Monday, December 28, 2009

Yet another CFL characteristic

We have addressed the issue of the toxicity of "Mercury Bulbs" (CFLs) in several posts. In meetings with many Electric utilities it was acknowledged that the CFL is considered a stop-gap solution until a better technology is available. In an "off the record" phone call with an EPA official we were told that CFLs were resulting in a "pending environmental disaster". Yes, we wrote it down and date and time stamped it.

Over the last few months Vu1 has been contacted by two major museums. One is a well known natural history museum and the other is a museum of art in a large U.S. city. One contact was from a Lighting Director and the other from the Associate Curator. Both expressed great interest in Vu1's ESL lighting as an "accurate and high quality" and "safe" lighting for exhibits and artwork. The museum of art brought to our attention the ultraviolet (UV) generated by CFL bulbs and their damaging effect on artwork. The museum cannot use CFLs due to the UV risk and they said they hated the light quality of LED bulbs. They are being mandated to install energy efficient lighting but feel they have no options with existing technologies.

We are hoping to be able to solve this dilemma for museums with the release of our first ESL reflector bulbs; in the meantime we started looking into the issue of UV. There are number of articles that have been written on the health impacts of CFLs for people that are UV sensitive. CFL lights should be recognized as “a potential risk factor in the aggravation of existing light-sensitive symptoms in some patients with diseases such as lupus, porphyrias, genophotodermatoses, actinic prurigo, chronic actinic dermatitis and solar urticaria”. European Commission – Directorate – General for Health and Consumers

Also interesting is the impact of UV light on plastics. Unfortunately, many light fixtures and lamp shades are made of - or incorporate- plastics. UV has a tendency to attack plastic. There is an excellent article entitled “UV Properties of Plastics: Transmission & Resistance” written by Zeus Industrial Products. This article highlights how -

“All types of UV can cause a photochemical effect within the polymer structure, which can be either a benefit or lead to degradation of some sort to the material. Note that compared to our skin, the higher energy UVC is more likely to affect plastics. The main visible effects are a chalky appearance and a color shift on the surface of the material, and the component surface becomes brittle.”

The result can be as pictured below. The lamp shade in this picture was a premium priced shade that had been enclosing a CFL bulb for 24 months. The plastic liner of the shade became discolored, brittle and then essentially shattered. Stay tuned for many more damaged fixtures and lamp shades as the use of CFLs become more common.

Lastly, we were at a friend’s home on Christmas Eve. Their 8 year old came running into the kitchen exclaiming that “something is burning and smoking by the Christmas tree”. We all ran into the room and were taken aback to find that the burning and smoking was coming from a spiral CFL bulb that had just died a painful death in the table lamp next to the Christmas tree.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Vu1 Featured

We just received a note that Vu1 is featured in the newly released book "Ten Ways to Change the World in Your Twenties" by Libuse Binder.

Ten Ways is an inspiring collection of new ideas, resources and innovative twists that help twenty somethings tackle today’s toughest issues and find their inner activist.

Check out Libuse’s website and Facebook fanpage.  She can be reached at

Find Ten Ways on

Or at Barnes and Noble

About the Author:

Libuse Binder’s work has appeared in Earth911, Weekly Way, Fit Yoga, and Worldchanging. Formerly in film production in Los Angeles and a middle school English teacher in New York, she is now focused on energizing the newest generation of adults for a life of engagement in the social and environmental issues that matter most.

Her passions include the environment, sustainable living, volunteerism, public policy, and social networking technology.

Libuse currently lives in Seattle with her husband, where they enjoy exploring the natural beauty that surrounds them.


“What really distinguishes Ten Ways is how Binder presents real world cases of young people creating positive change. These aren’t just ideas—they’re success stories.”

—Ben Jervey, environmental journalist

“Everywhere I go around the planet, I find young people, fresh from college, leading the new green movement. With savvy and heart, they’re making a real difference—and as this book shows, you can too!”

—Bill McKibben,

“Libuse Binder has a heart as big as the world. Ten Ways to Change the World in Your Twenties is imperative reading for young people committed to helping the planet, and one another, toward a more enlightened future. Read this book!”

—Mark Matousek, author of When You’re Falling, Dive and Ethical Wisdom: What Makes Us Good?

“Ten Ways to Change the World in Your Twenties won’t only teach you how to change the world, it will get you exhilarated about doing so. Libuse Binder is a passionate advocate and activist, and she writes in fun, accessible prose that’s never preachy, that speaks to any generation—whether you’re in your 20s or your 80s—about how to live mindfully, and have a blast while doing so.”

—Melissa Kirsch, author of The Girl’s Guide to Absolutely Everything

“Having a positive impact doesn’t have to be complicated, but sometimes the biggest obstacle is knowing where—and how—to start. Ten Ways is a great resource to help people who are just starting out know how to start making a difference.”

—Meg Busse, director, Nonprofit Transitions Program at

Monday, December 7, 2009

Vu1 Releases Updated Video of ESL™ Lighting Technology

Vu1 Releases Updated Video of ESL™ Lighting Technology

Online documentary demonstrates company’s technology moving from lab bench to socket

December 7, 2009 SEATTLE – Vu1 Corporation (OTCBB: VUOC) today posted an updated documentary in which the company’s Electron Stimulated Luminescence™ (ESL™) lighting technology is shown in a self-contained model of a screw-in bulb for the first time. The three minute video features an updated demonstration of ESL with all the electronics contained inside the light bulb which screws into any standard Edisonian style light socket. This demonstration is an important milestone as the company continues down the path to commercialize its first application of ESL, a fully functional replacement for existing “R-30” reflector bulbs. The video update is now available for public viewing at:

“Demonstrating our technology’s ability to function as a stand-alone bulb is an important step as we move into the next key phase - miniaturization of the electronics in preparation for pilot production,” said R. Gale Sellers, CEO of Vu1. “We are now focused on transitioning our initial bulb design toward a market-ready product so consumers don’t have to compromise on safety, energy efficiency or light quality when choosing their light bulbs.”

