Switch ships first liquid-cooled LED bulbs to hotels


Switch Lighting’s liquid-cooled LED bulbs are moving a step closer to being commercially available. The startup, which unveiled its bulbs earlier this year, says in an email to potential customers that it has shipped its first batch of bulbs to several hotels, which will test out the bulbs and provide the company with feedback.

After Switch has gotten enough testing feedback from the hotels, the company says it will make the bulbs available for purchase online to customers. Woot woot. Switch had previously said it would plan to make the bulbs available to customers by the end of 2011, so the company seems to be slightly behind schedule, though moving right along.

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) and at the same time the bulbs use liquid within it to cool the LEDs. This combo design is the secret-sauce behind why Switch claims its bulb “is the closest alternative to incandescent-quality light,” today on the market.” Liquid is a far more efficient medium for cooling than air (read more about liquid-cooled servers).

Switch will eventually be offering a 100-watt incandescent equivalent, as well as 40-watt, 60-watt, and 75-watt equivalents. The 40-watt bulb is supposed to be able to retail for under $20, while standard LED bulbs on the market can cost as high as $40 to $50 per bulb — I’ve bought ones in the mid-$30 range. Switch says its bulbs use 80 less energy than incandescent bulbs and the return on investment is about a year.

The company is backed by VantagePoint Venture Capital Partners.



I wouldn’t get too excited. It took them too long to get this to market, imo, and the fast-changing LED replacement bulb world has passed them by. As important as heat management is, this looks like a retro 90’s attempt at an LED bulb. What’s the color temperature? How many lumens per watt? Does it have an omnidirectional light, a requirement for Energy Star (with that heat sink, I seriously doubt it)? With a proven, high-quality, thoroughly-tested, durable, brand-named, Energy Star-compliant Philips EnduraLED now being sold for $29 at many retailers, and nearly every other major bulb and electronics manufacturer in the process of trying to create cost-competitive Energy Star LED bulbs (a requirement for tax breaks for commercial LED purchases…like the hotel mentioned here), I see little hope for the survival of this bulb, even if its liquid cooling works, and that is a big if.

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