You've heard of CFL and LED light bulbs. Now get ready for ESLs.

Summary:(Updated Sunday, Jan. 16, to add Destination Lighting information.

(Updated Sunday, Jan. 16, to add Destination Lighting information.)

This morning, I overheard my home contractor husband asking a hardware story about the benefits of compact fluorescent bulbs. We are redoing our kitchen right now, and BRIGHT energy efficiency lighting is a must. I wasn't involved because he tends to leave me out of this part of our lives. I don't have the home decorating gene, although I do a hell of a job keeping everything clean.

In any event, I saw my chance to give him a little green lighting technology 101 lesson, which I did while he was driving me to the airport just now. So (finally!) we are looking at CFLs and/or LEDs for ALL of our rooms, even the ones filled with old antique lamps.

It also gave me the opportunity to start talking up another option I recently heard about, called an Electron Stimulated Luminescence (ESL) lamp. The technology behind this emerging lighting option, which comes from a New York-based company called Vu1, builds on using accelerated electrons in combination with phosphor, causing a glow. According to Vu1, the technology offers a 70 percent energy efficiency improvement over incandescent bulbs as well as a bulb life of roughly 10,000 hours.

Vu1 has just begun selling its first ESL model bulb, called the R30, which is a direct replacement for a 65-watt incandescent bulb. Oh, and did I mention there is no mercury in the product? This bulb, which is currently for sale on the company's Web site, retails for $19.95. BUT, you actually have to buy at least eight of the bulbs at once.

Bill Smith, a Vu1 director, says the company holds something like 10 patents for the technology, which is fully dimmable (a BIG consideration for design freaks like my husband) AND also offers instant on and instant off. No warm-up period, like what might be required by a CFL.

Aside from selling direct, Vu1 expects to sell the bulbs in retail locations, although when I talked to him in December, there were no specific names that he could release. So, watch that space, as the home goods companies like Lowe's and Home Depot and Ikea accelerated their inventory switchovers to energy-efficient lighting. In fact, a reader reports that the bulbs are available for ordering through Destination Lighting.

Smith says the company expects to have two products out in 2011. Next in line is a replacement bulb for the "A" type, screw-in bulbs that you might know as A19 bulbs (here in the United States). Among the form factors that Vu1 expects to address is the traditional four-foot long fluorescent bulbs you would typically see in a commercial or institutional setting, he says.

Topics: Patents, IT Employment, Legal

About

Heather Clancy is an award-winning business journalist specializing in transformative technology and innovation. Her articles have appeared in Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, The International Herald Tribune and The New York Times. In a past corporate life, Heather was editor of Computer Reseller News. She started her journalism lif... Full Bio

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