Unless we want to see most of human civilization shut down as soon as the sun sets, we'll have to keep finding ways to produce artificial light. But how can we do that in a way that uses as little energy as possible and that produces no toxic waste? Illumitex is a startup from Texas that thinks it can take advantage of the physical characteristics of light emitting diodes (LEDs) to make a better light than what has been on the market so far. What are they doing differently? Read on to find out.
A Little Lightbulb History
For the longest time we used incandescent lightbulbs, and they did an okay job, but they burned out rather quickly and were better at producing heat than light. Then we moved to fluorescents and CFLs which lasted a lot longer and were more efficient, but they were also fragile and contained mercury. Now the latest step forward is LED-based lights, a technology that promises an extremely long operating life, high energy efficiency, and more flexibility. But too many LED makers try to copy incandescent bulbs and don't take advantage of the possibilities offered by solid state lighting.
The first thing that sets the Illumitex lights apart is that the LEDs are in a grid layout, making the shape of the output square and directional instead of round and omnidirectional. This is good in a lot of situation because most of our architecture is based on straight lines and squares. If you want to illuminate a desk, or a painting, or a sign, etc, you can do it more efficiently with a square light.
When installed above a desk, Illumitex claims that 80 percent of the lumens created by its LED fixture will hit the area where a worker might need it. A bulb that lets light travel in a circular pattern might only put 31.5 percent of the light where it is needed. Overall, a 16-LED package from Illumitex will put out 500 lumens. That's less than the total lumens produced by a 60-watt bulb, which is usually close to 900. But the directional nature of the light makes up the difference, says Thomas. The 500-lumen array consumes 6.5 watts. (source)
Another benefit of this original packaging for the LED bulbs is cost. Fewer parts are required than with most other LED bulbs, so once economies of scale kick in, Illumitex should have a cost advantage over its competitors. "The company claims it could be able to cut the bill of materials cost for a typical light fixture by 20 percent or more."
Photon Waste Must Stop
It's too early to say if they are going to be successful, but it's certainly good to see a company that is thinking outside the box with LEDs. We'll still need incandescent-style omnidirectional LED bulbs, but if we want to squeeze the most efficiency out of the technology, we'll also need other types of bulbs that are more specialized in their function.
Via Illumitex, Greentech Media
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