Jan 092013
 

Light Bulb Question Mark 300x300 Myth: LEDs Dont Save Power
This post is the first in a series on popular myths about LEDs. As with any new technology, it can be almost impossible to discern what’s actually true over all the hype. We’re here to help you see the light. 

LEDs Are Not Efficient.

Perhaps you’ve heard through the grapevine somehow that LEDs don’t actually save energy. They’re no better than CFLs or regular old incandescent light bulbs. I’m addressing this myth first, because it’s one of the easiest to disprove.

It’s a simple fact, LEDs consume less energy and emit more light than older light sources. A 12 watt LED A19 light bulb shines just as brightly as a 60 watt incandescent, but uses 48 fewer watts of electricity. This has to do with the construction of the light emitting diodes, which don’t give off nearly as much energy in the form of heat. Traditional filament lamps lose most of their energy this way.

An LED light bulb generally consumes less than half as much energy as a CFL, and only 10-20% of the energy used to power an incandescent light bulb.

LEDs Are Amazing.

As you’re probably gathering, this myth that LEDs aren’t any more efficient than other light sources, couldn’t be further from the truth. Experts even predict LEDs will become more efficient in the next few years. Like computers, TVs, and mp3 players, LEDs are made with chips. These chips have historically gone down in price and improved in performance steadily over time. Just like CRT TVs have been replaced with HD Flat Screens, and iPods continue to shrink, we have good things to look forward to with LEDs. Continue reading »

 Posted by on January 9, 2013 at 12:03 pm
Dec 262012
 

Diverse and impressive changes have been taking place in the lighting world this month. Read on to discover the fun and innovation!

In Lighting News…

Across the web, there was a consensus that LED holiday lights were the thing to have for the holidays. Not only are they energy-efficient, long lasting, and durable, they can also be interactive. We’ve seen families across the country creating holiday feats – dancing light shows to hundreds of different songs, and even games for visitors to play. For a balanced review of new LED string lights, check out this article from Apartment Therapy.

Holiday Light Pegasus Lighting Roundup: Ch Ch Ch Ch Changes

Speaking of switching to LEDs, NASA is swapping out all of the light bulbs on the International Space Station to help alleviate astronauts’ insomnia. They’re planning to use specially diffused LEDs, which can filter light into different hues. They’d provide blue light to help astronauts wake up in the morning, white light during work hours, and reddish light to soothe them to sleep. To read more on the science of the switch, check out this article from Gizmodo.

A recent article on Forbes.com declared that LEDs have finally “arrived.” In other words, they’re a mature, viable product, widely available, good-looking, and economically attractive. Continue reading »

 Posted by on December 26, 2012 at 1:25 pm
Dec 172012
 

Fluorescent Lamp T8 LED T8 Replacement Lamps: Are They Worth It?
Looking back at 2012, LED lights have made huge leaps. They’ve leaped from small-scale applications to adorn the tops of our most iconic skyscrapers. They’ve hopped into the light sockets of our homes and buildings, and LED lighting control apps have sprung up on our smartphones. Even the prices of LEDs have started “jumping” down.

But, not every LED application is perfect, or even advisable. Many of us still have questions.

For instance – what’s the deal with LED replacements for T8 lamps?

That’s a topic even we haven’t heard much about, so we leaped at the chance to ask Dr. Jack Curran of LED Transformations about it, after a few of us attended a webinar he hosted about LEDs:

Q: Have you found any LED T8 lamps that are good replacements for fluorescent T8 lamps? If not, do you see them ever becoming a viable substitute for the fluorescent version?

A: According to Dr. Curran, the quality of LED T8 replacements isn’t the problem. There are good quality lamps out there, and there’s also junk (like just about every other light and light fixture around). The issue of LED T8s is more complicated. Dr. Curran explained it in 3 parts: Continue reading »

 Posted by on December 17, 2012 at 11:17 am
Nov 292012
 

Light Emitting Diodes 300x198 The Power of Silicon Comes to LEDs
Silicon is amazing. We’ve all seen what those tiny silicon chips have done for computers in the past few decades – they’ve gone from mysterious machines to ubiquitous household objects capable of the stuff of dreams. Now, Bill Watkins, CEO of Bridgelux proposes silicon is about to do the same for LEDs.

Where Silicon Can Take Us

Silicon could revolutionize the solid-state lighting (SSL) industry. It has the potential to make light sources like LEDs faster, cheaper, and more functional.

