Tag Archives: led

Updating Your Lighting and Where to Start

updating-your-lighting-and-where-to-startUpdating your lighting to LED fixtures will save energy costs. You will have lower electrical bills and the LED bulbs will last much longer than incandescent or halogen lights. LED lighting will increase the value of your home when the lights are used in permanent fixtures.

There are no filaments in LED bulbs. Light is emitted by electrons passing across a semiconductor diode with a reflector. The diodes are capped with a clear or tinted lens. LED lights give off very little heat compared to standard incandescent bulbs. LEDs usually do not contain glass or other hazardous materials.

Getting started

Take a long look at your home and analyze the following:

  • What rooms, including the kitchen, use the most lights?
  • What is the lighting cost on your electric utility bill?
  • What is your budget for replacing lights?

The first question is easy. Your kitchen and other work areas probably use the most lights. You may have halogen bulbs in the ceiling or a fluorescent light overhead. Other rooms may have overhead lights or lamps. Lamp bulbs are the easiest to replace with LED bulbs. They give off the same illumination or lumens.

Estimating the lighting cost in your utility bill is a little more difficult. Approximate the cost by the number of hours you illuminate your home multiplied by the cost per kilowatt hour. This is a vague estimate but it will help with LED versus incandescent light costs evaluation.

Comparisons

There are several charts available that compare LEDs with CFL or spiral lights and standard incandescent lights. A standard 60-watt incandescent light uses only 10 watts with a LED bulb. The CFL uses about 14 watts. The incandescent bulb will last for about 1,200 hours and the CFL is good for 10,000 hours while the LED equivalent is good for 50,000 hours.

The LED bulb will use about 500 kWh of power over 50,000 hours while the incandescent bulb will have been replaced up to 40 times and burned up 3,000 KWh of power. This gives you a general idea of the difference. Since LEDs use less power, they are ideal for solar-powered homes and fixtures, including outdoor lights.

Types of LED fixtures

LED bulbs come in all sizes and configurations. Colors are available from standard bright white to pink and yellow tones. LED fixtures, including chandeliers, work with dimmers to control the amount of light in a room.

Standard screw bulbs fit into any traditional lamp or lighting fixture. Pin sockets are also available. LEDs work great for track and recessed lighting. LEDs fit into tracks and modern task light hanging fixtures in kitchens and other work areas. Basic bright white light is good for kitchens and workplaces while softer lights may be used in living and dining rooms.

Candle flame shapes, round globes, and tube lights can be used anywhere. Modern lamps are designed exclusively for use with LED bulbs. Swimming and spa pool lights include floating battery-powered LEDsSpecial LED strip lights or ribbons fit under cabinets and on walkways for subtle illumination and safety.

Prices have lowered substantially for LED products. They are more popular than ever since they last for many years. A LED bulb with 11 watts and 1100 lumens will replace a 75-watt incandescent bulb for under $10. While it is more expensive than a standard incandescent light, the savings on energy and replacement makes it a good value.

Consider updating your home with LED lighting. This is important for the present and the future as saving energy is necessary for a sustainable lifestyle.

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Filed under Interior Design, Interior Lighting, LED Lightbulbs, led lighting, Light, Lighting, Lighting Hardware

Lighting Your House for the Holidays

lighting-your-house-for-the-holidaysThe holidays are a time when family and friends gather at each other’s homes for nights of eating, drinking and being merry. While the festivities are, of course, of central importance, it is also an ideal time to show off your house to its best advantage.

Here are a few ideas on how to accomplish this task by simply using light:

Highlight a decorated entrance –  The first step in welcoming guests into your home is by creating an inviting entrance with wreaths, garlands and lighting the whole thing with colored bulbs. Not only does it make your house stand out from the others in the neighborhood but it also makes it a whole lot easier for your guests to find. A lighted snowman or other holiday figure by the door will also add to the festive mood.

Add plenty of holiday-themed lights – The more of these decorations, the merrier is our philosophy. For those homeowners who want to add tons of color to their exterior décor, there are any number of differently colored lights that can be used. Simply accentuate a part of the exterior landscape or even create a kaleidoscopic vision on the side of your house. your imagination is the only limit.

