Nov 112013
 

Exploding Light Bulb

Today kicks off National Recycling Week, so we thought we’d celebrate by publishing a handy guide on how to recycle your old bulbs. Recycling can be a bit tedious, especially since light bulbs have to be sorted even more carefully than glass bottles. But the more you know ahead of time the easier it will be, and you can make a serious difference just by correctly recycling your old lamps! Here is the proper way to recycle light bulbs based on the type of lamp.

Fluorescent/CFL Bulbs

Fluorescent bulbs are tricky to dispose of because they contain a small amount of mercury, so you can’t just throw them in the trash. Doing so could lead to broken bulbs, which could put people who come in contact with it – namely, waste management workers – at risk for mercury poisoning.  The good news is that there are a TON of ways to recycle your CFLs. Many hardware and retail stores, including Ace Hardware, Home Depot and IKEA, offer CFL recycling drop-offs at their locations. Use this helpful tool to find the closest recycling location to you!

Here are some more resources on recycling fluorescent lamps:

Incandescents

These old fashioned power-suckers are not very kind to your energy bill or the environment, since they waste a lot of electricity and cannot be recycled. One more reason to upgrade to something better once your bulb burns out. Some places that recycle CFL bulbs may take your incandescents, but since there are no recycling programs for regular light bulbs they will most likely just throw them out.

The best way to safely dispose of incandescent bulbs is to wrap them up in newspaper and/or in the original packaging before placing them in your normal trash. This will help protect the people handling your trash (including you!) from risk of injury from broken glass.

Although incandescent lamps can’t be recycled into new lamps, there are a number of ways to up-cycle them yourself. Check out these creative ideas for using old burnt out bulbs in craft projects!

Halogen & LEDs

Halogen lamps are a type of incandescent, so the same restrictions apply to them. They can’t be recycled, so you can carefully dispose of them in your regular trash. Be sure to wrap them up so they won’t shatter! You can also try reusing them just like incandescents in various up-cycle craft projects.

Likewise, LED bulbs take a pretty long time to wear out, but eventually they will need to be replaced. LEDs don’t have mercury in them so they are safe to dispose in the normal trash, but depending on what your lamp looks like it might be great for crafts too! Anyone have a creative idea for LED recycling?

Holiday Lights

Tis the season to recycle! Did you know there are several recycling programs dedicated to recycling old or broken holiday lights? Several states have their own recycling programs, so do a Google search for “holiday light recycling in [your state]” to see what is available to you locally. If your state doesn’t offer holiday recycling, there are a few stores that may recycle holiday lights like Home Depot and certain online retailers. Here is a great resource for locating recycling programs near you, or mail-in options if there isn’t much local to your home.

Have any cool ideas to share about bulb recycling? Let us know in the comments!

Nov 072013
 

We wrote an article a few years ago about “li-fi,” an up-and-coming technology that uses light bulbs to transmit a wireless signal. This technology has come a long way since then, and today it’s one of the craziest (and coolest) innovations in the lighting industry! Scientists across the globe (primarily in the UK and China) have been developing this lighting-based data transmission, which could revolutionize the way we connect to the internet.

LED Light Bulb

Conventional wi-fi is emitted using mirowaves or radio frequencies. The great conundrum of physics is that light travels both in particles and waves, a property which also makes it compatible with wavelength data transmission. Although li-fi has been in development for some years now, the most notable recent accomplishment belongs to Chinese professor Chi Nan, who managed to construct a DIY lighting-based data transmitter from basic retail components. Continue reading »

Oct 092013
 

LEDs are at the forefront of light industry discussion because they are such a gamechanger when it comes to energy efficiency and lifespan. But how do recent developments to LED technology affect the everyday consumer? What’s the simplest way to navigate this uncharted territory when shopping for LED light bulbs? The very recent availability of an LED replacement for the common household incandescent lamp has created a world of new potential, and along with it a whole new set of standards. In this post, we will be discussing the various ways to distinguish between the different LED options.

Watts vs. Lumens

image via lumennow.org

1. Light Output

Incandescent lamps have always been measured in watts, because for a really long time people equated the electricity it took to light a bulb with the luminosity it created. So “60 watts” came to mean “the brightness of a 60-watt incandescent lamp,” even though luminosity is measured in lumens, not watts.

With the introduction of more energy efficient lighting, however, this standard doesn’t work. It takes significantly less wattage to produce the same amount of light in an LED or fluorescent lamp, so it’s important for consumers to understand the luminosity of a bulb rather than simply its wattage.

Luminosity, or lamp brightness, is measured in lumens. The chart to the right demonstrates the amount of lumens a standard incandescent light bulb produces, so if you’re used to watts you can easily figure out what lumen count you want in your new LED bulb.

An LED lamp’s packaging or product description might mention how comparable its lumens are to the light output of a 60-, 75- or 100-watt incandescent bulb, but it’s wise to know ahead of time what luminosity you want just in case the incandescent watt-equivalent is not included.

Takeaway: Lumens are how the brightness of an LED light bulb is measured. You’ll choose your bulb based on how bright you want the light to shine, not by how much energy it will be using.

Continue reading »

Sep 252013
 

LED Light Bars ShowcaseFluorescent 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 LightingIn 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 LightWith 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 BulbsThere’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
Sep 092013
 

Stock-Photo-CFLWe’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 152013
 

FloodlightsRecently, I’ve gotten a few questions from customers about floodlights and spotlights:

What’s the difference between a spotlight and a floodlight?

What kind of beam spread do I need for my lighting project?

How can I know how wide my light bulb’s beam will be from a certain distance away?

I thought these questions would make a perfect topic for today’s blog post.

First, let’s cover the basics:

A spotlight casts a narrow beam of light, usually no wider than 45 degrees. This beam is more concentrated and easier to point and control.

A floodlight can have a beam spread of up to 120 degrees. It can illuminate a larger amount of space with the same wattage and lumen output as a spotlight.

Using spotlights and floodlights:

When highlighting specific points like display objects, wall artwork, architectural details, or landscape features, use a spotlight. Continue reading »

Mar 222013
 

Whether you’re planning for a retail display, or remodeling the recessed lights in your kitchen, you need to know how to determine your light bulb’s beam width.

When it comes to reflector lamps (Rs, MRs, ERs, BRs, and PARs), you can choose between spotlights and floodlights. Spot beams are less than 45 degrees wide, and flood beams can be up to 120 degrees wide. This infographic will tell you how to use each kind of light bulb. You’ll also learn how to find the width of a light beam from any given distance away.


Continue reading »

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