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Energy Focus and the U.S. Navy: A History

Energy Focus Blog


Energy Focus has been supplying the U.S. Navy with LED lighting products for over a decade. We are still the Navy’s top choice when they are looking to retrofit their naval vessels and submarines. Why? We’ll have to take you all the way back to a time before Energy Focus was even a company.

Before Energy Focus

In 1985, there was a company called Fiberstars, Inc, the predecessor to the Energy Focus you know today. This company worked exclusively in fiber-optic lighting technology at the time. Fiberstars, Inc. created fiber-optic lighting systems used in retail stores, commercial buildings, pools and spas. All of this would change in the early 2000’s when the U.S. Navy placed a request for technology to be created for its ships and submarines.

The U.S. Navy Makes Contact with Energy Focus

The U.S. Navy wanted a new lighting solution for its naval vessels and submarines. At this time in history, LED lighting was still making its way into the commercial and retail markets as a replacement for incandescent and fluorescent bulbs. Naval vessels and submarines used fluorescent tubes to illuminate the dark corridors and bunks. However, fluorescent tubes posed several issues aboard decks.

  1. Fluorescent tubes do not last much longer than 6 months to a year in the harsh environment of a US Navy vessel, meaning vessels would have to waste precious space carrying replacement tubes.
  2. Mercury is a highly toxic material. Should a fluorescent tube break while at sea, it requires hazmat cleanup which is both time consuming and potentially harmful to the sailor.
  3. Since fluorescent tubes do not have a long illumination life, the maintenance crew is constantly being utilized to replace tubes. Ship interiors are dark places making the need for artificial light vital.

When Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) asked companies for a new technology to replace fluorescent lighting, Fiberstars reached out with 4 different project ideas. One of these ideas was for a tubular LED lighting (TLED), a technology which had not yet been developed, that could be retrofitted into existing fluorescent fixtures on Naval vessels.

DARPA approved all 4 of Fiberstars Inc’s submitted projects and in 2003, Fiberstars, Inc received $10,000,000 in grants to advance LED lighting technology further for the U.S. Navy.

From Fiberstars, Inc to Energy Focus, Inc

It is now 2007. In this year, Fiberstars Inc. rebrands as Energy Focus Inc, a company dedicated solely to LED lighting technology. At this juncture in the company’s history, 4 years of hard work, dedication, and research have occurred thanks to the DARPA grants. All the hard work pays off in 2007, when the first Energy Focus TLED is installed on a U.S. Naval vessel.

Energy Focus successfully created the first TLED lighting solution in the world.

Just a year later, Energy Focus improved their specifications for Solid-State Lighting (SSL) to create continuous improvement for products marketed to the U.S. Navy, such as Small Globes and Large Globes.

Stay tuned for the second part of this blog, set to come out on Flag Day 2018! If you would like more information about our U.S. Military products, please use our contact form.