Line the walkways with lighted candles – Similarly, a candle-lit walkway also evokes the holiday spirit. In addition, a lighted walkway will safely guide family and guests to the front door of your home.  In the backyard, they are also important as guideposts for leading guests to other holiday decorations dotted around the yard. Use solar-powered walkway lights to make the task as easy. maintenance-free and affordable as possible.

Spotlighting those special decorations – While spotlighting is a great – albeit usually subdued – lighting feature to use during the rest of the year, you can really add a dramatic holiday touch to your home by adding a few more spotlights around the property that highlight your reindeer family on the front lawn, a creche under a secluded bush or some other holiday-themed feature.

Create other focal points – If you are fortunate enough to have a front light post, it makes an excellent place to add some spiral holiday lights. Not everything has to revolve around the holiday, however. Use holiday lights to create a focal point around an existing outdoor art piece, fire pit or other area of interest.  It is an invitation to visit that space for your guests and provides an outdoor meeting place during parties.

Keep the interior lighting subdued – After all the excitement outside, you may think that you should continue the radiant holiday theme into the interior. On the contrary, however, it pays to keep it subdued. In our opinion, your family and guests would rather concentrate on the food and conversation in a relaxed and convivial atmosphere.

As you can see, there is a multitude of options for lighting your home both inside and out. It takes some thought, time and effort but the results can be truly stunning.

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Filed under Accent Lighting, Decorative Lighting, Exterior Lighting, Holiday Lighting, Lighting, Outdoor Lighting

Outdoor Lighting and the Style of Your Home

outdoor-lighting-and-the-style-of-your-home

The short days and long nights are back in session. It’s a time many homeowners (and renters!) really begin to notice just how well (or not) their driveways, pathways, and porches are lit at night. Having a well-lit exterior makes a home safer to navigate, more welcoming, and more versatile.

But with so many different types and styles of exterior lighting available on the market, finding the right options for your property can sometimes feel overwhelming. The following is a short breakdown of the primary types of outdoor lighting and how to choose options that best match your home’s style and lighting needs.

  • Post Lanterns.  Post lanterns are dramatic standalone exterior lights that are sure to make a dramatic statement whether you put them along your driveway or in the middle of your back yard. These standout lights are ideal for bringing much-needed brightness to outdoor entertaining areas, such as near a pool entryway or grilling stations, but shouldn’t be used for more intimate spaces or where you want a more subdued aesthetic.
  • Outdoor Wall Lights.   Wall lanterns and sconces can be easily attached to any exterior wall to provide an effective and efficient source of indirect uplighting and downlighting. These wall lights are available in a variety of styles and materials so that you can match the unique look and feel of your house with the right style. Of course, most people find the best look comes with a bit of a mix and match. Consider using dimmable wall sconces near often utilized spaces, such as above an outdoor seating area, windows, and doors. If you have your address numbers attached to your home, wall lights are an ideal solution for illuminating them ensuring your friends and delivery drivers never miss your address. LED lights are ideal for these uses thanks to their long life and enhanced energy efficiency.
  • Outdoor Hanging Lights. Outdoor hanging lights, also known as pendant lights, are often used more to enhance curb appeal and act as an interesting design element than to provide general lighting — although they certainly can be used as task lighting in the right circumstances. These style lights have perhaps the greatest range of materials, colors, and styles as you can opt for everything from Eastern-inspired bamboo lanterns to more industrial-based designs. Whichever style you choose, be sure to stay consistent with all your outdoor hanging lights to keep a more cohesive appearance. For a truly intimate appearance, consider adding an open flame torch or its flameless LED cousin near porches, gazebos, and similar spaces.
  • Flood Lights.  Flood lights are generally not chosen for their appearance, but rather for security purposes. Flood lights are generally built to be equipped with a motion sensor so that whenever a person or large animal enters a defined space, they cast out a bright light over the area. Flood lights don’t come in too many options, as they are more of a utilitarian accessory, but you can still find the right shape and color to match your home’s architecture. For best effect, install all flood lights a minimum of 9 feet off the ground both so that they cannot be easily accessed by would-be intruders and can create the widest possible field of illumination.

