What Turns You On? A Guide To Fluorescent Ballasts

Fluorescent Ballast
Replacing old fluorescent ballasts? Adding new ones? The array of fluorescent ballasts is more diverse than ever before, so you’ve got to know exactly what you’re looking for. Whether you want to reduce the noise and flickering of your lights, prolong their rated lives, or save as much energy as you can, there’s a ballast out there for you.

But first, some fundamentals:

What is a fluorescent ballast?

It’s an electrical device used to power many kinds of fluorescent lights. The ballast supplies the right voltage to start and run the lights, and controls the current during operation. The right ballast should allow your lights to turn on quickly, and prevent annoying flickering or humming.

Which is the right ballast? (Magnetic vs. Electronic)

There’s an easy answer to this one. The U.S. Department of Energy phased out most magnetic fluorescent ballasts back in 2010. Electronic ballasts are more efficient and function in a more reliable way.

Let’s compare:

Magnetic ballasts: These use a core made of laminated steel plates, wrapped in a copper coil to regulate the lamp’s voltage by magnetic inductance. While magnetic ballasts are less expensive, they’re also less efficient, noisier, and heavier than electronic ballasts. Magnetic ballasts also don’t alter the frequency of electricity supplied to the lamps, so you can expect the lights they control to flicker.

Electronic ballasts: To function, these replace the older magnetic core with electronic components that increase the standard operating frequency of electricity from 60 cycles per second to about 20,000, or 20+ kHz. This reduces that pesky flickering that causes headaches and eyestrain. Compared to magnetic ballasts, electronic ones are lighter, quieter, more efficient, and they produce less heat. (more…)

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How To Make A Battery Operated Light Bulb

light bulb
Wouldn’t it be cool if you could make a light bulb light up without putting it into a socket? Turns out, there’s more than one way to power a light bulb. If you’re in the mood for a quick, fun experiment, I’ve found a way to power any regular old light bulb with a battery!

Here’s what you need:

  • One D Battery
  • A Light Bulb (With Screw-in Base)
  • Two Pieces Of Insulated Wire
  • Electrical Tape

Follow these steps:

1. Strip about 3/4″ of insulation off each end of your two wires. (more…)

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Are LED Outdoor Lights Bright Enough?

Outdoor Lighting On A Modern House Pegasus Lighting
In a word – yes.

Here’s why:

We’ve all had one of those free, or next to free LED flashlights that doesn’t give off enough light to help us see anything. So naturally, you might have some doubts about trusting LED lights to illuminate you exterior, especially at night. Unlike those cheap flashlights, LED outdoor lights – like floodlights, step lights, and landscape lights – are created for important outdoor use. So, they’ll generate enough light to brighten your stairs, driveways, porches, paths, and yards, just like any other outdoor lights.

To be sure that you’ll get lights you can trust to work and to stand out in the dark, just check how many lumens your current outdoor lights emit (halogen, fluorescent, etc) and make sure your new lights have a similar number. (more…)

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Pegasus Lighting Roundup: Lighting In June

Bay lights
Image via NYTimes

What do soccer balls, Mona Lisa, and explosions have in common? They’re all in this month’s roundup! Read on to see what’s been going on in the lighting world…

Lighting news…

In early June, not even three months after its premiere, the artistic light display featured on San Francisco’s Bay Bridge started to malfunction. Some LED lights were stuck on, and others were caught in the off position. After scrambling for a solution, the technicians discovered that harsh weather conditions were causing the problems…Read more.

On June 4, 2013, the Louvre debuted the Mona Lisa‘s brand new LED display lighting. The change was bound to happen sooner or later due to the EU’s ban on incandescent lights, but no one expected how good it would actually look…Read more.

Mona Lisa
Image via BusinessWeek

We hear a lot about LEDs these days, but is there a place in the market for their fancier, pricier cousins, the OLEDs? Organic light emitting diodes have yet to find a niche in the market, but if and when they do, they’ll have to overcome stiff competition…Read more. (more…)

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LED Maintenance: Give Your Lights A Long And Happy Life

LED Track Lighting
When you’ve just upgraded your lights to LEDs, your first thought probably isn’t, “What am I going to do when these things burn out?” LEDs can last for as long as half a century, and when you pay for an entire LED lighting upgrade, you should expect them to. However, after you get over the dazzle and gleam of your favorite new lights, it’s important  to know how their lives will play out, so you can best care for them.

This blog post will answer two questions: How do you know when to replace your LEDs? and, How should you care for them so that won’t happen for a long, long time?

1. How to replace your LEDs

The trickiest part of LED maintenance is knowing when you need to exchange your old lights for new ones. Unlike other light sources, LEDs will never burn out. Instead, they get dimmer and dimmer until they’re no longer useful, which is usually when they emit about 70% of their original light output. So the question is, how will you know when it’s time to replace your LED?

