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Welcome to LED Island

Dean Kamen takes his North Dumpling Island off the grid with LED lights.

We arrive at North Dumpling Island, a.k.a. Dean Kamen's LED Nation.

Dean Kamen is best known as the inventor of the Segway scooter and medical devices including a portable insulin pump, a stair-climbing wheelchair, and a robotic prosthetic arm. Like any good inventor or mad genius, Kamen can be called eccentric. He lives in a hexagonal-shaped home, commutes to work via helicopter, and owns his very own island. Kamen has declared his island, the three-acre North Dumpling Island off the coast of Connecticut, an independent state with its own constitution, currency (based on Pi), and navy (a lone amphibious vehicle). The island comes complete with a replica of Stonehenge.

And soon, Kamen's independent island kingdom will become energy-independent.


Working with Philips Color Kinetics, Kamen is using his island domain as a showcase for energy-efficient LED lights. He is replacing all of the traditional incandescent lights inside and out of his North Dumpling home with LED lights, which will allow it to run exclusively on wind and solar power generated on the island.

Philips estimates that the move from incandescent to LED lights will cut energy consumption by 70 percent. With new lights added--outside the home and in the basement--total energy consumption will be reduced by half.

"With increasing strain on our world's energy resources, our goal is to make North Dumpling a small but prominent example of what can be achieved on a larger scale with today's emerging energy-saving technologies. It's an excellent demonstration of science and engineering as the antidote to the complex challenges of our time," said Kamen.


Before you gather all of the newly installed CFLs in your home for an LED overhaul, you should know that LED pricing remains prohibitive. According to The New York Times' Bits blog, two Philips ColorBlast lights are used to illuminate a single pillar--at $600 per light.

Interior LED lights are obviously cheaper; I did a quick scan online and found interior LED bulbs ranging in price from roughly $20 to $90. Rather spendy when compared with a buck a bulb for a traditional incandescent or $3 to $4 for a CFL. Still, you can expect LED prices to fall as adoption grows. Until LED bulbs reach a point of mass adoption, I suggest tiki torches for your Stonehenge replica lighting needs.