Jan 24, 14
While outfitting your home with booby traps akin to Jason Bourne might be fun, setting up your home with a good net of security lights is easier, not to mention safer. The good news is that making your home a less appealing target is actually pretty easy. Below, we’ll throw some tips your way that will make criminals focus their attention elsewhere.
Timers: Simple and ultra-affordable, plug in timers are one of the easiest ways to protect your home. Have to work late and don’t want to come home to a dark house? Going away for a weekend to visit the in-laws, but still want your dining room lights and TV to come on as if you were there? Timers can do all that and then some. Many timers have multiple set points, like the Tork 401A, giving you the freedom to customize when your lights turn on and off, therefore increasing that “lived in” look.
Motion Activated Lights: Motion activated lights are one of the best ways to keep your home safe. They don’t need to be turned on, you can’t forget to turn them off, and they’re operational at all times. It’s important to put motion activated lights around key areas of your home, like over doors or on exterior walls that illuminate a darkened section of your home, eliminating potential hiding spots. For example, maybe you have a gate next to your garage that leads to your backyard. An outward-facing motion sensor would be great on your garage, so that when it comes on, you’ll be able to see the lights from a kitchen or bedroom window. Keep in mind that CFLs are not recommended for use with motion activated sensors, as the constant on and off will greatly shorten the life of the bulb.
Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing your motion activated lights:
- Unless you live in a heavily guarded federal building, you don’t want the same type of lights the FBI uses for their buildings. You actually would want something that’s not overly bright, so you can actually see what’s going on. It’s also a good idea, if you can, to have your lights pointing at something that will be noticeable when the lights are activated, something like a fence. That way you’ll be able to notice when the lights are on from multiple areas in your home.
- Also, make sure to install your lights high enough where they can’t be disabled by someone on the ground and trim those bushes by your windows, to eliminate possible hiding spots.
Porch/Patio Lights: Porch lights shouldn’t only be used during Halloween to determine which houses are handing out candy. Apart from being a sign of hospitality when you have people over, the outdoor lighting fixtures you have in the front and back of your home play a crucial role in your home’s security. Ideally, there should be fixtures on either side of the door, to eliminate shadows. They should also be controlled by a photocell (a device that keeps the lights from coming on in the daytime) or timers. Avoid having lights directly overhead or behind where someone would be standing, as these placements will create harsh shadows or a silhouette effect. This setup will accomplish three things: allow you to quickly find your keys, let you know when someone passes by or is at your door, and allow you to clearly identify who’s at your door.
*When choosing the bulbs to put in your fixtures, choose bulbs that have a CRI equal to or greater than 80. The higher the CRI, colors will look richer and more vibrant. This will help identify the colors of cars, differences in skin tone, and the colors of clothes with greater accuracy.
Landscape Lighting: Looking to add a touch of sophistication to your home’s exterior and eliminate holes in your home’s net of security lighting You can accomplish both with pathway lights. Adding a few of these lights to your sidewalk will not only increase your home’s curb appeal, but will also make the journey from your car to the front door much safer. You may want to stay away from solar-powered lights, as these tend to be very dim. What about those Oak trees in your front yard, or the garden you’ve spent countless back-breaking weekends on? Light ‘em up with uplighting and landscape lighting. For uplighting, it’s important to remember to use warmer color temperatures (2400-3000K) for red tones, such as brick, as the warmer colors will bring out the color of the brick. For landscape lighting, cool color temperatures (4000-4100K) are best, as these will make foliage appear more lush and vivid. Uplighting and landscape lighting serve two functions: to display your hard work and reduce the amount of hiding places potential evil-doers have.
We’ve covered the main areas of security lighting. Are there any others we may have missed? Let us know in the comments below, or holler at us on Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn!
Jan 15, 14
There are some definite advantages to renting an apartment or a townhome. If something breaks, you don’t have to pay to have it fixed, and you don’t have to clean the gutters or mow the lawn. However, one big disadvantage of renting is that you may not be able to change out the lighting fixtures as you see fit, and if you can, there’s always a risk of damaging something, and forfeiting your security deposit. So what can you do if your landlord doesn’t want you doing a little lighting makeover? Below are a few simple lighting tips to make the most out of your rented space.
Energy Efficient Lighting: Let’s start with the basics here. We know that the EISA bulb ban officially banned standard 100-watt incandescent bulbs on January 1, 2012,
FlexTec 5050-60-IP20-27K2403 Warm White LED Tape Light
with 75-watt incandescent bulbs following suit on January 1, 2013. The 40 and 60-watt bulbs got the ax this year on January 1 as well. So what does that leave you with? Well, you can either go with CFLs, or their much more efficient alternatives, LEDs. Both will save you stacks of cash compared to incandescent bulbs, but your most efficient option here are the LEDs. While the initial cost of LEDs is considerably higher than incandescents and CFLs, the amount of money you’ll save more than makes up for the initial cost. Plus, you can put the money you save on your energy costs toward your lighting makeover.
Under Cabinet Lighting: The kitchen is one of the most important places to have adequate lighting, not to mention you can add some unique touches with accent lighting.
