What the Fact: Lesser-Known Facts about LED Lighting

Jul 26, 13 What the Fact: Lesser-Known Facts about LED Lighting

With energy efficient lighting on the rise, people are beginning to turn to LED bulbs for their lighting needs. However, some of you may have a disregard for these bulbs due to various reasons. So, before you return your “defective” light bulbs, here are a few things you should know about them.

LEDs are directional.
Because they consist of flat chips, the light of LED bulbs generally faces one way. Some brands will focus the light outward or create with a lens that bends the light, making their LEDs omnidirectional.

There is a difference between R bulbs and PAR bulbs.
R (reflector) bulbs contain a diffuser, eliminating glare and softening the edges of the light. This makes these bulbs great for indoor use. PAR (parabolic aluminized reflector) bulbs do not have a diffuser. Instead, they are open and contain an aluminum reflector in the shape of a parabola. This allows the light to shine further and create a spotlight effect, making them perfect for outdoor use.

The LED wattage equivalent to an incandescent isn’t important.
When you see the wattage of your LED bulb equates to a particular incandescent, that number only matters when you are trying to compare energy savings. The important number to look for is the lumen output. Lumens determine the brightness of your bulb, so you want to be sure to verify that the lumen output of your new LED bulb is the same as, or close to, the lumen output of your old incandescent.

True 100W equal LED A19s do not exist… yet.
They don’t. I know what you are thinking. “I just saw a category for LED A19s on your site.” Yes, that is true; however, a standard A19 features a lumen output of 1600 lumens. LED bulbs create too much heat to allow for 1600 lumens. “But I thought LEDs don’t get hot,” you say. They do; however, they contain cooling components such as heat sinks, fans, or cooling liquids to dissipate the heat, moving it away from the light source and making the bulbs cooler than other standard bulbs. Philips has produced a 100W equal A21; however, the size can cause issues when used in task lighting as it can be too big for a lamp’s harp.

LED Chip

LED Chip

If your LED bulb fails before expected, it could be due to component malfunction, not the LED chip.
Did your bulb die before the average rated life listed on the packaging? Before you claim the bulb to be damaged, consider the fact that there are many components to an LED bulb. If one of them goes out, the chip won’t run. Another thing to consider is that the average rated life is an average amount of hours. When the bulbs were tested, 50% stayed lit through that amount of time; some went out before, and some went out after.

There is such a thing as too warm.
Be sure to check the color temperature of your LED bulb. If you end up with an LED that is 2400K or under, the light output will have a pink hue. However, if you like the color pink; LED bulbs with a low color temperature could work just fine.

Your LEDs are not faulty. Your timers and dimmers aren’t, either.
For night time lighting, many people use timers to turn their decorative LED lights on at a certain time every night and off in the morning. Some people like to create ambiance, so they use dimmers to tone down the lighting. So, what’s with the flickering and glowing? Decorative LEDs operate at a low voltage, so much so, that there is an extra amount of current that continues to leak through. The extra voltage is what keeps the lights on even after you have turned them off. To stop this voltage leak through, add a 120-volt incandescent bulb. The bulb will absorb the extra current, allowing your lights to turn off completely.

You can still buy 100-watt incandescent bulbs.
For those of you who cannot part ways with your 100-watt incandescent bulbs, do not fear! While they were “legislated out” of existence, the makers of your favorite bulbs have found a way around the legislation, allowing them to continue making the 100-watt bulbs. They have started making them with an additional filament support; which, in turn, classifies them as “rough service,” making them exempt from the legislation.

Still having trouble with LED bulbs? Don’t hesitate to reach out to us in the comments or let us know on Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus?

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Watts for Dessert? A Look at Edible Lighting Technologies

Everyone has heard the adage “my dog ate my homework.” Educators would say this is an excruciatingly poor excuse for not doing homework. However, “my dog ate my lamp, so I couldn’t do my homework” may soon become a legitimate excuse.

Thanks to some incredibly creative artists, the lighting world has a new addition, edible lamps. A sweet treat and good for the environment, these lamps definitely bring a new, distinctive quality to lighting.

Lumière au Chocolat

Lumière au Chocolat

Lumière au Chocolat

Delicious, scrumptious, and delectable, all words to define a lamp. What’s so tasty about a lamp? The idea that it is made of chocolate is a start. A Swedish designer by the name of Alexander Lervik worked with LED specialists from Saas Instruments to create the Lumière au Chocolat (Chocolate Lamp), which was on display at the Stockholm Furniture Fair. Influenced by the concept of polar nights, the lamp, as solid trapezoid of chocolate, is completely dark when turned on. As the heat from an incandescent bulb hits the chocolate, it starts to form holes, allowing more light to pass through. Once the chocolate thoroughly melts down, it slowly forms back into solid pieces for a delectable treat. Perhaps this lamp isn’t ideal for homework; it could be a wonderful addition to a restaurant’s dessert menu.