Vu1’s ESL is the cornerstone to the company’s development of the next generation of energy efficient lighting technology. As governments around the world begin to mandate the use of energy efficient light bulbs consumers are faced with few good alternatives due to the environmental hazards of mercury, limited features, price concerns and poor light quality associated with other lighting sources such as Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) or Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs).

ESL will offer the full features of incandescent lights, such as the high light quality and color demanded by consumers, instant on, and true dimability, all in an attractive bulb design but without the use of dangerous mercury. Vu1 plans to focus initially on the R-30 reflector bulb market and, assuming adequate funding the company will target reaching the market in the second half of 2010.

Vu1 has recently applied for a patent utilizing ESL technology in a linear fluorescent tube shape, the most common lighting in commercial buildings. Currently there are more than 1.5 billion fluorescent tube fixtures in the United States alone. The company has recently begun work on an affordable, incandescent light quality, dimmable, mercury free replacement for the common fluorescent tube.

More information on the Vu1 and energy efficient ESL lighting can be found on the company’s blog at:

About Vu1 Corporation

Vu1 Corporation (OTCBB: VUOC) is dedicated to applying its technology to produce energy efficient, environmentally-friendly lighting solutions worldwide. Vu1 is developing a new, energy efficient light bulb to provide the consumer market with the first affordable, non-toxic light bulb with features consumers are demanding and not receiving from existing products. More information about Vu1 is available at:

This news release is not an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy the securities discussed herein. These securities have not been registered under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or any state securities laws and may not be offered or sold in the United States absent registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or an applicable exemption from the registration requirements. This news release is being issued pursuant to and in accordance with Rule 135c under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended.

Safe Harbor Statement under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995: This press release includes forward-looking statements including, but not limited to, the future commercial availability of our light bulb, our strategic planning and business development plans and the viability, pricing and acceptance of our products in the market. These forward-looking statements are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially from those described in the forward-looking statements. The words "may," "would," "will," "expect," "estimate," "anticipate," "believe," "intend", “scheduled” and similar expressions and variations thereof are intended to identify forward-looking statements. Investors are cautioned that any such forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve risks and uncertainties, many of which are beyond the company's ability to control. These risks include, but are not limited to, our ability to raise capital to fund ongoing development and operations, completing our manufacturing capability, the price and availability of raw materials for manufacturing, timing and results of product development and certification of our product, unanticipated costs and delays in product development and manufacturing, our ability to hire and retain key management and technical personnel, interest of channel partners, competitive factors, and our ability to manage growth, as well as the risks and other factors set forth in our periodic filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (including our Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2008 and our other periodic reports as filed from time to time).

Friday, November 20, 2009

CFL Bulbs "consumers were being misled by the bulbs' packaging"

Now that the ban on incandescent light bulbs has gone into effect in the UK - it is being discovered that CFL bulbs are a poor lighting alternative. 

From the BBC and Fox News -

Study Casts Dim Light on Energy-Efficient Bulbs

They're billed as energy-efficient, but compact fluorescent bulbs are getting a dim review in a new study.   The study, published in Engineering and Technology magazine, shows the energy-efficient light bulbs lose on average 22 percent of their brightness over their lifetime, the BBC reports.,2933,575858,00.html

Wait until the true environmental cost of a "green" technology that requires Mercury to work starts piling up.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

CFL Analysis Summary - Actual Savings

We were just advised of a very informative site discussing the many issues with CFL lights -   at the GreenerLights Blog.  There is excellent information on actual performance, safety and power factor (actual delivered energy savings to The Grid).

CFL Analysis Summary - Actual Savings

With all the factors below added together, it should be more than obvious that CFLs
a) don't save as much energy as claimed;
b) don't give the same quality light as incandescent and halogen lamps;
c) cannot be used in any light fitting (luminaires); and
d) are not as environmentally friendly and safe as previously assumed.

Friday, November 6, 2009

" Paying a premium for new technology, but $70 for one bulb?"

From the Minneapolis Star Tribune

  • Color is still a work in progress. LED lights can also have that commercial cool blue tint and other less desirable hues of green or pink, depending on the manufacturer.
  • LEDs are more directional, which makes them good for task and spot lighting, but not as general light in a table lamp or ceiling fixture.
  • It will also be years before the common LED bulb will cost $20 to $25 instead of $60 or $70.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Please return the LED bulb to your nearest Costco location

A few months ago our phones began ringing off the hook with friends and acquaintances telling us about the inexpensive LED flood lights that they had seen at Costco. Many expressed great concern that these would prove the viability of affordable, well performing LEDs aggressively coming to market. Based on the price point and the description of the LEDs (no heat sinking) we responded that these would likely be very poor performers both in light quality and life. However, I went down to my local Costco to purchase one for our competitive products collection. I first took it home and when I put it into a recessed can in the kitchen - my wife politely told me to get it out of our house. It had terrible glare, produced a color of light similar to LED headlights and was made of all plastic with no heat sinking. On Friday I received a letter from Costco (attached) offering a refund since it appears these LED bulbs are not performing to required standards. We predict this will the first of many of these types of “recalls” as LED lights stumble onto the market and start to fail.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Comparative Study on the Thermal Performance of LEDs and Fluorescent Lamps

A study on the issues facing LED lighting in general illumination lighting has been published in "IEEE Transactions on Power Electronics - Vol. 24 No. 7". Authored by in part by Dr. Ron Hui - IEEE Distinguished Lecturer PELS. This study states that despite claims of high efficacy, LED output performance is only true at low junction temperatures and not sustainable at high temperatures (which is the normal operating environment for many general illumination lighting applications). The study refers to the need to identify the “hidden issues” associated with LED lighting. A surprising number in this study was that while linear fluorescent tubes dissipate between 73%-77% of total lamp power as heat - LEDs dissipate 87%-90% of input power as heat.

