Interchangeable LEDs are the holy grail of solid state lighting and now a new startup is looking to revolutionize the LED lighting industry; we hope its just a matter of time before it trickles down into the aquarium side. Silicon Valley-based Bridgelux just released a new LED product that tackles two major hurdles in widespread adoption — cost and ease of replacement. The new Helieon LED module is priced at $20 compared to similar products on the market retailing for more than $50 and slashing the cost isn’t enough as the Helieon is truly “plug-and-play” allowing you to easily upgrade or replace a burnt out bulb. Bridgelux CEO Bill Watkins also sees the price drop to continue. “For consumers, when it gets down to $10 a bulb, we’re really going to see the industry evolve,” he says. “It’s going to be a classic disruptive technology.”
We’ve seen LED lighting really starting to take hold in the hobby but there are a few barriers to really becoming a disruptive technology for most hobbyists — cost and what to do when LEDs fail. LEDs are impressive and are seeming to follow a similar path of Moore’s Law we’ve seen in the computer processor and memory market. It’s hard for many hobbyists to justify the cost to be an early adopter, especially with larger tanks, when they know a year or two down the road the cost will lower and the performance rise.
The technology is similar no matter what application you’re using LEDs for — architectural, household or aquatics — as the price lowers in the entire market, you will see those lower costs brings aquarium lighting down to a more affordable level. Having plug-and-play features in an aquarium light would make it easier to have your lighting become more of a long-term investment beyond the typical five-year lifetime most LEDs are currently rated at. Imagine being able to swap out expended diodes for a few dollars and in a few minutes? How about boosting performance over certain areas of your tank or add more intensity as simply as putting a larger memory card in your digital camera?
This is truly good news in the LED lighting market and we are definitely going to see that translate down into the hobbyist landscape sooner than we think. As the costs lower and performance increases as well as more hobbyists having thriving tanks under LEDs, we’re definitely think this is going to be way more than just a fad or another marketing ploy. The future is bright!