Before purchasing and installing any of the above lights, grab a friend and walk through your property at night with a flashlight and all other lights turned off. Experiment with how the flashlight interacts with your exterior features and landscaping and use this as a basis to map out your lighting options.

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Filed under Exterior Lighting, led lighting, Light, Lighting, Outdoor Lighting

The Tradition of Carving and Lighting Up Pumpkins

the-tradition-of-carving-and-lighting-up-pumpkinsCarving pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns is a pretty common traditional across the United States. Most parents start teaching their kids to carve pumpkins when they’re young, and this tradition is continued year after year. Some faces are scary, while other are comical, but candles or battery-powered lights are always placed inside so the pumpkins’ faces light up on Halloween night. How did this unique tradition start, and why is it so popular?

Experts believe that the practice of carving pumpkins can be traced back to the early world. Thousands of years ago, ancient people used to hollow out gourds and use them as lanterns. Later on, in the 1800s, the Irish put a different spin on this practice when they started carving faces into hollowed-out turnips. These carved turnips were meant to ward off evil spirits and the souls of the dead. The Irish called their carved-out turnips jack-o-lanterns, and examples of them can still be seen in museums today.

So, when did the term “jack-o-lantern” begin referring to pumpkins, rather than turnips? Well, that achievement can be credited to the North Americans. It’s thought that the tradition of carving pumpkins began in the 1700s simply because pumpkins were more common and easier to come by in the U.S. and Canada. Their larger size also made them easier to carve than turnips. Still, they were used for the same general purpose: to place on porches to ward off evil spirits on Halloween.

Throughout the 1800s, however, the practice of carving pumpkins began to evolve into more of an entertainment-related endeavor rather than a serious means of protecting souls. Pumpkins were often carved throughout the harvest season, not just on Halloween. Stories from the time speak of children entertaining themselves by carving grotesque faces into gourds and pumpkins.

The practice of pumpkin carving became even more popular when The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, written by Washington Irving, gained popularity. This scary tale describes how a shattered pumpkin was found next to Ichabod Crane’s hat the night after he runs into the infamous headless horseman. Adaptations of the legend show pictures of the horseman with a carved pumpkin as a head.

There are a number of stories that detail how the term “jack-o-lantern” originated. One version claims that in Old England, “jack-o-lantern” was another name for the mysterious light creatures known as Will o’ the Wisp, and the term slowly evolved to refer to glowing, carved pumpkins instead. An Irish legend claims that a stingy blacksmith named Jack trapped Satan in a tree and carved crosses into the bark, preventing him from coming down. Pumpkins, they say, are carved in honor of Jack the blacksmith and are thus known as jack-o-lanterns.

Over the last century, numerous movies and television shows have depicted children and adults carving pumpkins for Halloween. Jack-o-lanterns have essentially become a symbol of the holiday. Though some still prefer to make them spooky and grotesque, much like the ones the Irish once used to ward off evil spirits, others prefer to make their faces goofy or happy. Today, jack-o-lanterns are more of a symbol of celebration than a means of protecting one’s home.

So, grab your carving tools and your favorite pumpkin, and get ready to carve your masterpiece this Halloween season. Just think, if you had been born a few hundred years sooner, you’d be carving turnips rather than big, orange pumpkins!

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Filed under Decorative Lighting, Holiday Lighting

How Many Lights Does a Room Need?

how-many-lights-does-a-room-needHow much lighting should you plan for when you’re building or renovating a home? The best answer is that it depends on differing factors. Yes, there are a variety of formulas to help you determine how much lighting to install, but first, consider the following:

  • How big is the room?
  • How many windows does it have, and what is their orientation? Obviously, east- and west-facing windows will provide abundant sunlight.
  • What size are the windows? A bright, open picture window will let in plenty of sunlight during the day, so will the room require bright lighting at night?
  • How open is the home? Some homes have twists, turns and closed-up, tight spaces that may require extra lighting to eliminate gloomy pockets.
  • Do you prefer brightly lit interiors or do you lean more to softer illumination?
  • What’s the purpose of the room? For instance, you may need more lighting in the kitchen for epicurean paring, dicing, slicing and trimming, while you want a softer, more romantic lighting scheme in the bedroom.

