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NanoLight claims to be world's most efficient light bulb


January 13, 2013

The NanoLight LED’s are directly attached to a printed circuit board that is folded to resemble the stereotypical light bulb shape (Image: NanoLight)

The NanoLight LED’s are directly attached to a printed circuit board that is folded to resemble the stereotypical light bulb shape (Image: NanoLight)

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Until recently LED light bulb manufacturers have struggled to find a solution in the 75 to 100-watt range which successfully replaces the soon-to-be redundant, energy crunching 100 W incandescent bulb in terms of size and brightness. Three friends from the University of Toronto are the latest to offer a feasible product to match the classic 100 W bulb without compromising on electricity consumption with their proposed NanoLight LED light bulbs.

Gimmy Chu, Tom Rodinger and Christian Yan of NanoLight met during a university solar car project back in 2005. With a shared enthusiasm for sustainable products they joined forces again three years ago and aim to launch three models of the Nanolight in the near future through the funding platform Kickstarter. The trio hopes their products will prove that true 100 W equivalent LED lighting can be achieved and that NanoLight can make good its claim as “the worlds most energy efficient light bulb.”

NanoLight’s signature product is a 12 W LED bulb that provides the equivalent of a 100 W classic bulb and gives off 1600 lumens. Whilst the 60 W LED range has proved successful, manufacture of higher wattage equivalents that fit into current light fixtures has been difficult. LED lights produce less heat then traditional bulbs, but this heat becomes an issue that shortens the lifespan and efficiency of the LEDs when the volume is increased for a higher wattage effect.

The NanoLight products claim to have addressed the LED heat issues and are also billed as omnidirectional, which is not a feature of the average LED bulb. The NanoLight LED’s are directly attached to a printed circuit board that is folded to resemble the stereotypical light bulb shape. The product testing that can be seen in the videos below shows that the LEDs withstand the heat issues within this format.

Although manufactured electronic circuit boards are well established, the folded design of the NanoLight will provide challenges for the team. Using surface mounting technology, the individual components will be placed into predefined positions and will require a low temperature soldering process to secure the components. Once this has been achieved a process will take place to assemble the circuit board into its bulb shape and secure on the screw base light fitting which is the current available option.

The NanoLight operates at 133 lumens per watt - the above chart shows the company's own comparison to other light bulbs on the market (Image: NanoLight)

The alternative to a 100 W incandescent bulb has until recently been a compact fluorescent light, if you have the time for them to warm up to maximum light output. The LED is a much more pleasing alternative not only for using less harmful materials during manufacture, but also by providing an instant warm neutral white full light on request and lasting a lot longer with an estimated lifespan of 30,000 hours.

In addition to the 12 W NanoLight, a 10 W NanoLight (75 W equivalent) and a 12 W NanoLight (1800+ Lumens) are also in the pipe. These three models are available in 120V AC and 220-240V AC versions to cater to different geographic regions. The NanoLight team has also received high demand for a dimmable version and are already working on a prototype model that can achieve this.

The current price of LED bulbs is high and the 100 W NanoLight will run at around US$50 per unit. Despite this, NanoLight estimates that over a period of 30,000 hours of usage an LED bulb can save a consumer around seven times the expense of an equivalent periods usage of incandescent bulbs.

Other recent (and heavyweight) entrants into the 100-watt equivalent LED market include the Phillips 22 W LED and the 20 W bulb from Osram Sylvania, a division of Germany's Siemens AG.

The video below provides more information on the production and testing of the NanoLights.

Source: NanoLight, Kickstarter

About the Author
Donna Taylor After years of working in software delivery, Donna seized the opportunity to head back to university and this time study a lifelong passion: Architecture. Originally from the U.K. and after living in many countries, Donna and her family are now settled in Western Australia. When not writing Donna can be found at the University of Western Australia's Architecture, Landscape and Visual Arts Department. All articles by Donna Taylor

I am all for increased efficiency but I sure have a hard time paying $15.00 or more for a 60W light bulb (HD online) that I can only hope my heirs will use since 30,000 hours is going to out last me. Now increase my electric water heater's efficiency and we can talk about some savings.

