General Lighting Fixtures Questions & Answers LED Technology

Considering Light Sensitivity with Increased Light Output

I recently received an email from a reader who wanted to improve and increase the amount of light in her home in the easiest and safest way possible. As easy as it may seem to add more light, there were some health concerns that needed to be taken into account before deciding what route to choose.

To give some background on the situation, this Dr. Bulb reader lives and cares for her aging mother who has a medical condition known as advanced macular degeneration (AMD). AMD is a common eye condition that leads to vision loss among people ages fifty and older. Due to this vision loss, she requires as much light as possible for visibility. In addition to her mother’s concerns, the reader has extremely sensitive eyes herself; glaring light is very uncomfortable for her. Currently installed in her home are two ballasts with two four-foot tube fluorescents placed in a 5’ x 7’ recessed area. A frame surrounds the recessed area, which is covered by a frosted insert to cover the unsightly fixtures. The frame and frosted insert cut down the amount of light getting through.

A local handyman suggested changing the setup to instead house six 1,600-lumen LED bulbs such as A19s or A21s in an evenly spaced area. A lighting salesperson at a hardware store created some confusion when he mentioned that adding more bulbs doesn’t necessarily make more light. Not totally convinced that the information provided by this lighting guy was accurate, she emailed Dr. Bulb to ask if I could, well, shed some light on the situation. Her main questions were: Would fewer light bulbs give the same amount of light? How can I get the most amount of light in the area? And one last caveat is that she did not want anything over 3500K, as her researched showed that temperatures over 3500K risk harm to the eyes from blue light emission.

Do More Lumens = More Light?

First and foremost, let’s debunk what the lighting guy at the hardware store said, that putting more bulbs doesn’t necessarily mean more light. Is this true? Only if the additional lamps delivered far fewer lumens or they were put behind a surface that didn’t let light pass through. More lamps does equal more light. For example, six 1,600-lumen bulbs will provide more light than one 1,600-lumen bulb. 9,600 lumens of light will deliver more footcandles than 1,600 lumens. In this case, the light would provide more direct and reflective light that will easily pass through the panels.

The handyman’s suggestion to change the setup to house six 1,600 lumen LED bulbs evenly spaced in the area would work. Even distribution of the lamps would reduce the hot spots, or, at minimum, make it appear symmetrical. As omnidirectional LED lamps such as A19 and A21 LED lamps do not throw light in an even omnidirectional manner, placing the new sockets on the ceiling would certainly reduce hotspots. Another alternative was to replace what looks like T12 34w 4′ linear fluorescent lamps with TLEDs. T12 lamps emit approximately 2,300 mean lumens in a 360-degree pattern. A 17w TLED will emit close to 2,300 lumens. The TLEDs will last longer and have superior color rendering over the T12s. If more light is needed, the reader could add a couple of single-lamp 4′ fixtures or another 2-lamp 4′ fixture. Any choice would be based on creating more evenly distributed light. Two single-lamp, four-foot fixtures would be located on the outside edges, with one two-lamp fixture placed in the center.

This reader’s current fixtures (see above picture) are easily convertible to TLEDs; directions can be found here. Additionally, for further questions and answers on T8 LED lamps, visit this page. Replacement non-shunted tombstones are available at Amazon. 3000K TLEDs and 3500K TLEDs are available at Access Fixtures.

Choosing a Suitable Kelvin Temperature

This reader asked if panel lights, like the kind that replace troffers in suspended ceilings, could provide a new light source. While this could be done, it wouldn’t necessarily fit into the previous framework, as shown in the pictures provided. Additionally, suspending any panel fixtures from the reader’s kind of ceiling would be challenging. If the panels end up too close, light will not appear even. Aside from aesthetics, most panel lights are available in 4000K and 5000K; 3000K, which the reader preferred, is not often stocked in these fixtures.

Lastly, it was mentioned that research shows that Kelvin temperatures over 3500K risks harm to the eyes from blue light emission. While I am not a doctor (and don’t play one on TV), I have a strong dislike of living or working under light over 3500 Kelvin myself. Regardless of the motivation involved, 3000K or 3500K light will most living or working environments much more appealing and easier to work in.

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General Lighting LED

EU Reports on Health Risks from LEDs. Are You at Risk?

Potential LED Health Risks

led health risksA recent report requested by the European Commission assessed the potential health hazards LEDs have on the general population. This provisional report examined multiple segments of the population to discuss the possibility of LEDs causing harm to vulnerable and susceptible populations such as children, adolescents, and the elderly. The report also examines the effects on skin optic fundamentals, eye health, and the penetration of LED lights on the skin. Examining temporal light modulation (flicker), and its potential effects on each segment was a fundamental concern in this report.

