An Interview with Tracy Bilbrough, CEO of SWITCH Lighting

Your humble editor sat down with Tracy Bilbrough, CEO of SWITCH Lighting

Tracy_1.jpgSWITCH Lighting has two additions to its family:  the SWITCH 3-way and the 240 volt for the European market.  Matching lumens, the SWITCH bulbs are a direct replacement to the incandescent bulb in terms of warm light quality, lumen output, same orientation, indoor or outdoor use, and open or enclosed fixture.  Their name lends for the most Self Explanatory name in Lighting:  SWITCH40, SWITCH60, SWITCH75, SWITCH100.

Switch lamps are liquid-cooled. We talked about patent infringement and there are no issues since Switch purchases their chips from Lumileds and Cree but are LED agnostic.  They do have their own IP on the liquid-cooled thermal dissipation.   Think of a lava lamp, where the liquid rises as the temperature increases and drops as the temperature is lowered. The trick was to allow for the volume expansion of that liquid.  Normally the liquid would expand and put pressure on the seals having a negative impact on durability.  Switch’s IP is centered around compensating for the volume expansion which reduces the pressure on those seals. With this design, Switch keeps the lamp within a one degree temperature change regardless of orientation, so a base up operation will not reduce the life.   Additionally, Switch uses the entire surface of the lamp for cooling giving the product a 40% advantage over competitors using the same number of chips at the same amperage.  Therefore, Switch can have the same lumen package with only 10 chips compared to 18 for the competition, giving Switch a significant cost advantage.

Tracy2.jpgPart of their core competency is the content of the liquid. It’s always fun to hear how companies start and on of their first samples was made using clear jello in a baby food jar.  They have experimented with hundreds of different recipes and feel they have the perfect one.  Also, the liquid can’t have any bad components, such as mercury, in case of breakage.

Tracy explained that Switch will not purse the DIY market until their volume is high enough to meet specific profit levels. Presently, they sell through electrical distributors in the C&I channel.  We discussed channel stack and actually made a few financial calculations during the interview.  With their 25,000-hour life, a six month payback is realistic in many applications when maintenance is considered.  When dimming is added, the payback is obviously less.

Switch claims to be the only company with 40 through 100-watt replacements.    They also believe they are the first company with a 3-way solution.  

VC:  Vantage Point.  Switch plans a series B round this summer and may bring in other companies.

Employees:  65

Manufacturing:  Freemont, CA and offshore

Booth #: 4748

Editor’s Note:  It is the most beautiful LED A lamp I have seen.  Holding this lamp reminded me of the first time I held an IPhone—it just felt right.