Dec 212011

stop sign Has Congress Put the Stop Sign on Incandescent Legislation?

Julie Muhlstein, a reporter for Washington’s The Herald, described the recent developments with the incandescent lighting legislation well: Political football.

Whether you think incandescent lighting should be phased out for inefficiency or you believe light bulbs are none of the U.S. government’s concern, you’ll agree that the aftermath of EISA 2007 has been heated.

First, a repeal bill called the Better Use of Bulbs Act attempted to eliminate the efficiency standards set to begin in 2012 altogether. The BULB Act did not pass, but it gathered support from a large group of people vehemently opposed to lighting legislation. In response, the Department of Energy launched a nationwide advertising campaign touting the benefits of efficient light bulbs. One of the ads depicted a couple throwing valuable items (a TV, a bike, an electric guitar, etc.) off the side of a cliff. The DOE drew a parallel to throwing away money on wasted electricity.

The final play in this game was last week’s bill that denied funding to implement the efficiency standards. Technically, come January 1, the  traditional 100-watt incandescent light bulb may no longer be manufactured or imported in the U.S. because it does not meet the efficiency standards put in place by EISA 2007.

However, the Department of Energy cannot enforce that law, as enforcement funding has been denied for the next nine months.

See what I mean? Political football. What do you think about the recent developments with EISA 2007?

Dec 152011

University of Oregon Dropping $98,000 A Year ...… From energy bills, that is. That’s how much the University of Oregon expects to save per year after their lighting retrofit, which is scheduled for early 2012.

Crews will replace 33,000 T12 fluorescent tubes on campus with more efficient T8 fluorescent tubes. The $681,000 project will be subsidized by the Eugene Water & Electric Board, and engineers expect the lights to pay for themselves in energy savings in three years time.

With budget cuts in state universities across the U.S., it’s an exciting opportunity for the University of Oregon to drastically reduce spending on energy and allocate those funds elsewhere.

The campus is also installing new lighting controls and occupancy sensors.

 Posted by on December 15, 2011 at 3:12 pm
Dec 072011

… For incredible holiday lights. Have you seen any captivating displays in your town? My hometown of Clemmons, NC hosts the popular Tanglewood Festival of Lights every year (see a YouTube video here) Here are some displays across the U.S. that will take your breath away:

christmas atlanta Tis The Season...

The Atlanta Botanical Garden features 200 color-changing topiary forms that synchronize with holiday music.

Continue reading »

 Posted by on December 7, 2011 at 10:31 am
Dec 052011

insomnia Losing Sleep? (Some) Indoor Lighting May Be To BlameArtificial indoor lighting has been around for quite some time, but it seems that our biological clocks haven’t quite caught up yet. A new study at the Surrey Sleep Research Centre revealed tactics for minimizing the sleep deprivation caused by exposure to artificial indoor light in evening hours.

You didn’t read that incorrectly: Multiple studies have shown keeping the lights on after the sun goes down has a significant effect on sleep patterns. The hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle is called melatonin, and it is suppressed when we are exposed to artificial indoor light before bedtime.

The study at the University of Surrey attempted to determine if a particular type of lighting might allow melatonin to work naturally. It seems that a blue-sensitive photoreceptor targets the biological clock, so lighting on the yellow end of the color spectrum (with minimal blue content) minimizes the effect on biological rhythms. In addition, dimming the lights helps to increase melatonin production.

If you want to take this research to heart, invest in a dimmer or two to lower the light levels a couple of hours before you head for bed. As far as the blue-sensitive photoreceptor, look for lighting with a color temperature around 2800-3200K  for a “warm” look that won’t interfere with your zzz’s.

 Posted by on December 5, 2011 at 11:07 am
Dec 022011

embrace lumens Update on the Rare Earth Element SituationAccording to The New York Times, supply is finally beginning to catch up with demand in the rare earth element market.

A few months ago, I posted about the Chinese government’s export restrictions on rare earth elements. The bad news for the lighting industry was that China’s nationwide production cap was causing the price of fluorescent light bulbs to rapidly increase. (Rare earth elements are a crucial component to the process of creating a fluorescent light bulb).

However, it seems that international prices for rare earth elements have fallen since August and are continuing to decline! The timeline for the impact on the lighting industry is unclear at this point. For more information, read this article.

 Posted by on December 2, 2011 at 9:50 am
Nov 222011

light guide panel Enhancing Lives with Light: Philips Partnership with Perkins School for the BlindAn inspiring story from Philips Lighting reveals the difference light can make in a child’s life.