This supports what we have been hearing from the LED industry - that LEDs will only be a viable solution in general illumination lighting when consumers and businesses are willing to install new LED specific lighting fixtures.

This report can be acquired at:

A Simple Method for Comparative Study on the Thermal Performance of LEDs and Fluorescent Lamps
Yaxiao Qin Deyan Lin Hui, S.Y.
Dept. of Electron. Eng., City Univ. (CityU) of Hong Kong, Kowloon, China;
This paper appears in: Power Electronics, IEEE Transactions on
Publication Date: July 2009
Volume: 24, Issue: 7
On page(s): 1811-1818
ISSN: 0885-8993
INSPEC Accession Number: 10812269
Digital Object Identifier: 10.1109/TPEL.2009.2017021
Current Version Published: 2009-07-28


A simple method is proposed to measure the heat dissipation of LEDs and fluorescent lamps in an open system that allows light energy to escape. Based on this method, a comparative study on the thermal and luminous performance of high-brightness LEDs and fluorescent lamps is presented. At rated power, T5 and T8 fluorescent lamps generate about 73%-77% of their total power as heat, while three types of high-brightness LEDs dissipate about 87%-90% of input power as heat. Heat dissipation is an important factor particularly for air-conditioned buildings when overall energy efficiency is considered. T5 fluorescent lamps perform better than some existing LEDs in terms of luminous efficacy and heat generation in this study.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Proposed Product Specifications

We have had many requests regarding the proposed performance of the Vu1 ESL R-30 bulb.  The following specifications are those that we have established with Vu1’s engineering and manufacturing groups for our first product.  Some of these specifications have already been met.   Final published performance to these specification will come from independent lab testing, formal certification reporting and through product safety testing that will be conducted by groups such as UL and ETL.   These are the TARGET specifications that Vu1 is currently working toward.

Vu1 ESL R-30 Reflector Bulb

Product Description

Vu1's first consumer product will be a reflector bulb in the R-30 shape.  The R-30 is the predominant bulb utilized in recessed can lighting applications.    R lamps designed for use in places such as showroom floors, museums and for general overhead lighting in homes where a smooth distribution of light with a soft-edged beam is desired

Product Specification (proposed)


The Vu1  R-30 will be a direct replacement for any R-30 incandescent reflector bulb.  In shape, size, and performance (illumination, light color, dimablity, instant on) the Vu1 ESL R-30 will be indistinguishable from an incandescent R-30.


Nominal Wattage

=<20 W

Lumens output

=>600 lm

Color Temperature (CCT)


Color Rendering Index (CRI)


Power Factor


Rated Life

=> 6000 hours

Instant on

=< 250 ms  (at full power or any pre- dimmed level)

Fully dimmable

Constant dimability to 20%

Beam Angle

60 degrees


Minimal, similar to frosted incandescent R30



Form Factor / Compatibility


Compatible with all existing R30 fixtures

In fixture

Indistinguishable from incandescent R30

Lamp finish

White face

Maximum Overall Length

5.75 inches


3.75 inches


E26 screw base and GU24 pin base


=< 12 ounces

Heat tolerance

Designed for ventilated and non-ventilated recessed can fixtures

Wet environment

 Indoor or dry environment only

Cold environment

 Performance unaffected by temperature

Environmental and Safety


Non-toxic case, glass, electronics, phosphor


No X-ray, No UV

Breakage risk

All materials contained by safety coating


Meets FCC regulations

Heat generation

>50% less than 65W incandescent R30

Monday, October 12, 2009

Vu1 Bulbs Burn Down Trailer Park :-)

In the category of "we couldn't make this stuff up" - we were just forwarded a post from an investor message board that claims Vu1 Bulbs are responsible for burning down a trailer park!! The folks around Vu1's HQ have had great fun passing this one around. We just sent it over to our team in the Czech Republic advising them that we obviously need to tighten up our safety testing. We will have to go back to our contacts at UL and make sure that when we start the certification process they will be specifically testing for trailer fixtures to make sure this never happens again!!

btw- we also have heard that our energy efficient, mercury free, Earth Saving Lights (ESL) may be responsible for Global Warming. Our apologies to the polar bears that called this in.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Vu1 in the News

Vu1 and ESL was mentioned into today's Huffington Post.

"There are a lot of guides out there to help you choose bulbs with the least amount of mercury and the most flattering light -- the Environmental Working Group's Green Lighting Guide is a helpful starting point. But I'll be honest: I'm really looking forward to when LEDs (light-emitting diodes), which are even more efficient than CFLs and arguably more flattering, start to come down in price. There's also been some buzz about the new ESL (electron stimulated luminescence) bulb from Seattle manufacturer Vu1 that is currently in development -- no mercury, 65 to 70 percent less energy than incandescents, and virtually indistinguishable from the real deal."

Read more at:

Friday, September 25, 2009

How About a Level Playing Field to Encourage Innovation?

Several people contacted us today after seeing the article in the New York Times on the U.S. government sponsored $15M “L Prize” for innovation in energy efficient lighting. Even more compelling than the cash award will be the “federal procurement” and “promotion” benefits that will be offered to the winner. Unfortunately, the Department of Energy stacked the deck for the “Bright Lighting Competition” (L Prize) when they specified that SSL (LED) technology is the ONLY technology eligible to participate.