This provisional reportcarried out by the scientific committee on health, environmental, and emerging risks (SCHEER)suggests that eyes and skin are the most susceptible to the effects of LEDs. However, the exposure to optical radiation from LEDs is insignificant compared to other light sources, including natural lighting. In order to provide accurate results, all exposure variables were taken into account and tested. Irradiance, radiance, and exposure duration were significant variables in this study, which allowed researchers to carry out detailed reporting. Intensity of the LEDs, general exposure duration, specified exposure duration to skin and eyes, and direct staring vs. active eye movement were all considered. These variables accounted for a significant part of the results reported by SCHEER.

LED Health Effects on the General Population

In general, very few studies have been carried out regarding LED health hazards, and, because LED technology is continually advancing, it is difficult to provide a definite conclusion on any adverse health effects caused by LEDs. It is commonly known that throughout the progression and success of LEDs, concerns have been raised regarding the potential health effects on the general population. The most common concerns raised were regarding long-term vision effects, optical discomfort, and disruptions to circadian rhythms.

SCHEER reported that a major concern was for children below the age of three, who are often exposed to high-luminance LEDs from electronic toys and screens. They noted that the European standard for toys with LED emissions can induce photochemical retinopathy (damage to the eyes retina). Another concern included the use of LEDs in virtual-reality headsets due to the proximity of the screen to the users’ eyes. However, this report found that the luminance in these cases was too low to cause any adverse health effects. The report also stated that, although LEDs can be distracting in some forms (e.g., car lighting, specific colors), distraction, dazzle, and glare effects do not result in direct harm to your vision.

LEDs Are Safe

In addition to possible effects on the eyes, concerns were raised regarding the effects LEDs have on our skin. This report briefly touches on the possibility of LEDs causing harm by penetrating the skin beyond its intended depth, however, no formal research has been published to confirm this theory.

SCHEER acknowledges that the scientific research currently available does not provide enough evidence to prove that LEDs cause adverse effects to skin and eyes when the “total exposure is below the international agreed exposure limits (ICNIRP).” There was little evidence to suggest that disruption to sleeping patterns after using an LED screen was a direct result of exposure to the light; the disruptions could have been due to the kind of mental activity required to use and engage with the device. In addition, SCHEER reported that, when compared to other light source technologies, there was no evidence to suggest LED lamps cause photosensitivity. However, unlike other light sources, LEDs do not emit much ultraviolet radiation, which may actually reduce the risk of photosensitivity.

This preliminary report states that LEDs cannot be proven to cause direct, adverse health effects to the general, healthy population. It notes that discomfort and glare can be temporary consequences of LEDs but are not of major concern. The effects, thresholds, and damage mechanisms do vary from person to person. SCHEER suggests that more formal research is required to establish how LEDs can positively or negatively affect the general population.


General Lighting Environmental Lighting Human Centric Lighting LED

Should Dark Sky Initiatives Focus on Space or Earth?

A recent article in The Guardian warned of the light pollution being emitted by satellites such as Elon Musk’s Starlink satellites. While providing all kinds of benefits to mankind, these satellites and some others allegedly emit too much light. The light emitted is light pollution and it brightens the night sky.

Light pollution is an issue and losing dark skies is a very real issue. The question is, in world that knows very little and cares even less about dark sky issues, do we start pushing dark sky initiatives in space, on Earth, or both?

What is light pollution and who cares?

Light pollution comes in many forms from light that trespasses from one property to another, to light that goes up and stops people and and wildlife from being able to see the night sky. The International Dark Sky Association documents many forms of light pollution, the effects of light pollution, and ways we can mitigate light pollution.

What is dark sky lighting, at least here on Earth?

Dark sky compliant lighting is LED light fixtures that lights up what needs to be illuminated without causing uplight that reduces our ability to see the night sky.

My Thoughts

While I don’t personally know much about satellites causing light or the value the satellites provide, v. the cost to society via a less dark sky, I do agree that we need to protect our skies from light pollution. More of an effort needs to be made by communities around the world to become dark sky communities. Becoming a dark sky community is a local way to start preserving the dark sky for nature, our wellbeing, and the benefit of future generations.

Fixtures Questions & Answers LED

Is There A Simple Way to Replace Old Bollard Lights?