Mark A

I appreciate the ingenuity of the folding board and the claimed specs. However, I do not find the final design of the product very pleasing and the rear facing LEDs look like a wasteful arrangement to me (excluding some applications). One fundamental issue is also the initial cost. To pay an initial several folds higher price on the promise/expectation that it will allow you to save in the long run, will take time to be accepted. I.e. only when empirical experience will prove it is the case, as it is slowly happening with fluorescent bulbs.


I just drink 2 cups of coffee less each day, and I'll be saving more on the electricity to boil that water, than what all my cheap light-bulbs are wasting in a week..

only way these energy savers can be profitable in the real world for the consumer, is if they where priced, at exactly the same as a normal globe, which of coarse they are not...

Michiel Mitchell

Seen here is the too-common technique of fudging the numbers. The LED output of 1600 lumens is not equivalent to a common 100 watt lightbulb. It is about 7 percent less (1600 versus 1710-1750 lumens). Is 7 percent important? Yes, because light is what one is paying for in lighting equipment. Whether it is a 7 percent luminance increase, rent increase, tax increase, or food price increase, 7 percent is significant.


There are those who pay more for a hybrid car since it saves money in the long run by having better MPG. I think there are those would be willing to pay more intially to save money in the long run.

Perhaps with time, the cost will come down. With technology, it seems that it usuaslly does when some one finds a cheaper way to make them.


I suspect that this bulb will be obsolete by better designs and replaced long before it reaches it's break-even point.

Just as the typical hybrid car's total cost of ownership completely wipes out the gas savings from driving it and results in a much, much-more expensive car than the basic car it is supposed to replace. Hybrid cars don't save you money and neither will this light bulb. However it is an important step in the light bulb's continuing evolution.

Christopher Erickson

My experience with CFLs is that they have failed to live up to the life expectancy claims. This is usually because the manufacturer skimped on the quality of some component. I would be very unhappy if that were the case with a $50 100 watt LED bulb. I've seen plenty of LED taillights on trucks and busses with failing LEDs on them.

John Hagen-Brenner

This sounds like a fantastic and very innovative design, and actually not very highly priced considering it looks like they provide free shipping from their kickstarter website. About $40 for a real 100W bulb is a pretty awesome deal compared to the pricey Philip ones I recently bought. The fact that someone is thinking outside of the box and being able to remove that ugly heatsink while keeping the bulb cool is definitely impressive. The appearance is rather futuristic, which I am a fan of. Just ordered one from kickstarter, I am interested to see how it performs in real life.

to mmcconoughey, it looks like on their kickstarter website they have one that achieves 1800 lumens too, just a fyi.


Thanks but no thanks, $50.00 . I spent $21 on 3 bulbs from china that have a full 360 range and only burn 12 watts total. combined output is about an 80 watt bulb. Ebay rules

Robert Moynihan

Ten dollars is the highest anyone should pay for a 100W LED 1700 lumen standard size 110- 220 v light bulb. Paying more plays the fool.

Marvin Keith
What a horrible looking thing ! However it does look tough, much tougher than a 100w lamp made from thin glass. Maybe that is a feature the makers can use to sell it. Reducing the price, a lot, would help too ! garyO

after being "taken" by the compact fluorescent fad, i think people will be more reluctant to become early adopters of led lighting.

compact fluorescent over-promised (13w cfl is nowhere near the equivalent of a 60w incandescent, at least not in the visible spectrum), and under-delivered (shoddy design and construction, terrible color rendition, and the environmental nightmare of disposing of mercury).

on top of that, your promised "savings" evaporate if someone breaks or steals your prized "green" bulb before it has had time (5 years?!) to pay for itself through supposed energy savings.

leds are great, but i, for one, won't be buying them until they are a mass-produced, commodity item, with the quality assurance of a large corporation (like ge or siemens) behind them. which is more important to me than achieving the absolute world's record in "efficiency".

