Spring has sprung. The weather is getting nicer. Time for a new pair of sunglasses? It was time for me. Even though sunglasses are not a regular topic of our lighting blog, I felt that my recent experience picking out new sunglasses warranted this post. I was disappointed at the number of myths about sunglasses that were told to me by multiple, yes, multiple, supposedly knowledgeable sales people. So, I figured that it might prove useful to others if I shared my experience and busted these myths with this sunglasses buying guide.
Fluorescent light bulbs are all the rage. Today, the majority of households in the U.S. have begun to adapt their lighting, exchanging inefficient incandescent light bulbs for energy-saving compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). These familiar spiral-shaped light bulbs hide under our lamp shades, within our ceiling lights, behind our wall sconces, and are quite pleasant to use. Often, you can’t even tell the difference between a classic incandescent and a CFL.
As incandescent lights become a thing of the past, and energy efficient lighting becomes more of a priority, the fluorescent lights have gained popularity.
Fluorescent lights use much less energy to produce the same light output as any incandescent lamp, and they last many times longer. Plus, improvements in fluorescent lighting technology have turned these lamps into a pleasant source to have around your home or work space. The cost upfront isn’t terribly more than an incandescent, either.
Presently, cost and technology make fluorescent lights and LEDs (light emitting diodes) rivals in the energy efficient lighting market. But it won’t stay that way for long. Lighting experts say that while fluorescent lighting technology has reached its peak, LEDs are still evolving and improving. Even now, manufacturers are coming out with new LED lights that surpass fluorescent technology in many different ways.
Let’s examine how fluorescent light bulbs compare with today’s LED light bulbs:
- Efficiency: While both light sources are considered efficient, LED lights have pulled ahead. A CFL produces 30-50 lumens or light per watt, while an LED on the market today can produce 60-100+ lumens per watt.
- Rated Life: LEDs and fluorescent lights also both have long rated lives, but again, LEDs win. A CFL can last between 6,000 and 15,000 hours. An LED can last between 25,000 and 60,000 hours.
- Mercury: Fluorescent lights contain mercury, and LEDs don’t. While operating fluorescent lights on a daily basis won’t put you in danger, a broken light bulb will expose you to a small amount of this toxic substance.
- Infrared and UV: LED light bulbs don’t emit infrared or UV radiation in the same direction they emit light, but fluorescent lights do. Thus, LEDs will not damage sensitive material, and they won’t attract bugs. (more…)
With LEDs, you have so many possibilities. Earlier this week, we published a post about replacing old incandescent light bulbs with LEDs. But, LED light bulbs are much more versatile than that. Their innovative construction makes them great replacements for almost any kind of light bulb.
In this post, we’ll cover how LEDs can replace halogen light bulbs.
A halogen light bulb is an incandescent light bulb filled with a halogen gas. This gas within the light bulb’s envelope helps the light last longer and use less energy to produce light. There are certainly good reasons to use halogen light bulbs, but these lights also have their shortcomings.
Before we get into how to replace halogen light bulbs with LEDs, we need to understand the pros and cons of using halogen lights:
- Color Temperature: Halogen lamps emit crisp, flattering light, only slightly cooler than a regular incandescent’s color temperature. The added blue and green tones make a halogen light bulb appear whiter and brighter than the average incandescent.
- Rated Life: These lights last longer than incandescent light bulbs. A halogen light’s rated life can range from 8,000-20,000 hours, while an incandescent usually lasts around 1,000-2,000 hours.
- Efficiency: They’re more efficient than regular incandescent light bulbs, generating about 10-35 lumens per watt, compared to about 8-24 lumens per watt.
- Color Rendering: Halogen lights have a CRI of 100, which means they render colors perfectly. This makes them great for display lighting, accent lighting, and more.
- Dimming: These lamps still generate light with a filament, so you can use them with standard dimmer switches.
Halogen Cons: (more…)
There’s nothing quite like the glow of an incandescent light bulb. It’s warm. It’s flattering. It’s familiar.
When you buy an incandescent light bulb, you know what to look for. You know how bright the light will be by looking at its wattage. You know what shape and size to get. You know any incandescent light will work with your dimmer switch.
Incandescent lights are easy. But if you’re still using them in every light socket, things are about to get real. As part of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA), incandescent light bulbs are slowly being taken off the market. In an effort to conserve energy, consumers are encouraged to use more efficient, longer-lasting light bulbs like CFLs and LEDs.
Long story short: You might have to give up your beloved incandescent lights.
While this change might seem daunting at first, can be a great opportunity to save money on energy bills and light bulb replacements.
But what about that incandescent glow? Or those familiar features? Are they gone forever?
Thankfully, no. After years of research and testing, manufacturers have finally found a way to make LED light bulbs that mimic incandescent light bulbs to near perfection. If you’re looking to replace your filament light bulb with an LED, here’s what you need to look for:
1. For that warm, inviting glow, you need an LED with a warm color temperature. An incandescent’s color temperature is normally around 2,800 degrees K. (more…)
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
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
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…)