How Do LEDs Work?

LED Light Bulb Pegasus LightingThese days, LEDs are everywhere. With their impressive energy efficiency, extra long rated lives, and extraordinary versatility, they’re the lighting world’s new champion.

While it’s pretty easy to figure out what these lights can do, it’s harder to learn how they do it. If you’ve been wondering how exactly LEDs pull it off, just sit back and let this post “illuminate” you.

If you take a look at a single light emitting diode, you’ll notice that it resembles a tiny light bulb. BUT the similarities stop there. LEDs don’t have filaments like regular incandescent lights. Electrons moving across a semiconductor material cause them to create light. To understand this process, you first need to understand the LED’s components:

  • A diode is the simplest kind of semiconductor, which is a material that can conduct electricity. For LED lights, the conductor material is most often aluminum-gallium-arsenide (AlGaAs).
  • To make the semiconductor more conductive, you add atoms of another material, a process called doping. These atoms charge the conductor’s balance, either adding free electrons or providing holes for them to enter.
  • A semiconductor that has extraneous electrons zipping around is called N-type material for its surplus of negatively charges particles. Electrons here proceed from negatively to positively charged materials.
  • A semiconductor full of extra holes is called P-type material. It has, in essence, extra positively charged particles. Here, electrons can hop from one hole to the next, from a negatively charged area to a positive one.
  • A diode needs both N-type and P-type material bonded together, with electrodes on either end. When you connect the N-type side to the negative end of a circuit, and the P-type side to the positive end, the electrons move towards the P-type area. The holes move in the opposite direction, away from the P-type, towards the N-type.

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Why Does My Fluorescent Light Have Swirling Lines?

You look up. Movement. What is this? It looks like your fluorescent lights have come alive! They’re swirling and spiraling, like each one has an angry snake inside. This is no good. The light level in your room isn’t even. The fixtures flicker, annoyingly, and your eyes start to feel overworked and tired.

While this problem sounds pretty bizarre, it’s not uncommon for fluorescent tube lights to have swirls, spirals, or striations. Check out this YouTube video featuring a swirling fluorescent:

Surprisingly, this is just an undesirable visual condition – it rarely indicates anything terribly wrong with your lights, and often times it will go away on it’s own. To make your lights calm down and stop swirling, here are a few things you can try:

1. If your lights are new, and they just started acting this way, give them some time to adjust. Try turning them on and off a few times at 30 minute intervals. If the swirling persists, keep the lights on continuously for 24-48 hours, allowing them to season properly in their new surroundings.

2. Monitor the temperature around the lights, because excessive cold can also cause fluorescent lights to behave this way. For indoor lights, make sure your air conditioning and fans aren’t blowing cold air directly on them. For outdoor lights exposed to cold air, verify your ballast is rated for conditions below 50°F. If it’s not, upgrade to one that is.  (more…)

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Pegasus Lighting Roundup: Lighting In July

Want to know what has been happening in the lighting world this month? Today’s blog post has the highlights.

Lighting News…

1. Ann Makosinski, a Canadian teen, has invented a thermoelectric flashlight that uses body heat to power a bright LED. The device is hollow, and harvests heat from the user’s hand to function. Makosinski explains in this video:

Read more about the flashlight here.

2. Miami-based Energy Saving Solutions USA will be the first lighting company to offer an LED light with a lifetime guarantee, according to their founder & CEO Peter Stein in this press release. With the launch of these Forever LEDs drawing near, ESS is already feeling the demand. Who’s first on the list to get these miracle light bulbs? Two Maxwell-Kates condominium buildings in New York City. It’s estimated the lights will save about $160,000 for Maxwell-Kates.

3. Every year, dozens jump to their deaths off the Mapo Bridge in Seoul, South Korea.  Cheil Worldwide decided to take on the issue by using motion sensing lights to convert the bridge into a friendly and hopeful place, lighting up messages like “How have you been?” and “Just go and see the person you miss” as pedestrians cross over. As a result, suicide rates on the bridge have gone down by 77%. Learn more in this video:

Read more about this light installation here.