Yevgenyi Gorbachev

Everyone should take time to consider the trials of progress before commenting - or else keep quiet. Without this bulb on the market as a stepping stone we will not achieve the future - who knows what that will be but I for one would like to see it. Do not knock this - a part of progress and of course China will knock the prices down in short time

Elsdon Ward

This is one very smart bulb design. One, heat is the enemy of leds in both efficiency and lifespan. Yet most bulbs are going with 1 or maybe 3 LED units per bulb, which put out a lot more light in one spot and thus inevitable run hotter and need massive metal heat sinks. Not good. More, smaller leds spread out over a larger area will run cooler and thus at higher efficiencies and last longer.

And we see this in the efficiency - at 133 lumens per watt this is extraordinarily good. I have a $20 spot LED from HomeDepot that is closer to 60 or 70 lpw. (The chart doesn't lie.) So that is MAJOR efficiency (even if it's not quite equal output to a 100W incand.)

But yeah, not buying it at $50. $25 would actually be a no brainer though.


I'm all for efficient lighting, but won't buy a bulb with color temperature that cold. Cool lights inhibit melatonin production and makes it hard to sleep. I look forward to one with a color temp of 2700 which just makes a room more inviting anyhow. Keep up the good work!


One important reason to buy LEDs, CFLs and hybrid cars is the environmental impact of saving energy. Climate change, energy independence, and other non-economic considerations motivate some consumers.

Robert Andrews

If it really does have a 30,000 hour lifespan, it's easily worth $50. Not only would you go through 20 to 30 regular 100 watt bulbs, but you'd also be burning 100 watts throughout that 30,000 hours rather than the measly 12 watts this burns. WAY worth it.

Dave Andrews

The articles' comments on startup time are mostly applicable to the past.

In my experience modern CFLs achieve about 60% output at startup and come close to 100% in about a minute (subjectively). You certainly won't have to worry about tripping over the furniture while you wait for your CFL to come up to speed. If that's not your experience then you need to change brands.

It is necessary to derate the advertised output by about 20%. This accounts for the 10% to 20% decline in brightness they typically experience in the first 1000 to 2000 hours or so of operation. After that a CFL's output is pretty stable.

The message on bulb lifetime is to buy only reputable brands. I'm a long term user of Philips and I'm currently having good results with Mirabella, a brand sold in Australia. The unknown Asian brands usually last only a few months and I had a Sylvania bulb that showed signs it was about to catch fire (arcing and a pronounced burnt patch on the case).


Great idea, I want, but it always pays me as a consumer to let the product mature in production technique and price.

You could package the NanoLight flat, and sell a six-pack in less volume than a glass bulb twin-pack. This will reduce production and marketing costs, and consumers will appreciate doing a little assembly puzzle - an origami - as their own contribution to costs and energy saving.


I agree with the comment that the color temp of this light will be too blue for most people who live in northern climates...a 2700 deg light would look warmer, but would also be less efficient because of needing to convert more blue light to yellow and red with phosphors.

Comparisons to Edison lights are no longer meaningful. The competition is CFL...or other LEDs. The promoters suggest a break even point of about 6 years against CFL...not too exciting (I am assuming about 2.5k/year on time). But the break even point is earlier if the bulb is in a difficult to reach location and one allocates about $10 for needing to change CFLs 2 times in 15k hours...still this bulb needs to sell for $25 to be a clear winner, per another person's comment.


Wow. Can I order a few and put it together myself? I liked the last part where the person folded and placed the base on it. I would be interested in that.


What about quality of light...? It's hard to reproduce color temperature and color rendering. Most people are only concerned with $'s and watts. Most people know the difference between cool white and warm white when they see it but may not realize the implications of lighting quality. There is more to lightbulbs and transformers than meets the eye.


The price is actually a bit cheaper - $30 dollars for the 75W Equivalent and $45 for the 100W Equivalent. You can find it on Kickstarter via the source link.

Gimmy Chu

Mark A, if you want to increase your water heating facility, take a look at thermodynamic panels on You Tube. They look interesting. Apparently one panel will be sufficient to heat up 300 L tank of water up to 55°C, and it works day and night down to -15°C I have got some 75 W equivalent LED lights which seem to be pretty good. They are larger than the 60 W equivalent, and they give out a good quality of light.

David Clarke
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