The ice cream cone-shaped fluorescent light bulb was supposed to be the lamp of the future, producing just as much light as the century-old Edison incandescent at a fraction of the energy. But CFLs look terrible, enveloping rooms in an unfriendly bluish hue. LED lamps are the next future of lighting, but they have their own obstacles to overcome, including sensitive electronics that can burn out when they get warm. SWITCH, the first liquid-cooled light bulb, aims to solve that issue and light up your house with the comfortable yellow glow of the incandescent.
Right out of the box, the SWITCH60 feels impressive, like a Cadillac version of a regular bulb. It has the globed shape of the 60-watts I used to buy before switching to CFLs, but it's way, way heavier -- the weight is the first indication that it's a piece of technology, not just a thin piece of glass you screw into a lamp and forget. On my kitchen scale, it weighed in at 9.8 ounces, about as much as a typical volleyball.
The weight is behind this bulb's secret -- it's full of liquid silicone, which dissipates heat from the 10 LEDs (12 LEDs for the 100-watt version). Warmer silicone moves toward the glass exterior, where heat dissipates into the air; as it cools, the silicone drops back toward the bulb's heart. Think of a lava lamp; this works basically the same way, said Dave Horn, chief technology officer at SWITCH. You just can't see the gloopy circulation.
The bulb also contains a volume-compensation device that works somewhat like a piston to keep the bulb at atmospheric pressure. If the bulb breaks, it won't explode. Plus, liquid silicone is food-safe and clear, so if you drop one and it breaks, your carpet won't stain and your dog won't get sick. This is a benefit over the mercury vapor-filled CFL, which can emit harmful mercury if it shatters.
I replaced a CFL with the SWITCH60 in an upright light fixture in a room with white walls and a white ceiling, and the room filled with a comforting yellowish glow, which I thought was distinctly different from the cool blue hue of the one it replaced. Another major benefit: It was 100 percent bright immediately. No waiting for the vapors to fully warm up and fluoresce, which is one of the more annoying aspects of a CFL.
Other LED lamps emit light around 3,000 degrees Kelvin, a measure of color temperature, which is more toward the bluish end of the spectrum. It turns out that more energy is required to get to 2,700 K, around the color temperature of an incandescent bulb. SWITCH bulbs can take the heat this extra electricity generates, Horn said.
This is because of the phosphor blend used to produce that color, he said. "To get that redder look, the phosphor peak is very wide. Some of that red pulls into the infrared, and that's why the efficiency drops." The bulbs use a bit more power than others on the market, but the team decided it was worth it to achieve the proper glow. The 60-watt equivalent uses 12 watts, while the 100-watt equivalent uses 21 watts.
The price tag. The 60-watt version will set you back $40, and the brighter ones go for $60. The weight may also be troubling to some. It would feel weird in a cheaper lamp with a clamp-on shade, like you'd be injuring it. Horn said the weight is a common question and is "duly noted." "In the next generation lamps, we're looking at reducing that weight tremendously," he said. The bulbs aren't on sale yet, but they were shipped earlier this month to hotels and other hospitality establishments, so you may start seeing them soon.
If you miss the sun-like glow of the old Edison bulbs and care about energy savings -- and price is not an issue -- then this bulb is for you. It works well, looks great and does exactly as advertised. Compared to other LED options, the SWITCH bulb may be a better investment, because the liquid coolant will help direct heat away from the drivers, prolonging their life. It'll pay for itself, eventually; SWITCH says with 80 percent energy savings, that'll happen at around six months. But at the end of the day, it's worth more than many of the light fixtures into which it will be screwed--and whether it's worth it will vary by person.
This great looking product from Switch, has raised a lot of awareness around the next generation of LED lighting. For some , the price may be a hurdle, for others who have been waiting over a year to get there hands on one of these, It's more "Art meets tech". Prices will drop, like any new groundbreaking technology"
Kelvin is not measured in degrees. *facepalm*
@ tertertert, Please enlighten (pun may or may not be intended).
