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Building a better bulb, the Kickstarter way

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Backed with money from Kickstarter, the online funding platform, the creative minds behind a new brand of bulb have set out to change how the world views the light bulb.

The new energy-efficient LED wonder, called LIFX, is a Wi-Fi-enabled, multicolor bulb that the consumer controls with a smartphone.

"The light bulb hasn’t changed much in over 125 years, and the smart bulb revolution is just beginning. It’s an incredibly exciting time to give people a clean energy alternative and help make their homes smarter," said founder and CEO Phil Bosua.

Here’s what’s so special about it:

  • Controls the lights at home using a smartphone;
  • Adjusts brightness, color, individual bulbs, rooms or the entire house;
  • Installs simply by swapping out the old bulb and screwing LIFX in;
  • Radiates more than 16 million colors;
  • Allows homeowners to wake up naturally by automatically increasing the light in the morning and fall asleep at night by slowly dimming the lights;
  • Turns on automatically when the homeowner arrives home and switches off when he leaves; and
  • Creates mood lighting to match the beat of a music system.

The bulb is rated for a brightness exceeding 900 lumens, which is approximately equivalent to a traditional 75-watt incandescent bulb. It works on the iPhone and Android.

As a Kickstarter project, LIFX raised $1.3 million in six days.

The bulb will retail for $79 online and through its retail partners, which will be announced soon, the company said.

STAT OF THE MONTH

58% Percentage of homeowners who report that the economy is having minimal effect on their plans for remodeling. The figure is up from a low of just 33% during the depths of the recession.

Source: RemodelOrMove.com, Spring 2013 U.S. Remodeling Sentiment Report

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In D.C. court, a victory for hearth and home

BY HBSDEALER Staff

An estimated two-thirds of the 6 million or so gas fireplaces in the U.S. are purely decorative.

And thanks to a recent court order, these decorative fireplaces will not have to abide by Department of Energy regulations on energy efficiency — averting big losses for manufacturers. The District of Columbia Court of Appeals ruled in favor of an appeal filed by the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) challenging the DOE’s recent actions to regulate decorative hearth products.

The victory for the hearth products industry, according to the NPGA, culminates a nearly two-year battle of the propane and hearth product industries with the DOE on the agency’s ruling of vented gas hearth products.

"If left unchallenged, the effect of the DOE rules would have eliminated entire product lines of decorative gas fireplaces and decorative gas log sets that would no longer be available to home builders or homeowners," said Rick Roldan, president and CEO of NPGA. "Additionally, the rules unfairly targeted the small businesses comprising the propane industry and would have resulted in a more than $20 million loss for our industry."

The Court also rejected the DOE’s notion that these products could be regulated by establishing exclusion criteria, including a ban on standing pilot lights. This equated to imposing a design standard on the industry, and the court ruled that the DOE does not have the statutory authority to do so in this circumstance.

The decision strikes down regulatory requirements imposed by the two DOE Final Rules affecting vented gas fireplaces, and gas log sets (75 Fed. Reg. 20112 and 76 Fed. Reg. 71836).

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Made in America is right at home in Hartville

BY HBSDEALER Staff

In Hartville, Ohio, sits America’s largest independent home center at 305,000 sq. ft. In the middle of Hartville Hardware sits a house constructed entirely of U.S.-made products — from the foundation to the sheet rock, paint and appliances.

"There’s definitely been an increase in people wanting to buy U.S.-made products," says Howard Miller, president of Hartville Hardware, a member of the Do it Best co-op. "General Electric makes washers and dryers in the U.S. and people love that. They’re asking for U.S.-made all the time."

But that wasn’t always the case. Three years ago, when Hartville brought in some Made-in-USA Carhartt apparel that retailed about 10% higher than similar imported product, people wouldn’t pay the extra money. "Now the sentiment has turned," Miller said. "They’re aware of the value of buying American-made product."

The folks back at Do it Best headquarters in Fort Wayne, Ind., agree that Made-in-USA has become more important to consumers in the last few years. "We have seen a renewed interest in these products and have addressed it in several ways," said Steve Markley, Do it Best’s VP merchandising.

First, the co-op has made it easier for consumers to identify American-made product by calling them out in the catalog and in advertising, giving Do it Best stores the option to use Made-in-USA-focused circulars that tie into Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day. Within departments, Do it Best stores can use special Made-in-USA endcaps, signage kits, shelf danglers, bin label and stickers.

Do it Best members also have access to an increasing number of U.S.-made products. In fact, Markley said: "When making a decision on a product, country of origin is a consideration, and we’ve added products because they’re U.S.-made. I think the awareness of the average consumer is higher on this issue, and retailers are responding."

Regarding Hartville Hardware’s 1,850-sq.-ft. American house, Markley said he’s glad to see a retailer out there that’s so much in tune with its customer base, adding: "There’s an appetite from the consumer for product made in America, and they’ve recognized that and used it as a vast selling tool in their store."

The only product the store with in the store couldn’t showcase was reasonably priced U.S.-made lock sets. That explains the use of "assembled-in-USA" in that category.

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