While we will always need light, could it be possible that in the quest to create the “perfect” light bulb, a bulb isn’t what we are looking for at all? Edison’s original invention required the familiar gas-filled bubble we call a bulb to house and protect a carbon filament, and blown glass was the best, most efficient option. Yet that was over 100 years ago, and technology has brought us all types of materials that Edison may have considered better alternatives than a glass bulb.
The idea that we no longer need light bulbs is either revolutionary or absurd, but two products on our website are created with that very idea in mind. One is the LED downlight module, and the other is a series of LED tape light “profiles” from Poland-based Klus Design. One product suggests replacing traditional light fixtures and bulbs with dedicated, modular retrofits, while the other suggests we can do without light fixtures and bulbs altogether.
LED downlights consist of an array of high-powered LEDs, an LED driver, and a heatsink all integrated into a single unit. This alone doesn’t make downlights that much different than any LED light bulb. The difference is in the appearance of the product. The manufacturer doesn’t intend to make the module look like anything like the familiar light bulb we know. Instead, the LED module is a geometric mass of aluminum fins and hard plastic that replaces the bulb within a recessed can, sometimes permanently.
The second product, LED tape light profiles, takes the concept further. As we discussed in a previous article, LED tape light is an extremely versatile and easy to use product. To prove this, Klus even used tape light and their patented aluminum profiles to create a “House Without a Bulb.” Klus tape light profiles—an aluminum extrusion that houses an LED tape light—are inlayed into a groove cut into the underside of a step or cabinet, or mounted to the top of a flat surface. Some models are even made for installation into floors, sidewalks, and driveways. As with the LED modules, you never see a bulb, just light emanating from a recessed area that blends in with its surroundings. It blends in so well, in fact, the casual observer would be hard-pressed to determine where the light is coming from.
Even before LED downlights and tape light profiles, we turned the traditional round light bulb into reflectors, imitation flames, high efficiency tubes, and compact spirals. Do we need the “bulb” shape any longer for anything more than nostalgia? Share your responses in the comments below, or drop us a line on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.
Repairing a table lamp, like creating your own antique pendant lamp, is one of the easiest DIY lighting projects you can perform. In addition to making use of an old lamp, repairing a lamp also gives you the opportunity to update it to match the latest styles.
The typical table lamp—shown in the photo—consists of 6 parts: The base, the spindle, the socket, the cord, the plug, and finally, the shade.
1. Remove the Bulb and Lamp Shade
To begin your repair, you’ll need to disassemble the lamp. Unscrew the bulb from the socket; then remove the lamp shade.
2. Remove the Socket
Most sockets consist of two parts: The shell and the cap. The shell is the part that holds the socket and the switch, while the cap only snaps onto the shell and screws to the lamp spindle. Pry or unscrew the socket shell from the socket cap. Leave the wires connected to the socket shell, and don’t remove the socket cap just yet.
3. Remove the Old Cord and Plug
Because we’re going to completely replace the cord and plug, use a pair of wire cutters to cut the plug from the cord. Now, pull the socket shell and cord from the top of the lamp. Then check to see if there is a setscrew where the socket cap attaches to the spindle. If there is, loosen it before unscrewing the socket cap from the spindle. Finally, unscrew the spindle from the lamp base.
4. Prepare the New Cord
Now it’s time to rebuild the lamp. Start by using wire strippers to strip both ends of the replacement cord by about a half inch. If you’re using a cloth-covered antique cord like us, use scissors to trim back the cloth another quarter to half-inch and wrap the ends of the cloth covering with electrical tape to prevent fraying.
5. Thread the New Cord Through the Lamp
Pass one end of the cord through the bottom of the lamp base and out through the top. Thread the wire through the spindle and reattach the spindle to the lamp base. Next, thread the cord through the bottom of the new socket cap, screw the cap to the spindle, and tighten the cap’s setscrew if it has one.
6. Attach the New Socket
Pull through about 4 inches of the new cord, separate the two wires, then tie them into an Underwriters Knot. The Underwriters Knot will prevent the cord from being unintentionally pulled loose from the bottom of the lamp base. Attach the black (positive) wire to the brass screw terminal. Attach the white (neutral) wire to the other screw terminal in the same way. Snap the socket shell to the socket cap.
7. Attach the New Plug
Disassemble the plug and attach it to the other end of the cord in the same way: Black wire to the brass terminal and white wire to the silver terminal. Reassemble the plug after you’ve attached the wires.
