LED light bulb startup raises $100,000 through Kickstarter

Meet the NanoLight: an LED lamp like none you’ve seen before.

The strange-looking bulb, made from printed circuit board with LEDs on the surface, has been developed by a US startup which is now preparing to put it into production.

The company has used online fundraising site Kickstarter to attract orders for more than 4,000 units – exceeding its target several times over.

The NanoLight is essentially a dodecahedron of circuit board, dotted with LEDs, and with one end slightly elongated, connecting to an Edison screw. There’s no heatsink – cooling relies on the thermal properties of the PCB material, the hollow shape of the bulb and the flow of air through it. The company says it is working to secure patents on elements of the design.

Its unconventional look has split opinion – some have called it ugly, while others admire the stripped-down, handmade geometric design.

And just as surprising as the NanoLight’s appearance are the claims being made about its performance. There’s a 10W version designed to replace a 75W incandescent, a 12W version to replace a 100W incandescent and an even brighter version with an output of 1,800lm – also from 12W. The stated efficacy of the three products is 120lm/W, 133lm/W and 150lm/W, and the makers are saying they will last 30,000 hours. Versions are available to work on 240V or 120V power supplies.

The light quality figures are a little less impressive – the colour temperature is a cool 4000K and the CRI is just 70 – something the team say they are working to improve. And with the LEDs mounted on the surface, we’d be interested to see what sort of light distribution it achieves.

The small San Diego-based team behind the product started out as electrical engineers and worked on developing solar products before moving into light sources.

Product development manager Gimmy Chu told Lux: ‘It helps that we come from outside of the lighting industry. There was a lot of outside-of-the-box thinking: how can we design something new and innovative that people don’t have? A lot of manufacturers take designs from previous products and reuse to save money or R&D funds. Most people that are thinking about light bulbs think of the classic glass bulb. People ask why we don’t enclose it in glass. But to us that doesn’t make sense – with LEDs it’s not needed, so why do that?’

Chu is complimentary about the competition, describing Philips’ 100W GLS replacement as ‘an awesome product’. ‘Different companies have different things  to offer,’ he says.

Up until now the Nanolight business has been largely self-funded by its three founders, but through Kickstarter it has racked up orders worth more than $120,000 (getting on for £80,000) to produce more than 4,000 units selling at $35-$100 each (including worldwide shipping) – and orders are still coming in. Although the company has access to a manufacturing facility in China, the plan for now is to assemble the products themselves.

We’re not sure yet if the NanoLight is the lamp of the future, but we're certainly itching to see it in action.