Is it magic? No, just an LED app.

When the Bruins defeated the Maple Leafs in a historic win a few nights ago, the LED lights in my bedroom started flashing the yellow, black, and brown of my favorite hockey team. I know what you’re thinking—I, Dr. Bulb, must have magical powers! Unfortunately I’ve yet to learn how to control the lights with my mind, but I can control them with the Philips Hue home lighting system.

The innovative app allows you to control the LED lights in your home from an iOS or Android device. But the app goes further than simply turning lights on or off—Hue can change the mood of a room by simulating pre-loaded “scenes.” With the recent release of Hue 1.1, the app makes me feel like I’m starring in a futuristic science fiction movie!

Here are some of the features:

Create a “Scene”
Hue comes with a variety of pre-loaded scenes. Select a color in the scene and set each bulb in a room to a different tone. You’re also able to use your own photos. Yesterday, I decided to recreate the lighting from the party I went to last weekend!

Light Recipes
Trying to relax after a long day? Phillip used their knowledge of lighting to create “light recipes” for different needs—to relax, concentrate, energize, and read. Select an option and Hue can transform the space and the way you feel.

Hue’s “alarm” function calendarised your time settings to wake you up and put you to bed at the same time every day. You can also set the alarm to “randomize” and the lights will turn on at slightly different times while you’re away on vacation. Perfect for when I, Dr. Bulb, go to LightFair each year.

Yesterday I was baking a pie and knew it was done when my room turned green! With the timer function, Hue can turn the lights off, flash, or change color after a set amount of time.

With Geofencing, all you have to do is walk in or out your door. The lights will turn on, off, or change to a preferred settings—and you don’t even have to take your phone out to do it.

IFTTT (If This Then That)
Philips partnered with IFTTT to enable you to connect your lights to over 60 products and services. Change your lights to blue when you receive a Facebook notification. Blink your lights when a sports team wins a game. You can be notified about virtually anything going on in the world!

Hue requires a wifi connection but it is rather simple to use. The downside to the new technology is the cost of $200-$300 for the starter pack and about $60 for each additional bulb. But for all the fun and convenience, it would be a worthwhile consideration for LED enthusiasts or commercial lighting specialists.

Just another perk of LED lighting! Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @doctorbulb and subscribe to me blog.


Create Less Light Pollution, Save The Turtles!

Did you know that newly hatched turtles need a dark night sky in order to orient toward the ocean? Newly hatched turtles follow the light, and that light is supposed to be the moon reflecting off the ocean. Because of light pollution, helpless turtles have been found wandering landward or near busy boardwalks instead of the ocean where they belong.

Hatchlings are confused by the white light provided by lighting in housing units, outdoor lighting and even street lights, which are somewhat away from the water. The solution until now has been either shut the lights off which doesn’t work for humans, or use amber lamps inside luminaires.

Recently I, Dr. Bulb, read about a team of researchers based in Mexico and Japan who believe they have found a solution to help solve the problem of light pollution! A solution different than shutting the lights off or using amber lights would be fantastic for all.

The study, which appeared in the open-access journal Optics Express, examines the current problem of conventional street lamps which scatter up to 20% of their energy horizontally or vertically. Fortunately, researchers have come up with a new type of LED-powered street lamp that would only illuminate the desired section of a road.

Light pollution doesn’t only affect turtles. Migratory birds veer off course, while other animals have shown signs of disrupted circadian rhythms. And for humans like me, Dr. Bulb, it obscures views of stars, wastes energy, disrupts sleep and makes it difficult for drivers to see!

The researchers say that even the best LED street lamps on the market still direct about 10% of their energy horizontally or vertically, but they claim their invention could reduce the amount to just 2%. Although they’ve yet to create a working prototype, the proposed lamp would use three features to limit light to a predetermined rectangular shape to cover the road.

  • A Total Internal Reflection (TIR) lens is fitted over a cluster of LEDs in order to focus the light so the rays are parallel to each other in one direction, instead of intersecting.

  • The TIR lens with LEDs is mounted inside a cavity that helps “recycle” light which have failed to travel the desired path.

  • Each lamp is covered in a microlens sheet diffuser that filters unwanted glare.

One of the most exciting parts about this discovery is the drastically reduced energy consumption, requiring between 10 to 50% less power than current LED street lamps!

I am hoping this prototype succeeds. The researchers hope to complete it by October 2013. If the prototype is successful, it needs to be brought to the attention of local authorities as a necessary investment like dark sky compliant products and energy saving LED wallpacks or LED troffers. With the innovative new design’s efficiency, reduced energy cost, and turtle-saving abilities, it’s an easy sell for Dr. Bulb.

 Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @doctorbulb and subscribe to my blog!

General Lighting LED

Illuminating LED Products and Trends at LightFair International 2013

I, Dr. Bulb, was so caught up in lighting technology and all the illuminating possibilities that I forgot to sit down and blog at LightFair International (LFI)!  For two days, I absorbed exciting information about new trends and innovative products that are changing the lighting industry at LightFair, the world’s largest annual architectural and commercial lighting trade show and conference. I also tried to get lighting celebrities to autograph my LED wallpacks and LED bollard lights to no avail.

For the past several years, LFI has been nicknamed the LEDfair—because almost everything introduced that illuminates is LED!  While emerging technology involving light-emitting plasma was also on display, it was overwhelmed by the countless exciting new LED products and technology.