Once you’ve considered all these questions, you’re ready to calculate the amount of light needed per room.

Calculating Lighting Needs

Lighting providers use different methods to calculate lighting needs. With the following method, you will need square footage, as well as a measurement for foot-candles and lumens.

First, determine the square footage of the room by multiplying length times width in feet. For example, a room that’s 20 feet by 15 feet is 300 square feet in area.

Now you need foot-candle measurements for each room. A foot-candle is how bright light is a foot away from the source. Foot-candle needs vary according to the use of the room. Bathrooms and kitchens usually need more foot-candles than living rooms or bedrooms. Consult a lighting expert for general foot-candle needs per each room.

Next, you’ll need to figure out how many lumens are needed per room. The lumen is a measurement that conveys how much light is reaching what you want to illuminate. Multiply square footage of the room by the foot-candle measurement. So, for a 300-square-foot living room, needing 10-20 foot-candles, you’d need 3000-6000 lumens.

When shopping for light fixtures, look on the label for the output of lumens they can provide.

Room-by-Room Lighting Tips

These room-by-room tips can help you assess your lighting needs more accurately.

Kitchen (5000-10,000 lumens). This multi-purpose room often presents challenges, as you light for different purposes, from food prep to breakfast to making out bills. Place recessed lights on the sides of the ceiling to reduce shadows. Install lights under the cabinet to illuminate tasks.

Bedrooms (2000-4000 lumens). Place table lamps for reading or mood lighting; install overhead fixtures for cleaning and other tasks.

Bathrooms (4000-8000 lumens). Tub/shower areas can be murky; install a light overhead. Installing lights along the sides of mirrors is better than ceiling fixtures for illuminating shaving or applying makeup.

Living room. Plan to use several different types of lighting: lamps for reading; accent lighting (spotlights and picture lights) for artwork; and ambient lighting, angled away from seating.

Dining room (3000-6000 lumens). Install adjustable recessed lights that you can angle to highlight table decorations. Avoid positioning lights over dining chairs to prevent casting shadows on diners.

Office (3000-6000 lumens). Use portable lamps for computer stations so you can angle them and avoid glare on the monitor. Angling recessed lighting toward walls makes the room look brighter.

Remember: the calculating formula is just a guideline. Talk to a lighting expert in depth about your home’s lighting needs before you put those holes in the drywall.

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Filed under Interior Design, Interior Lighting, Light, Lighting

Why LED Lightbulbs Beat Them All!

why-led-lightbulbs-beat-them-allThere are many advantages to using light emitting diodes (LED) illumination in homes, commercial buildings and outside lighting.

Advantages include:

  1. Small to large sizes in many different shapes
  2. Economy
  3. Low energy costs
  4. Eco-friendly

Types of lighting

LED lights are available in all sizes and shapes for accent lighting, mood lighting, task lights, outdoor illumination and general room lights.

You can flip a switch and have LED lighting on your ceiling illuminate a room. You can also control the lights with a dimmer switch.

LEDs  lights usually send the beams in one direction. This makes them ideal for task, can or track lighting in ceilings that focus light in one direction. Energy Star approved LED lighting includes bulbs that send light in all direction, similar to incandescent bulbs.

The many size and shapes of LED bulbs make them ideal for any type of use. LEDs come in strips for illuminating walkways and outdoor areas. LED strips work under cabinets in kitchens and bathrooms. They are especially popular during holiday seasons for decorations.

LED bulbs can come in any color for any mood or affect. Red, green, blue and amber are the most popular along with the usual cool and warm white.

Economy and energy savings

A six-watt LED bulb replaces a 60-watt incandescent bulb or a 13-15-watt compact fluorescent bulb (CFL). The LED light will last 50,000 hours while most incandescent bulbs last about 8,000 hours.