Kelvin has not been 'degrees kelvin' since the late 1960's. Though it is still acceptable to use 'degrees K' or 'degrees kelvin' in not so scientific writing/discussion. Yet, when writing an article for a "Science" magazine or paper, it makes you look silly. Furthermore, when writing out kelvin, it should not be capitalized.
With the development of the Sandia Cooler, there's no longer a need for liquid cooling in lightbulbs. Has there been an article on that in PopSci? If not, there needs to be.
The color output of any fluorscent lamp is determined by the phophor coating on the inside wall of the tube. Color does not affect energy consumption of any fluorescent lamp in any way. 13 watts is 13 watts is 13 watts.
The color output DOES affect the volume of usable light produced. 2700K (warm white) produces light heavy in reds and yellows. The amount of blue light produced in a 2700K is negligible to the point that the huan eye cant see it.
3100K is known a 'daylight' and 4100K is 'cool white'. 'Full spectrum' lamps have a 7000K temp color that is similar to the actual sunlight with the blue component being prominent. Visible blue light is NOT produced by all fluorescent lamps.
Temperature color affects the amount of usable light produces. The grocery stores prefer to use 2500K to 2700K
lamp over the meat counters because it enhances the natural red color of beef. Next time you go to the grocery store, pick up a package of beef and step back away from the meat counter and into the aisle and look at the meat again. The difference in color is significant. Mens clothing stores will typicallly use full spectrum colors that enhance blues and browns of their clothing.
Color temperature of any lighting lamp is still expressed in degrees Kelvin. Follow this link for proof:
If the major lighting manufacturers still use Degrees Kelvin to identify the color output of their lighting products, then it is reasonable to speak of fluorescent lamp colors as Degrees Kelvin.
Yes LED use the least amount of electricity to produce light and I PoPSCi promotes companies with new inventions, but I am really excited when a manufacturing plant comes online and starts produces LED lights as cheap as the old incandescing lights. Now that would be exciting and interesting read!
@doitbetternow, your link as proof that degrees kelvin is correct is a good one because, you know, they aren't allowed to put anything that isn't true on the internet...Right?
remember when we paid $40 for a lamp and it came with a free bulb? Well, get ready for paying $40 for a bulb that will come with a (hopefully) free lamp.
Another interesting observation: Remember when TVs were simple to buy? You selected the screen size, maybe CC and PIP features; then looked at the picture quality at the store and made your purchase. Now you have to look at LCD/LED/OLED/Plasma, 1080i/p 720i/p, 60/120/240/600Hz, WiFi, social media features.
Just as same, buying incondesent bulbs were simple, select the wattage 40/60/100 and made your purchase. Now it's CLF,LED,SWITCH, 2700K/3000K.
-How come something heavier suddenly feels like high tech? If your next phone weighed 5 times what your current phone weighs but was the same size and capability, would you think you got an upgrade or a downgrade? This statement is just silly.
-Remind me again why anyone would want to reproduce that old yellow of incandescent bulbs? I far prefer light that is as close to daylight as possible, about 5000 K, since that's what I see all day. Regardless, this is a personal preference, but I don't see it as some kind of benefit. You can get a 5000 K 60-watt equivalent (uses 14 watts) CFL for $2 each. You can get a 2700 K CFL for $6 if you really MUST have that old tech glow (which contradicts with the high tech cadillac statement anyways).
-"This is a benefit over the mercury vapor-filled CFL, which can emit harmful mercury if it shatters." Yes, I agree, it can be a benefit, and I don't want to take that away, since I see it as about the only benefit of this bulb. However, in my 10 years of using nothing but CFLs in my home, I've never actually managed to break a CFL, so for me this is not much of a benefit.
-"Another major benefit: It was 100 percent bright immediately." Newer CFLs turn on very fast, and get bright very fast. I've never felt that the few seconds of warm up hurt me in any way. In fact, in the mornings it is actually a bit of a good thing, so the light isn't so immediately bright to my eyes.
