Held at the Metropolitan Pavilion, NYC on Earth Day, April 22, 2010, EcoFocus hosted a small collection of about 20 exhibitors offering numerous environmentally-friendly electronic products and components. Power-saving strategies, the “smart grid”, alternative energy sources, and recycling were high priority topics at this somewhat intimate event.

Honeywell promoted a recently introduced smart grid application, a time-of-use utility price schedule programming capability for the company’s Prestige programmable thermostat (see fig.1). Debuting late 2008, the Prestige embarked as the industry’s first full-color, high-definition, wireless-enabled thermostat.

Called a “smart control”, the smart-grid utility allows users to automate energy consumption based on its actual cost, thereby bringing the benefits of a smart grid into the home. Reportedly easy to use, the patented time-of-use price schedule feature accepts homeowners’ programming specifications and the Prestige thermostat automatically adjusts the home’s temperature when prices are at their highest. Using Prestige as directed, Honeywell estimates that homeowners can cut annual heating and cooling costs by as much as 33%.

Philips Lighting was on board with one of the largest assortment of alternative lighting products available to U.S. consumers, which includes LED Lighting, compact fluorescent (CFL), and halogen lighting components (see fig. 2). The company’s latest LED offerings include AccentLED and AmbientLED MR16s indoor spot and flood lamps with a power consumption of 4W, the 7W AmbientLED R20 indoor flood, 2.5W DecoLED candles, and the AmbientLED PAR 30 and PAR 38 –high-brightness/soft white indoor floor lamps that consume just 11W. Groomed for security and patio lighting, the AmbientLED Outdoor PAR38 sports a weather resistant design and replaces 60W halogen bulbs while the     AmbientLED A shaped bulb is equivalent to a 25W incandescent. For more details on Philips LEDs products, contact Silvie Casanova via e-mail at silvie.casanova@philips.com.

Semiconductor maker Marvell demonstrated products employing its first series of products for LED driver electronics, the 88EM8080 family of LED controllers (see fig. 3). Premier members of the family, the 88EM8081 and 88EM8080, are viable for a wide variety of solid-state lighting applications with output power ranges up to 150W. The devices integrate advanced analog circuitry and their architecture includes an optimized DSP core to add single stage power factor correction (PFC) amongst other unique features. They also enable an adaptive feedback loop for a higher PFC level and a lower level of total harmonic distortion (THD) for easier worldwide regulatory compliance, including Energy Star.

One of the most interesting set of products on display at EcoFocus are also amongst the simplest; purely analog and neither relying on or generating electricity. Solatube International’s tubular daylighting devices (TDDs) (see fig. 4) operate similar to LED light pipes except they use the sun (daylight) as their light source.

Professionally installed in the roof of a home, the Solatube Daylighting System employs advanced optics to deliver natural light into the home through technology found in the system’s three zones: the capture zone on the roof, transfer zone through the attic, and the delivery zone into the room. A dome lens on the roof captures light and redirects low-angle morning and dusk sunlight while rejecting overpowering midday sunlight. As a result, the right level of light is routed into the tube and down into the home throughout the day.

Solatube’s patented Spectralight Infinity Tubing is, according to the company, the most reflective material found in TDDs with 99.7% specular reflectivity. The tubing material reflects the sunlight without transmitting the solar heat, allowing a system to be installed more than 30 feet below the rooftop with no light loss. At the delivery zone, two lenses customize the incoming daylight to match the room’s design needs and the homeowner’s personal preferences. Effect lenses can change the light color from natural to warm, while diffuser lenses vary how widely light is spread. Add-on kits are available that artificially dim the amount of incoming daylight.

In addition to keeping homes and commercial establishments well lit by day, the system also offers other possibilities in alternative energy applications. An imaginative designer may find it useful as a light pump into a solar-panel array for energy harvesting and storage, one of several possibilities.