Since it’s wise to have enough light when you’re using sharp objects to slice and dice, look into under cabinet lighting. If you choose the under cabinet lighting route, you want to make sure your overhead lighting and under cabinet lighting match in color temperature. For example, if your overhead fixture is a cool white (between 4000K and 4100K), then you want to make sure your cabinet lighting matches that color temperature as well. Not only will installing an under cabinet fixture give you more usable light, but it’ll add a touch of refinement as well. If you already have sufficient lighting in your kitchen, check out LED tape light. Amazingly easy to install, LED tape light is an affordable way to add a little flair.
Floor/Table Lamps: Table and floor lamps are simple accessories that have a lot to offer. Not only will they give you more usable light, but they’ll also make your living space a little cozier. Like to curl up with a good book on those rainy days? Try adding a table lamp next to your favorite chair in the living room. Just like table lamps, floor lamps are versatile in that they offer both ambient and task lighting, giving you the freedom to switch between the two as the mood dictates. Looking for something that offers a different feel in terms of ambiance? Try LED candles. Battery operated and made of wax, these candles are much safer than regular candles, but have the same look and feel.
How do you make the most of your rented space? Tell us in the comments below, or give us a shout out on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, or Pinterest!
Jan 10, 14
The light bulb ban is bringing energy efficient bulbs, such as LEDs, to the forefront. While this is ruffling the feathers of those not eager to give up the traditional incandescent bulb quite yet, we’ve composed a list of some things that will make the transition to LED lighting as seamless as possible.
Dimmability: Another great way to save on your energy costs is dimming your lights. Dimmers are great for two reasons: they reduce your energy consumption and extend the life of your bulb, and they can set the perfect mood during dinner or watching a movie. While incandescent bulbs change color as they dim, most LEDs don’t. They simply dim by reducing their brightness while maintaining the same color. Before you buy a dimmer, make sure your LED bulbs are dimmable and your bulbs are compatible with your dimmer.
Color Rendering Index (CRI): You may have never heard of CRI before today, but it’s still a really important factor when deciding on your bulbs. Color rendering index is a measure of how accurately a bulb renders colors in relation to the sun, which has a CRI of 100. Why is CRI important? The higher a bulb’s CRI, the better colors will look. Colors will look more vibrant and richer, which you’ll be able to notice in areas such as the kitchen and in the closet. The lower the CRI, the worse colors will look, as they’ll appear washed up and even yellow. Incandescent bulbs have a CRI of 100, meaning they render colors just as accurately as the sun. LED bulbs don’t have a CRI as high as that of an incandescent bulb, but they come fairly close. A good number to use as a reference for CRI is 85, which is a very good color rendering. For an example of CRI in action, click here.
Color Temperature: Before we dive into color temperature, let me first start by saying that color temperature has nothing to do with ambient temperature. Now that that’s settled, color temperature refers to the actual color of the light that’s produced. The lower the numbers, the yellower the light and the higher the numbers, the whiter the light. The warm white scale runs from 2400 Kelvin to 3000 Kelvin, while cool white runs from 4000 Kelvin to 4100 Kelvin and stark white ranging from 5000 Kelvin to 6500 Kelvin. So which color temperature do you pick? That’s purely up to you. Most people will use warm white bulbs to create a cozy, homely feeling throughout the home, and maybe use a cool white bulb in the kitchen. You probably won’t see too many homes with cool white bulbs in them, as these are typically used in hospitals and in businesses.
Light Output: For incandescent bulbs, the higher the wattage, the brighter the bulb (measured in lumens). While that’s accurate for incandescent bulbs, that’s not quite the case for LEDs, as LED bulbs require the use of far less wattage to achieve the same effect as incandescent bulbs. For example, a 60-watt incandescent bulb produces 800 lumens, but it may take only 8, 12, or 14 watts for an LED bulb to produce the same amount of lumens. In other words, you want to choose your bulb based on the amount of lumens it produces, not on the wattage it consumes. The chart on the right will give you a breakdown of the lumen output of standard incandescent bulbs. It’s a good idea to write down these outputs before you go shopping for LEDs, as the product descriptions and labels may not have this information on them.
Price: Easily the biggest objection people have with LEDs is price, which is understandable. While prices are coming down, the upfront cost of this new technology can be a little hard to swallow. However, think of it like this: the initial cost of LEDs will be quickly offset by their longevity and the fact they use substantially less energy than incandescents. Also, you’ll see paybacks on your investments within 12 to 18 months. Not to mention that some LEDs last up to 50,000 hours, while the standard incandescent, while a fraction of the cost of an LED bulb, lasts only about 1,200 hours.
What are some things that will impact your LED buying decisions? Tell us in the comments below, or give us a shout on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, or Pinterest!
Jan 03, 14
Christmas has come and gone, and it’s now the start of a new year. What’s that mean for you? Quitting a habit, like biting your fingernails or finishing other people’s sentences? What about reducing your energy consumption, thus reducing your electric bill? While we support the other goals, reducing your energy consumption sounds a little better. Below are some things that will help you reduce your energy costs in 2014.