It is truly unfortunate that the DOE has bet on what will turn out to be in many applications a losing horse while excluding even the possibility that there are other technologies on the horizon that can produce energy efficient, high quality light. Vu1 Corporation has raised this issue with the Senators and Congressional Representatives from Washington State, as well as key members of various committees involved in energy policy.

Vu1 strongly contends that our government should encourage open innovation and not limit American ingenuity by determining who can play and who can’t.

All we want is a level playing field. If we can get that, we hope to bring to that field a “Light without compromise”.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

New LED R30 Product

Last night while shopping the light products aisle of one of the largest DIY stores I saw that they had started carrying a complete line of brand-name LED lighting products. I just had to purchase the R30 LED - "Ideal for Recessed Lighting" model. So here is my complete biased assessment of the "best of breed" LED product from perhaps the world's largest lighting manufacturer.


• Instant on
• Mercury Free
• Rugged design (yes, seeing that it weighs in at ¾ of a lb due to
all of the cast aluminum heat sinking)
• Same size and shape as regular bulbs (No, it is actually 3.25 inches tall or more than 2 inches shorter than a standard incandescent R30. I could barely fit it into the can fixtures in my kitchen - it was too short. And my wife’s first impression was “it looks like a shower head”.)
• Quiet (hope so. It's a light bulb not a entertainment center)
• Emits virtually no heat
• Color Rendering Index of 85 (equals “poor”)
• Color temperature not specified but appears to be 4000-5000K (blue white). The color made the kitchen counter look like a morgue table.
• Replaces 50 Watt halogen Par30 bulb (No not quite, not with a lumen output of only 418 lumens)
• Very directional, very strong glare
• 11 watts
• 25,000 hours life
• And probably the most surprising spec an energy efficacy of only 38 lumens per watt - Less than most CFL bulbs. What happened to the 100+ lm/w we have heard touted over and over again from the super efficient new LED bulbs?
• And last but not least $49.97

The package says it will save you $97 in electrical costs if you keep it for 17 years (4 hours per day, 25,000 hours). Of course after you deduct the $50 purchare price you will have a "return on your investment" of over $2.47 per year! Oh yes, sorry - it can't be used with a dimmer

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Vu1 In The News

Vu1 is showing up in a number of articles. Enjoy -


Technology Magazine News

New Energy and Fuel



Gizmologia (Spanish)


Popular Science


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Vu1 Documentary Launch and Answer to Questions

The Vu1 ESL documentary was released on Monday. It can be viewed at

The documentary has propagated to a number of Clean Tech blogs that have resulted in a lot of great commentary and a number of questions regarding the company and the technology. Below I will try and answer some of the more popular questions.

Vu1 has established a formal set of specifications for our first product (an R-30 reflector bulb replacement). We are currently building our prototypes to meet these specifications. The final performance of our products will be independent laboratory certified and UL, ETL certified. Our intent is to pursue Energy Star certification, although currently the EPA only provides certification criteria for CFL and LED technologies. If necessary, we plan to obtain Energy Star certification by meeting or exceeding CFL standards.

The following are our target specifications (many of these are already being achieved in our prototype products) –

Q: What is the energy efficiency?
A: Similar to a R30 CFL bulb. Approximately 18-19W for a 65W incandescent replacement.

Q: What is the rated life?
A: 6000 hours in our first products

Q: Do ESL bulbs emit X-rays?
A: No harmful or disruptive emissions of any sort (x-ray, EMI, UV, etc.) are emitted by an ESL bulb.

Q: Will ESL bulbs contain any toxic or harmful materials (mercury, leaded glass, etc.)
A: No. ESL bulbs will be certified "trash bin disposable". In municipalities that have the ability to recycle electronic components - ESL bulbs will be certified "recyclable".

Q: What is the color of the light generated by an ESL bulb?
A: ESL color temperature is tuned in Vu1’s proprietary phosphors. Initially, we will tune the color to precisely match an incandescent bulb.

Q: Isn’t ESL just a TV tube?
A: ESL utilizes many of the same principles as a CRT or TV but with a number of critical differences. In ESL, electrons are uniformly distributed versus being shot at a screen in a scanning beam. ESL utilizes proprietary phosphors that are designed to turn on, burn bright, and last for very long life times. Click on the link below and look into the back of a TV or CRT. See what it required to allow them to function. Now look at the size, shape and weight of and ESL bulb. Vu1 has created an inexpensive, minaturized, highly energy efficient electron source and power technology that allow light bulbs to be built affordably and in high volumes.

Q: Why do we need another lighting technology? We know the problems that exist with CFLs - but LEDs will solve all of those problems.
A: We continue to address this issue at every opportunity. LED technology will be very successful in automotive, street lighting, retail, and residential/commercial (when and if new LED-friendly fixtures are installed). LEDs will never be a viable, affordable retrofit solution in heat sensitive installations, such as recessed can lights.

More to follow ……

Thursday, September 10, 2009

DIY Retailer comments on Energy Efficient Bulbs on SkyNews

“Everyone wants to be more environmentally friendly, but in some cases the low enery bulbs are just not suitable and until there is a viable alternative the opinion I am getting is that they should not yet be banned, until such time that there is a better quality alternative.”

Chris Abbott
Abbotts DIY
East Devons Largest Independent DIY and Household Store

Professor Heinz Wolff, founder of the Brunel Institute for Bioengineering, was also on the show and he added that a better quality of low energy light bulb using LED technology was in the pipeline — but these are still several years from hitting the shop floor.

"light at the end of the tunnel"

Comments from a Vu1 friend in the UK -

" From my understanding VU1 appears to have a product that can really make a difference to the planet. For my children and my grandchildren, I want a light bulb that is safe to use, economic to run and a good clear light. A light I can dim when I put my young daughter to bed. A light for the 21st Century. The bulbs I use today were first introduced over 100 years ago. If we compared this to the motor industry we would still be driving around in model T Fords. At last a Company appears to have set their sights on a product that goes a long way to answering all the questions. I would imagine it has taken blood, sweat and a few tears to get there for I do not know any other Company who has a true answer to the question at this time.