Partnering with Perkins School for the Blind in MA, Philips has developed a device that will enable blind and low-vision students to track and engage with light. The “Light Guide Panel” can be programmed in a number of ways, and developers hope it will help children learn how to read, walk, and interact with their environment.

The video explaining the background of the product and its potential impact is worth watching.

 Posted by on November 22, 2011 at 11:38 am
Nov 172011

question In The Know About January 1, 2012There has been a lot of coverage on this blog about the upcoming incandescent light bulb phaseout. Back in January, I wrote a post titled Are You One of the 36%?, pointing out that only 36% of Americans were aware of the upcoming phaseout. A whopping 64% had heard nothing about the legislation, and 80% did not know that traditional 100-watt light bulbs would no longer be available after January 1, 2012.

The Department of Energy has been hard at work spreading the word, and so have lighting manufacturers and retailers like us.

Well, a new poll from Osram Sylvania found that those efforts have paid off! A majority of Americans (55%) are now aware of the federal legislation.

However, according to the poll, most Americans are still hazy on the details.

Do you feel comfortable about the upcoming changes? Do you have questions? Ask away!

Nov 152011

brain bulb Thinking Smart About EnergyLast week, the Washington Post brought together businessmen and women, government officials, lobbyists and advocates from across the country to discuss the future of energy consumption. The conversations ranged from automobiles to government regulations to business opportunities and covered everything in between. The Washington Post published several excerpts from the Smart Energy conference. My two favorite quotes are below:

You may want a more brilliant world; it doesn’t mean we need to consume more power to do it. If we do it smartly, we can actually consume a bit less and live a life that everyone likes regardless of what their taste is.  – Fred Maxik, Founder and CTO of Lighting Science Group

Maxik then went on to discuss microprocessors inside light bulbs that will communicate with you in terms of dimming and color control.  He explained that lighting is undergoing an amazing transition. “It could be a light bulb that’s just so smart that it detects sunlight coming through the window [and] starts dimming until you get the light that you desire,” he said. Continue reading »

 Posted by on November 15, 2011 at 9:44 am
Nov 042011

laser process 300x199 Are Laser Light Bulbs in Our Future?What do you get when you combine red, blue, green, and yellow diode lasers?

Apparently, pretty fantastic-looking warm white light. Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories recently produced a white light made from lasers and tested it out on a bowl of fruit. The results were incredibly surprising.

Lighting experts have assumed in the past that diode lasers would be a poor source for creating white light. Lasers emit single, narrow wavelengths (very different from the sun’s broad spectral bands). Researcher Jeff Tsao explained,

Before these tests, our research in this direction was stopped before it could get started. The typical response was, ‘Are you kidding? The color rendering quality of white light produced by diode lasers would be terrible.’ So finally it seemed like, in order to go further, one really had to answer this very basic question first. Continue reading »

 Posted by on November 4, 2011 at 10:00 am
Oct 252011
bioluminscent dragonfish Did You Know... (Three Crazy Facts About Light)

Bioluminscent deep-sea creature

It’s always fun to learn new facts about everyday phenomenons. Today’s post brings you three little-known truths about light. Enjoy!

Ever heard of bioluminescence? It’s the process by which deep-sea creatures emit light. In the deepest part of the ocean, the sun cannot penetrate through the water, and there’s no detectable light source. Between 80 and 90 percent of deep-sea creatures are bioluminescent. If that isn’t cool enough, consider this: Humans are bioluminescent, too. It’s not visible to the human eye, of course, but the human body does emit light from within. It was captured on camera by Japanese researchers in 2009, and the report stated that “the human body literally glimmers.” Follow that link for photos.

This is more related to color than light, but it’s all about the visual spectrum. There may be “impossible,” or “imaginary” colors that don’t exist in the physical world, but that you can potentially trick your brain into seeing. Sounds far-fetched? The basic concept is that your eyes use “opponent channels” to process light – red vs. green, blue vs. yellow, and black vs. white. When you stare at a red object, your light receptor for green is inhibited while the one for red is excited.

Therefore, it’s impossible to see an object that is equal parts red and green at the same time – unless you conduct a special experiment. In 1983, scientists did just that, and the test subjects (one of which was an artist) said they viewed a new, reddish-green color they had never seen before. More info on that (and a similar test you can try at home!) here. Continue reading »

 Posted by on October 25, 2011 at 11:06 am

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