Dec 302013
 

Light Bulb Question Mark Green Where Did the Phrase Go Green Come From?

“Going green” has come to symbolize environmentalism in such a familiar way that most of us don’t think twice about who first coined the phrase.

I was curious about the origin of the term and wondered what made it take such strong hold in the English language. Speaking of curiosities, remember Heinz’s food flop several years ago when they decided to go green (literally) with ketchup? Glad that didn’t take hold.

Most people associate the beginning of the green movement and environmentalism with the publication of Silent Spring by Rachel Carson in the 1970′s.

Surprisingly, it dates back even further, to Henry David Thoreau’s writings in the 19th century. Thoreau spoke about living a “green” life in The Maine Woods in his call for conservation, forest preservation and respect for nature. You are probably familiar with several of Thoreau’s famous inspirational quotes (i.e., “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams,” or “What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us”). His greener remarks include:

What is the use of a house if you don’t have a decent planet to put it on?

This one’s my favorite (Thoreau, you were a funny guy!):

Beware of all enterprises that require a new set of clothes.

Did you have any idea the U.S. “green movement” was rooted in early American philosophy?

 

 Posted by on December 30, 2013 at 10:01 am
Sep 252013
 

LED Light Bars Showcase 300x219 How To Buy LED Light Bulbs (When Youre Used To Fluorescent)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. Continue reading »
 Posted by on September 25, 2013 at 3:32 pm
Sep 092013
 

Stock Photo CFL How Do Fluorescent Light Bulbs Work?We’re diving deep to teach you how different light sources produce light. This information can help you when you’re choosing lights for a new lighting project or maintaining the lights you already have. If you’ve ever tried researching this information, you know it can get overwhelming and complicated. So, I’m going to simplify it for you. In this post we’re covering fluorescent light bulbs

Fluorescent light bulbs come in a range of shapes and sizes like linear, circline, and the ever-popular swirl of the compact fluorescent.

Though the various kinds of fluorescent light bulbs look very different, the way they function is fundamentally the same.

Fluorescent light bulbs contain the following:

  • Mercury vapor
  • Electrodes, wired to an electrical circuit
  • A glass envelope with a white phosphor coating on the inside

Pretty simple, right? Now let’s look at how these elements work together to make light: 

1. When you turn on the lamp, electrical current flows through the electrodes. Electrons pass back and forth in the tube.

2. The electrons excite the mercury vapor in the tube, bumping the atoms’ electrons to higher levels. This causes the mercury to emit UV photons, or UV light, invisible to the human eye.

3. The phosphor coating converts UV light into visible light. This happens when a UV photon collides with a phosphor atom, bumping one of the phosphor electrons to a higher energy level, and heating up the atom. When the electron falls back to its normal level, it releases energy as a visible photon – the light you see.

Continue reading »

 Posted by on September 9, 2013 at 2:24 pm
Jul 312013
 

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.  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 »

May 062013
 

Kozzi chinese fortune cookie 441x294 300x200 The Difference Between LEDs and CFLs: The Future
This is the concluding post in a series exploring the differences between LEDs and CFLs. To read the entire series, click here.

We’ve spent the last several weeks figuring out all the ways LEDs and CFLs are different. We’ve learned practical facts about each light source, like LEDs have longer rated lives, CFLs contain mercury, LEDs are more durable, and CFLs emit omnidirectional light (to name a few). All this makes for an excellent understanding of the current state of lighting technology.

Today, LEDs and CFLs are still rivals on the market. But will it always be like this?

The development and improvement of LED technology is still taking place, while the CFL’s technological development has reached an endpoint. It’s really thanks to LEDs that we’re in the midst of a very dynamic lighting revolution.

Since CFLs are already completely developed as a viable lighting technology, many lighting specialists think of them as the bridge between old incandescent lights and innovative LED lights. They’re an effective, efficient bridge, but a bridge nonetheless. We don’t expect CFLs to be popular forever. Continue reading »

May 032013
 

Kozzi mid section of a person with hard hat and tool belt 312x416 224x300 The Difference Between LEDs and CFLs: Durability
Do you know what makes an LED different from a CFL? In this blog series, we’re explaining just that!

We all know incandescent light bulbs are delicate. You break that filament, and it’s lights out (literally). It’s easy to understand why our basic incandescent lights are so fragile – we can see and understand the simple internal structure at a glance. But, when it comes to understanding the capabilities of LEDs and CFLs, the answers aren’t as straightforward. Both light sources use more complex systems to generate light, but does this make them any less breakable?

It’s time to dive a little deeper.

LEDs:

Since LEDs don’t use a filament, they can easily withstand almost any kind of jarring vibration. When you’re rough on LEDs, transporting them from place to place while in use, or keeping them in jolt-prone spots (like in and around elevators), you don’t have to worry about easily breaking or damaging them. Continue reading »

Apr 302013
 

LED Reflector Lamp The Difference Between LEDs and CFLs: Glass Envelope
If you’re deciding which light source to use for your next project, look no further! In this blog series, we’re going in-depth to explore the differences between LEDs and CFLs, so you can make the best decision. In this post, we’re talking about structure…

LEDs and CFLs are built very differently.

LED light bulbs use glass or plastic envelopes of almost any thickness. They’re built to last, even in the most demanding circumstances. CFLs, on the other hand, have a daintier construction. If you drop one, the thinner glass envelope could easily break. This can be a problem, especially because CFLs contain trace amounts of mercury that will be released when the light bulb shatters.

To prevent CFLs from cracking so easily, some manufacturers have begun encasing CFLs in silicone coatings, so even if the glass breaks the shards and mercury will stay within the silicone, not allowed to get into your environment. The CFL’s traditional spiral is covered by a more conventionally shaped envelope like this: Continue reading »

Apr 192013
 

Kozzi dark sunglasses 441x294 300x200 The Difference Between LEDs and CFLs: Infrared and UV Radiation
We won’t rest until we’ve explored every way LEDs and CFLs differ! This post is part of a series doing just that. So far we’ve covered everything from the basics, like rated-life and energy-efficiency to more complex topics, like how each source performs in cold temperatures. Click here to explore the entire series.

Radiation. We’re talking about lights here, so the topic was bound to come up sooner or later.

Infrared Radiation (IR)

First of all, it’s a myth that LEDs don’t generate heat. All light sources generate some heat, and LEDs are no exception. Excessive heat can damage an LED or lessen its rated life – so it’s essential that LEDs have well designed “heat sinks” to dissipate the heat generated in the rear of the LED.

This myth may have originated from the very true fact that LEDs don’t emit infrared radiation in the same direction as the emitted light, unlike other light sources.

A CFL, on the other hand, does emit IR and can get very hot to the touch. Continue reading »

Apr 162013
 

Directional LED Display Light 198x300 The Difference Between LEDs and CFLs: Directionality
This post is part of a series exploring how LEDs and CFLs differ. Click here to browse the entire series.

LEDs and CFLs aren’t always suited for the same applications, because they emit light differently. LEDs are made to emit light in one general direction, while CFLs are omnidirectional, emitting light in all directions, just like incandescent light bulbs.

The LED’s directional light beam is very convenient for many applications because there’s little to no wasted light emitted away from the area you want to illuminate. However, this can get problematic when you replace an omnidirectional light source with a directional LED.

Directional LEDs are perfect for task lighting, display lighting, focused accent lighting, and even for use in recessed cans. Omnidirectional CFLs will work better for decorative lights, like table lamps, chandeliers, and ceiling fans, when you need even light coming from all sides of the light bulb.  Continue reading »