Skip to main content

SHELBY SHARES: Minnesota company builds a better lightbulb

Innovator Sudhir Singh has had a lot of bright ideas. Now he's poised to revolutionize the way the state lights its parking lots, streets and warehouses – and perhaps save taxpayers a lot of money.
  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

Sudhir Singh has had many bright ideas. Moving to Minnesota was one of his best – for him, and for us.

His brilliance won him a place at the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology, often compared directly to MIT. (It's arguably the most competitive university in the world – here's a "60 Minutes" segment on IIT.)

Singh worked in Africa and Great Britain before accepting a friend’s invitation to discover the opportunities in the Land of Lakes.

Bright ideas are Singh’s business. He owns LightingHouse USA, a Minnesota-owned and operated company that retrofits old lighting technologies with new, more efficient LED units.

Singh’s system can provide the same light for parking lots, warehouses, streetlights and more – but save 70-90 percent on energy costs. Since there are approximately 120 million streetlights (6 billion bulbs) in the United States, consuming more about 28 percent of all electricity generated, a conversion to LED technology seems like a no-brainer.

Singh developed a method of replacing old high-intensity discharge (HID) lighting with LEDs by using almost all of the old system’s components. His company makes bulbs in Minnesota that fit those systems, and he hopes to open a production plant in Eveleth to produce bulbs on a mass scale.

Of course, there is an upfront cost. The LED technology, for the time being, can be as much as three or four times the cost of the older, less efficient systems. Singh says, “The old systems haven’t changed much since Thomas Edison invented the light bulb.”

But, the upfront money can be paid back in as little as four months. The LEDs save on electricity costs, of course. But, because the bulbs last so much longer, replacement dollars are saved. For government operations, the public works folks don’t have to spend as much money on maintenance.

Singh’s bright ideas have won his company honors from the Minnesota Cup, the Clean Tech Open and Tekne Awards. It has also won him a grant from the state of Minnesota to demonstrate the technology in Hibbing.

The company says the smart LEDs lights can cost an entity about $5,000 to light 100 fixtures, compared to $43,000 with the HIDs.

There's more. Singh notes that the LEDs don't heat up, so the cost of cooling a building comes down.

That is one of the reasons that the Duluth Transit Authority used LightingHouse to outfit its big bus barn. That’s why cities from Buffalo and Burnsville, all the way to Virginia and back to Woodbury have used Singh’s systems. Singh tells me one of the selling points of the system is that a number of banks offer low-interest loans to tax-exempt entities to pay for the retrofit.

Singh says, “The more a light is used, the more the system saves.” He makes the case that both environmentalists and conservative business owners like to hear: The product is recyclable, has no pollutants and conserves energy requiring less combustion of fossil fuels, and it saves operational costs and adds to the bottom line.

I ask Singh a final question as I look at the long list of cities and state agencies that have adopted his technology: Why don’t I see Minneapolis and St. Paul on the list?

“We are trying to get them to listen,” he says.

Don Shelby is a veteran Twin Cities journalist and a radio newscaster for BringMeTheNews. He worked for 32 years as anchor, investigative reporter and environmental correspondent for WCCO-TV, and for 10 years as a radio personality for WCCO-AM. He has won numerous professional awards, including two George Foster Peabody awards.

Next Up

MoorheadMurderSuspect

Suspect in woman's killing in Moorhead is arrested

James Kollie Jr. was arrested Friday evening.

Jennifer Carnahan

Former chair Jennifer Carnahan sues Minnesota GOP, which is suing her back

Carnahan stepped down under a cloud of controversy in August 2021.

Minneapolis Fire Department

One injured after leaping from burning vacant building in Minneapolis

Authorities say the building is known to be used by squatters.

ambulance

Head-on crash leaves two drivers dead in southeastern Minnesota

The crash happened in Houston County just before 4 p.m. Friday.

ConellHarris

Charges: Armed man made death threats at Minneapolis LGBTQ bar

The man allegedly used derogatory terms while threatening to kill someone.

image

FDA pulls last COVID-19 monoclonal antibody treatment as new variants rise

A therapy used to treat more than 11,000 Minnesotans is no longer authorized amid a surge in the latest COVID-19 variants.

Austin Robert LeClaire

Charges: Plymouth man shot girlfriend in head after birthday party

The 23-year-old victim is in critical condition as of Friday.

image

State announces $2.5M in grants for child care providers

Child care providers in roughly a dozen communities will receive funds to help grow the supply of affordable, quality child care.

image

Probe of Golden Valley police uncovers racism, alleged misconduct

One officer was terminated for alleged racist comments and violations of state law.

blowing snow

Blowing snow Friday in Minnesota; will it snow next week?

Winds could gust up to 50 mph Friday afternoon and night.

Deer hunting blaze orange

To combat CWD, late-season deer hunting announced for 9 areas of MN

The special hunts will be held between Dec. 16 and 18.

covid

COVID levels rising in wastewater; BQ.1 now dominant

BQ.1 is the new dominant subvariant in Twin Cities wastewater.

Related

SHELBY SHARES: Entrepreneurs compete for cash, prestige at Minnesota Cup

About 1,000 inventors and innovators entered the eighth annual Minnesota Cup competition this year, each with a bright idea that they hoped would awe the judges – and maybe change the world. Only six made the finals.

SHELBY SHARES: Is this the next big ... thing?

Ron Whitehouse of Plymouth, Minn., has a track record for seeing the future for certain products. Now he's got a new idea for a sustainable building material made of polylactic acid and plant materials, including leaves and nut shells.

SHELBY SHARES: Veteran community journalist retires with ink in her veins

Journalism evolved a lot in the 40-year career of Sue Webber, a community newspaper reporter who once toiled on a manual typewriter. But her commitment to telling people's stories never changed. Webber gave her readers decades of service – and they gave her their trust.

SHELBY SHARES: Turkeys, avionics and renewable energy in Starbuck, Minn.

Randy Hagen is a farmboy. He raises turkey hatchlings for some of the biggest turkey producers around. He also likes flying. So, how is it possible that this guy from western Minnesota has come up with one of the most notable renewable energy products we've seen in a long time?

SHELBY SHARES: Sauk Centre celebrates native son Sinclair Lewis

You may know Sinclair Lewis was born in Minnesota, and that he was the first American awarded the Nobel Prize in literature. But you probably don't know the Lewis secret that inspired what is now an annual writers conference in Sauk Centre.

3M, Cargill, General Mills among companies to share energy secrets

Several companies gathered to swap power-saving tips at 3M's energy-efficiency summit on Monday. The Maplewood-based company touted its plan to change light bulbs across 35 million square feet of factory space, the Star Tribune reports.

Shelby Shares: Fishing opener serious business

BringMeTheNews.com's Don Shelby travels to Waconia for the Governor's Fishing Opener. Sure, it's fun -- but the real angle is that fishing is serious business for the state of Minnesota.

New Minnesota 'plastic lumber' company building from ground up

Rochester-based Envirolastech has developed a new kind of plastic that company founders say can replace lumber in construction. The product outperforms wood in strength tests, won't split, rot or fade, and it gets stronger in cold weather, not more brittle like most plastics, company founders say. They plan to launch manufacturing operations next year, Finance and Commerce reports.