Current SSL lights like LEDs have already come leaps and bounds ahead of older light sources like fragile incandescent lights, but with silicon, we could see them overcome the light socket completely, and become embedded in stairs, cabinets, and other household fixtures. They could also have added features like motion sensors or color changing abilities, so you can easily alter your home’s mood at will.

SSL Today

So technically speaking, why is silicon so great? Well, since the ‘60s, silicon has dominated high technology. It allows innovators many advantages in creating new digital products because it’s cheap to make, and holds structure well. You can shrink things like transistors without destroying their functionality with silicon.

Currently, light emitting diodes (the semiconductors that generate light inside SSL light bulbs and fixtures) are a rare digital technology that doesn’t rely on silicon. Continue reading »

 Posted by on November 29, 2012 at 12:16 pm
Nov 132012
 
CuteCircuit Aurora Dress 300x199 LEDs Bring a New Edge to Fashion Design

Image via CuteCircuit.com

Most of us who were around in the ‘90s remember those light-up sneakers that every kid just had to have. With their flashing red lights, blinking with every step, those shoes seemed like the epitome of cool.

Today, light-up clothing is not just a nostalgic remnant of childhood – it’s at the forefront of innovative design. With new LED technology, light-up clothes can reach new levels of constructional and aesthetic sophistication.

Enter CuteCircuit, a fashion tech company created by Francesca Rosella and Ryan Genz. CuteCircuit first came to my attention when Katy Perry wore one of their light up dresses to the Met Gala in 2010. Continue reading »

 Posted by on November 13, 2012 at 12:51 pm
Nov 072012
 

A long, long time ago, in 1932 to be exact, a tradition began. A simple searchlight atop the Empire State Building announced the election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt as President.

If you watched last night’s election results (or were conveniently somewhere in NYC) you probably saw that iconic building at it again. Last night’s exhibition marked the Empire State Building’s first use of its new custom LED panel technology.

CNN joined forces with the building to project a running tally atop the spire, presenting real-time election results with a brilliant display of colored light. The lights were visible from miles around, and broadcast worldwide to CNN’s viewers.

In case you didn’t see it last night, the lights worked like this: The four sided tower atop the building was lit in patriotic red, white, and blue stripes. The mast functioned as a meter with two blue sides, and two red to represent President Obama and Gov. Romney’s respective electoral votes. As each state was projected by CNN, and electoral votes were allocated to each candidate, the meter displayed a running tally.

EmpireStateBuildingElectionNewYork Election Results Displayed in LED

Image via CNN.com

Continue reading »

 Posted by on November 7, 2012 at 9:52 am
Oct 102012
 

LED Dimmable Reliable LEDs: Fact or Fiction?
50 years ago yesterday, Nick Holonyak Jr. demonstrated the first LED to General Electric suits. Back then, while the only existing LED emitted crimson infrared light, Holonyak predicted his invention would replace standard household incandescent light bulbs. Today LED manufacturers haven’t stopped being idealistic.

Since LEDs have only been around for half a century, the 20, 25, 30 year expiration dates on the brand new technology might be difficult to believe. Honestly, LEDs have barely been around long enough to find a niche in the market, let alone undergo 20, 25, 30 years of definitive testing. The claims and the benefits of LEDs are impressive, but how can we make sure they’re not a farce?

Enter the U.S. Department of Energy and their new Lighting Facts program, created to help you navigate the teeming sea of new lighting technology. The program addressed this issue of LED luminaire depreciation in depth, to help people like you and me know what we’re getting into.

How do manufacturers come up with these numbers?

Instead of traditional testing, where a large sample of lamps are operated until 50% burn out, developers must determine an LED’s rated life a different way. Since the LED doesn’t burn out, but dims gradually, the rated life comes from the estimated lumen depreciation, not accounting for other causes of decline.

What causes LED failure?

Other factors besides age that might increase the rate of gradual dimming include:

  • Exposure to extreme temperatures
  • Contact with moisture and humidity
  • Voltage and current fluctuations
  • Driver or other electrical component failure
  • Damage to material encapsulating the LEDs
  • Damage to any wire bonds connecting the LED to the fixture
  • Degradation of phosphors

Since very few of us live in sterile, mellow, laboratory-like houses, the entire light bulb’s rated life will not live up to the life span of its LED. Continue reading »

 Posted by on October 10, 2012 at 11:13 am
Oct 092012
 

LIFX Control 281x300 A New Kind of LED: Reinvented With Smartphones in Mind

Photo via Kickstarter.com


Remember when clap-on, clap-off lights came out? It was the coolest thing to control the lights without leaving your seat. Well, what if you could control your lights to turn on and off, dim, change colors, and even respond to the beat of your iTunes library, all from the comfort of your favorite easy chair? That would take a lot of clapping.