New labeling on LED lights shows their wattage and lumens. This is a means of comparison with incandescent lights.

The investment in LED lighting actually saves about 25% on your energy costs. The lights last years longer than regular or CFL bulbs. LEDs also dim slowly when they finally do wear out. They don’t burn out in a flash or simple refuse to work since they do not have a filament.

The lights are much cooler than incandescent bulbs. That is why they use less power. They may use about 3.4 btu’s and hour compared to 85 btu’s for the average incandescent bulb.

The tiny lights in a LED bulb are powered by semiconductors with reflectors. This is solid-state digital electronics. The bulbs are compact and there is no glass to break and shatter.

They travel well, a feature that makes LEDs ideal for vehicles and maritime use. Most newer cars feature LED headlamps and tail lights.

The tiny LED bulbs are clustered into fixtures that may contain up to 180 bulbs. The combinations are usable in all lighting fixtures, including 3-way bulbs.

Eco-friendly

There is no mercury in a LED lights. They do not contain toxic substances. Their low-power demands make them ideal for homes and buildings using solar power. They also work in remote areas where power comes from a generator. LEDs are used in flashlights and work lights.

They are cool since there are no filaments in glass to heat up and add to the warmth of a room. This saves on air conditioning costs.

LED lights save on greenhouse gas emissions by not using as much energy. They are practical as well as economical.

Take the opportunity to invest in LED bulbs when you are replacing lights in your home. This is a one-time purchase that will save money and energy over time.

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Filed under Benefits, LED Lightbulbs, led lighting, Light, Lighting

LED Pool Lighting

led-pool-lightingWhether you already have a swimming pool, or whether it’s still on your wish-list of things to do around your home and garden, making the best use of your space is key in getting the most out of your investment.  You may even have toyed with the idea of having a swimming pool and discarded it with the usual arguments – it’s too cold for too much of the year, and it’s too dark to enjoy swimming by the time I get home at night.

Use Your Outdoor Space All Year Round

Although you may wish to close your pool for the late fall and winter if you live in a particularly leafy area, a good pool heater can make all the difference when it comes to using the space all year round.  It’s a very European thing to continue to swim outside in a heated pool throughout the colder months, so embrace your inner Scandinavian, and do investigate whether a solar or electric heater might enable you to use your swim space for most of the year.

Get The Right Light

More crucial still, especially if you’re concerned about just being able to use your pool on the few warm weekends through the summer as you work so late, is to get the lighting right.  If your garden and pool area is as much social as family space, it’s important to get this spot on both from a practical and an aesthetic point of view.

One form of lighting that covers both of these concerns in one is LED.  Economical to run, these energy efficient lights have the advantage over other cost-effective methods through providing a brighter light altogether, and a considerably enhanced bulb life-span.  Advances in LED technology also mean that you’re now looking at a softer ambient light available in red, green and blue as well as traditional white.

The savings on your energy bills are not to be disregarded either; even if you’re looking at an outlay to upgrade or even install poolside and underwater LED lighting, the savings over even a relatively short period of time will mean that your costs are covered and then some by the time you may be looking to upgrade again.

In terms of where to situate your lights, if you’re looking at regularly using your pool at night then you will want to consider underwater lighting as much as poolside visibility, if only because there’s something just a little creepy about stepping into a completely dark pool!

Additionally, although bulbs will need to be changed – and you will have to drain your pool to do this – the average lifespan of an LED bulb is so impressive that it’s better calculated in years rather than the 50,000 or so hours you’ll get from a single item on average.  You could even schedule replacement every third winter or so as part of essential off-season maintenance if you wished to enjoy seamless and trouble-free lighting throughout the months your pool is in use.

Additional Things To Consider

Don’t neglect enhancing the rest of your poolside area with subtle lighting, especially if your plans include summer pool parties for friends and family.  If you’re stuck for inspiration, blogs and photo streams can give you ideas about what you can achieve with lighting, or even how to design your own pool in your back yard prior to booking that contractor.

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Filed under Exterior Lighting, Light, Lighting, Outdoor Lighting, Pool Lighting