Could New Luminescent Bulbs Outshine LEDs and Fluorescents?


Retailers are gearing up to meet deadlines for the incandescent light bulb ban. Ikea has already stopped selling the inefficient bulbs. And California has pulled the plug and is letting current supplies run down. Many incandescent lovers are shedding tears and hating on the mercury-containing CFLs and the more expensive (though infinitely more efficient) LEDs. So here come the ESLs. The VU1 Corporation has developed a light bulb using Electron Stimulated Luminescence that the company claims to be more efficient than incandescent, CFL, and LED bulbs.

Though using this patented technology in lighting is new, the science itself is by no means cutting edge. It works in the same way that a cathode ray television works- electrons stimulate phosphors inside the bulb to make them glow. The VU1 Corporation is marketing their bulbs as having the same light quality as an incandescent, yet up to 70% more efficient. They’re taking on the LEDs with a cheaper sticker price. And by not containing any mercury, they are a safer option over the CFLs.  They also have dimming capability and come on instantly, fit into a standard socket and have a similar shape to the Edison bulbs. Here is a comparison photo from the VU1 website:

VU1 Light QualityVU1 Light Quality

Energy efficiency compared to an LED though is still in question. The VU1 bulb produces 30 lumens per watt, the equivalent of a 65 watt incandescent. LED technology continues to advance rapidly with some LEDs producing 3 times that many lumens per watt. And the LED holds the top spot when it comes to longevity. The VU1 bulb lasts 10,000 hours, while LEDs average 40,000-60,000 hours. Check out our guide to LEDs here.

Nevertheless, the ESL is an energy efficient and environmentally friendly lighting option and VU1 could find a nice slice of the light bulb market, especially as the incandescent bulbs leave the building. As stated in this report on Bloomberg, VU1 is in talks with two major retailers in the U.S. to begin selling the ESL bulbs. The bulb, which received UL certification in October, currently sells on the company’s website for $19.95.


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