Our Governments' are culpable in having allowed the new low energy lights to be introduced, bringing with them health risks, poor light and the inability to meet the European Unions own agenda that light bulbs need to be able to be dimmed, so they come on when you walk into an office and go off when you leave.

The world has become Health and Safety conscious whilst the bureaucrats allow low energy bulbs to be sold. Even the buying public have become wise to the situation and are showing their dissaproval by stocking up on the original type of bulb our great great grandparents used.

VU1 if you can provide that true light at the end of the tunnel then the world will be most grateful."

Peter Edwards

From Sunday's London Daily Telegraph -

"The Sunday Telegraph has conducted its own tests on level of illuminance provided by light bulbs from different manufacturers to see whether their claims stand up to scrutiny.

We found that under normal household conditions, using a single lamp to light a room, an 11W low-energy CFL produced only 58 per cent of the illumination of an "equivalent" 60W bulb – even after a 10-minute "warm-up".

On a website intended to answer consumers' questions about the switch to energy saving bulbs, the European Commission states: "Currently, exaggerated claims are often made on the packaging about the light output of compact fluorescent lamps."

Friday, September 4, 2009

CFLs "Whoever has forced us to use these is a bit of a Dimwit."

From NBC Nightly News - Sept 2

Bulb recall sparks protest in Europe

Europe is switching over to energy-efficient bulbs, but not everyone is feeling the glow.
NBC's Dawna Friesen reports.

Monday, August 31, 2009

WSJ - Compact fluorescents don't produce good quality light

And from the Wall Street Journal -

"How environmental will it be for frustrated homeowners to remove and dispose of thousands of dimmers? What's more, CFLs work best in light fixtures designed for CFLs, and may not fit, provide desired service life, or distribute light in the same pleasing pattern as incandescents. How environmental will it be for homeowners to tear out and install new light fixtures?

Will some energy be saved? Probably. The problem is this benefit will be more than offset by rampant dissatisfaction with lighting. We are not talking about giving up a small luxury for the greater good. We are talking about compromising light."

It appears that there would be interest in a "Light without compromise"TM.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

NEC Lighting to Release 60W-equivalent LED Light Bulbs

We have been purchasing and evaluating LED A-type (meaning "table lamp") bulbs as they become available.

Late last year, we acquired for our marketing collection a GeoBulb - the first true A-type to come to market. It has a poor light quality, the leds in the array are very visible and hurt your eyes if you look directly at them. The price was $119.95 plus $10.99 in s/h. It was touted, and still is, as a "60 Watt equivalent". In the "warm white" color temperature (the closest to an incandescent bulb) the GeoBulb puts out 260 lumens of light. Try to find a 60W incandescent bulb that produces less than 500 lumens. Most 60W incandescant A-bulbs are producing almost 700 lumens. So, the "60 Watt GeoBulb equivalent" produces approximately 1/3 the illumination.

Last week we added the new Philips AmbientLED A19 to our collection. Personally, I think it looks pretty good. Some of my colleagues disagree. The best color temperature available is 3100K. CRI of 85. The LEDs are not visible through the diffuser. Lots of aluminum heat sinking (looks almost identical to the NEC bulb in the attached article). We paid $50 + $8.70 s/h. Lumen output? 155 lumens or approximately the light output of a 15W refrigerator bulb.

Now NEC is entering the race. Once again, coming to market as a "60 Watt equivalent" with a bulb that generates 270 lumens (or 1/3 the illumination). Estimated price - $42.

By the way - none of the LED A-Type bulbs we have purchased can be dimmed.

Vu1 is working to produce a true "equivalent" for existing 65W incandescent reflector bulbs that generate 600-650 lumens. Our target "illumination" is 600-650 lumens - delivered to the floor, the wall, the counter-top with a visually equivalent illumination to the bulbs we hope to replace. We plan to initially price the Vu1 ESL R-30 bulb similar to the current price of dimmable reflector CFL bulbs.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

LEDs - square pegs in round holes?

From the New York Times - Green Inc.

"The chief technology officer for Lunera Lighting, an LED start-up company, warns that trying to put new, energy-efficient lighting technologies into sockets intended for incandescents is akin to putting a square peg into a round hole. When LEDs are exposed to high heat, they’re going to experience color shifts, you’re going to get reduced output from these fixtures and you’re going to get disappointingly short lifetimes."

In its first implementation (R-30 reflector bulbs), Vu1's ESL technology is being designed specifically for existing recessed can fixtures. We don't expect that 800 million recessed can fixtures will be replaced anytime soon.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Life-cycle study examines total energy used in LEDs, CFLs, and incandescents

From EDN magazine - an article that starts to look at the full environmental impact of conventional and energy efficient lighting technologies.

We have some early estimates on the cradle-to-grave environmental footprint that can be anticipated for Vu1's ESL technology. We believe that this is one more critical attribute that should not be compromised while providing energy efficient lighting. Stay tuned to see how ESL will compare to CFL and LED.

ESL Starts Fires????

One of the silliest things I've seen recently are some emails being sent to me that originated from message boards that claim "ESL technology starts fires after 4+ hours of continuous use".

I will make sure and advise our manufacturing plant of this phenomenon since the plant has been burning hundreds of prototypes of our ESL technology for months. I can also advise that in the Marketing Department (where we have had prototype ESL units burning on and off for over 12 months now) the only time we have almost had a fire was when an arc burnt through the ballast of a CFL bulb in our inventory and actually burned ME before I could get it unscrewed from the socket.

