8Point3LED Lighting and Smart Control at Cognicity
R ichard Whitbread of 8point3led.co.uk talks to us about his LED lighting company.

Tell us about yourselves?

8point3led.co.uk started up three years ago as an LED lighting company, we went through all of the challenges an LED lighting company goes through, we specialise in retrofitting buildings, rather than go in on a new build and fitting lighting; we like to go into existing inefficient lighting, then through lighting design and various other optimisation processes work out an LED replacement. We will then replace it with an LED scheme and at that point we ideally like to add lighting controls but on a retrofit scenario, its not always that easy because they haven't got the cabling ability or the rewiring ability so its always been the challenge.

What can happen you can make unto 50% savings on LED and 25% savings with controls, so when you combine the two you can save anything unto 75% on lighting and more because you can switch them on and off where usage is not required. Normal lighting doesn't react well to being switched on and off but with LEDs you can switch them on and off as many times as you like. It makes them run cooler and more efficiently. However much you dim an LED you save that in energy cost. Once you start dimming them because you may not need full lighting have daylight coming in. Like for instance in buildings where there is daylight streaming in and the lights are on full blast.

The big challenge we had was trying to get people to implement controls, and so we have a few options, one being wireless, because wireless doesn't need cabling; going back to adding the controls, the controls aren't actually that expensive its the wiring, one you start rewiring for the lights and the controls you end up doubling the cost of the controls, effectively making the scheme potentially unviable because of the cost of controls and installation. When this happens you do not get the 25% savings with the controls. The net result is, you are not being as green as you could be if you were to add controls.

The return on investment doesn't add up. So potentially people just leave them as they are and don't do anything with it returning to just switching them on and off. So returning to the control philosophy, we began thought of going wireless and began experimenting. People have got wireless but there are instances where it doesn't work for example where people have metal ceilings you have now created an RFI cage which can interfere with other frequencies and all of a sudden the lights don't work.

One of the things that is there is mains cabling. What we have created is a product that allows a means of communication over the mains line from sensors, an IPad App or your iPhone or any mobile device, which then feeds that instantaneously back via the cloud to wherever you need it to be in the world.

There is an energy tracker on the app which tells you in realtime what your energy consumption is at any given time. Its literally plug and play lighting control. The controls, the sensors are given their own Mac address so its paired to your device or building control system which we are working on right now. We are here as a start up; another feature is that we can join features together so that we can switch on and off groups of lights so we can switch off unused areas. or desk spaces, corridors or whole floors.

How far are you down the road to having a product for market?

At the moment we are in first generation models, second generation has arrived today. the next generation will be the size of a silicon chip which will then enable us to embed it in every device that uses electricity.

We have a trial which is running with various organisations and working with Cognicity challenge so we have a system working in here but that will be with the third generation system not the earlier two which are markedly larger.

How are you funded?

At the moment we are self funded.

Did you know that EU2020 is a funding stream that is available for new and innovative businesses?

Please take a look on our website. We think that you will certainly fit their requirements for obtaining funding of 50,000 Euros.

We will take a look at it and investigate further.

So whats next?

We hope to put the technology into a light so we can monitor how much energy a light is using and therefore how much energy its using so we could charge consumers for the light that they're using. So anyone who doesn't want to buy the hardware they can obtain it and say a bank can own the hardware and the consumer is just leasing the light, instead of investing in the hardware and paying for the energy also. So it can be pretty much like obtaining a new phone, on a contract, a customer doesn't really care about the technology they just want light and if it can be delivered in a manner that the upkeep of the hardware is not their responsibility they can.

When are you ready to go to market?

We will be ready to go to market with Gen 3 in the second or third quarter of this year so, we're not far off at all. We're just working on the financial model at the back end and we will be ready. We are talking to energy manufacturers and suppliers to start the ball rolling on a scale that works. The product is all UK manufactured.

Is there a competitor with a similar product?

No, we are struggling to find someone with something similar. This is potentially able to turn off stand by's on TV sets. We can use this kit to switch off desk lights, we can switch off fans, we can switch off PCs, it can be connected to movement sensors which can switch off all the power to your desk when you walk away from it. There would be no need for rewiring because the wiring is already there. So once you have combined it with the app, the energy monitor and the facilities manager you can monitor power consumption all over a building to the second and you can adjust it with your controls to optimise consumption efficiently.

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