Improvements in technology are changing everything around us, from the phone to the computer to the humble toaster, and one gadget we all take for granted is being improved, too: the lightbulb.
The most obvious improvement to this piece of technology likely comes from the light emitting diode, or the “LED” as most of us call it. A flat chip that emits light, this is responsible for much of the lighting around us not just because it’s bright, but also because it’s inexpensive.
But just because it produces light doesn’t mean it necessarily does as good a job as other light sources, and that led Jake Dyson — son of Dyson founder James Dyson — to find a solution, and to make the LED as good as other light sources.
“When LEDs first hit the market, they were said to be equivalent to a 50 watt lightbulb, and it wasn’t at all,” said Dyson, adding that “it gave you a little blue dot on the floor.”
“That was a really big disappointment,” he said. “I wanted to dig deeper into that and understand.”
In that time — in the six to eight years since LEDs first starting making in-roads to replacing the common lightbulb — Jake Dyson and his team have learned about how phosphorous coatings can crack over time leading to decays in brightness and colour, while also finding that more powerful lights result in a better quality of light.
The result is what Dyson calls “Csys”, and it is a light for work, for reading, and even for home, providing a very strong light that produces very little glare, relying on eight very warm LEDs spaced 8mm apart to produce a light output that seems unbelievable for the size of the lamp.
“Other designers have made attempts to cool LEDs,” said Dyson, “but it’s not enough. The vast potential of this technology remained unrealised. We knew there had to be a better way.”
That better way was to take hot LEDs that produce warm and bright light, and take the heat away by using a heat pipe technology inspired by satellites and computers.
Long stretches of vacuum-sealed copper sit in the arm of the Csys light, and there is a single drop of water inside. When the light is powered up, the heat from the LEDs turns the water into vapour, which turns back into water as it draws away from the light.
This constant action of vapour into water and back again is part of what keeps the heat away from the lights, while the casing of the light itself does its part thanks to the use of aluminium, which acts as a heat sink.
The heat pipe inside the arm draws the heat away and the heat sink of the arm cools everything, allowing Jake Dyson and his team to make a hot light run cool.
Running cool is only one part of the package, mind you, because they also look cool and run for a very, very long time.
We liken the design to something you’d expect in an architectural firm, because it’s definitely a technical light, something Dyson has basically made sure of thanks to a system that was inspired by a construction crane, with a counterweight pulley system to use gravity to hold the light beam in place.
You don’t have to keep it in one position, either, with anti-friction bearings allowing you to move the arm up and down and in and out, defining the light to match your work environment.
Environments change, mind you, and so the Csys can be changed when you need it to, and that’s because it’s a long lasting light. So long lasting, that Jake Dyson has measured the expected life, with 144,000 hours expected out of the light with the standard brightness, and after this beginning to drop off and starting to get dim.
That means the Dyson Csys will last roughly 37 years before the brightness starts to fade out, making it a light that will last much of your life, provided you only use it when you actually need light and not leave it on 24/7/365. Do that, and the Csys will last closer to 16 to 18 years before the light starts to dim.
“LEDs are there as a sustainable light source and we must design lights to make sure that happens,” said Dyson.
A light that lasts 37 years isn’t like any other light, and neither is one with a heat pipe to keep the lights running cooler, so you can’t expect a price tag like other lamps or lights out there.
As such, Dyson’s Csys lights start at $850 for a desk-sized model that either sits on the desk or clamps to it, while a floor standing variant chimes in at $1200.
That might sound like a lot of money, but from what we saw this week, Dyson’s Csys should have no problem commanding it, delivering a lovely warm and bright light that feels more like it comes from a proper light bulb and not one of the tiny LEDs we’re so used to replacing them with.
It’s a tonality that reminds you of home and keeps you focused, and since it can be dimmed, can also be controlled.
It can even be passed onto your children, because heaven forbid if they become architects and need something to inspire them of precision design while they’re working at all hours, there’s a good chance this thing will still work.
Dyson’s Csys is available now from the Dyson store and soon from Myer and David Jones, with prices starting from $850.