This weekend, I received an “Ask Dr. Bulb” question from someone who was looking to replace their old high pressure sodium bollard lights with new LED bollard lights. The person in question, a property manager for a municipal building, has 10 old high pressure sodium bollard lights that are about 20 years old lining a particular walkway. Some of the light fixtures had already burnt out and many were cracked, rusted, or otherwise unusable. Obviously, considering the age of these bollard lights, this is understandable. Lighting technology has improved by leaps and bounds since the turn of the century and aging technology eventually needs to be replaced. The property manager sent us a photo of what one of the old bollard light bases looked like, which you can view to the right.  The base has a four bolt pattern which is typical of many older bollard lights, but some of the bolts were broken, rusted, or otherwise unusable. However, all of the appropriate wiring was still effectively in place and functional. This property manager specified that he was looking to upgrade to something that would outlast the previous technology. What type of solution would this property manager need?


Choosing to Replace with LED

The first question I would have for this property manager is the following: “Are you planning to replace your old HPS bollard lights with more HPS lighting or upgrade to LED?” There are many valid reasons why someone would choose high pressure sodium but there are many more reasons to choose LED instead. One of these reasons is simply cost-effectiveness. The average high pressure sodium bollard light lasts for about 24,000 hours, after which it is necessary to replace the bulb completely. LED lights usually last at least twice as long, with some LED fixtures being L70 rated for over 200,000 hours. From a strict standard of convenience, medium-socket LED bollard lights are probably the best bet and the most efficient for the price. Access Fixtures sells several models of medium-socket LED bollard lights that will accept many different kinds of LED bulb. These are also simple to replace when the time comes. Modern LED bollard lights are not only more efficient but the fixtures themselves tend to be more durable than older-style bollard lights. To prevent corrosion and moisture, many modern bollard lights are IP rated and sealed, with a tough polycarbonate lens that is hard to break or crack. High-quality bollard lights are available in so many styles, finishes, colors, wattages, and designs that there is truly something for everyone.


Easy Replacement Kits

Once you have decided on how to replace your bollard lights, you need to then decide how to do it. Many people who are looking to replace old bollard lights feel that they might need to replace or re-pour the concrete as well. Thanks to modern technology, this is no longer necessary! A bollard light replacement kit might be what you’re looking for, like this one from Access Fixtures. This is an excellent kit that comes with all necessary hardware to replace old bollard bases with shiny new LED bollards. How it works is simple: each kit contains an 11″ die-cast aluminum bollard replacement base with internal levels and hardware. Using the old bollard light base and bolts, most new bollard lights can simply be placed on top. The base plate is meant to accommodate bollard lights with a 7″ diameter and a four-bolt pattern. In our property manager’s case, replacing their 10 bollard lights with new 7″ ones will be very simple. There is also a product called the Redhead which can be used to anchor a base to concrete in the case of broken, rusted, or otherwise absent bolts. 8″ bollards or those with a greater diameter can also be accommodated by the SIRU bollard light replacement kit as it is designed for use with multiple bolt patterns. As long as two original bolts are present, the bollard light replacement kit can be used. As mentioned previously, this particular kit includes internal levels for making the new bollard lights level with the ground. I recommend that all bollard light replacement be completed by a licensed electrician.


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New Colorful LED Mood Lighting Sets the Mood for Weight Loss

It isn’t groundbreaking news to say that lighting affects mood. This is why you’ll never see someone arrange a romantic date night with rose petals, a bottle of wine, and 1000W metal halide lamps. It’s also why you don’t see too many candlelit jewelry stores. We want different things from our lights, and every kind of light can be used to set a particular kind of psychological precedent.

With the development of LED technology, we are discovering precisely how lighting affects behavior. Why do grocery stores use the luminaires they use? What about restaurants and offices? To answer some of these questions, I will spend the next few posts focusing on some trends in LEDS that reveal some of the unseen workings of “mood lighting.”

Red LED Lighting Used in Weight Loss

A doctor in Boca Raton, Florida, is pioneering a way to use LED lighting to encourage weight loss. Dr. Sasson Moulavi is using a technique called Near Laser Assisted Lipolysis (NLAL) to assist people who are struggling to lose weight by traditional means.


The NLAL process involves strapping red LEDs to the patient for a designated amount of time. The patient then removes the LEDs and exercises for twenty minutes. The treatment, combined with a calorie-focused diet, allows patients to lose weight even after hitting a plateau with their regular diet and exercise regimen. Dr. Moulavi and others say that the light penetrates the skin and weakens the walls of fat cells; the fat then breaks through the weakened walls and travels to parts of the body where it can be more quickly burned off. The exercise phase of NLAL treatment attempts to fight the fat while it is in the vulnerable state.

