News - 28.02.2024
Patrik Deuss and Florian Gärtner have big goals: By 2030, they want to convert 12 million light bulbs, saving the electricity production of a nuclear power station. It may seem unrealistic at first, but Deuss has done his sums: in 2022 alone, LEDCity will convert 55,000 light bulbs. So far, the start-up’s production has grown by an average of more than 100 per cent a year – but the target would already have been reached with growth of 77 per cent.
Where is the greatest potential for stopping climate change? This question was on Patrik Deuss’ mind when he was looking for a topic for his bachelor’s thesis in energy and environmental technology. In heating? In mobility? In lighting? “In the ZHAW buildings, I noticed that the lights in the corridors were always on,” says the energy and environmental engineer. “The caretaker explained to me that lighting control is a complex matter.” Conventional systems have a single motion detector per room and can only illuminate it completely or not at all. “It should be possible to do this in a more needs-based way,” thought Deuss – and he had found the topic for his bachelor’s thesis.
"We produce as much light as we need. This saves 90% of electricity used for lighting"
The ZHAW student began developing a prototype for an intelligent light bulb. His idea was to move from a centralised to a decentralised system: each bulb would have its own “brain”. The sensor in the new LED tube measures not only movement, but also temperature, humidity and the incidence of light from natural sources such as windows. All the equipment that is normally distributed around the room is integrated into each bulb: sensor, bulb, cable. “Together, the bulbs work like a swarm,” explains Deuss. “They produce as much light as they need at any given time” This saves 90 per cent of electricity in lighting.
Offices in Germany and Spain
Patrik Deuss soon noticed that there was interest in his idea. As he was reaching his limits in developing the software, he called on Florian Gärtner, an electrical engineer and friend from his downhill racing days. The two of them founded the LEDCity start-up and benefited from ZHAW’s ‘Startup-Challenge’ programme. For six months, they were given free office space, coaching and training on subjects such as patent applications, business plans and finding investors.
The young founders began to mass-produce the lights – in Asia. “Most of the electronic components for the LED market are made in China,” explains Patrik Deuss. “A train finally brings our equipment to Switzerland”
«Bis 2030 wollen wir 12 Millionen Leuchtmittel umrüsten und so die Stromproduktion eines AKW einsparen.»
Deuss and Gärtner sold the first light source in 2017 and the company has been growing ever since. LEDCity currently employs 42 people and recently opened branches in Germany and Spain. The start-up specialises in commercial buildings and has customers such as Zurich Airport, the ZHAW and the Dolder Grand Hotel. Due to the current tense situation on the energy market, interest in smart light sources has risen sharply once again, says Deuss. In commercial buildings, lighting accounts for up to 30 per cent of electricity costs.