For the record - there have been no instances of ESL starting a fire. Also, no ESL prototypes exist outside of Vu1 facilities. If you hear anything different - consider it fiction.

The ESL Video Documentary

A number of people have inquired as to how the production of Vu1's ESL documentary is coming along.

We have had an amazingly productive and enjoyable experience working with Opticus Films. We feel very fortunate that they signed on to do this project with us. We are on schedule to have the production complete by the end of the month. Filming has been completed at our manufacturing and development facility in the Czech Republic, our engineering facility in Colorado and our executive offices in Seattle. Interviews have been completed with Vu1's CEO, CTO, CMO, VP of Manufacturing and VP of Engineering. Interviews have been filmed with industry subject matter experts from the Electric Utility, Electrical Distribution, architectural industries and academia. The final interview is being filmed on Thursday with a senior member of the California Lighting Technology Center.

The video will be delivered to Vu1 on Monday. Next will be a review by our Board of Directors and Legal team. A "sneak preview" will be screened with a group of Vu1 insiders and industry advisors a few days later. We plan to release it publically during the week of September 7th. Stay tuned to meet the Vu1 team, hear comments from a variety of industry experts and actually see a demonstration of ESL technology at work and in comparison to other energy efficient technologies.

Monday, August 24, 2009

CFL's Only Contain a Small Amount of Mercury

This comes from our friends at

"The Coalition for SafeMinds is a non-profit organization founded to scientifically investigate, support research, raise awareness, change policy and focus national attention on the growing evidence of a link between mercury and neurological disorders such as autism, attention deficit disorder, language delay and learning difficulties."

SafeMinds frequently provides us with updated information on the issues regarding mercury in CFL products. Below is the best explanation we have seen regarding the claim that there is only a "small amount of mercury in a CFL bulb". Although the average amount of mercury in a CFL is 4mg - SafeMinds does the following analysis based on the impact of just 2.5mg.

"It's A Small Amount"
A Message from SafeMinds President, Theresa Wrangham

One argument that is often made about compact fluorescents is that they only contain a "small amount of mercury". Current CFLs typically contain less than 5mg (not mcg) of mercury. Some contain as "little" as half of that or 2.5 mg. Let's put that number in perspective:

There are 1000 mg in a gram so 400 CFLs contain a gram of mercury. A gram of mercury (about 1/70th of a teaspoon because mercury is very heavy) is enough, if vaporized, to contaminate a 20-acre lake for a year to the point where the fish are unsafe to eat. Now consider the fact that in 2007 the EPA estimates that 380 million CFLs were sold. Those bulbs contained enough mercury to make 950,000 lakes toxic! This is by no means a "small" amount of environmental mercury.

Now let's look at the "small" amount of mercury in a single compact fluorescent assuming that it just broke in your home. Again, we take a CFL containing 2.5mg of mercury but this time we convert it to nanograms, which are billionths of a gram. 2.5mg= 2,500,000 nanograms of mercury.

A typical 12'x14' room with an 8' ceiling contains 38 cubic meters of air. If you divide these numbers you get an air concentration of 65,789 nanograms of mercury per cubic meter of air. For argument's sake, let's assume that only a 10th of the mercury in that CFL actually vaporized (which is conservative based on the published data), so now you are down to 6,579 nanograms per cubic meter of air. Next, let's look at some of the safety reference ranges that the government has established:

300 nanograms per cubic meter of air - this is the Environmental Protection Agency's reference concentration for chronic occupational exposure to mercury vapor in adult males.

200 nanograms per cubic meter of air - this is the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry's Minimal Risk Level for chronic exposure in adult males. They have also established a re-occupancy level of 1000ng/cubic meter; this is the level at which it is safe for people to re-enter a building that has been contaminated with mercury.

Both of these reference ranges have safety factors of 30 built into them. One single CFL, when broken, produces an air concentration of mercury roughly equivalent to the level that is known to cause neurological effects in adults

90 nanograms per cubic meter of air - this is California's Reference Exposure Level to prevent mercury damage to the developing brain based on animal studies. In our conservative example a broken CFL exceeds this reference range by 73 times!

Obviously, the amount of mercury in the air will dissipate over time, but this assumes that the homeowner knows that there is mercury in the CFL and cleans up and ventilates appropriately. At SafeMinds, we would rather be cautious and consider the "what if" scenarios:

"What if the homeowner is a pregnant woman?"
"What if the bulb breaks in a toddler's bedroom - or a daycare?"
"What if someone drops a multi-pack of bulbs?"
"What if the room has no windows to ventilate through?
"What if the broken bulb gets left in the trash can for a week?
"What if the homeowner doesn't have a clue that they have a neurotoxin on the floor?"

Even a "small amount" of mercury should not be taken lightly.

10 Days Left to Buy Incandescent Bulbs in the EU

Some people have commented that the upcoming 2012 U.S. incandescent bulb ban might not happen on schedule. They contend that it will be pushed out into the next millennium since people don't want to give up their incandescent bulbs. If what is happening in the EU is any indication we should be ready for some aggressive enforcement.

From London's Daily Mail we read that the bans are starting right on time across the world. In the U.S. that means that the 800 million recessed can fixtures will need to have replacement bulbs available. Will consumers replace those 800M fixtures with CFL bulbs? Personally, we don't think so for a long list of reasons. How about the "promised" LEDs? We also don't think so since it is unlikely they will be a viable, affordable solution for the direct replacement of incandescent reflector bulbs. Time will tell.

"Traditional lightbulbs will disappear from our shops in just ten days.

The measure, introduced with little fanfare, aims to force consumers to fit energy-saving lights. Consumers claim that many of the low-energy alternatives are ugly, expensive and produce unpleasant light. Under the European Directive, manufacturers in Europe will not be able to sell the banned bulbs to retailers. It will also be illegal to import energy-guzzling bulbs from outside the EU."

