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 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!

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.

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The Buzz on LED Lighting & Insect Attraction

When LED lights first became widely available, there was a lot of buzz centered around how these energy efficient lamps didn’t attract insects. However, as often happens with new technologies, misinformation abounds. The simple fact is LED lights do attract bugs, simply because insects are attracted to sources of light.

A Bug’s Favorite Color

A 2005 study conducted by the University of Agriculture in Faisalabad, Pakistan, found that 60%–70% of insects prefer light at the blue end of the spectrum. What about the others? Like humans, insects have their own preferences. An additional 18% chose white light, while 10% looked for yellow, and 2% preferred red. Ultraviolet (UV) light also attracts bugs which was source of the assumption that LEDs would not bring all the bugs to the yard—they emit very little UV light.

Why is it that LED lamps attract bugs? Quite simply, where there is light, there will be bugs. In addition, LED lamps typically emit light in the cool end of the color spectrum. The color temperatures of light bulbs is measured on the Kelvin absolute temperature scale. The greater the number, the cooler the light appears. LED lights—especially those with higher Kelvin ratings—produce a significant amount of blue light, thus making them more attractive to insects.

Into the Light

Good lighting, however, is an important part of an outdoor environment at night because lights provide safety while also allowing you to enjoy your outdoor living area well into the evening. Many proponents of LED lights claim that these lamps don’t attract as many bugs as other types of lighting. In a matter of speaking, this claim is correct as LED lamps do not attract as many insects as traditional CFL bulbs.
So what are homeowners supposed to do when purchasing porch lights for an outdoor living area? The answer is yellow bug lights. While yellow bug lights aren’t exactly an insect repellant, they do help keep insects away from your lighted outdoor activities at night. They work because insects have a difficult time seeing light in the yellow end of the spectrum. The good news is LED bug lights are now available, allowing you to save money while reducing insects in your backyard.

General Lighting Electricity Technology

A Very Special Birthday to the Father of the Electric Age…

tesla birthdayWe owe much of our everyday pleasures and conveniences to a long line of strange and intelligent men who sought new sources of power throughout history. Some names stand out more than others and there is no doubt that Nikola Tesla is one of those names. Tesla was born July 10, 1856 in Smiljan Lilka, then a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Legend has it that the future inventor was born during a terrifyingly powerful electrical storm, a fateful irony if ever there was one.

An Electric Partnership

The late 1800s was a fertile time for inventors. Mankind had entered the industrial age and was discovering the true influence that he could have over the natural world around him. Electricity was still a relatively new concept and had yet to be tamed as a reliable source of energy. It was during this time period in 1884 that Tesla arrived in New York city with a letter from a friend, introducing him to none other than Thomas Edison.

Edison and Tesla originally worked together in Edison’s labs. At first, Tesla was a counterpart, helping Edison to improve upon his many inventions that dealt with electricity, including the light bulb. However, Tesla was not convinced that Edison’s commitment to Direct Current (DC) electricity was sound. Direct current would require a power plant every two miles to supply sufficient power anywhere. Instead, Tesla favored Alternating Current (AC) which could be transported across long distances. The two men eventually became rivals in what was known as “The Current Wars.”

The ‘Father’ of Electricity

Tesla went on to invent an induction motor that ran on alternating current to generate a rotating magnetic field to  turn the motor. The invention caught the attention of George Westinghouse who quickly purchased the forty patents to Tesla’s AC technology and hired Tesla to work for him. Westinghouse, at the time, was Edison’s number one rival in the DC vs. AC debate.

Tesla’s continued experiments in electricity would help create the foundation of our modern day power grid. In 1893, he demonstrated his AC electricity by lighting the World Columbian Exposition in Chicago. He designed the first Hydroelectric power plant at Niagara Falls, in 1895. His invention, the Tesla coil, is still used in television and radio sets as well as other electronic equipment. By the start of the 20th century, alternating current had become the standard source of power.

Man Beyond his Time and Above the Future

Many believe that Nikola Tesla was the brightest inventor and most gifted mind we have ever known, despite credits we have lauded upon others. He had eccentricities that suited a scientific genius. He was phobic about germs, and apparently wore white gloves every evening. Tesla had a disdain for pearls to the extent he would avoid being in the presence of anyone wearing them. A handsome man with thick black hair, he always posed for photos with what he believed his best side forward.
He certainly helped electricity put its best side forward by demonstrating the superiority of AC electricity for widespread distribution. Although Edison was an equally great man who provided his fair share of contributions to the progress of mankind, his blind dedication to DC was dead wrong. As a strong supporter of green energy I, Dr. Bulb, have to tip my hat to Mr. Tesla for his contribution to the development of electrical power sources.

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?