When the lights go out due to a power outage at night, you'll probably have to spend the next few minutes fumbling around in the dark hoping to lay your hands on a nearby torch or trying to remember where you put the candles and matches. If only the lights could stay on for a while after the power was cut. The SmartCharge LED bulb has been developed with the simple aim of ensuring that users are never left in the dark again. It includes technology that's able to determine whether someone has just turned off the light at the switch, or there's been an actual power failure. If the latter, the bulb will provide users with hours of continuous light .

The 5 W SmartCharge LED bulb can put out 350 lumens, with 3,000K, 4,000K and 5,000K color temperatures and a 120 degree beam angle. A built-in, patent-pending Grid & Switch Sensor is able to determine if there's been a power failure, can then detect the on/off position of the switch the light or lamp is wired to, and will either allow a bulb to illuminate a room or leave it in the dark until someone flicks the switch.

"For the first time you can control your light bulb from the same wall switch during a power failure," inventor Shailendra Suman tells Gizmag. "This was a very hard problem to solve. We saw an unfulfilled need in the market and so a big opportunity. There are many parts of world with frequent power outages. This bulb would be ideal for homes and businesses in those countries."

The light keeps shining thanks to an integrated 2200 mAh Li-ion battery that offers up to four hours of continuous use before the light really goes out. When grid power is restored, the unit's battery recharges itself from empty to capacity in about six hours, ready for the next outage. The SmartCharge bulb has a rated life of up to 40,000 hours, but its 300 - 400 cycle battery may need replacing every three or four years, depending on use.

The bulb is designed to work on 110 - 240 V supplies, and is currently compatible with standard light fixtures (which translates to screw in E26 for North America or E27 for Europe, and bayonet-type B22 for the UK, India and others), but the developers are currently working on other fitting options. Though a bulb can operate on a two- or three-way switch, only one SmartCharge per circuit can be controlled, but the team is looking at ways to have one switch control all the bulbs connected to it. The bulb isn't dimmable.

Work on the SmartCharge project began two years ago, and the bulb has gone through many designs and prototypes before settling on the final pre-production units. Suman has launched on Kickstarter to bring his bright idea to market.

A single SmartCharge bulb is pitched at US$35, including the cost of shipping within the US. A two pack level has been set at $55, and a four pack at $100. If all goes according to plan, the first SmartCharge bulbs will start shipping from April 2014.

The SmartCharge LED bulb will be heading to Las Vegas in a couple of weeks for CES (booth #73107 in the Eureka Park area). In the meantime, check out the campaign pitch video below.

Sources: Shailendra Suman, Kickstarter

  • Advertisement

    About the Author

    Paul Ridden

    While Paul is loath to reveal his age, he will admit to cutting his IT teeth on a TRS-80 (although he won't say which version). An obsessive fascination with computer technology blossomed from hobby into career before the desire for sunnier climes saw him wave a fond farewell to his native Blighty in favor of Bordeaux, France. He's now a dedicated newshound pursuing the latest bleeding edge tech for Gizmag.

    All articles by Paul Ridden



    • I could live with the low light level supplied in a couple of placed in the home, just to get the "keep working" idea. Mind you, until they drop the price a little and up the lumens a bit, the whole house would be hard to cope with. A lot of my rooms are large and need 100W equivalent globes.

      The Skud
    • Why is the light output so low? Light output is about 1000 lumens for a normal 18w low energy bulb and around 1650 lumens for the 23w size. At only 350 lumens this must be quite dim.

      Your article does not mention the power consumption (watts) of this bulb.

      Nevertheless, it might be worth having just one, strategically located.

    • There already is a blackout activated light on the market that is quite bright and in that it plugs in to a standard outlet it is also a convenient flashlight. Just don't look at it when you pull it off the wall.

    • That had better not be the production design!

      What impact will the heat from the LEDs and the power components near it have on the service life of the battery!?

      Timothy Loose
    • Candles are cheaper, cooler and shed more light.

    • Man people really need to learn how to read! 350 lumens is about 40W incandescent output. Not too bad for a gen 1 product.

      Don McKinnon
    • For the price of one bulb ($35), you can buy 10 led flashlights from Walmart, and leave them in drawers all over the house. Someone who would buy this would surely have his smart phone at all times. The screen produces enough lite to navigate to the nearest flashlight. For long outages you can replace the batteries in a the flashlight, but not these bulbs.

      Norm Frey
    • Noteworthy is that whenever a 'New' innovation or technology is introduced, - follow-up comments are always pro and con, - more negative than positive which is consistent with our human nature! Rather than optimistically encouraging, the reverse is generally always favoured! This observable fact prompts one to wonder at the current state of humanity's progress in virtually every sphere of development in literally all aspects, which in relative terms, was at a snail's pace!

      Robert Gillis
    • I wonder if you could set it up to charge during off-peak times and use the battery during peak times?

      Edgar Walkowsky
    • I've had this bulb in multiple sockets, lamps, light fixtures, you name it, and it still doesn't work as advertised. Power has gone out but the bulb wouldn't come on. In other scenarios, the light would come on and off randomly and quite frequently and it's not supposed to do that. They don't tell you that it won't work in most fixtures until you buy it and call complaining, then you find out the truth. It's a good idea but this product just isn't made well. I've been using it for some time now and would never buy it again!


    Post a Comment

    Login with Facebook:

    Looking for something? Search our articles