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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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 Fixtures Future of technology LED Technology

White LED Lighting Tunes In to Protect Precious Artwork

museum lighting 1

The Warsaw National Museum in Poland has joined the ranks of art museums around the world who are choosing LED for their display lighting. Along with institutions such as the Louvre, the WNM has chosen to upgrade their fixtures to all LED luminaires with no exceptions.

The WNM is a safe haven for more than 800,000 historical works of art by Polish and European artists, with items dating back as far as the 8th century. These delicate pieces require precise conditions if they are to be maintained and preserved, including minimized exposure to light and UV rays. The directors of the WNM’s primary goals for the lighting upgrade were to employ state-of-the-art preservation techniques, bring out the best qualities of the pieces with the highest possible light quality, and reduce their carbon footprint by minimizing electrical energy use.

The museum has opted to use Zumtobel’s Arcos LED spotlights, which can be easily re-configured to suit any changes in the exhibits. The fixtures have been modified with Tunable White technology. Based on PI LED technology developed by Lumitech, co-marketed by Tridonic, the Tunable White technology allows LEDs to efficiently produce the full spectrum of white light via a combination of blue LEDs with green-tinted phosphor, red LEDs and blue LEDs. An integrated DALI (digitally addressable lighting interface) controller system can adjust the color temperature of the light as needed, or each lamp can be adjusted by hand.

The LED fixtures give curators an element of control they did not previously have. Fixtures can be individually adjusted to bring out the best of each piece, such as a warmer white light to bring out the golden undertones of a medieval painting. The WNM, unlike other museums, uses almost no natural light from the outside. The upgraded LED fixtures provide maximum illumination without the damaging effects of UV rays and, during certain hours, are operated by proximity sensors so that light exposure as well as energy use is minimized.

So far, the museum has renovated five main galleries, equating to a 40% reduction in energy use. The total reduction in energy load is expected to be from 110,000W down to 22,400W, representing a decrease of 80%. Developments in LED technology continue to make them the best energy efficient lighting option. With accoutrements like wireless controls and precision color rendering, it is likely that LED will continue to take over in applications such as museums where presentation is key.

General Lighting Fixtures Future Future of technology Internet of Things IoT Technology wireless technology

Lighting Networks Could Make For a Wonderful Tomorrow

We are barreling head first into the next generation of the internet. After ecommerce, social media and the cloud, connecting everything is the obvious next step. The trend has been called the “Internet of Things”, or IoT. The connected devices can be as simple as sensors and security cameras or as complicated as vehicles and production machinery. Bosch Software Innovations expects before 2022 there will be 14 billion connected devices.

The Internet of Things

IoT refers to the network of objects embedded with electronics, software, sensors and the capability to connect which are able to exchange data. Generally, the capability is used to communicate with manufacturers, operators, or other devices. For instance, Ford, is working to create cars which are able to “sense” one another and their outside environments, thereby preventing collisions due to operator error.

The term “the Internet of Things” was coined in 1999 by Kevin Ashton. It is expected that, as wireless technology  continues to advance, the interconnection of embedded devices will allow for automation in nearly all fields. In fact, the automation industry already depends heavily on IoT technology. New applications for IoT innovations are being developed every day, and it appears that lighting may play an important part thanks to VLC.

Visual Light Communication, or VLC, can best be explained with a metaphor: imagine using a flashlight to send a message using morse code. Turning the flashlight off and on at specific intervals expresses the message. VLC works much the same way, except that the light transmits the message via flickers which occur so quickly, our eyes can not perceive them.

Given that our cities, homes, cars and cell phones are brimming with usable light, it makes sense that researchers would seek a way to combine efficient lighting technologies with the communication requirements of an IoT world. Streetlights can be fitted with sensors which are able to monitor urban environments. With their height and numbers, streetlights could be highly effective at detecting air particulates and providing important ecological data about the quality of a city’s air.

Have you ever had trouble finding a parking space in the city? Streetlights could help with that problem, too. Siemens has developed a system whereby sensors would detect cars, motorbikes or even motorcycles that are parked illegally and send an automatic signal to the authorities. Now, pair that same technology with a smartphone app and you have a system that can tell you where the open parking spots are and if they are even big enough for your car.

In Newark Airport, a wireless network of lights has already been implemented which is able to monitor the movement of people and vehicles. This enables the airport to observe traffic and travel patterns, predict outages or delays with higher accuracy, and send marketing promotions. Mostly, the system is used for security and maintenance purposes. Apparently it’s still not good enough to replace the lengthy pat-downs at security, though.

IoT and VLC have more attractive, less Big Brother type applications as well. The Philips Hue LED bulb is capable of communicating with your television set. Once synced to your TV, the bulbs will flash, pulse, dim or change color in accordance with what is happening onscreen. Imagine watching that action film on a big screen, with surround sound, and bright flashes of light every time something explodes on screen. Who needs movie tickets when you have an immersive theater at home?

General Lighting Fixtures LED

Is LEP Technology the Next Bright Idea in Lighting?

