This post was written by Keith Dawson for UBM Tech’s community Web site All LED Lighting, sponsored by Philips Lumileds. It is archived here for informational purposes only because the All LED Lighting site may go dark at any time. This material is Copyright 2013-2015 by UBM Americas.

2014-11-20

The Klauf Light Bar Arrives

Yesterday, my 1.5 feet of Light Bar arrived, 19 months after Kickstarter support, 15 months late. Initial impression: It is as promised. Klauf may have hit a sweet spot.

I wrote about the Klauf Kickstarter project in April 2013, with a follow up in December of that year. Initially the product was promised for August 2013, after the initial goal of $36,000 was met and surpassed. (The project eventually garnered $51,000.)

The things that went wrong to cause a 15-month delay were pretty much a catalog of the difficulties that hardware Kickstarters can face. Bad luck with a Chinese manufacturer that stopped responding. A pivot to buy the equipment do to the manufacturing in-house. Another pivot to outsource it, but on US soil. Issues with the quality of plastic parts received.

Klauf product timeline in update headlines

2013:
May 21: We did it! Funding successful. What's next?
May 27: From the heart; only two words needed...
Jun 28: Move Successful. All Product On Order.
Jul 30: Lots of Good Stuff Coming In!
Aug 5: Klauf Has Competition. Oh, really?!
Aug 14: Our First Delay -- End Cap Receptacles
Sep 25: Some Progress & Lessons Learned
Nov 27: Still Waiting... And What We're Doing About It.
Dec 17: Going for Gold -- Made in USA!!
2014:
Jan 28: Not for the faint of heart!
Mar 10: Slow Boat from China!
May 16: Two Pictures, Not Enough Words!
May 21: Last Update Before Shipping!
Jul 3: Major Update - Working Things Out
Jul 20: Getting Stuff Done! A Great Two Weeks!!
Oct 6: Going Into Production!
Nov 9: Starting to Ship!

See the sidebar for the updates Klauf issued to supporters over this period. Note particularly the six months that elapsed (and the three other updates) between the optimistic "Last Update Before Shipping!" and the actual event. The story will be depressingly familiar to many a hardware Kickstarter team.

First impressions
The light bars are beautifully designed and present an appearance of careful manufacturing and quality control. The concept is a good one: a simple plug-in luminaire that can be extended by 6" or 12" segments; the segments may adjoin or may be separated by inches or feet. Triac dimmable. Internal driver. Simple double-sided adhesive to mount under a counter. 80 CRI. The 2700K light is as advertised, clean, and even.

The caveats
In a fast-moving market, a 15-month delay could mean that Klauf is delivering early 2013 specs as we close in on 2015. Granted, the specs were aggressive for 2013 at 430 lumens per foot, with system efficacy in the 40s.

Is 2700K light what we really want to illuminate kitchen tasks?

My 18" of light bar cost me $90, as a Kickstarter supporter. The same will cost you $135 today. So as an early supporter I paid 20.45¢ per delivered lumen; current purchasers will pay 30.68¢ per lumen.

Comparables
I don't find anything really comparable to the Klauf package on the web.

Here is a light bar from Environmental Lights: 12", 3000K, 72-CRI, 190 lm, 3 Watts, 63 lm/W, without driver: $26.70. The simplest recommended driver lists for $25.30 -- but that driver can power 12 such bars. With a diffusing cover, the light will probably not be as even as Klauf's remote phosphor.

This page, from Lowes subsidiary ATG stores, describes a 12", driver-included light bar at 2700K CCT, CRI 70, 160 lm, efficacy 48 lm/W. It costs $66.60. The 33 individual LEDs are not diffused.

Klauf was aiming for a sweet spot and they may indeed have found one.

Tomorrow we'll have a look at some unboxing photos.

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— Keith Dawson Circle me on Google+ Follow me on Twitter Visit my LinkedIn page, Editor-in-Chief, All LED Lighting