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 232013
 

LEd Bedroom Lighting 300x300 Buying LED Light Bulbs (When Youre Used To Xenon)In this post, we’re going to cover how LEDs can replace xenon lights.

Xenon light bulbs are a kind of incandescent lights. If you’re not a dedicated lighting nerd (like yours truly), you’ve probably heard of xenon in reference to car headlights – but they’re also great to use around your living space. They’re great as under cabinet lighting, puck lights, light strips, night lights, and more.

What makes a xenon light bulb different from a regular filament lamp is the small amount of xenon gas inside the glass envelope. The gas helps prolong the life of the light bulb, and makes it more efficient – producing more light with less energy.

Xenon lights also have the upper hand on halogen lights (another type of gas-filled incandescent) in a few different ways. They produce much less heat than halogens, and aren’t as sensitive. You don’t have to worry about touching them with your bare hands – the oils from your skin won’t cause them to fail prematurely.

So overall, xenon lights are pretty great. But they could be better.

While xenon lights are more efficient, longer lasting, more durable, and cooler than halogen and regular incandescent light bulbs, they still don’t beat LEDs. If you want to use lights with the longest rated life, that use the least energy, that are the most durable, and the least hot, it’s time to transition.

You’re probably thinking – what about looks? Sure, an LED looks better on paper, but what if it’s illuminating your counter tops? Xenon lights are notoriously good looking, so you need an LED that can measure up. Continue reading »

 Posted by on September 23, 2013 at 1:08 pm
Sep 202013
 

LED Picture light 300x300 Buying LED Light Bulbs (When Youre Used To Halogen)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:

Halogen Pros:

  • 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: Continue reading »

 Posted by on September 20, 2013 at 11:30 am
Sep 172013
 

LED Light Bulbs Buying LED Light Bulbs (When Youre Used To Incandescent)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.  Continue reading »

 Posted by on September 17, 2013 at 2:53 pm
Aug 022013
 

bigstock LED 257x300 How Do LEDs Work?These days, LEDs are everywhere. With their impressive energy efficiency, extra long rated lives, and extraordinary versatility, they’re the lighting world’s new champion.

While it’s pretty easy to figure out what these lights can do, it’s harder to learn how they do it. If you’ve been wondering how exactly LEDs pull it off, just sit back and let this post “illuminate” you.

If you take a look at a single light emitting diode, you’ll notice that it resembles a tiny light bulb. BUT the similarities stop there. LEDs don’t have filaments like regular incandescent lights. Electrons moving across a semiconductor material cause them to create light. To understand this process, you first need to understand the LED’s components:

  • A diode is the simplest kind of semiconductor, which is a material that can conduct electricity. For LED lights, the conductor material is most often aluminum-gallium-arsenide (AlGaAs).
  • To make the semiconductor more conductive, you add atoms of another material, a process called doping. These atoms charge the conductor’s balance, either adding free electrons or providing holes for them to enter.
  • A semiconductor that has extraneous electrons zipping around is called N-type material for its surplus of negatively charges particles. Electrons here proceed from negatively to positively charged materials.
  • A semiconductor full of extra holes is called P-type material. It has, in essence, extra positively charged particles. Here, electrons can hop from one hole to the next, from a negatively charged area to a positive one.
  • A diode needs both N-type and P-type material bonded together, with electrodes on either end. When you connect the N-type side to the negative end of a circuit, and the P-type side to the positive end, the electrons move towards the P-type area. The holes move in the opposite direction, away from the P-type, towards the N-type.
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

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 »

Jun 262013
 

bigstock Modern stone house in Istria 9183125 1 300x144 Are LED Outdoor Lights Bright Enough?
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. Continue reading »

Jun 212013
 

LED Track Lighting 270x300 LED Maintenance: Give Your Lights A Long And Happy Life
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: 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 »