Read more:

Thursday, August 13, 2009

"The LED's Dark Secret"

From our VP of Engineering - Robert White

The IEEE magazine, Spectrum, in this month’s issue published an article titled “LED’s Dark Secret”. The article talks about the problem LEDs are having performing at high output levels. All of the high lumens/watt measurements are at very low output levels – too low to be useful for general purpose lighting. When the LEDs are pushed to useful output levels, the performance (lumens/watt) falls way off. This article delves into the physics of the LED and the various theories on why this happens.

"The blue light-emitting diode, arguably the greatest optoelectronic advance of the past 25 years, harbors a dark secret: Crank up the current and its efficiencies will plummet. The problem is known as droop, and it’s not only puzzling the brightest minds in the field, it’s also threatening the future of the electric lighting industry."

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Eco-friendly light bulbs flip switch on problems

From the Washington Post -

An energy-efficiency measure is turning into a ticking green time bomb. Mercury may end up in trash.

Detecting Mercury in Light Bulbs

I'm always somewhat annoyed when people and organizations say "CFLs contain a very small amount of mercury sealed within the glass tubing – an average of 4 milligrams. By comparison, older thermometers contain about 500 milligrams of mercury." Or "The 4mg of mercury in CFL's is better for the environment than the 9 milligrams being created per incandescent lamp from coal fired plants."

My response is that the only acceptable amount of mercury (a persistent neuron toxin) for the environment is NO mercury. Because of the mercury hazard - mercury thermometers have been virtually phased out over the last decade. Even when they were being sold they weren't selling at a rate of 400 million per year (U.S. CFL sales 2008) and growing.

Also, only 50% of U.S. energy comes from coal fired plants. The list of counterpoints can go on and one. Bottomline, less mercury is no solution. No mercury should be the goal.

A friend's son sent me this video link. It's an interesting look at a chemical analysis process. Most importantly is the result "concentration of diluted sample was .1 mg/L, so in conclusion sample has a significant amount of mercury".

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The largest and most cost-effective form of greenhouse gas mitigation

Contact: Skip Laitner, 202-507-4029
Press contact: Patrick Mitchell, 703-276-3266
ACEEE "Diagnostic Review" Shows Most Economic Projections Off
By Wide Margin on Potential Energy Efficiency Benefits, Greenhouse Gas Cuts

Washington, D.C. (July 30, 2009): A new report from the nonprofit and independent American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) finds that many conventional climate economic impact studies misread the historical record on the nation's energy productivity opportunities. The Positive Economics of Climate Change Policies: What the Historical Evidence Can Tell Us suggests that most studies that evaluate so-called cap-and-trade policies either ignore or greatly understate the potential advances in energy efficiency, the largest and most cost-effective form of greenhouse gas mitigation.

"The evidence shows that productive investments in energy-efficient technologies can enable the U.S. economy to save money and to substantially reduce its greenhouse gas emissions - both immediately and by mid-century,"

said author John A. "Skip" Laitner, Director of ACEEE's Economic and Social Analysis Program.

As part of the study, Laitner conducted a diagnostic review of the recent assessments of the H.R. 2454 climate change legislation, also known as the Waxman-Markey bill, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a narrow margin on June 26, 2009. It is now under consideration by the U.S. Senate, with action likely this fall. Unlike most other studies, ACEEE's report find that U.S. consumers and businesses could see their energy bills cut in half by 2050.

"In contrast to climate policies based on international offsets and banking, an efficiency-powered policy can provide a benefit to the climate while actually causing a small but net positive increase in the nation's economy and employment," said economist and climate policy expert James Barrett, Ph.D., among those who reviewed the study for ACEEE.

This analysis builds on the many past and recent energy efficiency resource assessments by ACEEE, McKinsey & Company, the Boston Consulting Group, and others. "The evidence is compelling," Laitner noted. "With advances in new materials, new designs, and the emerging contributions from information and communication technologies, energy productivity gains can power the economy in new ways that reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

"U.S. economic performance over the last several decades demonstrates that energy markets and consumer behaviors are much more dynamic than is commonly assumed," stated ACEEE Research Associate Chris P. Knight. "The past and the anticipated future gains in technology performance indicate that a productivity-led climate policy can actually make the U.S. economy more competitive."

The Positive Economics of Climate Change Policies: What the Historical Evidence Can Tell Us is available for free download or a hard copy can be purchased for $25 plus $5 postage and handling from ACEEE Publications, 529 14th St, N.W., Suite 600, Washington, D.C. 20045, phone: 202-507-4000, fax: 202-429-2248, e-mail:


About ACEEE: The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing energy efficiency as a means of promoting economic prosperity, energy security, and environmental protection. For information about ACEEE and its programs, publications, and conferences, visit

Germans Hoarding Traditional Light Bulbs

And from an article just forwarded to me from my lovely wife -,1518,druck-638494,00.html

"The unpopularity of the energy-saving compact fluorescent bulbs that will replace them is leading consumers and retailers to start hoarding the traditional bulbs.

In fact, in creating this legislation, the EU failed to address consumer preferences and the reservations of a number of other groups. For example, many have complained that the light emitted by a CFL bulb is colder and weaker and that its high-frequency flickering can cause headaches. Then there are complaints about the mercury the CFL bulbs contain, how there is no system for disposing of them in a convenient and environmentally friendly way, and how they allegedly result in exposure to radiation levels higher than allowed under international guidelines.

For some, the issue is also one of broken promises. For example, manufacturers of CFL bulbs justify their higher prices by claiming that they last much longer than traditional bulbs. But a recent test by the environmentally-oriented consumer-protection magazine ├ľko Test found that 16 of the 32 bulb types tested gave up the ghost after 6,000 hours of use -- or much earlier than their manufacturers had promised.

