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Summary:

Formerly called SuperBulbs, Switch Lighting is finally showing off its first set of commercial products, which are liquid-cooled LED bulbs that are meant to replace incandescent bulbs, at the lighting convention Lightfair this week.

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For the past couple of years venture firm VantagePoint Capital Partners has quietly discussed what they say is a revolutionary LED bulb startup called SuperBulbs, which has been developing an incandescent bulb-killer. Well, looks like the startup, now renamed as Switch Lighting, is finally showing off its first set of commercial products, which are liquid-cooled LED bulbs that are meant to replace incandescent bulbs, at the lighting convention Lightfair this week.

Switch’s bulbs are designed to have small LEDs placed around the edge of the bulb, rather than at a central point, which is common for most LEDs. Switch’s bulbs also use liquid within the bulb to cool the LEDs, because liquids are a lot more efficient cooling medium than air (read more about liquid-cooled servers). This combo is the secret-sauce behind why Switch claims its bulb “is the closest alternative to incandescent-quality light,” today on the market. Greentech Media has an interesting video and description of the technology.

Switch’s first bulbs — it launched a 100-watt incandescent equivalent at Lightfair, and also has developed 40-watt, 65-watt, 75-watt equivalents — are supposed to go on sale later this year. An important thing to note about the Switch bulbs is that they are also supposed to retail for under $20 for the 40-watt, and will likely be far less expensive than the current LED bulbs on the market that can cost as high as $40 to $50 per bulb.

That price point gives the Switch LED bulb a lot quicker pay off in energy savings to the buyer. Switch says its bulbs use 85 less energy than incandescent bulbs and the return on investment is about a year. This could be a game-changer in the industry — if consumers actually respond and start buying these when they come out.

  1. I think the announcement of a 100 watt equivalent has to do with the VC backers wanting to make it seem that Switch has a product with leading performance compared to Philips, GE & LSG. The major footnote on the claim is that the CRI spec for the 100 watt is only 65. Energy Star requires a CRI of at least 80. Sure, if you want to accept light with a an off color you can get high lumen numbers and claim 100 watt equivalency, but you might not want to light your home with it. Stating that the combination of having LEDs positioned around the bulb, in combination with liquid cooling is a “secret sauce” implies that the idea is original to Switch. It is not original to Switch-it is idea that is shown in U.S. Patent 5,890,794 conceived long before Switch or SuperBulbs existed.

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  2. Yes, an 80+ CRI, color rendering index, is key to enjoying any light. A low CRI results in the same complaints that plagued the early florescent bulbs for making everything, including people and food, look ghoulish. Hmm, maybe their low CRI is in anticipation of an increased appetite for zombie chic.

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