Flat LED light 'bulb' for only $3?

Credit: NliteN

Why don't more people opt for LED light bulbs? After all, they use less power than incandescents and CFLs and will outlive your cat, your TV and maybe even you. Yeah, they look weird, but mostly people aren't buying LED bulbs because they're too expensive, usually around $20-$35 or more.

A Hillsboro, Oregon-based startup called NliteN intends to change the shape of LED light bulbs — literally. The company's founder and self-proclaimed "enginerd" Andy Turudic, claims that by flattening the bulb to just 2mm thin, he can save a fortune on manufacturing costs and pass the savings on to you.

The result: $9.99 for NliteN's 60-watt equivalent (800 lumen) dimmable (depending on the switch) 2D-Lite "light disk," available in 4000K "cool" white and 3000K "warm" white versions, hopefully by next spring.

Turudic predicts that initial price could quickly shrink to as little as $6, and maybe to $3 with utility company rebates with a year. NliteN hopes to have warmer and cooler colored bulbs, 2700K and 5000K, available by the middle of next year.

NliteN is looking to raise the manufacturing funds via an Indiegogo campaign that starts today, and as an entry into Philips' Innovation Fellowship competition, which it co-sponsors with Indiegogo.

Flat is fine

LED "bulbs" don't actually have to be bulb-shaped; after all, LED is primarily digital circuitry. LED bulb makers make their bulbs bulb-shaped in order to keep consumers comfortable.

NliteN rejects the whole consumer comfort concept primarily because the bulb shape actually detracts from the LED's light diffusion pattern, and a lot of the low power it does use dissipates as heat instead of illumination.

By flattening out the "bulb" into a disk, NliteN more accurately and efficiently disperses light and dissipates less heat. But while standard LED bulbs stay cool to the touch when glowing, the copper-coated fiberglass circuit board heats up to around 200 degrees, about a third as hot as an incandescent but still kind of toasty. Plus, you won't be able to slip some lamp shades over the light disk as you would a bulb without a special add-on doohickey the company will sell.

Even with its flat shape, the 2D-Lite's base screws into a standard Edison base light bulb socket. Yes, the screw socket is still named after the incandescent's inventor, and this may be the most unique and original approach to home lighting since Edison perfected the symbol for all bright ideas back in 1879.

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