if every 60-watt bulb in the U.S. was replaced.

However Turudic said that the Phillip’s bulb is still too expensive to attract the average American consumer, not to mention people in developing economies. It costs around $45.

Thie Indiegogo campaign will help NliteN bring its design to consumers, at a market-leading price point. It is trying to raise $250,000. The company is based in Portland.