Don’t buy it? I’ll admit—I’m right there with you. I can’t say I’ve signed up for a treatment session myself (though I could certainly use some trimming). Maybe NLAL is actually capable of penetrating fat cells; then again, maybe it isn’t. All I can say at this point is that Moulavi’s patients are seeing results—whether by tangible, physical impact on cells or the all-powerful placebo effect, believers of NLAL are shedding pounds and inches. Moulavi says he’s seen patients lose about 15 pounds a month.

bathroom-scale-medBlue LED Lighting May Reduce [Men’s] Appetites

Fast food restaurants often use bright lighting in their designs to encourage people to order and eat more. This study, by experts at Cornell University and the Georgia Institute of Technology, found that bright lighting actually increases the amount of food people will eat. The lights even have an effect on our psychological state when ordering—staring up at a brilliant, colorfully lit board of burgers, pictures, and flashy “Dollar Menu!” cues makes us more likely to impulsively order enough food to, well, super-size ourselves. Contrarily, calmer lighting at lower Kelvin temperatures (more popular in fine-dining establishments) encourages us to deliberately review each item on a menu and make sure what we’re ordering is exactly what we want.

So now I ask: Have you ever seen the inside of a fast-food joint lit up in blue lighting? Probably not. Researchers at the University of Arkansas may now know why. Blue LED lighting, they found, functions as an appetite suppressant. Their experiment placed subjects in booths randomly lit by white, yellow, and blue LED lamps. Diners were given a large breakfast and asked to rate their satisfaction with the food. The researchers then measured how much food was left on each person’s plate.


The study found that men who were served under blue lights ate less than men served under yellow or white lights, even when all three groups were equally satisfied with their food. Oddly enough, though, the study found that women ate the same amount regardless of the lighting. Researchers guess this may be because men’s appetites are more tied to sight-based cues than those of women, which are more commonly dictated by the sense of smell.

The Future of Lighting and Health

Previously, I’ve discussed human circadian rhythmsdaily body cycles that are affected by the lighting in an environment. It is no surprise, then, that LED lighting can be used to persuade our psychologies and bodily functions. As LED trends develop, we will be able to learn more about how lighting can be used to further our health and wellness.

What do you think? Can we use LED technology to affect our health? Beauty? Psychology? Let me know what you think.


General Lighting LED Technology wireless technology

Spooky Lighting to Make Your House the Best in the Neighborhood

With modern advances in LED lighting, your Halloween decorations will no longer be limited to carved-out pumpkins; no more will your neighbors mock your sad, flickering candles; and never again will you embarrass yourself with green glow sticks tied halfheartedly to your front porch. LEDs can make sure trick-or-treaters will run to your door, either dazzled by cool and classy lights or downright terrified by your spooky LED display.

LED Lightstrips Sync with Doorbell

Technology now offers you the ability to change the lighting on your front porch each time someone rings the doorbell. From a distance, your porch will look fun and inviting, but as soon as someone rings the bell, the LEDs will switch to a horrifying blood-red glow straight out of Nightmare on Elm Street. Or, you can surprise them with my personal favoritea vile, nauseating, green hue. On Halloween night, what more could you ask for?

Flameless Candles for Pumpkins

The flicker of a candle inside a carved pumpkin has been a mainstay in Halloween decorating for decades. However, they really aren’t the best option available. For one, keeping an open flame out on your porch presents an obvious fire hazard—especially on a night when kids are running up and down your porch for hours. There are pumpkin-lighting precautions you can take, but the risk will always be there. They also tend to fall over and burn out before the night is up. Instead, choose battery-operated, flameless candles with a long battery life. These flameless candles give the illusion of a flickering candle flame without the fire danger.

Halloween-House-led-lighting-effectsMusic and Lighting Create a Spooky Union

This Halloween season, consider creating a truly spooky scene in your yard with bulb and speaker combinations (it’s not too late!). Synchronize the lights with a scary Halloween playlist using programs such as Pulse that allow you to sync with Pandora or Spotify. The bulbs can brighten and darken in time with the music, creating a scary scenario in front of your house. Choose channels like Pandora’s “Spooky Symphony” for some interesting special effects using LED lighting. If you prefer a more fun light show, you can always go with singing pumpkins or cartoon monsters performing popular Halloween music such as “Monster Mash” or “Thriller.”

If you’d rather not compete with your neighbors’ music, you can always check out the LED LightShow Fire and Ice lighting available at Home Depot. Or, see if you can get your hands on Satechi’s remote-controlled LED light strip and change the colors of the lights whenever you want.

Whether you plan a fun, whimsical Halloween décor for this year or prefer the dark, scary version, LED lighting offers a wide range of options for decorating. Much safer than candles and brighter than glow sticks, LED lighting is one of the best choices for your front yard; it can provide safety and attention-grabbing decorations throughout the season. Happy haunting!