Made in Ottawa: Rimikon lights up the capital

Despite their ubiquity in homes and offices around the world, traditional light bulbs come with significant drawbacks: Toxic components, limited lifespan, electrical shock hazards and, in the case of older incandescent bulbs, heat and wasted electricity.

An Ottawa-based firm believes it has the solution.

Rimikon develops LED lighting control systems that allow users to adjust a room’s illumination with their smartphones.

The low-voltage lighting systems – which include recessed lights, strips of LEDs and ceiling panels – can be installed in places that were traditionally off-limits for lighting installations, such as showers and exterior areas that are exposed to rain and snow, and have a lifespan of 50,000 hours.

While a licensed electrician is required to install most traditional lighting systems, the low-voltage nature of Rimikon’s technology means it can be installed by contractors performing other fit-ups in a building, according to the company.

LED lights are growing in popularity in large part because of their long life and relatively low operating cost.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average annual operating cost of a 12W LED is $1. It produces the same amount of light as a traditional 60W incandescent bulb, which costs $4.80 a year, and a coiled 15W compact fluorescent light, which costs $1, the government agency says.

Rimikon’s lights are manufactured in China, but the control systems are designed in Ottawa.

“We didn’t invent the wheel. We just made it better,” said co-founder Richard St-Jacques. The company is looking to double in size to 15 employees over the next year by hiring more engineers so more prototypes can be developed at Rimikon’s headquarters.

“We’re trying to do everything here in Ottawa,” St-Jacques adds.

Rimikon, which was founded in 2013, sells to contractors and distributors who are in turn hired by homebuilders as well as commercial and institutional property owners. The company’s technology can be found in thousands of buildings across Ottawa, including classrooms in St. Paul’s University as well as homes constructed by Minto, Brigil, Valecraft and Tamarack.

It’s also recently been approved to sell its products through Canadian Tire stores, giving it access to the retail market.