The lamp that lets households shed load - and keep the lights on

At peak times we barely have enough electricity to go round. But a new kind of LED lamp can cut the grid some slack when it needs it - without the need for a smart meter.

The On lamp from Iviti – demonstrated at LuxLive last month – contains a backup lithium battery, designed to keep it on in a power cut.

But emergency lighting isn’t the lamp’s only advantage. With the help of a component called AdrOn – developed with the help of a grant from the Welsh government – it also monitors the frequency of the incoming mains supply to detect when demand on the grid is high, and react accordingly.

If the frequency is above the standard 50Hz, there’s spare capacity. But under 50Hz means the grid is struggling, so the light cuts the mains supply and relies on its in-built battery. This allows the user to earn money back from their energy supplier for helping to reduce demand at peak times and keep everyone's lights on.

When mains power to the lamp is cut, it can still be turned on and off at the switch as normal. The only difference is that it dims down automatically so that it can last a full three hours on batteries.

Iviti is targeting retailers and energy companies such as E.On and British Gas to take the On lamp to the household market, and is looking at other applications for the AdrOn technology in the industrial and streetlighting sectors.

Nick Williams of Litonics, who invented the technology and is working with Iviti to bring it to the market, told Lux: ‘We can measure the grid frequency, and that gives us an indication of what the National Grid is doing. Then we can switch the lamp to battery, not just when the power fails, but when the grid is struggling. It’s exactly what the National Grid needs, because it stops them having to cut people off.’

The On lamp will be available in March 2015 for £24.99 ($39), or £59.99 ($94) for a set of three, and an LED strip with similar functionality will also be available. Iviti will guarantee it for five years, and says it will pay for itself in three.