Aug 292013
 

What do you need to know about recessed cans? If you wouldn’t exactly label yourself an expert on these popular ceiling lights (welcome to the vast majority, my friend), it can be a huge pain to skim through pamphlet after pamphlet, manual after manual, trying to discern how to find the right lights for your space.

Instead, try taking a quick (and colorful) glance at our latest infographic, which illustrates the basic components of a recessed light, and what you should look for when picking one out. Learn what kind of housing you should use, the kinds of trims you can choose from, and how light sources like incandescents, LEDs, and more compare with one another.

Check it out:

Recessed Lighting Guide Choosing Recessed Lights (An Infographic)

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Jul 242013
 

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 10 LED Task Lights Under $60

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 10 LED Task Lights Under $60

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Jul 172013
 

Dimmer How To Choose A DimmerThe 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. Continue reading »

Jul 082013
 

LED Electronic Driver What You Need To Know About LED Drivers
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. Continue reading »

Jul 012013
 

Fluorescent Ballast AFE What Turns You On? A Guide To Fluorescent Ballasts
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. Continue reading »

Jun 102013
 

camping 236x300 How To Choose Good Camping Lights
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. Continue reading »

May 222013
 

Fathers Day Brighten His Day (Fathers Day Wish List For 2013)
Father’s Day falls on 2013 this year. So, it’s about time I share my Father’s Day gift picks!

I’ve put together a list of some of our coolest, handiest lights that will literally brighten Dad’s day (in an unexpected way).

We have a big selection, so I’ve broken down the list into categories based on some of the things Dads like to do:

For the Dad who can grill a mean steak…

You can’t go wrong with a barbecue light. It’ll make it easy for Dad to grill, even after the sun sets! Here are some options:

1. The Clamp-On MR16 Halogen Barbecue Light

Halogen Barbecue Brighten His Day (Fathers Day Wish List For 2013) Continue reading »

May 152013
 

 

Kitchen renovation in the works? When updating your kitchen with energy-efficiency in mind, be sure to look to the lights. Efficient under cabinet or under counter lights are extremely effective at cutting down your energy use, without sacrificing style or quality.

Here’s a list of some of our favorite under cabinet lights, what makes them energy-efficient, and what makes them great for the kitchen:

LEDs

1. LED Thin Under Cabinet Task Lights

LED Under Cabinet Choosing Energy Saving Under Cabinet Lights

These classic ENERGY STAR qualified LED lights can produce nearly 36 lumens of light for every watt of energy they use, depending on the length of the fixture. They also have a rated-life of up to 50,000 hours, so you know they’re reliable. These lights will fit in with the decor of almost any kitchen, producing bright white light, and available in 2 different finishes. See them here. Continue reading »

Mar 282013
 

Waterproof Reel 300x300 Product Spotlight: LED Tape Lights
LED tape lights are one of the handiest fixtures around. By themselves, the lights look old-fashioned and futuristic at the same time – stored in rolls reminiscent of vintage film reels, featuring space-age looking LED lights. But, once you install LED tape lights, they’ll bring your space to life unlike any other light fixture.

What Makes The LED Tape Light So Wonderful?

LED tape lights (also sometimes called LED ribbons) have a ton of special features that other fixtures just can’t measure up to:

  • The strong adhesive backing on every reel will stick to almost any surface with ease.
  • You can’t find a thinner, lower profile light strip on the market.
  • The trimmable fields allow you to tailor the length of your tape lights, fitting the specific requirements of your project.
  • Their dimming capabilities (when powered by dimmable drivers) let you customize your space’s light levels, no hassle.
  • Many are wet location listed, so you can have great lighting indoors and out.
  • You can choose between warm white, cool white, colored, and color-changing varieties.

On top of all that, LED tape lights have a 50,000 hour rated-life, and because they’re LEDs, you know they’re going to save you energy.

Colored LED Tape Lights 1024x581 Product Spotlight: LED Tape Lights Continue reading »

Mar 212013
 

bathroom lighting Product Spotlight: Lighted Bathroom Exhaust Fans
Your bathroom should not be annoying.
It should be a rejuvenating space within your house. It should be a sanctuary of sorts, really. The problem is, there are just so many ways the place can get annoying…

…Like when it gets excessively moist and you’re constantly fighting back the mold.

…Like when you’re in there in the middle of the night under the glare of bright lights.

…Like when your lights are cheap, ugly, or just don’t match your style.

…Like when your loud exhaust fan makes it impossible to relax.

If your bathroom annoys you in one or more of those ways here’s how exhaust fans can solve each of those terrible annoyances:

For The Moldy Bathroom

If your bathroom gets too moist when you shower and you’d rather not cultivate a garden of mold where you clean yourself every day, get an exhaust fan. To pick one that’s right for you, you just need to determine the recommended fan capacity for your bathroom. This is measured in CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute), which is the volume of air the fan can remove from a room within a certain period of time. You can find your bathroom’s recommended CFM by multiplying the room’s square footage by 1.1 if you have an 8-foot ceiling, or by 1.5 if you have a 9-foot ceiling. For example, a bathroom of 60 square feet with an 8-foot ceiling would need a fan with a CFM of about 66.

Bathroom Exhaust Fan 2 Product Spotlight: Lighted Bathroom Exhaust Fans

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