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.