SCIENCE

Local inventors' innovative light bulb puts rivals in shade

Academic and developer dream up LED bulb that is cheaper, more energy efficient and so durable they're offering a 10-year warranty

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 October, 2014, 4:12am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 October, 2014, 8:04am

Hong Kong innovators have launched a new light-emitting diode (LED) light bulb that they say is cheaper and more durable than others on the market, and they're even offering a 10-year warranty on the product.

The airLED bulb is based on technology invented by Dr Lau Kei-may, chair professor at the Department of Electronic and Computer Engineering at the University of Science and Technology, and telecommunications developer James Wang.

The new bulb is said to be up to 25 per cent more energy efficient than other LED products and 85 per cent more than incandescent bulbs.

"The electricity bill may cost HK$80 to HK$90 a year for an incandescent bulb if you switch it on for three to four hours a day," said Eric Steinmeyer, chief operating officer of Cledos International, a company co-founded by Lau and Wang a year ago. "Ours only costs HK$10 a year."

He said it was safe to touch the light bulb even when it was switched on, as the light source stayed at room temperature - much cooler than incandescent or other LED bulbs.

The device emits light through a waffle-shaped plastic component that removes the need for transformers used in other LED products to transfer electricity between circuits.

The thin disc connects 64 chips with holes in between, allowing heat to dissipate quickly.

Lau said consumer concerns about cost and durability had dampened sales of LED bulbs, as some had been found to break easily. In the new product, the glass bulb is replaced by plastic and the number of components inside is reduced to five.

"There are a lot fewer things to break," she said.

Cledos also hopes the 10-year warranty and price will boost consumer confidence.

A bulb emitting as much light as a 40-watt incandescent one will cost HK$49, and a 60-watt equivalent HK$68.

In 2012, LED bulbs constituted 11 per cent of Hong Kong's lighting market, alongside incandescent and swirl-shaped compact fluorescent products, Steinmeyer said.

It is projected that by 2016, the market penetration of LEDs will increase to 46 per cent both in Hong Kong and globally.

"Hong Kong and China are leading in terms of adoption of LED technology," Steinmeyer said, adding that LED lighting was used slightly more in this part of the world than in the West.

With more competition to bring down prices and government measures around the world - including the mainland - aimed at phasing out traditional lighting, LEDs were set to dominate the market in the future, he said.

The bulbs are being manufactured on the mainland. Deals have been reached with retailers in Hong Kong and elsewhere but the company is looking for more.

Cledos is one of the 2,500 exhibitors at the International Lighting Fair, which runs at the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai until tomorrow.