And then, of course, there's the issue of the light the bulbs emit. Many complain that the lights are just not bright enough and that they falsify colors. The Hamburger Kunsthalle, for example, recently made a bulk order for 600 incandescent light bulbs to make sure that it can keep illuminating the works it displays in the time-honored way."

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Yet Another "dim bulb" Hazard

We just received a link from a friend at "Yet Another CFL Hazard"

This article refers to one on "Dim Bulbs" written last week by John Stossell the co-anchor of ABC News 20/20

We do have options:

"The first is to go out and buy up all the old-fashioned Edison bulbs before they become illegal. The second option is to try to get a family discount on hazmat suits. The final option is to just say no to dim bulbs."


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Competitive Technologies

I have received a couple of emails regarding the Blog expressing a concern that we are competition bashing. The information that we have posted regarding HIR, LED and CFL technologies are in response to inquiries we have received asking for our assessment of these potentially competitive technololgies. Rather than responding individually to multiple emails we decided to post our response on the blog. We have attempted to not give only our opinions on these technologies but more importantly to point to existing reports, studies, and resources that do a much better job than we would on analyzing these technologies.

In the future we will continue to address questions regarding competitive technologies, the politics of energy efficient lighting, trends, new products and also use the blog to deliver news on Vu1 and the progress of ESL as we move toward commercialization.

We currently have "Comments" disabled since I don't have the time to moderate the blog. I don't want to disappoint posters with lengthy delays in responding to questions posted. With that said - everyone should feel free to post questions via our "Comments" area on the Vu1 website (the website form routes your questions to a variety of resources at Vu1) and we will attempt to address your questions as soon as possible.

Monday, July 13, 2009

LED Bulbs 60% Failure Rate

We have wondered why LED bulb manufacturers often give a 2-year warranty. After all a 30,000 hour bulb should last appoximately 34 years under average use.

From the EternaLED Blog Site:

"60% of LED Bulbs DIE within 6 months"

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The "promise" of LED Lighting

The DOE has invested vast amounts of money to support the development of Solid State Lighting (SSL) = Light Emitting Diode (LED) technology. The good news is that the LED is not creating a "pending environmental disaster" as some have said about CFL technology and the "mercury problem". The bad news is that LEDs are coming up far short of delivering on their promise of being the perfect, long term solution to all of our energy efficient lighting needs. In a recent Webinar hosted by LEDs Magazine the following information on the residential usage of LEDs "came to light".

Creating viable (affordable and well performing) residential solutions will be hard work for the LED industry. Why?

  • They have to get to acceptable light quality, - good color rendering and good color temperature
  • They have to provide reasonable brightness with good energy efficiency. Lumens of 50+ lm/w. That means delivered not the claimed lab bench lumens.
  • They will need good light dissipation (not easy for a point light source)
  • They have look nice – not like shower heads
  • They have to do something about the huge amounts of heat sinking required
  • Many will need to work in their worst scenario environment – heat retaining recessed cans
  • They have to dodge the bad press that is going to occur from cheap, low quality, poorly performing products.
  • Their 10 year Total Cost of Ownership has to be at least as good as CFLs. Today they don’t even come close (they are 3x more costly). A Cree LR6 sells for $100+ a bulb. The GeoBulb sells for $120. The Philips E27 sells for $70. The inexpensive bulbs being sold for $12-15 give a hideous, blinding, blue/white laser type light that is very directional that cannot be dimmed. We call them "Corpse Lights". They give everyone that "morgue glow".
We are always surprised when we see an announcement that a new LED lamp bulb is a "replacement for a 40 watt incandescent". Philips just released their $70 E27 lamp bulb and makes this claim. The IEC 60064 standard for the illumination of a 40W bulb is 450 lumens. The Philips E27 is rated at 155 lumens. Is it accurate to state that a 155 lumen bulb is a 450 lumen bulb "equivalent"?

By the way, we believe that LEDs will be very successful in many applications such as automotive, street lighting, retail and specialty applications. Over time in homes we will see new lighting architectures emerging that will feature surface mounted LED lighting that will be able to function without the heat controlling issues that are most concerning to the LED industry. The LED industry is beginning to admit that they may only be successful in residential lighting if they can convince consumers to move to new LED "fixtures". Retrofitting into the 800 million recessed can fixtures in the U.S. (growing at over 20 million a year) is not going to be a market they will want to aggressively address. We are hoping that Vu1 ESL technology will be complimentary to LED technology. If we can provide an energy efficient soluton to the world of recessed can downlights then LEDs will be able to focus on more LED friendly enviornments.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

President Obama Seeks Better Light Bulbs

We at Vu1 have been saying for a while that "the easiest and most effective way for an individual to reduce green house emissions is to change to energy efficient light bulbs in their homes." Vu1 is working hard to a bring a cleaner, safer and better performing energy efficient lighting technology to market.

President Obama has proposed new aggressive standards to speed the implementation of energy efficient lighting in America. The new policies will have a very positive impact for Vu1. Our company's first product will be the reflector bulbs utilized in over 800 million recessed can fixtures in the USA. Reflector style bulbs had been previously been excluded from the upcoming ban on incandescent lamps. Under the new policy, reflector bulbs will have to meet aggressive new energy standards within the same timeframes as standard lamp bulbs. Vu1 hopes to be ready to answer the call for a highly energy efficient, great light quality, instant on, fully dimmable reflector bulb as these new standards come into place. The company is also looking into the $356 million in funding from the economic stimulus bill passed in February that is now being targeted at "the development, deployment and use of this energy-efficient technology”.

President Obama is asking for a "better light bulb". Vu1 would love for it to be "A light without compromise".