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Self-Charging Bulb Stays Lit Without Power

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 8:33am
Melissa Fassbender, Associate Editor, PD&D

With the SmartCharge bulb, a new product currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, there is no reason to be afraid of the dark, ever again.

View: Kickstarter of the Week: This Bulb Stays On When the Grid Goes Dark

Shailendra Suman, owner at SmartCharge, has spent the past three years working with a research and development team in India towards the ultimate goal of bringing peace of mind to his customers.

The bulb is unique, because in the event of a power outage, it will stay illuminated for up to four hours and can be controlled by wall or lamp switches, taking the place of any existing light bulb.

“The biggest challenge was developing the intelligence so the bulb could detect if power was present,” explains Suman. “Building that logic was very difficult. It didn’t work for a long time, but we finally cracked the code.”

This code is the combination of patent-pending grid and switch sensor technology that allow the bulb to distinguish between a loss of power due to an opening of the line switch, and a loss of power resulting from a grid failure when the line switch is either open or closed.

“We send a small amount of signal with some code back in the circuit, the signal comes back with the information – the switch is open or closed, the grid is there or not – and based on that, the bulb makes the decision if it should be on or off,” explains Suman.

The technology consist of three blocks: an intelligent control circuit with grid sense and switch sense, a battery and charging circuit, and an inverter. The bulb also houses a CPU, memory, and a printed circuit board to make this bulb smart and efficient, helping cut electricity usage for lighting by up to 90%.

Miniaturization was the second challenge, as the technology, rechargeable battery, and circuit, all have to fit inside of the bulb.

Specifications:

  • Wattage: 5 W LED.
  • Lumen: 350.
  • Operating voltage range: 110 to 240 V.
  • Base type: E26, E27, and B22.
  • Color Temperature: 3,000, 4,000, and 5,000 K.
  • Beam angle > 120 degree.
  • Battery type: Rechargeable Li-Ion.
  • Battery life: 4 hours of continuous use during power outage.
  • Battery charge time: 0 to 100% in 6 hours.
  • Bulb Life: 25,000 hrs.
  • Battery replacement cycle: 3 to 4 years. 

The initial prototypes were focused on the circuitry, not the bulb, and after testing and finalizing the technology, Suman partnered with an LED company for manufacturing.

“We worked extensively with our manufacturing partner to come up with an optimal design which is not only compact and elegant, but takes care of all the issues in LED lighting like heat sink, optics, and power management. We have finished our industrial design, and tooling has started,” says Suman.

The bulb is currently being submitted for UL certification, and has already raised more than $28,000 of its $50,000 goal, with 30 days left to go. The campaign ends Wednesday January 15th, at 2:48pm CST.

For more information, visit www.kickstarter.com.

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