Phil Bosua, creator of the LIFX smartbulb has decided to spare you the obligation (but not the desire) to thunderously applaud, allowing you to control his revolutionary lamp with your smartphone.

“It’s not like we get up to change the TV channel anymore,” said Bosua, “So why do that with our lights?”

The LIFX smartbulb is a self-contained LED light bulb, so all you need to do to utilize its numerous abilities is screw it into your light socket, and download the free app from iTunes or Google Play.

Installing the LIFX A New Kind of LED: Reinvented With Smartphones in Mind

Photo via Kickstarter.com

Bosua didn’t design this light with merely lethargy in mind – its technological advancements also have the potential to improve your wellbeing. Here are a few things you can do with the LIFX: Continue reading »

 Posted by on October 9, 2012 at 11:02 am
Sep 282012
 

Since the advent of the incandescent (and even before), quality of light has been on the tip of everyone’s tongue. Regrettably, that quality has mostly been unfortunate. When incandescent lights were the only choice, the early 20th century population complained about the glare and the possible dangers of electricity.

Case in point: on an episode of Downton Abbey (Masterpiece’s smash hit about an elite family living on an estate in the early 1900’s), the prim and hilarious Dowager Countess laments the new electric lamps:

“Such a glare! I couldn’t have electricity in the house – I wouldn’t sleep a wink. All those vapors seeping about. Feels as if  I were on stage at the Gaiety.”     

Downton Abbey 1024x576 The Quest for Quality Light

The Countess shielding herself from the electric lights. Courtesy of Downton Abbey.

Not only were people of the time dissatisfied with the brightness of the lights, they also were afraid electricity was going to leap out of the walls and plug points and infect them!

Even when fluorescent and mercury vapor lights came along in the 1930s, their blue-green hues and poor color rendering indexes made them sorry alternatives. The people were left to compare the poor quality of gas-discharge lamps vs. the poor quality of phosphor-generated lights vs. the incandescent lights they had learned to live with.

Finally, according to the LIGHTimes Online, quality of light may be gaining a positive spin thanks to LEDs. Yes, like many of the lights before them, LEDs have provided their share of poor quality with cheaply manufactured lamps that claimed way more than they actually could deliver. But now, all the major LED manufacturers have incorporated quality of light into their daily vocabulary. Continue reading »

 Posted by on September 28, 2012 at 12:27 pm
Sep 112012
 

First, there was Romeo and Juliet. Then, there was Jack and Rose. Now, there’s the LED and the dimmer, and unlike the tragic couples preceding them, these two actually have a happy ending…

LED + Dimmer LEDs & Dimmers: From Star Crossed To Power Couple

It all started not too long ago.

First there was the irresistible dimmer switch, ready to help people save some money on their energy bills and make houses look nice. It was a simpler, easier time – every incandescent and halogen light bulb in the land quickly succumbed to the dimmer’s charms, and life was pleasant.

Then, along came a beautiful, exotic, energy-saving LED light bulb, and our usually smooth, collected dimmer just couldn’t handle it. The dimmer and the LED tried to make it work together, but they drove each other crazy. Unlike the elementary filament lamps, the LED’s outlandish yet attractive electronic construction baffled the dimmer so it couldn’t function properly, and the dimmer’s ill-informed advances cause the LED only pain and suffering (aka malfunction).

Strange, destructive things began to happen. Sometimes the LED would turn off before the dimmer reached its lowest setting (a syndrome we now know as “drop-out”). Other times, the LED wouldn’t turn on until the dimmer’s slider moved up (a syndrome we now know as “pop-on”). If that wasn’t bad enough, the toxic relationship reached the point where the LED would flicker, change colors (usually from warm white to cool white), and just refuse to light up. The dimmer couldn’t protect the LED from possibly damaging current spikes, and the stress of the whole situation even reduced the LED’s rated life!

Continue reading »

 Posted by on September 11, 2012 at 11:33 am

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