[Cut to the chase: Here’s the link to the Klauf Lighting project on Kickstarter.]
[UPDATE: After just 5 days, the Klauf Light project has raised $21,500 of its $36,000 goal.]
In a recent email conversation with Joseph Lee of Klauf Lighting, I learned about a project he’s been working on and how he’s planning on funding its production. It’s a linear LED light that uses a remote phosphor. Remote phosphors are nice for LED lighting because they remove the phosphor from the heat source — the LED – and place it a couple of inches away where it will remain cool. Heat is one of the biggest aging processes for LEDs, and keeping the phosphor cool goes a long way towards delaying light degradation. In addition, since the phosphor radiates white light fairly uniformly, you don’t get pixilation as you do with arrays of intense white LEDs, even when they’re placed behind a diffusing lens.
(Remote phosphor for linear lighting looks is a popular solution currently: Philips recently announced it will offer a linear light that produces 200 lm/W that relies on a remote phosphor. But you won’t be able to get one until 2015.)
A couple of months ago, Lee came across Kickstarter, a funding site for startups. You put your project on Kickstarter and solicit backers. Not investors, backers: Putting money into the project doesn’t mean you own part of the project, just that you are a participant, and will receive something of value. As it says on the Kickstarter site, “Kickstarter is a funding platform for creative projects. Everything from films, games, and music to art, design, and technology.”
Lee was attracted to the idea of funding his fledgling light without having to give away equity in his company. Kickstarter itself takes 5% of the funding pledged to all completely funded companies. In Klauf Lighting’s case, the goal is to raise $36,000 in 31 days. Backers get varying number of the 6- and 12-in. lights depending on how much they pledge, with a delivery date scheduled for this August. (For more on Kickstarter, here’s a Google search that turns up projects, from movies to music to dog collars.)
I had a few questions about the light itself:
[DWLEDs]: I understood that the secondary phosphor approach was patented out the wazoo (by Cree? Philips? Can’t remember.) On the other hand, Intematix is clearly in business, happily selling remote phosphors. So, does this approach require a license?
[Joseph Lee]: Intematix holds the patent for the polycarbonate remote phosphor component. Cree is in that mix somewhere with their own patents, but instead of each spending millions to sue each other, I think they’re just agreeing to share the space.
As long as we’re purchasing the product from Intematix, which we are, we’re safe on that front. That’s a much better approach for us anyway, as the levels of technology that go into coating the surface are pretty overwhelming. It’s also a U.S. manufactured product. We have a mandate that if a product is reasonably available in the U.S., we use it and buy as local as we can.
[DWLEDs]: Have the performance numbers (lumens, CRI) been verified at an optics/lighting lab, or are they calculated from the components?
[Lee]: The performance numbers for our fixture have not been confirmed, however, our competitor Tech Lighting rolled out before us with the “Unilume” and they basically did all the UL stuff for us. We use two more LEDs and, unlike them, we take advantage of the entire 12″ of the phosphor with a 12″ light board. I think theirs is 10.5″ and they rely on the color mixing chamber to do the rest. Unlike our $55/ft. price point, Tech Lighting is $170/ft.. And there are more key and important features which set us far apart. I can answer to any questions you have.
[DWLEDs]: Is the 50,000-hr lifetime for the entire light, including the power supply, or is it limited to the LED components?
[Lee]: The 50,000 life is for the entire fixture, cord and all. What most don’t know, our LEDs will last much, much longer than that. The problem comes in with the driver electronics PCB. There is a capacitor onboard which is only rated for 50,000 hours at the max temperature the LEDs, themselves, can handle. Therefore, we adhere to that lifespan, as nearly all other LED fixtures do as well.
[DWLEs]: Will the light have a warranty?
[Lee]: Yes, there is a 5 year warranty, as long as the fixture is not used for anything other than intended, nor is it used in an oven! Regardless of it being remote phosphor, LEDs are still heat sensitive. Remote phosphor, in our tests, have given the LEDs a 57% better chance of consistent life-long light, due to the phosphor heat blanket being removed from the tiny LED chip.
Take a look at an interesting LED light design, as well as a creative funding approach, at the Klauf Lighting project on Kickstarter. The project has been up for less than 24 hours and already has over $6,000 towards its $36,000 goal.