Eco development could host trial of low-cost LED light bulb

A UK eco-town could host the first large-scale trial of an affordable LED light bulb that is as bright as traditional bulbs.

Oxfordshire company Zeta Controls has developed a new kind of energy-efficient light bulb comprising 90 LEDs that the company claims uses 10W to produce the same amount of light as a 60W incandescent bulb and could last up to 20 years.

The bulbs, which use a plastic structure to hold the LEDs in place and do not contain the mercury found in traditional energy-saving lights, are being considered for use in Bicester Eco Development led by housing provider A2Dominion.

Anthony McClellan, Zeta’s commercial director, told The Engineer: ‘We’ve strategically placed the 90 LEDs around the outside of the structure to mimic the light spread that you get from a 60W bulb.

‘On the technical side, the power challenges were getting a high power factor from such a low wattage and making it fully dimmable.’

LED light bulbs have traditionally required a large aluminium heatsink to keep the bulb cool, but that adds both weight and cost. The heatsink is also thought to reduce the effectiveness of the light dissipation.

Zeta has incorporated several air vents into the plastic structure of its 650-lumen bulb to help airflow between the yellow LED arrays. ‘You can run the light bulb until it reaches thermo-stability and you’ll still be able to take it out and put it back in,’ said McClellan.

He added that the new bulb, dubbed the LifeBulb, is not contained within a glass shell as this would prevent airflow between the 90 individual LEDs. However, Zeta is still considering the possibility of covering each LED section with individual pieces of glass for protection purposes.

As a result of removing the expensive aluminium heatsink, Zeta is able to produce its energy-efficient bulbs at a cheaper price than existing LED bulbs — around £4 per bulb to manufacture with a retail price of around £6.

The potential energy savings mean that the running costs of the new bulb are only 13 per cent of a normal 60W incandescent bulb.

The company has received a £30,000 Technology Strategy Board (TSB) grant to help with a feasibility study into smart power distribution and demand as part of Bicester’s new eco-town development.

The LifeBulb was developed with a £450,000 TSB grant that was allocated to help Zeta make a market-ready prototype.