BITE ME

BITE ME LED desk lamp

BITE ME LED desk lamp

Not a chocolate fan? No worries! New York based designer Victor Vetterlein’s BITE ME bioplastic LED desk lamp is made from natural, non-toxic ingredients including agar (a gelatin formed from sea algae), flavoring, food coloring, purified water, and vegetable glycerin. Coming in flavors of apple, blueberry, orange, and cherry, this lamp resembles a fruit roll-up with the solidity of plastic. The lamp includes an LED circuit board with an adhesive strip to be placed on the underside of the lamp and two power cords, one to be connected to a low voltage power converter and the other to a USB port. Once the lamp becomes a terrible bore, toss it in your backyard as compost or eat it, of course. Simply wash the lamp with organic soap and warm water and soak it in water for an hour; it will soften and have the consistency and taste of a fruit snack.

Time to Eat

Roald Dahl would be proud; we’ve gotten a step closer to Willy Wonka’s “world of pure imagination.” While we haven’t quite gotten to the full-fledged chocolate waterfall or 3-course meal gum, we do have edible lamps. Interested in one of the two, or both? Unfortunately for all of us, these lamps are not currently for sale, but we’ll be standing in line next to you when they are.

What do you think about edible lamps? Leave us a comment or visit us on Facebook, Google Plus, or Twitter!

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Lighting Law: Chrome Yellow Paint vs. LED Bulbs

Portrait of Gauguin

Portrait of Gauguin

The plaintiff, 125-year old chrome yellow paint, claims the defendant, 90-year old LED lighting, is darkening its bright, beautiful color. The discovery was first announced in November of 2012 when a team of scientists ran some tests using LED lighting against chrome yellow paint, specifically from Van Gogh’s work, Portrait of Gauguin. As Post-Impressionist works are featured in museums today, they need to be featured in a light that enhances their best attributes. Essentially, LEDs are best way to enhance the color and the focal points of the pieces; they do not contain infrared or ultraviolet (UV) radiation. However, could it be possible they are damaging works of art from some of the great masters?

The Plaintiff: Chrome Yellow Paint

To Post-Impressionist artists, like Vincent Van Gogh, color was an important feature in their art. They believed in contrast, making bright colors pop while enhancing the subtlety of dark colors. The chrome pigment, at that time, was popular as it created bold, bright colors. Discovered in 1797, chrome yellow pigment came from the mineral crocoite, lead chromate. It was used in the 1800s, but on a strict basis; the pigment would oxidize and darken over a period of time after being exposed to air. Naturally, the fact that the paint contained lead did not allow for a great reception either, leading to its early demise.

The Defendant: LED Bulbs

We praise LED bulbs; they are efficient, economical, and most of all, safe. They are frequently used in art museums, as the crisp, white light allows colors to pop. LEDs do not emit harmful UV rays, eliminating the risk of color degradation, nor do they emit heat from infrared radiation, removing the possibility of damage; nevertheless, it appears the bulbs seem to be slowly dulling the chrome yellow in these works.

The Surprise Confession: Xenon Bulbs

Breaking news in the courtroom! Upon further investigation, it has come to light that xenon bulbs were the culprit of this heinous crime; xenon bulbs do create heat as well as emit UV rays. While they make for bright, white light, these characteristics of xenon bulbs are not a pleasant companion for the chrome yellow paint featured in Post-Impressionist paintings. These traits do, in fact, speed up the oxidation process of the paint, thus causing the discoloration of the paintings. While some xenon bulbs have UV protection, a small amount of UV rays will still pass through.

Case Dismissed

While LED bulbs caught a bad rap for a short time, they escaped the guillotine of the lighting world. These green, energy efficient bulbs will continue to light the way for our world and our museums. Unfortunately, chrome yellow paint is destined to continue to oxidize, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still enjoy the beauty of in these masterpieces. Imagine how beautiful and bright it was when it was first used.

Comments or questions about LED lighting in a gallery? Let us know! Visit us on Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus!

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LED Christmas Light String Guide

Oct 05, 12 LED Christmas Light String Guide

1000Bulbs.com now carries hundreds of LED Christmas lights. Far from only reserved for the tech-savvy, these products are now mainstream holiday lighting. Last year alone we saw LED Christmas light adoption up 25%, and we expect that trend to continue.

