LED Mania: Bridgelux Adds $21 Million Funding, Digital Lumens Goes Global

Despite conservatives’ misgivings about Whitehouse moves to retire old, incandescent light bulb technology (and its energy inefficiency) the market for light emitting diodes and efficient lighting systems continues to gather steam.

In the latest spate of milestones: LED-chip-makers Bridgelux scored a $21 million investment; and Digital Lumens attained certifications that will help it export its energy-efficient lighting systems to Mexico and Canada.

Last week, President Obama proposed the Better Buildings Initiative, to improve energy efficiency in commercial buildings, making them 20 percent more energy-efficient over the next decade, across the country. The program will “catalyze private sector investment through a series of incentives to upgrade offices, stores, schools and other municipal buildings, universities, hospitals, and other commercial buildings across the U.S.” according to a Whitehouse press statement.

Last year (2010) commercial buildings domestically consumed about 20 percent of all energy in the U.S. economy. In 2009, according to the most recently available U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates, commercial and residential lighting used about 13.6% of total U.S. electricity consumption.

Meanwhile Home Depot and other retailers have begun to sell LED light bulbs made by everyone from Cree to Philips (image above), that can be used in the same kinds of lamps and fixtures as incandescents, and that sometimes prove more energy-efficient than the “pig tail” variety, Energy Star certified CFL bulbs.

Bridgelux, in Livermore, Calif., makes light emitting diode chips and arrays, domestically. Its latest $21 million convertible note investment was made public in an SEC filing today.

The company’s venture investors have included: VantagePoint, DCM, El Dorado Ventures, VentureTech Alliance, Chrysalix Energy Venture Capital, and Harris & Harris Group, along with undisclosed investors. Prior to the recent round, the company raised $113.5 million as Emma Ritch reported for Cleantech Group in January. Bridgelux did not respond immediately to requests for details on where it plans to spend its new-found capital.

Digital Lumens (DL) in Boston, revealed today that its Intelligent Light Engines — smart fixtures for light emitting diodes — attained new safety certifications allowing the hardware to be sold widely in Mexico and Canada.

Its hardware now carries the Mexican and Canadian equivalents of Underwriters Laboratory or UL Listings in the United States — NOM (Normas Oficiales Mexicanas) and ULC (Underwriters Laboratory Canada) marks. To attain these, a product has to meet the independent labs’ safety and performance criteria.

According to Digital Lumens’ website, the fixtures form “a wireless mesh network that collects detailed energy consumption and building occupancy details,” and help building managers and engineers control and reduce their lighting related energy costs and consumption.

Since the company spun out of Groom Energy in 2008, Digital Lumens has attained venture-funding from Black Coral Capital, Flybridge Partners and Stata. It has also drawn top clean tech talent from A123 Systems and ColorKinetics.

Looking at the market for efficient lighting, overall Groom Energy and Greentech Media Research predicted that:

“The LED enterprise lighting market should grow through 2011 by 30 percent, surpassing $1 billion in annual revenue by 2014…The 2010 U.S. market for commercial and industrial LED lighting was about $330 million.”