8. Replace the Bulb and Lamp Shade
Now replace the bulb and the lamp shade, and you’re done. For a detailed visual step-by-step, check out the video below. Be sure to share your idea in the comments selection below or on our Facebook or Google+ page. You can also follow us on Twitter or show us your project on Pinterest.
Unfortunately, high demand leads to inflated prices. Any simple fixture that claims to be “antique” or “vintage” costs a premium. Some are worth the price, but we’ve seen simple antique pendants out there going for over $100, when the raw materials to build the fixture cost under $25. These are certainly nice products, but are they worth the markup?
The following guide will show you how to build your own antique swag light fixture in less than 10 minutes with materials you can buy for about $25, including the bulb.
A flat head screwdriver
A set of wire strippers
A pair of scissors
Step 1: Prepare the Wire
Using wire strippers, strip the PVC jacket of both wires on both ends of the cord, exposing about 1/2 inch of the inner copper strands. Trim back the cloth covering another 1/2 inch, using scissors to cut away any frayed threads.
Step 2: Attach the Socket
Attaching Socket Terminals
Pop the socket cap off the socket shell. Feed one end of the cord through the top of the socket cap. At this point, tie the wires into an Underwriter’s Knot to relieve excess strain. Using the screwdriver, attach the wires to the terminals in the socket shell. Since the plug we’re using is non-polarized, it doesn’t matter which wire you attach to which terminal. Slide the socket cap down the cord and snap it back to the socket shell.
Step 3: Attach the EZ Grip Plug
Attaching Plug Terminals
Remove the plug cap from the shell by removing the screws on either side of the plug blades. Slide the plug shell out of the plug cap. Feed the free end of the cord through the top of the plug cap, then attach the wires to plug terminals on the shell, just as you did with the socket. Slide the cap back over the shell and replace the screws.
Step 4: Screw in the Bulb
Screwing in the Bulb
Screw the bulb into the socket. You can now hang your swag fixture from a ceiling hook and plug it into any wall outlet. Use the built-in dimmer on the socket to adjust the brightness to a suitable level.
If you’d like to make a pendant fixture instead of a swag, the modification is simple: Just leave off the EZ grip plug and direct wire the fixture into an existing J-Box.
This is a very simple and versatile fixture, so there are many ways to modify it. You can use a different socket, add a cage or lamp shade over the bulb, twist together multiple pendants to create a chandelier, or even attach the socket to an old table lamp. Do you have other ideas? Post them in the comments, on our Facebook, or let us know on Twitter. Even better, send us a photo of your project and we’ll post it on our Pinterest.
Important Safety Note
This homemade fixture is not UL listed. Use reasonable safety precautions when assembling and installing your fixture. Never leave the fixture unattended or plugged in when not in use.
Unless you’re an electrician, you’ve probably never changed a ballast. Chances are, when your garage fixture or kitchen light went out, you changed the bulbs, and when that didn’t work, you went to an overpriced hardware store and bought a brand-new fixture. Sound familiar?
Unfortunately, you could’ve saved a lot of money by switching out the ballast—an investment of only $10 to $15.
But with so many options out there, how would you know which ballast to pick? The truth is, it’s pretty simple. There are tons of fluorescent ballasts to choose from (we have nearly 300 on our site!), but most business owners and even homeowners will find it easy to wade through that seemingly never-ending selection if they concentrate on just 3 key specs: Bulb type, start method, and ballast factor.
Needless to say, this is the most important part. If you don’t know what type of fluorescent bulb you’re using, you’re going to have a hard time figuring out which type of fluorescent ballast to buy. Fortunately, most fluorescent fixtures will use one of three common bulb types: An F40T12 (4′ long; 1.5″ in diameter), an F32T8 (4′ long; 1″ in diameter) or an F54T5 (46″ long; 0.625″ in diameter). If your bulbs don’t meet one of these descriptions, you’ll need to check the etching near one of the ends of the fluorescent bulb (a good idea even if you think you know the bulb type).