-A true break even point is hard to calculate without expected lifespan of the bulb, which is not listed in the article.
-"It'll pay for itself, eventually; SWITCH says with 80 percent energy savings, that'll happen at around six months." That's only if you compare to an incandescent bulb, and only if you run the bulb 24/7. For very specialized applications this may be true, but certainly not for an average user. Even compared to an incandescent bulb, and assuming a high 15 cents per kWh, this will pay for itself in about 5300 hours, or roughly 220 days at 24/7. For most of us, we use lights an average of 3 hours a day at most, so that's a payback in just under 5 years, assuming it doesn't break or need replacement. If you use this bulb to replace a CFL, you only save 2 watts, and at 3 hours a day it would take me 115 years to break even.
In very specific circumstances, this bulb might be useful. But I don't personally know anybody for whom this actually makes logical sense.
Looks like another photograph of a machined heat sink prototype. How did the LM80 tests go? Why did the price go from $25 at Lightfair 2011 to $40 today in 2012 when prices have tracked in the inverted direction? Heavy bulb, loaded with expensive silicone purchased from the dumpster of a plastic surgeons office. We are in the early stage of evolutionary optimization of the next LED bulb, and unfortunately the Switch design will not make the brutal cut. They have missed milestones for the last 5 quarters. Still cannot buy this bulb, and price erosion is in full force. They need to manufacture the bulb for $8.00 max, to just barely match the current $15 strike price. One warning to preferred stock holders of Switch - don't take the path of shipping a $1.0 with every bulb as LSG has done. Rework the patent portfolio, maybe the founders design did not quite get it right, but other ideas laying dormant may be a hit? A19 myopia is killing this company. Still we need innovation, and these early seed lamp designs will help with the evolutionary process to get to what works the best.
I doubt I'd like this one either. I tried the so called best led and it has way more problems than it fixes. http://www.popsci.com/bown/2010/product/philips-enduraled
That led took about 1/2 to 1 second to light up. It looked as though it was really flashing really fast but noticeable. The color was awful. It didn't save any money on electricity over CFL and was worse that a Cold Cathode CFL.
What are we going to do with the silicon in these?
I have been testing the led flashlights and so far they stink too.
I'll keep my cfl's for now. I still use a very efficient cold cathode every day.
Water is actually an electron lubricant and makes the itsy bitsy little electronics much faster. I suppose this will help the LED be brighter!!!!
Snort... lol, just joken. See ya. ;)
This reminds me of the way laptop/notebook pricing has gone ever since they became mainstream. For the longest time it cost 2-3 $K to even think of getting a decent one. Then, as PC prices dropped lock a rock, instead of dropping the price on notebooks they kept adding new technology and the prices are STILL what they were long ago for a "decent" notebook. LED lightbulb 60W equiv. pricing at $40-60 a bulb is why I still use low end CFLs. So insread of making them cheaper, they appear to be "adding technology" to keep the prices "fixed". I won't buy into it. And I happen to like the whiter light from CFLs. I get near old fashioned incandescent light and I feel retro. :-D When LED bulbs start selling for $5 or less, I'll show some interest. As it is, the only reasonably priced LED lighting today is used in flashlights.
STOP MEASURING LIGHT OUTPUT IN WATTS!!!
Light output is measured in lumens (lm).
Power is measured in watts (W).
Efficiency for light bulbs can be measured in lm/W.
We've had CFLs for 17 years now.
Why can't people stop using watts to describe light output?
Thanks for the additional information. If you wish for people to change, they just need education, which is the answer to your own question. Take care. ;)
China lighting electricity power consumption accounts for about 12% of the whole society, the efficient lighting products replace incandescent lamp, great potential for energy conservation and emissions reduction. Phasing out incandescent lamp, for promoting China's lighting electric appliance industry structure optimization and promote to realize "1025" energy-saving emission reduction target tasks, coping with global climate change has important significance.
It appears the Earth LED will be selling them here: