Mar 06, 14
Do you have boring, vacant wall space in your home? Have you been wanting to put your creativity and inner craftsman to the test but have had no idea where to start? Then you should definitely consider adding a personal touch to your home décor by creating your own unique LED rope light sign.
LED rope light is long-lasting and easy to configure into beautiful, loopy lettering. Plus, you can adjust the size of the letters to cover medium to large amounts of wall space that would otherwise require a large, expensive painting or various amounts of smaller artwork to fill. Spell out your family motto, an important value, or your child’s name and immediately alter the ambiance of any room to match it.
Here’s what you need:
Here’s how you do it:
- Once you have all your materials, plug your LED rope light into the wall to make sure it is working properly.
- Plan where you want to hang your word. Use a ruler, measuring stick, or other tool to draw a straight line where you want the bases of your letters to rest. (Keep in mind where the nearest outlet is and which end of the rope light you will plug into the outlet!)
- Configure the rope light into the word you want on the floor in front of your wall. Use weights to keep it your letters in position while you tape your letters in place.
- Attach your rope light word to the wall with more heavy duty tape, making sure the bottoms of your letters are touching the baseline you drew earlier. (Hint: You or your partner holds each letter in place while the other tapes it down.)
- After your word is taped to the wall, repeat the following steps for each letter:
- Choose a corner of the letter to start on.
- Remove the tape holding it to the wall. The other pieces of the letter that are taped to the wall should hold the majority of the letter in place.
- Remove the tape that was holding the letter in its shape and use zip ties to hold it together instead. If you opted to use an incandescent rope light, make sure all the tape is removed before leaving your word on for long periods of time.
- Visually gauge the places where you will need to attach your clips to the wall (usually where the tape was) and mark these places using chalk or a pencil.
- Place your clips into the proper positions and screw them in.
- Snap the rope light into the clips and pick another section of the letter to repeat the process until you finish your word.
- Once you’ve completed attaching your word to the wall, cut off any excess rope light that you don’t need (look closely at the cut marks on the rope light) and cap off the end of the rope.
- Plug in your LED rope light. Voilà! You’re done.
That’s it for this tutorial. Have you done any awesome DIY projects using ropelight? Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, or Pinterest!
Mar 05, 14
We already know that lighting has a substantial effect on our moods, making us feel less energetic on dull, cloudy mornings than on bright, sunny days. But what if I told you that lighting also has an effect on our cognitive abilities, such as learning and productivity?
In a 2010 case study on students in a German primary school, the Philips lighting company put this question to the test with their SchoolVision dynamic lighting system. This system allowed teachers to vary the brightness or color mood of their classrooms according to the time of day or activity, the goal being to see if changing the lighting in certain situations would result in different classroom behaviors. Below is what they found.
There were four main light settings, Normal, Energy, Focus, and Calm, all of which were expertly engineered to encourage either a stimulating or relaxing environment.
- Normal had a standard intensity level and color tone, creating an ideal setting for regular classroom activity.
- Energy had a higher intensity level and a very cool color tone, helping invigorate students when they needed to be more active such as in the mornings or after lunch.
- Focus had the highest intensity light and a moderately cool color tone, aiding concentration during challenging tasks such as quizzes or tests.
- Calm had a standard intensity light level and a warm color tone, bringing a relaxing ambiance to individual work or quiet time.
Using the recommended settings over the course of one year, teachers saw a 35 percent improvement in reading speed with almost 45 percent less errors than the control group. Hyperactivity was also reduced by up to 76 percent under the Calm setting, a figure that the control group did not come even close to. These numbers definitely seem to support the conclusion that lighting produces psychological effects that impact our attention span, concentration, and behavior. Moreover, they also correlate with other studies that prove that the same is true not only for children in a classroom setting, but also for adults in the workplace. For instance, in the late 1980s, the lighting system in the U.S. post office in Reno, Nevada was renovated to swap its harsh, artificial light for softer, more natural light. The upgrade not only resulted in $50,000 in energy savings, but productivity increases (such as much faster mail sorters and lower error rates for machine operators) that were projected to boost company revenues by up to $500,000 per year.
Unfortunately, the effect of light on behavior is less easily measured or studied than energy savings, so findings like these are rarely considered when a school or business is implementing a new lighting system. Although interchanging warm and cool color tones and varying light intensities throughout the day like with the SchoolVision system would probably be ideal, even a simple swap from dim, harsh lighting to softer, more natural lighting in the workplace can clearly make a big difference in enhancing job performance.
Could your workplace benefit from dynamic or natural light? Does lighting affect you differently at certain places or times of day? Tell us in the comments below, or drop us a line on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, or Google Plus!
Feb 28, 14
My approach to watering plants is similar to wrapping Christmas presents: there’s no such thing as too much. When my mom would send me out to water her garden, each plant looked as if it had had its own torrential downpour. There were massive puddles, and the water would take a good 30 minutes to soak into the soil. I mean, it’s summertime in Texas; surely these things need three gallons of water each, right? Not quite. In fact, over-watering your plants can be as detrimental as under-watering.
So how do you keep from over-watering your plants? We’ll throw some tips your way to maintain that perfect balance of moisture.
Too Much = Certain Death
While “certain death” may seem a bit extreme, it isn’t far from the truth when it comes to watering your plants. So what actually happens when your plants have too much water?
- The soil becomes saturated
- Saturated soil prevents the plant from drawing much-needed oxygen
- The roots begin to decay, also referred to as “root rot”
- Your plant is more susceptible to fungal diseases
Pythium, Rhizoctonia, and Phytophthora are the culprits behind root rot. While root rot is difficult to reverse once it has set in, Hygrozyme, an enzyme that breaks down old root mass and stimulates new root growth, can certainly help. Not only does Hygrozyme eat dead roots that provide protein for your plants, it also helps prevent disease and helps plants absorb more nutrients from the soil.
Time to Water?
Interestingly enough, the signs of over-watering your plants resemble the signs of a lack of water. When there is too much water, the leaves will wilt and droop, turn yellow, and will fall off the plant. So how do you know when your plants need water? Well, there are a few ways.
The Finger Test
The simplest way to find out if your plants need water is to put your finger in the soil at the base of the plant, up to your second knuckle. If there’s soil stuck to your finger, your plants don’t need water. However, if your finger is relatively clean, it’s time to water.
The Dig Test
A little more complicated and requiring a tad more effort is the dig test. The point here is to determine how long it takes the water to soak the soil. Before you start watering, check the moisture level about 6 to 12 inches below the surface. Start watering and take note of the time. After a few minutes (depending on the flow rate), shut the water off and check the moisture level again. If the soil is saturated, then you’ll know just how long to water your plants without overdoing it.
Luster Leaf LL01880 Rapitest
If you’re a little leery about sticking your fingers in soil, try a moisture meter. Often not requiring batteries, these simple, yet effective tools and test the moisture levels of your soil, taking the guesswork out of watering.
Watering Tips for Potted Plants
That Catnip you have growing in your kitchen windowsill can also fall victim to over-watering. Below are some tips to practice with your potted plants.
- Make sure to moisten the entire root ball when watering. This can be tricky because as the root ball dries, it pulls away from the edges, and as it’s moistened, it expands. In order to accomplish this, fill the space between the surface of the soil and the rim of the pot with water. Let the water soak in, and repeat. This should sufficiently moisten the root ball.
- Make sure the drainage hole at the bottom of the pot drains properly. If not, this will cause the saturation mentioned earlier. If necessary, expand the holes with a knife.
- If you have containers underneath your pots to catch the water, empty those out when the plant is done draining. Otherwise, the root ball will absorb too much water from the container and the roots will drown.
- Forget to water your plant for a few days? No worries. It’s ok to submerge your potted plants in water for a bit. Use the kitchen sink, or a bucket. Leave them in there for an hour or so, remove them, and then let the excess water drain.
*A good rule of thumb is to give your plants an inch of supplemental water whenever nature isn’t feeling too generous with the rain.
Were there any watering tips we forgot to mention? Let us know in the comments below or holler at us on Google Plus, Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn!
Feb 21, 14
For all you gardeners out there, you know the frustrations of growing outdoors: the unrelenting heat withers your plants and makes it almost impossible to enjoy working in your garden, the weather can change in the blink of an eye, bringing a heat wave or torrential downpours, or that giant garden spider that’s made itself nice and cozy around your Rosemary bushes. With all these variables, it’s no wonder outdoor gardening can be so maddening and why moving your growing indoors isn’t as crazy as it sounds. While this isn’t a comprehensive how-to, we’ve gathered the high points of starting your first indoor grow.
So what exactly is hydroponics? Hydroponics is the art and science of indoor growing using all sorts of growing mediums, from growstones, clay rocks, rockwool, soil, coco, and soilless mixes. The beauty of hydroponics is that there’s no one way to grow and there’s no limit on what you can grow. Some choose to grow vegetables to have purely organic vegetables, bypassing all the pesticides, while others grow indoors as a hobby. Plus, hydroponics gives you the control to grow whatever you want whenever you want. Whether it’s 15 degrees with three feet of snow or it’s 110 degrees with 90 percent humidity, your indoor grows aren’t affected.
Where to Start?
First decide what you want to grow. Do you want to grow non-flowering herbs like cilantro or basil, or are you looking to grow flowering plants like vegetables? Your set up will depend on what you choose to grow. For example, if you want to grow vegetables or flowers, you’ll need a 400-watt HID grow light fixture, with both HPS and metal halide bulbs for the different growth stages. For those non-flowering plants, like basil and cilantro, you can stick with T5 grow lights for the whole growing cycle. Commercial growing will need a bigger coverage area, produced by multiple 1000-watt HID fixtures.
*Note: Since hydroponics can be a bit overwhelming, we’ll save many of the details, such as coverage area, for a later time.
As we know from elementary school science, plants need light to grow. If you’re growing indoors, you have to supply your own sun in the form of HID (high intensity discharge) grow lights, which include high pressure sodium (HPS) and metal halide bulbs. There are also LED grow lights, which, just like their household counterparts, use less electricity and last longer than other types of bulbs.
Plants go through stages: a growth stage, also called a vegetative stage, and a flowering stage, also called the budding stage. Both of these stages need different color temperatures in order to flourish: the vegetative stage requires color temperatures of 5000K or higher as this produces the blue part of the color spectrum, while the flowering stage needs a color temperature of around 2000K, which produces light in the red spectrum ideal for this stage.
Just like the sun doesn’t shine 24 hours a day, neither should your grow lights. For the growth cycle, it’s recommended to have between 18 and 20 hours of light, while that amount decreases to only 12 hours during the flowering cycle. The easiest way to control your lights is with timers. Timers streamline the entire growing process and eliminate forgetting to turn your lights on and off.
XtraSun XT8AC 8-Inch Reflector
Now let’s talk grow light reflectors. While there are many different types of reflectors, from parabolic to wing reflectors, to all-in-one reflectors, to air cooled reflectors, and each one offers its own advantages. Wing reflectors, for example, feature adjustable “wings” which increase light coverage, therefore helping to reduce the number of areas without light. Not to mention they’re usually cheaper. All-in-one reflectors, beside the bulbs, include everything you need, like the ballast. All you have to do is plug it in and go. Air-cooled reflectors have ducts on each end for cooling hoses and are determined by the diameter of these ducts, ranging from four to eight inches in diameter. These types of reflectors are usually for the serious grower as they require the proper ducting for cooling. The type of reflector you need depends on the size of your grow area.
HydroFarm EMSYST Emily’s Garden
Before getting too hot-to-trot over setting up a professional grow space, it’s best to start small. Try an all-in-one hydroponics kit, like the Emily’s Garden. This kit comes with everything you need to start a small, successful grow: growing medium, seed starter cubes, even nutrients. While this may seem like child’s play, it’s a great way to get your feet wet with the world of indoor growing.
Jump Start JSV2 2-Ft. Stand
For great beginner experience with grow lights, check out the Jumpstart T5 reflectors. Available in heights from two to four feet, these reflectors include the bulbs and the fixtures and are adjustable as the plants grow taller.
*Note: For more information about indoor growing, check out our hydroponics books.
What do you plan on growing in your indoor garden? Tell us in the comments below, or give us a shout on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, or LinkedIn!
In order to help their customers better understand the cost benefits of switching to energy-efficient alternatives, Internet lighting retailer, 1000Bulbs.com, has created their own Energy Savings Calculator to accompany all compact fluorescent and LED lamps on their website. Earlier this year, the last phase-out of general service incandescent bulbs enforced by the Energy and Independence Security Act of 2007 took effect. Due to these incandescent bulbs no longer being produced by manufacturers, the demand for energy-efficient lighting that meets EISA standards is growing rapidly.
Launched in January of 2014, the 1000Bulbs.com Energy Savings Calculator has the ability to show customers everything they need to know about the savings that comes with energy-efficient lighting. By taking the wattage of the individual CFL or LED replacement, the wattage of its incandescent equivalent, the number of bulbs being replaced, and the rate charged per kilowatt-hour, the calculator automatically computes the amount customers can expect to save over the life of a single CFL or LED. As the first online lighting retailer to have a calculator of this kind, 1000Bulbs.com is committed to educating consumers on the many positive aspects of upgrading to energy-efficient lighting.
1000Bulbs Energy Savings Calculator
“We want to make sure that our customers feel confident before making an investment in the products we carry,” says 1000Bulbs.com CEO Kim Pedersen. “Our new Energy Savings Calculator provides the important cost and savings information they need in order to feel that making the switch to energy-efficient lighting is the right choice.”
1000Bulbs.com Energy Savings Calculator Extended
For customers who are looking for more in-depth savings analysis, the calculator can be expanded to show the total kilowatts and kilowatt hours saved per year, the total amount saved on energy costs per year, and the number of months before they can expect a payback on their investment. This Energy Savings/ROI calculator features customizable fields that can be adjusted to accommodate each client’s unique lighting needs and specifications.
Although energy-efficient bulbs are typically more expensive compared to incandescent bulbs, they have been proven to last up to 50 times longer, consuming only a fraction of the energy used by their incandescent counterparts. While it used to take years, it now only takes a matter of months to see payback for the purchase of an energy-efficient bulb. The 1000Bulbs.com Energy Savings Calculator assures customers that the savings incurred over the life of an LED or CFL will more than make up for any initial and future maintenance costs.
About 1000Bulbs.com: 1000Bulbs.com is an award-winning Internet-based lighting retailer. The company offers everything from simple, household light bulbs to cutting-edge specialty lighting systems. Nationally recognized for growth, innovation, and customer satisfaction, 1000Bulbs.com is an influential force in the lighting industry.
Feel free to leave a comment or reach out to us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google Plus or LinkedIn!
Feb 12, 14
One of the easiest, yet one of the most overlooked, ways to enhance key areas of your home is with lighting. With a little tweaking and a few additions, you can liven up your space, making rooms seem bigger, making ceilings seem higher than they actually are, etc. Below are a few simple tips we’ve collected to transform the mundane into the extraordinary.
Some key players in wall washing are recessed cans and eyeball cans. Typically six inches in diameter, these are used mainly to flood an area with light, such as in department stores and theaters. Even though these are found commercially, they’re great for residential applications as well. Wall washing serves two purposes: aesthetic appeal and task lighting. Washing a wall gives the impression of an expanding space, making the room feel larger, which is great for those smaller spaces, while also calling attention to all those pictures on the wall or your stone fireplace.
Does having sloped ceilings means you’re left out of the fun? Not at all. This just means you’ll need those eyeball cans (these allow you to adjust the angle of the fixture as you see fit) mentioned above and will most likely need either need lamps with a wide flood or a very wide flood beam angle.
While it depends on how much space you’re wanting to light, it’s generally best to opt for bulbs that have either a “flood” (FL), “wide flood” (WFL), or “very wide flood” (VWFL) beam angle such as R/BR bulbs. Bulbs with these beam angles are great for covering wide areas, creating an overlapping of light.
*Note: if you don’t already have recessed fixtures, these can be easily installed. However, it’s probably best if a licensed electrician performs the work for you. This way you can rest assured the work is done correctly and safely.
The possibilities are endless with accent lighting and it’s a great way to add depth to any room. The key to great accent lighting is to ensure there’s light coming from multiple angles: from down lights, to table and floor lamps, to under cabinet lighting on your bookcases in your bedroom or living room. A nice touch is LED tape light on the back of your TV, which not only calls attention to the TV, but also adds a unique flair.
The picture on the left is a pretty good example of utilizing light from multiple angles. Notice the wall sconces on each side of the bed, which give off light vertically and horizontally, while the recessed light above the bed directs its light downward. The eyeball can above the bookcase neatly displays the picture, books, and the few knick knacks on the shelves.
In the battle against poorly-lit rooms, shadows are your enemy, as they make your space look small and drab. Defeat those pesky shadows with a well-placed floor lamp in the corner of your room, providing you not only with task lighting, but directing the light upwards, eliminating dark spots. A great way to make your ceilings seem higher than they actually are is to utilize overcabinet lighting. You can accomplish this in a multitude of ways, with LED rope light or plug-in fixtures.
Which of these tips will you use to liven up your home? Let us know in the comments below, or drop us a line on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn, or Pinterest!!