Energy Focus Inc.
- Written by: Molly Shaw
- Produced by: Ian Nichols
- Estimated reading time: 6 mins
In today’s building market, lighting is much more than flipping a switch on or off. Building owners want absolute control over their lighting systems: greater energy-cost control, improved flexibility in factoring in lighting usage and utilizing lighting that promotes healthier, happier occupants. Energy Focus Inc., a leading designer and manufacturer of energy-efficient tubular LED lighting products and smart, networked building lighting, understands these concerns and is working to give owners even more control and understanding of the numerous benefits of Energy Focus LEDs.
In a market crowded with thousands of products, Energy Focus is on a mission to prove not all LEDs are created equal. Energy Focus’ products provide energy savings, health and safety benefits, improved aesthetics, and reduced maintenance costs over conventional lighting.
Since its inception as a fiber optics company in the mid-1980’s, Energy Focus has perennially been ahead of the curve in lighting development and is now focused on building superior LED products that withstand some of the toughest environments.
The company’s customers include U.S. government agencies such as the U.S. Navy, the Department of Energy, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and many Fortune 500 companies, including major hospital systems, universities and big box retailers.
In tandem with industry-leading design and manufacturing, the company is conducting cutting-edge research on the future of lighting and illumination. Heading up this research is the company’s chief scientist, John Davenport, who was recently inducted to the General Electric (GE) Hall of Fame. Next to Thomas Edison, he holds the most lighting patents, including the patent for the signature BMW headlight. John has lead Energy Focus’ R&D team for 16 years.
Intellitube, built to withstand anything
In 2003, Energy Focus began to shift its focus to LEDs with an opportunity to bid on a coveted contract with the U.S. Navy and NASA.
“This competition was the catalyst for Energy Focus becoming a highly innovative company,” says Faye Gao, business development leader for education at Energy Focus. “Not only did we win the contract, we also won other research projects with the U.S. government. These monumental wins, over several major companies, put us on the map.”
With the successful bid, Energy Focus was awarded $50 million in R&D funding from the U.S. Navy to design and develop lighting and retrofit tube systems for all its fleets. Energy Focus developed and launched its flagship product, the Intellitube, an LED lamp with power-recognizing intelligence and in-socket functions that can be compatible with a variety of fluorescent ballasts or with a direct-wire connection (line voltage alone).
Once connected, Intellitube reads and adapts to the input current and input voltage. The tube features smart technology that is able to adapt to most electronic ballasts that it is connected to — or stay independently powered if the connection is directly wired to the line voltage. Intellitube’s T12 NEALS emergency ballasts are also able to detect a battery in case of a power outage and can continue to run, even if the power goes out. “It is also water and shock resistant, explosion proof up to 400 pounds and remains undetected by radar,” says Gao.
Intellitube is currently the only LED replacement lamp approved by the U.S. Navy. The Navy spends 40 cents per kilowatt-hour in energy costs — much of that energy going toward lighting. The Intellitube makes it possible to reduce the lighting energy used by half or more, creating the opportunity to save millions of dollars.
Because of this work, Energy Focus has earned military-tough credibility for products that will not fail, even under the stress of demanding environments. “To date, we have recorded zero product failures,” adds Gao.
Network-ready smart systems for the commercial market
Energy Focus is applying this same tough, top-notch technology to the commercial market, rolling out a new line of products for owners and facility managers across a variety of industries who want more control over their light systems. “When we entered the commercial market it was fairly new and more LED manufacturers started pumping out all kinds of products, many of which were not of great quality,” says Gao. “We also noticed the retrofitting market was uneducated as to what makes a good product, so we set out to deliver product quality and educate the market on LEDs’ tremendous benefits.”
Energy Focus’ LED tubes are ideal for existing commercial fluorescent fixtures and can help owners reduce lighting electricity costs by more than 50 percent.
Additionally, Energy Focus’s LEDs offer a wide range of environmental and health benefits. LED lights do not contain mercury, a hazardous material. High-quality LED products, such as the Energy Focus Intellitube, are expected to last upward of 10 years, reducing material waste.
Additionally, the significant reduction in electricity greatly reduces the carbon footprint from lighting. While the spectrum of light from LEDs is superior to their fluorescent predecessors, Energy Focus products go a step further by removing flicker. Having zero flicker provides additional health benefits, offering neurological relief to customers suffering from a variety of conditions.
The commercial version of Intellitube brings the high-quality performance and durability Energy Focus created for the Navy to everyday applications. The Intellitube offers the industry’s best performance at the lowest total cost, all while maintaining the high standards of performance built for the Navy, including zero flicker. The duality of the Intellitube, offering direct-wire and direct-fit functions, makes the commercial Intellitube the solution for any fluorescent lamp replacement.
“Over the course of the next few months we’re launching seven new products and expanding our commercial line,” says Yumi Alanoly, product manager for Energy Focus.
These products will include panels for lighting retrofits and next-generation tubular LED technology that is network ready and designed for smart building automation systems. “This product is the first one of its kind on the market today,” says Alanoly. “It easily connects with central controls, Wi-Fi, ethernet or any point of entry system and is all built internally in the lamp, making for supreme simplicity in design. The smart tube also includes an emergency battery backup, which switches on if the power goes out and turns off once the power is restored.”
Tubes remain Energy Focus’ central product line, but the company also carries other LED products, including parking luminaires, suspended linear direct/indirect fixtures, high-bay fixtures, outdoor wall packs, landscape lights, heavy-duty dock lights, industrial strip lights, vapor lights and more.
Partnering with USGBC for better classroom lighting
Energy Focus will showcase these products at the International Greenbuild Conference and Expo 2016 in Los Angeles as the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) exclusive tubular LED partner.
“We have formed a close partnership with USGBC,” says Gao. “Rick Fedrizzi, outgoing CEO of USGBC, has joined our advisory board. For the last two years, we have donated a wide of range of commercial products through our partnership with Green Apple Schools and USGBC.”
A great deal of Energy Focus’ R&D has focused on how lighting affects learning and students with learning disabilities. “We have found that there are many health risks associated with fluorescents, and even LED products that are not properly designed,” says Gao. “Particularly, the flicker some products produce and the uneven color spikes from fluorescent light sources may have negative effects on students.”
This is the kind of enlightening work and industry education that Energy Focus hopes to share with Greenbuild attendees as an exhibitor this year. By positively influencing building occupants, Energy Focus Inc. is making a strong case for the use of high-quality, flicker-free, smart LEDs and shedding new light on the importance of retrofits.
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