Brighten Your Business and Cut Down Your Energy Costs

Let’s face it; while working for yourself can be an amazing experience, owning your own business can come with a ton of unsightly costs you may not have been anticipating. One of those may be energy costs for lighting and illuminating your building. This day and age, lighting can account for up to 35% of a business’s energy costs which can be a huge impact on your profit. So what are some ways you can help cut down on this expensive expenditure?

Cut lighting costs

Understand Your Lighting Needs

It is important to first understand what type of lighting will best suit your business. Are you lighting a restaurant? A book store? Coffee shop? Retail outlet? Whatever the genre, you need to determine how your customers are using your space. Lighting should be adequate and efficient to fit their needs. You will also want to decide the color and hue you want your lighting to have. Being aware of your customer’s needs can help you determine whether or not your company should have more or less lighting. This will reduce unnecessary energy costs by ensuring you are not using extra lighting when it is not needed. (more…)

The Unsung Superhero of Education

The Unsung Superhero of the ClassroomWe all want the best for our children, and one of the most important ways we can help the next generation is by ensuring that they are receiving the highest quality education they can. But what if I told you there is an element to education that most people overlook when discussing ways to change education, even though it has been proven to improve behavior and focus, reduce disruptions and increase reading speed and learning capacity?

Though often overlooked, classroom environment plays a crucial role in students’ abilities to focus and learn. Think about it. If you want to be really focused and productive, where do you go? All people – children included – have different learning styles, and they are very much affected by the environments in which we learn. That is why it is essential that educators take the time to learn about all the ways lighting can impact a classroom, both positively and negatively.

First, let’s talk about color temperature. Color temperature is something that many educators don’t know to watch out for, but it can have a dramatic impact on the success or failure of a classroom as a learning environment. The warmth or coolness of light is measured in degrees Kelvin, where higher temperatures (above 3,500 Kelvin) equate with cooler, more vividly white light, and lower temperatures (below 3,500 Kelvin) are warmer and more yellow. Research has shown that full-spectrum, cool white light is best for encouraging concentration in a classroom, so swapping out outdated fixtures for newer technology could be a great start to better classroom lighting.

Although fluorescent fixtures are popular in schools, the way they flicker (often imperceptibly) has been linked with eye strain, fatigue and headaches, all of which contribute to poor concentration. For this reason, LEDs are a better option in places like classrooms and offices. Not only do they reduce fatigue, but they are extremely energy efficient, long-lasting, and often capable of changing their color temperature or dimming in brightness. These qualities make this type of light a fantastic investment for a classroom environment. (more…)

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…)

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…)

Prepare Your Emergency Plans! Check Those Exit Sign Batteries

Edge-Lit LED Exit Signs

My lights have already gone out once this spring, thanks to a lovely, unexpected North Carolina thunderstorm. Lucky for me, I live in an apartment with small rooms and large windows. During the day, electric lights don’t make that much of a difference.

However, if you’re charged managing a large shopping mall, school, theater, or office, your power outage protocol isn’t nearly as simple.

When the lights go out, it’s up to you to ensure the people’s safety.

Are you prepared?

Most importantly, you’ve got to maintain functional exit signs, because they might be the only thing during an outage that stands between order and panic. When the power goes out, your lighted exit signs will too, unless they have functional backup batteries.

We suggest you make it a goal to inspect the exit sign batteries around your establishment at least once every three months. Most exit signs have convenient “push to test buttons” that let you do this in a matter of seconds.

What if the battery isn’t working? (more…)

How Energy-Efficient Buildings Work (An Infographic)

Ever wonder how to make a building energy-efficient? Well, look no further than this snappy infographic from Spaceway. Learn how our modern buildings are still losing energy, and what you can do to prevent the waste. Start with the lights, and assess everything from flooring to furniture to water usage. The infographic also highlights several great examples of energy-efficient buildings around the world…

How Energy Efficient Buildings Work Infographic (more…)