Occupancy/Vacancy Sensors: One of the easiest ways to reduce your energy consumption is to turn the lights off when you’re not in a room. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, it’s pretty common to accidentally leave the lights on when you leave a room, and I’m guilty of that from time to time, too. Thankfully, there are occupancy and vacancy sensors that control the lights for you. These sensors eliminate the possibility of leaving the lights on by detecting body heat. When the unit detects body heat, it flips the lights on, and when it doesn’t detect body heat, the lights go off. Ranging in coverage areas from 450 to 2,000 square feet, occupancy and vacancy sensors are ideal for nearly every room in your home.
Lutron D-600P-IV Single Pole Rotary Switch
Dimmers: Not only do dimmer switches allow you to control the amount of light your bulbs are producing, but they also extend your bulbs’ life by reducing the amount of voltage going to your bulbs. So instead of 120 volts, your bulb receives, say, 80 volts. Dimmer switches don’t only come in switches. Other kinds of dimmers include rotary dimmers, toggle type dimmers, and slide dimmers. Look at the different styles for yourself, and see which type best suits you and your tastes.
Precision Multiple T-15 Photo Control
Photo Controls: It’s time to move on to outdoor lighting controls. Photo controls, also known as photocells, are an excellent tool for controlling your outdoor floodlights, garden lights, and just about anything you can think of. The same principle applies with outdoor lighting as indoor lighting: there’s always a risk of leaving something on, like the floodlights over your garage. Photocells eliminate this risk by using the sun to turn your lights on and off. When there’s a lack of sunlight, the device switches your lights on by increasing the voltage little by little (CFLs won’t work with photo controls as they need that instant pulse of electricity to turn on, not the gradual increase offered by photocells), and when the sun starts to creep up in the mornings, the photocell turns your lights off. There are even some photocells that can tell the difference between headlights and the sun.
Timers: Timers give a whole new meaning to the word “convenient.” While it’s probably too cold to catch a few rays poolside, pool season will be here before you know it. With that in mind, having a pool and spa timer controlling your pumps and vacuums makes things a whole lot simpler. While energy conservation is a hot topic, water conservation is just as hot. Look into getting a sprinkler and irrigation timer to ensure you don’t over-water your plants and you conserve precious water resources. While these timers vary greatly in their features, many have the ability to water every other day, and include a shutoff switch on rainy days without losing your settings.
*The occupancy/vacancy sensors, dimmer switches, and photo controls work best with incandescent bulbs. If you use LEDs or fluorescents, ensure your equipment is compatible with your bulbs beforehand.
What ways will you be more Earth friendly? Tell us in the comments below, or drop us a line on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and Pinterest!
Dec 20, 13
Just as quickly as Christmas came, it’s almost time for it to leave again. Don’t you wish there was an easier way to store your decorations, without dealing with the headache of tangled, broken lights, squished Christmas trees and wreaths, and broken ornaments? Below are a few tips that will take the hassle out of decorating for next year’s holiday season, making the season just a little brighter.
Christmas Light Storage
HLS 92100 WRAP-N-ROLL
I had a stretch of time in my life when I would be the one who would put the Christmas lights on the house. In all, it took about four hours to set my parents’ electricity bill up to be double come January. Three and half hours were spent untangling the lights, and the other 30 minutes were used to actually hang the lights. Eliminate the stress of pulling out a wad of Christmas lights with the Christmas mini light storage wheel. This storage wheel holds up to 200 mini lights and up to 150 icicle lights. Convenient not only for Christmas lights, this storage wheel also makes quick work of storing extension cords, decorative beads, and garlands.
Wreath and Christmas Tree Storage
Christmas Lite Co. TK-10106 TreeKeeper Pro
One of the best parts about Christmas is gathering the family ‘round the Christmas tree, decorating it together, and enjoying the toils of your labor. One of the more frustrating parts of Christmas is dealing with that box your tree or wreath came in, and watching it deteriorate little by little until it’s finally held together with duct tape. Plus, you can never get your Christmas tree back in the box like the factory did, so that always leaves your tree unevenly crammed into the box, resulting in broken and squished branches. Ditch the box and invest in Christmas tree and wreath storage bags. Made with sturdy, durable canvas, these storage bags will protect your decorations from the elements, and provide easy transportation thanks to the handles. Our wreath bags start at 28 inches in diameter and go all the way up to 60 inches in diameter, while our Christmas tree storage bags will hold trees up to nine feet tall. We even have a few on wheels, so all you have to do is pull the bag over your tree and wheel it out.
Ornament and Other Storage
Tired of dealing with broken ornament after broken ornament year after year? Using an ornament keeper will keep all your ornaments organized and undamaged until the next holiday season, and it even has a little extra room for some of your other decorations. An ornament keeper like this one will hold up to 72, 4-inch ornaments. If you’re squared away on storing your tree, wreath, and ornaments and just need some extra storage for that village scene on your mantle, then look into a rolling holiday storage bag. Perfect for extra garland, power cords, or anything else you can think of, this bag sits on two rear wheels and makes organizing your Christmas that much easier.
We’d love to hear which of these storage solutions you’re planning to use! Tell us in the comments below, or drop us a line on Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus!