New self-dimming light bulb conserves energy

| August 28, 2014

Now here’s a bright idea: A light bulb that dims itself, thereby conserving energy and helping keep electric bills under control.

From Richard Rutter.

Regular light bulbs are generally either on or off, which doesn’t leave options for conserving energy. From Richard Rutter.

Until now, homeowners had to install special dimmer switches in order to be able to control the brightness of lights. Romantic dinner? Turn ’em down low. Performing surgery in your kitchen? Leave ’em blazing. (Or…just don’t perform surgery in your kitchen.)

The only alternative has been purchasing lamps with multi-brightness options. But what if you want to conserve money and energy without having to install new switches or rewire anything? There wasn’t much of a solution for that conundrum.

Now there is.

The Nanoleaf Bloom is the brainchild of independent engineers Gimmy Chu, Tom Rodinger, and Christian Yan. It’s shaped like a dodecahedron and made from a printed circuit-board encrusted with LED lights. It looks decidedly futuristic, and it is.

Here’s how the Nanoleaf Bloom works: After installing the bulb, you can use a regular switch to turn it on and off. When you turn it on, it begins to brighten. Once you hit your desired brightness level, you simply flick the switch off and then immediately back on again (within one-half of a second). That rapid off/on action sends a signal to a microprocessor built in to the bulb—and voila—your desired level of brightness is locked in.

Since it uses LED bulbs, the Nanoleaf Bloom is already more environmentally friendly than conventional light bulbs. The Nanoleaf Bloom is the next evolution of the Nanolight, the non-dimming, first-generation effort from Chu, Rodinger, and Yan. The Nanolight uses just 12 watts to produce 1600 lumens of light. (In case you’re wondering, that’s “almost double the efficiency” of even standard energy-efficient bulbs, according to a recent feature by Ben Schiller in Fast Company‘s Co.Exist.)

The self-dimming feature of the Nanoleaf Bloom takes the Nanolight to a whole new level of energy efficiency. “The bulb requires only 2.5 watts at 50% brightness, or 0.5 watts at 5% brightness,” says Nanolight’s marketing director. At 50% brightness, the Nanolight will only cost you 38 cents per year. Of course, the light bulb itself doesn’t exactly come cheap—the Nanolight team is currently in the midst of a second Kickstarter campaign, where you can snap up a Nanolight light bulb for $40. Each. (Hey, what’s $40 when you’re saving the environment?)

The Nanolight team has worked out some of the bugs identified after their first Kickstarter campaign last year, including complaints that the Nanolight gave off a weird green light. They’re hoping that the future of Nanolight is, well, bright.

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Category: Electronics, Recycling programs

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Ellen Hunter Gans has been writing for RecycleReminders since the blog’s inception. She is passionate about words, new media and, of course, recycling.

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