At the 2012 International CES we had a chance to speak with SWITCH Lighting. They are a start-up from Silicon Valley that is working to create a better lighting solution than the age old Edison incandescent and take LED lights to the next level. There are two parts of their design that make them leaps and bounds ahead of the competition. The first is clear when you look at the product — it’s beautiful. They’ve managed to turn an everyday object that would normally be overlooked into something that is a pleasure to view in the on or off position. The second is where the magic happens — the bulb is filled with liquid.
The liquid is a non-toxic, non-conductive, food-grade fluid that is used to cool the LEDs that strangely enough can be found in the beer making process and also in women’s cosmetics. Heat causes the liquid to flow in a circular motion through the bulb and down through the aluminum portion which acts as a sort of radiator in the cooling process. This causes the outside of the bulb to heat to around 85°C which may seem quite hot, but in comparison to an incandescent which heats to almost 160°C it’s actually quite cool. This differs from most LED manufacturers who tout the coolness of the outside of their bulbs as an advantage, when in actuality it keeps the heat closer to the LEDs which in turn hampers light output and longevity. The cooler the LEDs, the more lumens can be produced, the longer the LEDs last, and the fewer LEDs are required to produce the same amount light output. An LED made by another company that produces the same light requires 18 LEDs compared to SWITCH’s light that uses 10, which in the end is simple math — less LEDs = a less expensive bulb.
One additional advantage of this light is it will soon be put to the UL drop test and is expected to pass with flying colors. The UL drop test consists of dropping the bulb 3 times from a height of 3 feet onto a UL specified hardwood floor. I suspect one reason it can pass this test is the thick and durable glass used in the manufacturing process. The SWITCH light glass is between 2.5 and 3mm thick. If you’re wondering how thick a standard incandescent is, it’s a measly .1mm. Just remember that even if it did break there would be no harmful fallout. Other lights such as CFLs or fluorescent bulbs contain harmful mercury that is difficult to dispose of and is hazardous to biological life forms (like us humans).
This company has been hard at work since 2007 testing and retesting their product. In comparison to Edison’s trials of the filament which took around 1,000 tries to perfect, SWITCH tried between 500 and 1,000 different liquids to find the perfect one — and that’s just the liquid. In the end they’ve designed a bulb that may cost a pretty penny (currently around $30 for a 75w equivalent), but will give you 25,000 hours of life and will save you around $150 over the life of the bulb. If you’d like to learn more you can watch the interview below, or just head over to their website.