Over the last decade LED’s (Light Emitting Diode) have become the technology of choice in the lighting industry. Another technology called Light Emitting Plasma (LEP) has begun to gain traction as a viable alternative for applications requiring high illumination. Not only is the lighting industry taking notice, even the mainstream media has started reporting on the benefits of LEP lighting.

How LEP Lighting Works

Plasma in the lighting industry, refers to sources that have a continuous spectrum. LEP systems have three components: an emitter, a driver, and a power supply. Each emitter has a quartz capsule with a blend of gases and halides that emit light at a certain spectrum. A highly reflective material in the housing causes the light to emit forward. The driver is, at its simplest, a solid-state RF amplifier that creates electrical energy to a fully-sealed quartz lamp without electrodes or filaments. Because the electrical field is highly concentrated, it ionizes the gases and vaporizes the halides to create a plasma inside that lamp to produce and intense light source.

No electrodes, glass-to-metal seals, or other materials offer simple construction allowing the LEP to be efficient yet rugged. Benefits of this design include:

  • no waste of heat energy.
  • elimination of glass-to-metal seals.
  • no quartz wall darketing that produces lumen depreciation and failure.
  • faster warm-up and restrike times.

LEP light sources are possible today because the wireless revolution has produced cost effective, efficient, and reliable solid-state amplifiers. In addition to energy savings, LEP technology has other important attributes. LEP lighting may be dimmed to 20% output. These lamps also have a 50,000-hour life at 70% lumen maintenance, where has halide lamps have a life of 18,000 hours. Warmer color temperatures for LEP are also on the horizon.

Complements LED Usage

In most applications where high illumination is required, LEP does not compete with LED lighting. Rather, it serves as a high-output complement. To that end, LED may be used for low and medium illuminance while LEP can take over high illuminance needs because of smaller lamp size. LED and LEP lighting have the same approximate cost at the 5,000-lumen level, but LEP’s small size makes it much more cost effective as lumen output increases. LED’s, however, are more effective in their ability to scale down.

General Lighting Sports Fixtures

Will Your Poles Stand Up To The Wind?

It can get windy out there no matter where you are, but it can get especially gusty in coastal Florida and other similar high-wind zones. If you have pole-mounted fixtures lighting your parking lot, tennis court, or even just your backyard, things can get pretty interesting in areas like those during hurricane season.

Whenever Mother Nature gets herself all riled up and throws a major storm in our direction, the media serves up almost endless images of light poles swaying in the wind along with the inevitable examples of a few that couldn’t take the stress and toppled over onto some car’s windshield or ended up strewn across an outdoor tennis or basketball court. At times like these, it’s hard not to worry if your light poles are going to stay up or, instead, be turned into deadly, wind-blown debris. At the very least, you’re always going to wonder how much it’s going to cost to replace whatever gets blown down.

Pole-mounted fixtures have definite advantages. They are bright, require very low maintenance, and operate cost-efficiently.  As such, they are an ideal solution for outdoor sports lighting and similar applications. However, this type of installation has an inherent structural challenge; it’s unbelievably top-heavy. Mounting one or more large, heavy, cast-metal fixtures on top of a slender pole, and doing so in an area known for its high winds, can easily turn into a recipe for disaster if the wrong pole is specified.

Many companies that sell light poles insist that the ones they recommend for use in low-wind applications are also capable of coping with higher-velocity wind zones. In fact, this is rarely true. Quite often, a pole will be able to withstand certain wind stresses, but that may not take into consideration the fixture(s) installed on top. Let’s face it, a 4”x4” 7-gauge steel pole with two 70-pound fixtures mounted on top probably won’t stand a chance when things get breezy in coastal South Carolina.

Dan Rodriguez, Sales Manager for Worcester, MA-based Access Fixtures says his company offers multiple solutions to this problem.  “Quite a few of our customers have installations in zones where Class V hurricanes are a frequent occurrence,” he said. “For applications like this, we strongly recommend a much more robust structure. Typically, our customers will choose a 5”x5” 7-gauge pole for virtually all high-wind applications, but for areas with the most savage, sustained winds, we also offer a standard 6”x6” 7-gauge as well as poles custom built to any size or specification.”

While selecting a larger, more robust pole may incur a small price premium when compared to purchasing the smaller, weaker 4”x4” variety, the stronger, more durable pole will protect your investment and – most importantly – ensure your installation meets local code.

Rodriguez commented, “Before purchasing pole-mounted fixtures for high-wind zones, it is important to identify their Effective Projected Area; what we in the lighting industry refer to as EPA. The EPA of a fixture is equal to the area exposed to direct wind from a particular angle. All pole-mounted fixtures and mounting hardware have EPA ratings. Obviously, the total EPA and the weight mounted on any pole must not exceed the pole’s maximum rating for the wind zone in which it is located.”

The moral of this story:  Pay close attention to your local codes, and strongly consider building in a little extra buffer to ensure your fixtures stay up in the air where they belong rather than succumbing to the powerful combination of strong winds and gravity.