Lighting Science claims affordability for LED bulb technology

Oct. 11, 2004
Lighting Science has unveiled its Optimized Digital Lighting™ (ODL) technology, which it claims opens the way for "super-efficient, cost-effective" LED lighting for commercial, industrial, and residential applications.

The company has introduced ODL R-30 light bulbs, which use the same light fixtures as incandescent and compact fluorescent bulbs, and have a retail price of $33 per bulb.

Fred Maxik, CEO of Lighting Science, said, "Compared with existing LED light bulbs costing as much as $198 for R-30 floodlights, high performance LED light bulbs are now available at a truly affordable price to replace widely used 65-watt incandescent floodlights."

Lighting Science, Inc., based in Fort Lauderdale, was recently acquired by The Phoenix Group Corporation (PXGC) of Dallas, Texas (see The Phoenix Group Corporation acquires Lighting Science, Inc.).

In order to market ODL products, Lighting Science has teamed with Fulham Co., Ltd., a Honk Kong-based distributor that is one of the top five designers and suppliers of lighting systems - electronic ballasts, sockets, and lamps - for businesses and homes in the United States, China, and the Middle East (see Fulham Co. Ltd. announces agreement with Lighting Science).

"Our company's tests confirm the high performance of Optimized Digital Lighting," says Brian Wald, CEO of Fulham. "For the first time, this type of LED bulb offers dramatic energy savings at a sensible cost - enabling rapid customer payback and ongoing energy savings. We anticipate very high customer interest and significant demand, especially in the retail and hospitality industries. This is particularly true when businesses realize the substantial additional savings of 90% or more in labor costs associated with frequent changing of incandescent bulbs."
ODL R-30 bulb

Thermal management

The ODL R-30 bulbs have many of the usual advantages of solid-state lighting technology, such as low power consumption (the bulbs consume only 5.6 watts), robustness (they have a polycarbonate housing) and long lifetime (claimed to be 50,000 hours).

Lighting Science says that its technological approach makes the products suitable for applications such as hotels, restaurants, retail stores, outdoor facilities, governmental facilities and residential lighting. "Other LED bulbs are not practical for these uses due to their significantly higher costs, the fact that more than one bulb can be required to replace a typical 65-watt incandescent bulb, or because other LEDs have much shorter useful lives or poorer light quality," explains Maxik.

The key appears to be a patent-pending thermal management technology that significantly reduces heat generated by the bulb, leading to cooler operation and longer life. Also, with more LEDs packed in the same area, the bulb produces more light than competing LED products. "The bulbs also have superior light quality and consistency while producing up to 30% greater light output per LED," explains Maxik. Fewer LEDs are used, and since LEDs account for the majority of a bulb's cost, this tranlstaes into a lower cost per bulb.

Maxik also says that the bulbs solve the problem of color shift over time (which can be caused for example when phosphors degrade in white LEDs) by using red, green and blue chips in the bulbs.

Cost comparison

A standard incandescent R-30 floodlight costs about $3.50 per bulb, but only lasts about 2,000 hours. However, an ODL bulb from Lighting Science lasts up to 50,000 hours. To equal one ODL bulb, a customer would have to purchase 25 incandescent bulbs for $87.50 (versus one ODL bulb for $33).

A series of incandescent bulbs delivering a total of 50,000 hours of use would cost $276 to operate at a cost of $0.085 per kilowatt-hour for the electricity. "One ODL bulb would use only $28 of electricity over the same period, a saving of almost 90%," Maxik notes.

In a commercial or an institutional location, the cost of labor to change a light bulb must be factored into the total cost comparison. According to Maxik, "A 300-room hotel using ODL bulbs could save as much as $60,000 annually in costs for light bulbs, electricity, and labor.

Maxik notes that customers in commercial, industrial and governmental markets may take advantage of the company's Energy Saving Sharing Program to cover the upfront cost in a complete conversion to Optimized Digital Lighting. In this program, Lighting Science supplies the bulbs, and the customer and Lighting Science share the savings from lower energy costs.

Product features

ODL bulbs from Lighting Science are available in R-30 Edison medium-base floodlights. They emit either warm white light or amber light for indoor or outdoor use. The bulbs are available in two forms - a "T" shaped design for use in recessed canisters or a stylized cone-shaped bulb for lamps, track lighting, or other fixtures where the entire bulb is visible.

The amber-colored light is more effective than previous "bug lights" because the ODL bulb has been set to a frequency (or color) that does not attract most insects. Incandescent and fluorescent bulbs may be tinted yellow or amber, but they still emit light outside the desired color range. An added advantage is that an ODL bulb generates little heat, which attracts moths and other flying insects.