GE's new LED bulb cools itself with jets of air

Not so hot on the heels of the Philips L-Prize bulb comes this funky piece of hardware from General Electric, which knows a thing (or two) about electricity. It's a 27 watt LED bulb that produces as much (or more) light as a 100 watt incandescent bulb, and the coolest feature is how it keeps itself, uh, cool: silent puffs of high-velocity air.

Heat is a big problem for LED bulbs. It's not that the LEDs produce more heat than an incandescent bulb (they don't), but they're much more sensitive to temperature and operate most efficiently within a much smaller range. And since efficiency is the reason that LED bulbs exist in the first place, cooling is a very big deal.

The most effective form of cooling as active cooling, which is why your computer has a bunch of fans in it that turn on whenever you're doing something demanding. Fans take power, though, so GE wanted to find a more efficient (and quieter) solution for cooling its fancy new light bulb. Ultimately, GE decided to go with a technology called SynJet (which it's borrowing from Nuventix) that uses a speaker-like diaphragm vibrating at between 40 and 70 times per second to send puffs of air over the LEDs, keeping them frosty. It's dead silent, and should run for at least 100,000 hours, or four times longer than the LEDs themselves are rated for.

Getting back to the bulb: GE says that you'll be able to use it three hours a day for the next 23 years or so without worrying about a burn-out, easily paying for the bulb over its lifespan. The initial price (between $39 and $49 when the bulb becomes available in 2013) is still going to be an issue with most consumers, but just think about how nice it will be to never have to replace your light bulbs ever again, since bulbs with multi-decade longevity substantially boost the chances that you'll die before they do.


For the latest tech stories, follow DVICE on Twitter
at @dvice or find us on Facebook