When I was researching the Green Lighting book with my coauthors Seth Leitman and Bill Brinsky, we heard about a whole new lighting technology that was reportedly in development. Details were scarce, and repeated calls and emails to the Seattle-based Vu1 Corporation were never returned. So we were only able to write a few paragraphs, based on press releases.

Now, however, Vu1 is providing a lot more information. The other day, William B. Smith dropped by to tell us about the product. Smith is president of New York-based SAM Advisors, which has been funding Vu1 and controls two seats on its board. He was also just named the new chairman of Vu1. Smith admitted that the company had been going through a reorganizing period while we were working on our book.

Smith’s message was clear: he hopes Vu1 bulbs will become the dominant lighting technology in the next couple of years. He pulled no punches when describing the competition. “CFLs are garbage,” Smith said. He described their light as “horrible” and “bluish,” and repeated widespread concerns over the toxic mercury they contain (I’ve written before about how many of these fears are way overblown, and are not a good reason to avoid CFLs in most cases.)

“On the high end, you have LEDs (light emitting diodes), which still have power issues, light issues, and are expensive, although our government has gotten behind them,” said Smith. “The LED industry doesn’t have a good product now. They say they do, but they don’t. It will be four to five years before they have something people will want in their homes,” he said.

(In Green Lighting, we disagree with Smith, and feel that the newest LEDs can be a great choice for many applications right now. Certainly for early adopters and those interested in saving money long term, they can be a smart buy. For the rest of us, we think they will become the dominant technology within two to three years, not four to five.)

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