To make your Christmas decorating as easy as possible, here are all the different types of LED Christmas light strings currently available, along with a brief description and application ideas for each type.

LED Mini LightsLED Mini Light Strings: Also known as M5 LED lights, these emulate the look of incandescent mini lights. Most have faceted caps that disperse the light from the LED, though some newer LED mini lights look identical to their incandescent counterparts.

LED Wide Angle LightsLED Wide Angle Mini Lights: Though these do not directly emulate the look of mini lights, they serve the same function. Wide angle LED lights (sometimes called “Polka Dot” lights) use a 5 mm concave lens to disperse light in a wide, circular pattern. See this graphic to better understand how Wide Angle lights work.

LED Versaline LightsLED Commercial Light Sets: New this year, these special low-voltage light sets are meant for commercial applications. Also known by the brand name “Versaline,” these low-voltage lights use proprietary, daisy-chained controllers and connectors for amazing effects in large civic, business, and theme park displays.

LED C6 LightsLED C6 Light Strings: Sometimes called “strawberry” lights, these strings feature 3/4 inch diameter faceted bulbs permanently affixed to wire. Slightly larger and brighter than LED mini lights, C6 strings are popular for indoor applications including garlands and Christmas trees.

LED C7 LightsLED C7 Light Strings: These strings feature 7/8 inch diameter smooth or faceted bulbs permanently affixed to wire. Though typically used outdoors, they are sometimes seen indoors where they create a strong, richly-colored “pop.”

 

LED C9 LightsLED C9 Light Strings: These strings feature 1-1/8 inch diameter smooth or faceted bulbs permanently affixed to wire. Unlike C7 strings, these large, bright bulbs are visible from large distances and are almost exclusively used outdoors to line everything from rooftops to sidewalks.

LED G12 Globe LightsLED G12 “Berry” Light Strings: These strings feature 12 mm (about 1/2 in.) diameter berry-shaped globes permanently affixed to wire. Their unique “berry” shape is sometimes preferred to the cone shape of C6 strings and makes them a popular choice for wreaths and garlands.

 

LED Programmable LightsProgrammable LED Light Strings: Not to be confused with commercial light sets, programmable LED light strings feature built-in, multi-function controllers and large lights in creative shapes like icicles and oversized C7 bulbs. The controllers on these lights are deceptively simple, with just a few buttons able to create a unique light show.

LED InvisiLiteInvisiLite LED Light Strings: Great for centerpieces and small wreaths, these strings feature tiny LED bulbs set on bendable and formable wire that virtually disappears against a green background. The wire is slightly rigid, so it holds its shape and affixes well to any type of artificial greenery.

 

What is your choice for Christmas lights this year? Will you be using LED or sticking with old-fashioned incandescent? Let us know what you think in the comments, and be sure to share your project ideas on our Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and Pinterest pages. We especially like to see your pictures!

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4 Steps to Clean Up a Broken CFL

Sep 07, 12 4 Steps to Clean Up a Broken CFL

If you read last week’s article, you learned about the mercury content in compact fluorescents and just how much of a threat it can be to your health. However, you were probably left with this question: If a CFL in your home breaks, what do you do? You don’t need to call a hazmat team, but you will need to follow these 4 tips for your safety:

1. Don’t Panic

First, don’t panic. As noted in the previous article, your exposure to mercury from a broken CFL is less than that in a tuna sandwich. Though the danger of mercury exposure is minimal, use common sense: Get everyone out of the room and make sure they don’t step on the glass.

2. Close Off the Room

Next, close off the room and open the windows to let any mercury vapors ventilate. It’s also a good idea to turn off your HVAC system to avoid circulating the vapors throughout your home. The room should be safe to re-enter after about 10 minutes*.

3. Collect the Debris

Upon returning to the room, collect the debris, including broken glass, powder, and plastic from the broken lamp. Do this by scooping up the broken pieces with a stiff piece of paper. Use the sticky side of a piece of duct tape to pick up any smaller pieces remaining on the floor or stuck in carpet fibers. However, do not use a vacuum cleaner, which could excite the mercury on the floor and release it into the air.

4. Recycle or Dispose

Finally, place all materials in a sealable container such as a jar or pack it within two zipper bags. Dispose of the CFL and its container according to laws in your area. Though most areas allow CFLs to be disposed of in the garbage, the best way to dispose of a CFL, broken or intact, is by recycling. The process is simple, inexpensive, and in some areas, it’s even free. To find a recycling location near you, go to Earth911.com. For added convenience, you may prefer a postage-paid CFL recycling kit from Veolia.