Here are some of the fascinating trends that I observed up at LFI:

  • With effective lighting control systems, physical plant managers are able to monitor lighting and remotely dial down power use with a cellular connection. Commands can be sent to wireless nodes throughout the property, ultimately increasing system efficacy and reducing overall power use when prudent or required.

  • The price of LED chips has fallen and the light output of the chips has increased, which is exactly what I love to hear!  Because of this, luminaires can now be cost effectively produced with the same net lumen output level as luminaires with 150, 175, 250, or 400 watt metal halide or high-pressure sodium lamps be sold reasonable price.

  • As the lumen output and efficacy of LED chips has increased, significant light output can be achieved while driving the LED chips at a lower amperage.  For instance many LED drivers can now be set at 350mA instead of 700mA, decreasing heat generated and radically increasing life.  Quality LEDs in luminaires can now approach a life of 70,000 to 100,000 hours which is over 20 years of continuous use at 12 hours per day!  The issue will change from the effective length of an LED chip’s life to how long a driver will last.


Credible new standards are being set by certain companies. The bar has been raised!

  • Ushio has introduced a candelabra lamp with an innovative LED filament design. Using only .6 watts, it emulates a 15-20 watt candelabra lamp equivalent and lasts over 40,000 hours.

  • Soraa announced a new full spectrum 95 CRI MR16, which has the same light output as the 65-watt halogen equivalent.  This extraordinary lamp fits perfectly where a standard halogen MR16 fits.

  • Toshiba’s new outdoor area light is an excellent example of trends and pricing of LED luminaires, emitting out 20% more light at 30% less cost!

I, Dr. Bulb, was thrilled to see and hear about the new trends and products, but I’m still waiting for the Holy Grail, an LED equivalent of a 1,000 watt area light. While there are some claims that this can be done, the Holy Grail still remains elusive.

LightFair ends April 25th and then I am left counting down the days to LightFair International.  Next year LightFair will be in Las Vegas!  Until then, make sure to follow @doctorbulb on Twitter and subscribe to my blog.

General Lighting LED

LightFair International, here I come!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year—LightFair International! I, Dr. Bulb, cannot properly express how ecstatic I am to spend days learning about new products, changes in the market, and other lighting solution topics. Even though I’m agnostic, I’d assume it’s better than Christmas, Kwanzaa, and maybe even Hanukkah—the festival of lights!

For those who missed my previous blog, LFI is the premier event of the year for the lighting industry in the world. The architectural and commercial lighting trade show and conference returns to Pennsylvania after being held in Las Vegas in 2012. When LFI moved to Philadelphia in 2011, it received the highest attendee satisfaction in the show’s history. I, Dr. Bulb, hope for another record-breaking year!

From April 23 to April 25, I will enjoy trade shows, seminars, workshops, exhibit halls and the LFI innovation awards! My suitcase is full of LED wallpacks and LED bollard lights and I’m off to Philadelphia. Stay tuned for updates from LED fair, I mean, Light Fair! Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @drbulb and subscribe to my blog.

General Lighting LED

Turkeys love LED, too!

I, Dr. Bulb have found a new fellow LED enthusiast! Mike Langmo, a Minnesota turkey farmer, installed dimmable, programmable LED lamps in one of his barns in order to simulate natural light patterns indoors. The turkeys don’t even have to venture outside to experience a beautiful sunrise or sunset—a personal dream of Dr. Bulb!

Simulating natural lighting patterns isn’t just for fun—it can help regulate the birds’ circadian rhythms, possibly resulting in healthier, more productive flocks. It hasn’t been 100% proven, but Langmo noticed that the turkeys seem to be converting weight to food more efficiently in the LED barn than the barn still lined with high-pressure sodium lights. Also, the lighting seems to have reduced fighting among the turkeys. I love the idea of fat, peaceful birds!

While the LED lamps provide possible happiness and optimum sunlight for the turkeys, they also cut down energy costs for Langmo. The lamps are 87% more efficient than the 100-watt incandescent lamps that once lined the barn’s ceilings. Although he had to use more LED lamps than incandescent lamps, the barn is still using less electricity than it had previously.

I was thrilled to find that Langmo isn’t the only farmer in Minnesota trying LED lamps. He is part of a state-funded study, The Minnesota Project, that’s trying to document the performance of LED lighting in poultry barns. They even received a grant from the Minnesota Department of Commerce in 2011 to evaluate the LED products.

And the support didn’t end there. The Minnesota Project partnered with Once Innovations, a company that manufactures LED lights for barns, and found dozens of farmers to test out the lights in their barns. They concluded that, so far, the durable LED lamps are holding up under the hot, dusty conditions of turkey barns. Another important benefit!

Another alternative many farmers are turning to is CFLs, which have the possibility of mercury contamination if they happen to break inside the barn. I, Dr. Bulb do not like the sound of unhealthy turkeys!

The Minnesota Project hopes to give rural utilities the necessary information so that they can design more effective rebate programs around LED lighting on farms. Fritz Ebinger, the study’s clean energy manager, says the adoption of LED lighting on farms not only affects individual farmers, but entire rural economies. I get so excited when people start using LED lights for innovative uses, whether it be LED wallpacks, LED bollard lights or LED barn lights.

While not all farmers have switched over to LED lamps, The Minnesota Project and I, Dr. Bulb, hope that agricultural barns will soon move past the early-adopter phase. While at first LED lamps were too expensive for farmers to invest in lighting upgrades, prices have dropped significantly.

Productive turkeys, less energy consumption, and increased cost efficiency sound great to me!