Terralux next-generation LED ‘light engines’ brighten its future

Terralux next-generation LED ‘light engines’ brighten its future  

Agency33 Public Relations Denver Co Picture of Tony Catalano, founder and chief technology officer and Steve Hane, president and CEO of Terralux.

Cathy Proctor
Reporter Denver Business Journal

Longmont’s Terralux Inc. doesn’t make light bulbs.

The manufacturing company focuses on next-generation LED “light engines”, devices that makers of lamps and light fixtures use in their existing product lines to make the fixtures energy efficient.

The company, founded in 2003, makes flashlights with light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and light engines for use in all kinds of fixtures.

“Instead of being point-oriented on a fixture, we’re helping large-scale lighting companies be faster with their LED strategies,” said Steve Hane, Terralux’s president and CEO. “We’re giving them an engine to plug into their fixture. It emits light, but it hasn’t been formed into a light bulb. I don’t want to make this [light] fixture or that fixture. I want to be part of the strategy of a lot of other companies.”                                                                                                                              

The company has 20 patents on its technology, and expects to land another 30 in the next few years, said Tony Catalano, founder and chief technology officer. Prior to starting Terralux, Catalano was director of the photovoltaic division at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden.

“Our light engines allow an original-equipment manufacturer to get into the LED business without a lot of electrical engineering work,” Catalano said. “We do that, so they don’t have to. They can focus on design while we do the high-tech end of the business.”

Lighting costs typically account for 20 percent of a commercial customer’s monthly electricity bill. The U.S. lighting market amounts to $20 billion a year, Catalano said.

And with businesses trying to cut costs, Terralux’s light engines are attractive because the payback — via lower electricity bills ­— is six months to two years, Hane said.

LEDs, which put out up to 160 lumens — or light units, per watt — can cost $50, compared to $20 for a fluorescent bulb, which puts out between 50 and 80 lumens per watt, Catalano said. But the LEDs last longer.

“The LED won’t have to be replaced for 10 or 15 years, and because it uses less electricity, payback is less than two years,” Catalano said.

Terralux employs 43 people, and plans to hire another seven people with experience in technology and engineering by year-end, Hane said.

Revenue also has grown. The private company expects 2013 sales will be more than $10 million, about 50 percent higher than 2012, Hane said.

“In the LED industry, there’s a sea change that’s taken place in the last year,” Hane said. “People used to debate whether or not to do LED lighting, but in the last year they’ve decided to just do it, and they’re working on how to do it.”

David Gold, managing director of Access Venture Partners, a venture capital fund based in Westminster, said his company invested in Terralux in 2009 because it liked the light engine strategy. Gold declined to say how much Access invested in Terralux.

“Not being a company that’s creating the LED light bulb ­— those replacement lights that you find in Home Depot ­— but being a company that’s enabling the lighting companies to deliver high-performing, integrated LEDs without having to build the entire team that Terralux has, that’s a strategy for the company that we found very compelling,” Gold said.

Cathy Proctor covers energy, the environment, transportation and construction for the Denver Business Journal and edits the weekly “Energy Inc.” newsletter. Phone: 303-803-9233