4. The arrival of William and Kate’s new baby George got mixed attention from the media. Some couldn’t get enough of the hype, and some just didn’t understand what all the fuss was about. However, one thing we can all agree on was the very clever use of lights on the night after the new prince’s birth. Architainment Lighting went to work turning some of London’s most famous landmarks blue for the occasion. Read more about the lighting designs here.

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6 Ways To Light A Wine Cellar

A wine cellar is more than just a place to stack and store your bottles. It’s about drama, hospitality, and convenience. The lights you choose to use in your wine cellar play a huge role in creating the right ambiance.

Here are a few ways you can use lighting to create the perfect wine cellar:

1. Low-heat light sources.

Incandescent and halogen light bulbs give off far too much heat to be used close to wine. Heat can easily damage your precious collection, so stick to the light sources that stay relatively cooler, like LEDs.

Rope Lights In Wine Cellar

2. Ceiling lights.

If you have floor-to-ceiling shelving to store your wine, you may want to illuminate them with LED downlights. You can install them on your ceiling with special wall washing trims to highlight the angles of your wine racks. Track lighting works great for this too. For more on wall washing, check out this article. You can also put these lights on a dimmer switch to control the light level in the room for different occasions. (more…)

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10 LED Task Lights Under $60

When I talk to people about LED lights, the response is often the same: “That’s very exciting. LEDs are really cool. But they’re so expensive.” While you can say the prices of LEDs are going down, and you can promise that once you buy an LED it will save loads of energy, this doesn’t change the fact that many LED lights and light fixtures still cost a pretty penny.

But finally, LEDs are becoming less expensive. Today, you can buy a high quality LED A lamp for well under $50, and many kinds of LED fixtures for around that price as well. For today’s blog post, I’ve come up with a list of my 10 favorite LED task lights that cost less than 60 bucks each.  If you’ve never used an LED light fixture before, give one of these a whirl and I’m sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

1. The LED Flexible Work Light – $29.90

LED Flexible Work Light

This handy utility light has a magnetic base and strong clamp to mount exactly where you need it. Its long flexible neck will fit in small places to provide bright light that can help you complete all kinds of tasks. Use it at the grill or in the garage, at a workbench or out on the road.

2. LED Straight Edge Linear Strip Light – $50.50

Linear LED Light Strip


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5 Tips For Great Nursery Lighting

Comfort and convenience – these should be your two main goals when creating a nursery lighting scheme. Babies are extra-sensitive to harsh lighting, so you should use lights that are gentle and calming to their young eyes. However, you still need enough light to perform necessary tasks quickly and easily.

Just follow these 5 lighting rules, and your nursery will be in ship-shape and ready for baby in no time:

1. Choose soft ceiling lights.

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You never want bright, severe ceiling lights shining down into your baby’s eyes. Ideally, your overhead lighting should be shielded or diffused with a shade or cover. Hanging lights like pendants or chandeliers are probably your best choice for ambient lighting. If you have recessed lights or track lighting in your nursery, make sure none shine directly on the crib. (more…)

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How To Choose A Dimmer

Dimmer Pegasus LightingThe dimming process seems simple enough – the push of a button or the pull of a lever makes your lights brighter or darker. However, there are actually many kinds of dimmers, designed to function with different light sources and lighting systems. For your lighting system to work properly, you need to choose the right one.

In this post, I’ll explain how different kinds of dimmers work, and what kind of dimmer you need to use with your lights. We’ll cover dimmers made for use with the following:

  • Incandescent Lights
  • LEDs and CFLs
  • Line Voltage Systems
  • Low Voltage Systems
  • Magnetic Transformers
  • Electronic Transformers
  • Hardwired Lights
  • Plug-in Lights

Standard Incandescent Dimmers

If you aren’t dimming anything fancy – just your standard incandescent, halogen, or xenon lights – you should use a standard incandescent dimmer. This switch uses an electrical component called a triode alternating current switch, or a triac. To dim, the dimmer turns the lights on and off very rapidly, about 120 times every second. The flashing happens too rapidly for us to notice. This process is similar to how video works – the still frames move so quickly that what we see looks smooth and continuous. For brighter light, the triac keeps the lights “on” more than “off.” For dimmer lights, they’re “off” more than “on.”

