To save power, Digital Lumens networks LEDs

Start-up's "smart grid for lighting" can slash energy use by 90 percent with software controls and more efficient bulbs.

To create a more efficient light, you need to make it more like a computer, says Digital Lumens.

The LED lighting start-up disclosed on Tuesday details on its product, which it says dramatically reduces lighting costs. Tests with its first 16 industrial customers in warehouse-like spaces have cut costs by 90 percent over HID lights.

The Digital Lumens system creates a mesh network of fixtures which can be managed by software. Each lighting fixture is equipped with an on-board computer, Zigbee wireless networking chip, and sensors for detecting light levels and when a person enters a room.

Digital Lumens has created a fixture for commercial buildings that includes a light, sensors, and on-board computer to communicate with other lights. Digital Lumens

The software lets building managers program lights for maximum efficiency. For example, a person can set up different zones within a building and direct light to a specific area within a warehouse aisle. The software also collects data on how much electricity individual fixtures consume.

About half of the energy savings come from the more efficient LED bulbs with the other half coming from the ability to network and control light settings, said Digital Lumens CEO Tom Pincince.

Employees at the Boston-based company came from the networking and software industries, as well as from Color Kinetics, an LED architectural lighting company acquired by Philips.

Digital Lumens chose to develop a lighting product specifically for commercial installations because lighting is a signficiant cost and because business buyers tend to look at the total cost of ownership. Businesses can get a two-year payback for a lighting retrofit, compared with 10 years or longer for solar, said Pincince.

The company plans to target customers through lighting retrofit companies or energy service companies, which do energy-efficiency projects.

Digital Lumens, which has been quiet since its founding a few years ago, has raised $11 million in venture funding in two rounds from Black Coral Capital, Flybridge Capital Partners, and Stata Venture Partners.

 

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