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Switch CEO unveils key details about LED bulb liquid cooling system

This week at the LED Show in Las Vegas the CEO of Switch Lighting, Tracy Bilbrough, explained the company’s secret sauce. Interestingly enough, “sauce” isn’t too far from the truth — Switch’s LED bulbs are filled with a liquid that is used to cool the components inside. Now we know a little bit more about the highly-awaited bulbs, though the product line has yet to be made available for purchase by consumers.

Until this point the company has been quiet about the liquid they used though they were always sure to note that the material was non-hazardous. It turns out that Switch’s patented “LQD Cooling System” uses a liquid silicone that is non-conductive, non-toxic, and won’t even stain your rug if you break a bulb. The liquid is also a “completely safe, food-grade product” so breaking one won’t require you to call in a haz-mat team (but does it make a great salad dressing?).

The second part of the Switch LQD system is the driver. This is the part of the lamp that converts the electricity and powers the LED array. Drivers need to stay reasonably cool for bulbs to operate properly, even though Switch’s does not come into direct contact with the liquid coolant (the driver is hidden away in the base). The release did not specifically mention anything that would set Switch’s driver apart from the competition’s offerings and the transcript of Bilbrough’s talk is not yet available.

The combination of the two makes for what Switch calls the “best in-class thermal management” and a cooling solution that is 40% more efficient than air-cooling. Presumably that means 40% better performance than passive air cooling, as opposed to an active solution like that by Nuventix, but either way the company is quietly confident in its abilities to cool the LEDs and driver. Better cooling means longer-lasting LEDs, but it also opens the door for pushing fewer LEDs harder, which is an ideal way to drive down bulb posts if Switch wanted to pursue that route. With an expected price of $40 for the 40W-equivalent Switch40 this might be worth exploring (though, to be fair, that was the expected price I was told late last year).

Switch’s LED bulbs have been delayed multiple times, but they are said to be available commercially right now and in use in certain hotels. When Geek.com covered Switch in November 2011 the company said to expect availability for consumers in January 2012, but the bulbs have yet to be released.

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