LED & CFL Dimmers

Standard incandescent dimmers can cause newer light sources to malfunction. When used with the wrong switch, LEDs and CFLs won’t dim fully, may turn off unexpectedly, and could fail to turn on. To ensure all your lights dim correctly, you need a compatible dimmer. Take Lutron’s new C-L dimmers, for instance. Using HED technology – the advanced circuitry necessary to dim most high efficiency lights – C-L dimmers smoothly operate LEDs, CFLs, and even mixed loads with incandescent lights. Always make sure your light bulbs are manufactured for dimming, and are listed as compatible with the dimmer you choose. (more…)

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Practical Magic: How To Have Great Lighting In The Kids’ Room

LED Mini Guide Lights Pegasus LightingLighting is perhaps the only design element that lets you change the look and mood of a room instantly. When that room belongs to your child, variation is even more important. The right lighting can be warm and comforting, creative and energetic, and above all – able to keep up with your children’s many needs. It can help soothe them to sleep, wake them up in the morning, and encourage critical thinking and self expression during the day.

Here are a few elements that add a little practical magic to the kids’ bedroom:

1. Night Lights

I’d say safety and sleep are the first two things to address when lighting a child’s bedroom. How to help your child sleep through the night, and how to help him navigate in the dark without mishaps. A night light can solve both these issues. (No wonder it’s a bedroom classic!) Of course, you can go with the standard plug-in variety, or you can use battery operated guide lights to add light where your child needs it most.

Night Light in child's bedroom Pegasus Lighting

I love the idea of a halo of soft mini guide lights around a headboard to comfort a child at night, or a bedside guide light she can use to reach the bathroom safely in the dark. (more…)

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What You Need To Know About LED Drivers

LED Electronic Driver
The switch to LEDs isn’t just about trading your old light fixtures for new ones. Just like fluorescent lights need ballasts to function properly, your LED lights need something called a driver. Sometimes, in smaller LED fixtures, drivers are build right in. But, if that’s not the case for your lighting system, you’ll need to pick one out for yourself. If you’re unfamiliar with the LED driver, what it is, how it works, and the many varieties available, this post will teach you everything you need to know.

Let’s start with a basic definition:

An LED driver is an electronic device that supplies power to LED lights. To ensure the LEDs function properly, the driver converts line power to the appropriate voltage (typically between 2 and 4 volts DC for high brightness LEDs) and current (around 200-1,000 milliamps or mA). Drivers might also include dimming or color correction controls.

All this ensures that your LEDs will operate with a steady lumen output and no variation.

Before we go any further, you should note that the quality of your driver will have a significant impact on your LEDs. A good driver is about 85% efficient, reducing the efficiency of the LEDs it powers by about 15%. To make sure that your LED lighting system is the most efficient, you need to make sure you’re using the right kind of driver. Finding your perfect driver depends on such factors as the type and number of LEDs you’re using, whether you’ll place them individually or in a series, any size limitations you may have, and of course, your installation’s main design goals. (more…)

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10 Spectacular Fireworks Shows For July 4th

We like to talk at length about the importance of long lasting lights. But, there’s one day when all of that flies out the window (or up into the sky, as it is). The fleeting light from fireworks on the Fourth of July can be among the most dazzling and memorable lights you’ll ever see.

Since July 4th is tomorrow, I’m dedicating this blog post to some of the most amazing light shows in the U.S.

Fair St. Louis at the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, MO:

St. Louis Fireworks, July 4th, Pegasus Lighting
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Kaboom Town in Addison, TX:

Fireworks, Fourth of July, Pegasus Lighting
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