Losing Sleep? (Some) Indoor Lighting May Be To Blame

Artificial 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.

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Update on the Rare Earth Element Situation

According 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.

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Enhancing Lives with Light: Philips’ Partnership with Perkins School for the Blind

An 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.

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In-The-Know About January 1, 2012

There 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!

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Thinking Smart About Energy

Last 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. (more…)

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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. (more…)

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“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. (more…)

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Powering Lighting with Footsteps? It’s Possible.

One footstep produces enough electricity to keep an LED-powered street lamp lit for 30 seconds.

A new technology developed by an engineering student harvests the energy of a single footstep – and delivers a source of incredibly sustainable electricity.

They’re called “PaveGen” pavement slabs, and they are being installed right now at the 2012 London Olympic site.

Adding just twenty titles between the central crossing of the Olympic stadium and the Westfield Stratford City Mall “should be enough … to power about half (the mall’s) outdoor lighting needs,” said the 25-year-old who developed the prototype, Laurence Kemball-Cook.

Kemball-Cook came up with the concept in 2009 while he was in his final year of school. This will be the first commercial application for “PaveGen” slabs. (more…)

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80% of Architects, Designers Dubious About Sustainability…

… Sustainability claims from manufacturers, that is.

A new research study indicates that although the number of environmentally-friendly projects for architects & interior designers is growing, professionals are questioning whether products that claim to be “green” actually live up to the name.

812 architects and designers took part in the survey, sponsored by home & building marketing agency IMRE in conjunction with the AIA (American Institute of Architects) and ASID (American Society of Interior Designers).

Architects, designers, and professionals reading: Weigh in. Is this consistent with your feelings about “sustainable” products from manufacturers? Do you think this is a problem in today’s remodeling and construction industries?

To speak for the lighting industry, this has become a real problem with LED lighting. The market is still maturing for LEDs, and there are a number of products out there that are poorly designed. Sure, they are energy efficient – but energy efficiency carries less weight when a product meant to replace an incandescent, xenon, halogen, or fluorescent light bulb is a fraction as bright as you are accustomed to.

Take caution when selecting LEDs. This issue is one of the reasons we are so careful about ensuring the quality of products we put on the Pegasus Lighting website!

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World Landmarks Turn Pink for Breast Cancer

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and hundreds of buildings across the country will be lighted pink to show it.

It’s all part of Estee Lauder Companies’ Breast Cancer Awareness (BCA) Campaign. Estee Lauder is partnering with Philips to light landmark buildings with pink LEDs.

The BCA Campaign is celebrating its 12th year. Last year, the campaign set the Guinness World Record for “Most Landmarks Illuminated for a Cause in 24 Hours.”

John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York will go pink, along with the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago, the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, and other notable buildings spanning from New York to California.

Worldwide, the campaign will launch in Belgium, Dubai, France, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, Poland, and the United Kingdom.

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