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.


Have a question you’d like to ask Dr.Bulb? Ask me!

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.

Do you have a question you’d like to ask Dr.Bulb? Ask me!

General Lighting Questions & Answers

Is Light a Wave or a Particle?

The particle and wave-like behavior of light is modeled by two sets of equations and accompanying perspectives on the nature of light and its interaction with matter.

light-wave-equationWave-like behavior is based on oscillating electric and magnetic fields propagating through space. These electromagnetic fields interact with charged particles of matter, such as electrons. This wave-like behavior of light is summarized and described by Maxwell’s equations.

light-particle-equationAnother perspective about the nature of light has to do with particles called photons. Some experiments indicate light behaves as photons that exist on energy levels founded on Planck’s Constant. The equation E = hc/y describes the inverse relationship between a photon’s energy “E” and the wavelength of electromagnetic radiation that characterizes it “y”. Numerator components h and c, Planck’s Constant and the speed of light, respectively, do not change and provide a “pivot” around which the wave-like nature of a photon and its accompanying discrete energy, rotate.

This wave-particle duality is present not just in light, but also in matter. The photoelectric effect illustrates this fact and hints at a deeper property of matter and light which is, for now, difficult to understand.

Approximations of light’s behavior using particle and wave models don’t always agree with observed phenomena. Certain cases defy traditional explanations relying on either the wave-like or particle-like behavior of light.

This breakdown is not an isolated case. Momentum and gravitational effects on an object increasingly deviate from Newtonian predictions due to relativistic effects at near-light speeds. Gravitational relativistic effects, though always present, make a very trivial impact on the behavior of a system in most circumstances. However, as with wave/particle approximations, extreme conditions defy predicted behavior.

In textbooks, the quantized nature of light is not as emphasized as much as its wave-like properties. On the other hand, the quantized and discrete nature of matter, especially when interacting with electromagnetic radiation at the atomic/molecular scale of electron energy levels, is usually presented more prominently at the expense of the wave-like aspects of matter. Thus, light is primarily portrayed as wave-like, while matter as quantized, though neither perspective is completely accurate.

General Lighting Questions & Answers

Goodbye Incandescent – Hello….??

I, Dr. Bulb, am often asked which technology I believe will emerge victorious now that the ban on incandescent bulbs has taken effect. Will it be LED? CFL? Which will replace the ubiquitous 60-watt incandescent bulb?

It’s not a question with a clear-cut answer, but there are those (including yours truly) that have been discussing the various options, along with their pros and cons, for some time now. For example, if you’re looking for a good primer on the topic, there is an article on that does a good job.

So, which do you feel is the better solution? Is there one that fits your needs better than the others? The answers just aren’t as simple as they used to be.

Keep your eyes on this space for further advice and developments.

General Lighting Questions & Answers

Lowest Maintenance Costs: LED or Linear Fluorescent?

There are mounting concerns over the efficiency of the products that power our everyday lives and our lighting is no exception. When looking for the most energy efficient types of lighting available today, one is faced with two different answers: LED or linear fluorescent lights as the most efficient. However, which one of these lighting source reigns supreme in the battle for most efficient lighting source? Certainly there has to be a clear winner in this energy usage battle.

In recent years, LED lighting has continued to grow in popularity as THE choice for energy efficient lighting. Period. End of story. However, while the LED light is incredibly efficient in comparison to most alternatives, there are some situations where the LED light may not be the most efficient choice.

For more “industrial” scale lighting endeavors, such as the lighting of a warehouse, office space, classroom, etc., linear fluorescent lights appear to win the battle of efficiency, even over the vaunted LED light. What makes linear fluorescent lights a more efficient and economical choice is these situations is their lifespan. Linear fluorescent lights can last some 30,000 hours longer in these applications than can comparable LED lights, leading to an overall lower maintenance cost for the linear fluorescent light.

The lighting choice that wins the efficiency battle is all dependent on scale and use. When it comes to home or consumer-scaled lighting, LED still appears to be the most efficient choice at the moment. When it comes to larger enterprises, such as classrooms and large work spaces, or operations that require brighter, more powerful lighting, linear fluorescent lighting is the most efficient option currently available.

As with so many things, the answer to the “which is best” question is “it depends.”

General Lighting Questions & Answers LED

Ever Wonder How LEDs are Made?

Among the questions Dr. Bulb encounters on a regular basis is this: “How are LED lights made?”

For those of you interested in this fascinating process, a well-written and easy-to-understand overview is available here.