When it reaches its rated life at 35,000, 50,000, 60,000 hours, there won’t be any definite indication that it’s time to change your light bulb. Plus, depending on how and where you use your LEDs, they could last shorter or longer than the projected rated life. When they do dwindle to 70%, you might not even notice.

Here are some suggestions so you’ll never find yourself sitting in the dark with the lights on: (more…)

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The 5 Rules of Outdoor Universal Lighting Design

Every space you inhabit should be safe and welcoming.

If you’re a designer, or if you live with a person who has special needs due to age, you’re probably familiar with universal design. It’s all about making a living space accessible to everyone. Universal lighting design specifically uses light to make these improvements and accommodations possible.

Most often, you hear about universal lighting design for task areas in kitchens and bathrooms, but it’s also a very important concept for the exteriors of homes and buildings.

When night falls, universally designed exterior lighting ensures a smooth transition between inside and out. It keeps porches, patios, steps, and walkways always inviting.

Use these rules to create an outdoor environment that is safer for everyone.

1. Create a visual destination.

Aging eyes need more light to distinguish detail. So, when an elderly person navigates in the dark, he needs the light to clearly indicate where he should go. All the lights should converge on, or point to a single destination, usually the front door or entrance. This spot is the brightest spot on the property.

Front Porch Focal Point

2. Clearly define outdoor “zones.” (more…)

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8 Ways To Use Step Lights (Photo Inspiration)

Step lighting can take any staircase from dangerous and dull to safe and stunning. Whether you’re lighting stairs in the foyer or the basement, up to the porch or down to the patio, step lights add that perfect finishing touch.

If you’re thinking of adding stair lighting to any set of steps in your home, you may wonder what kind will look the best. For this blog post, I’ve pulled together 8 of my favorite step lighting photos that illustrate just how many ways you can use these handy light fixtures.

In the end, I’m sure you’ll agree that these are stairs worth staring at:

1. Shrouded Brick Step Lights

LED Step Lights At Home

These warm LED lights create the perfect atmosphere for breezy summer evenings on the porch.

2. LED Step Lights With Lenses

LED Step Lights Indoors

These sleek staircase lights add a beautiful layer of light to this basement, while also acting as safety lighting. (more…)

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CFLs and LEDs Steadily Gain Popularity

Compact Fluorescent Lighting
New research shows that the number of U.S. households using energy-saving LEDs or CFLs is increasing. Around 87% of households use at least one of these energy efficient light bulbs, and 77% use three or more. That’s up from 86% and 75% respectively in 2011.

Why do the numbers keep rising?

The answer is multi-faceted.

In a large-scale energy audit survey of 32,000 homes about energy use and energy efficiency, researchers found consumers were primarily motivated to use CFLs and LEDs to save money on their energy bills. Those who were slightly more environmentally conscious were more likely to use multiple CFLs and LEDs.

This increase in popularity also comes from utilities offering incentives for homeowners to switch to energy-efficient lights, especially CFLs, and the general-service incandescent phaseout that began in early 2012, removing many standard household lamps from the market. (more…)

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How To Choose Good Camping Lights

Tent at night
When planning your next summer camping trip, you should always have a quality headlamp, flashlight, and lantern on your packing list. The right battery lights will keep you safe and comfortable throughout your journey through the wilderness.

Here are some essential qualities you should look for in a good camping light:

1. Battery Operated. As nostalgic as those old kerosene lamps may be, battery operated lights are much more practical. You can turn them on and off whenever you need to, and they require much less paraphernalia. During bad weather, they’re a lot safer to have in your tent. Make sure to find one with a long battery life, or one with a recharge crank so you’ll have light until you choose to return to civilization.

2. Small. When you’re lugging your belongings up a mountain, an extra pound or two makes the biggest difference. You want something light, compact, and easy to carry.

3. Bright. Your light may need to be small, but its impact should be big. When rummaging through your knapsack, cooking your food, or scoping out a campsite, your lanterns, flashlights, and headlamps need to emit a massive number of lumens. This will keep you organized and out of danger. You may also find it helpful to invest in a light with several different brightness settings. That way you can set up your camp and read yourself to sleep with just one light. (more…)

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A Guide To Energy Efficiency [Infographic]

Today’s infographic breaks down the essential facts about energy efficiency. It explains why energy efficiency is so important, and goes into detail about how wasting energy can harm the environment. Then, after convincing you that conserving power is a good idea, it offers a comprehensive guide to help you start saving more energy at home, assessing the efficacy of your appliances, insulation, and of course, your lighting.

I especially like this infographic for the Incandescent/CFL/LED comparison chart at the very bottom. Good stuff!

Pegasus Lighting Energy Efficiency


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