Have you ever had to clean up a broken CFL? Let us know and share your thoughts in the comments below, or visit us on Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus!

*As recommended by the US EPA. Smaller or poorly ventilated rooms should be left unoccupied for a longer period of time.

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Mercury in CFL Bulbs: Is It Dangerous?

Aug 31, 12 Mercury in CFL Bulbs: Is It Dangerous?

Lighting topics don’t get much more exciting than the debate over the mercury content of compact fluorescents (CFLs). Those against the use of CFLs claim that the potential harm of toxic mercury contained within the energy-saving bulbs far outweighs any environmental benefits. On the other side, groups feel such rhetoric is overblown. But what are the facts?

 

Why Use Mercury in CFLs?

Mercury (Hg) is a naturally occurring element used in applications as varied as thermometers, dental fillings, and fluorescent lighting. The cathodes within a fluorescent tube produce electric current that passes through argon gas and mercury vapor. In turn, the mercury vapor emits ultraviolet light that excites the phosphor coating within the fluorescent tube, producing visible light [1]. The technology is the same for both linear fluorescent tubes (like those seen in office buildings) and self-ballasted compact fluorescents (the “spiral” bulbs used in homes). In short, without mercury, fluorescent lights will not work.

 

How Much Mercury is in a CFL?

The amount of mercury contained within a CFL varies, and in general, has decreased since their introduction nearly two decades ago. As of November 2010, the US EPA’s Energy Star program concluded that the average amount of mercury within a screw-in CFL was 4 milligrams, comparable to the size of a ballpoint pen tip [2]. This pales in comparison to older thermometers, which contain as much as 500 mg [3] and even amalgam dental fillings, which contain about 100 mg of mercury [4].

Mercury Content

Mercury Content in Popular Items

Keep in mind, however, that the mercury contained in a CFL, thermometer, or dental filling can be present in these sources in two forms: A liquid, which is what we typically think of when we think of mercury, and a vapor that quickly dissipates. In the case of a broken CFL, the most likely form of exposure comes from inhaled mercury vapor. A paper in the August 2009 issue of the lighting journal LD+A found that the median amount of mercury vapor to which a person is exposed through a broken CFL is a tiny fraction of the total mercury contained within the bulb: Approximately 0.07 micrograms (0.0007 mg). On the other hand, a tuna fish sandwich, which contains the more hazardous methylmercury, is estimated to expose the consumer to more than 48 times that amount due to the more efficient method of consumption (literally eating the mercury) [5].

 

Who Regulates Mercury in CFLs?

Despite its relatively low concentration in CFLs, mercury is still a toxic substance. For this reason, the EPA requires that CFLs contain no more than 5 mg of mercury for consideration in their Energy Star program. The European Union and the State of California adopted even tougher regulations, requiring CFLs to contain no more than 2.5 mg of mercury by 2013 [6]. Manufacturers, however, have made the biggest strides. A 60-watt equal, warm white Neolite CFL by Litetronics, for example, uses only 1 mg of mercury, 80% less than Energy Star requirements [7]. Along with other major manufacturers, Sylvania voluntarily capped CFL mercury content at 4 mg, with the 13-watt DULUX EL 29409 containing only 1.5 mg [8].

 

The Answer?

So the question remains: Is the mercury in CFLs dangerous? It’s not an easy question to answer. Mercury is a toxic substance, yet it is unlikely that fluorescent lighting would ever expose a person to an amount of the neurotoxin sufficient to cause physiological harm. Want proof of that? Despite putting themselves in a worst-case scenario fluorescent lighting mishap, to the best of our knowledge, these two guys are still alive and well:

 

References:

1. Van Dussen, Matthew. ‘The Mercury Myth: How Much Mercury Do CFLs Actually Contain?’ TXNOLOGIST. Retrieved 2012-08-30.

2. ‘Frequently Asked Questions: Information on Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs) and Mercury’. Energy Star. Retrieved 2012-08-30.

3. ‘Indoor Liquid Mercury Spills: Frequently Asked Questions’. State of Michigan. Retrieved 2012-08-30.

4. ‘IMERC Fact Sheet: Mercury Use in Dental Amalgam’. NEWMOA. Retrieved 2012-08-30.

5. Clear, Robert et al. ‘Dangerous Mercury in CFLs? One Big Fish Story’. LD+A. Retrieved 2012-08-30.

6. (2)

7. Litetronics Neolite Sell Sheet. 1000Bulbs.com. Retrieved 2012-08-30.

8. ‘Mercury Quantity in Lamps for General Lighting Applications’. Sylvania. Retrieved 2012-08-30.

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