Once you’ve determined what type of fluorescent bulbs you have, don’t burn them out prematurely by choosing a ballast with the wrong starting method. As discussed in a previous article on how to extend the life of a light bulb, an instant start ballast hits the fluorescent bulb cathodes with about 600 volts every time you flip the light switch. As you might imagine, the bulb can only stand so many of those on/off switches. Consider where your fixture is installed. Offices, boardrooms, and retail spaces tend to stay lit for long periods, so use an instant start ballast should be fine, as long as you don’t switch the lights off and on more than about 3-4 times a day. Hallways, stairwells, and bathrooms are switched much more frequently, especially since the lighting in these areas is often controlled by an occupancy sensor. In these areas, it’s best to use a programmed start ballast, which will heat the bulb cathodes more slowly and prolong its life.
Finally, you need to consider light output. “What?” you say. “You mean the bulb isn’t exactly the brightness it says it is on the label?” Nope. The light output shown on a fluorescent bulb’s label, expressed in lumens, is figured using a normal light output ballast with a ballast factor between 0.77 and 1.1. A normal ballast factor is usually the right option, for “normal” circumstances. But if you don’t need your room quite as bright, you can save electricity by using a low output ballast with a ballast factor below 0.77. On the other hand, if you are lighting a warehouse or manufacturing facility where brightness is important, you will need a high output ballast with a ballast factor above 1.1, which will push the bulb to be 10% or more brighter than stated on the label.
Of course, if you need something more specialized like a sign ballast, dimming ballast, or circline ballast, you’ll likely need an equally specialized electrician. The same principles still hold true, however, so if you need to call an electrician, at least he’ll be impressed by how much you know!
If you own or manage a business of any sort, it is likely required that you invest in exit lights, safety lights, and emergency signage. While no business owner wants to think his or her business might suffer a fire or other emergency, it is important to prepare for that contingency anyway. Insurance companies demand it, and most local fire codes make it a requirement. Most importantly, however, proper emergency lighting is for the safety of your business, customers, and suppliers. The last thing you want is for a simple lack of signage or emergency lighting to lead to a tragic accident.
Exit lights, safety lights, and emergency signage come in many forms. They range from simple illuminated signs that indicate where an emergency exit exists to multi-head, interconnected halogen emergency lights. While exit signs are available in many forms with various features, at the least businesses need signs that are bright enough for easy viewing even in smoky or dark situations. The minimal “extra” feature to consider is an emergency battery backup; in case of a power outage, emergency battery backups make it possible for the light to still function and provide safety for those in the building. Even when all the main exits are covered, you must consider the possibility that occupants inside a building may not be near an emergency exit door or window. They will need guidance to reach safety. That is where emergency lighting comes in. These lights put out a great deal of light to offer illumination in even the darkest and smokiest circumstances so that people can reach exits quickly and safely.
Proper emergency lighting does not end with installation. Existing exit lights, safety lights, and emergency signage must be kept in good working order and occasionally updated to meet new fire codes. This means testing battery backups on a regular basis, replacing light bulbs when they burn out or break, and even performing regular cleaning to make sure the lights will give out the necessary amount of illumination when an emergency arises. For this reason, it is wise to find a reliable supplier of emergency lights that can help you with both new needs and ongoing maintenance requirements.
Many businesses think that exit lights, safety lights, and emergency signage are added expenses with which they do not want to bother. They will meet minimum requirements and then forget the situation. Nevertheless, in order to keep people safe inside your building, you need to take care to make sure the lights and signage will allow them to get out of the building during an emergency. It is the right thing to do. Find a company that can give you the equipment you need at a great price. It will make the process much easier.
Needing to beautify your home with lighting? Look no further than 1000Bulbs.com! 1000Bulbs.com offers residential fixtures from Nuvo Lighting, Nora Lighting, Cree LED Lighting, Halo Lighting, and a number of other trusted manufacturers. Because lighting is an essential element in bringing your home to life, whether you are looking for general room lighting or task lighting, it is important to find fixtures that fit your needs as well as your decorating style.
The first thing to take into consideration when looking at lighting for a room is general lighting. General lighting usually consists of fluorescent fixtures, chandeliers, ceiling fans with light kits, close-to-ceiling fixtures, and in some cases, recessed cans. Most rooms require general lighting simply so the homeowner can get around without injury; even rooms that you keep dark most of the time need illumination for cleaning and other utility reasons. It is most helpful to think of general lighting as the “primer” for your room while other lighting sources provide the “paint.”
Once you have general lighting taken care of, you should consider task lighting. This lighting gives you illumination where you need to work or do other tasks. Reading lamps are essential next to beds, on desks, and near favorite reading spots. Under-cabinet fixtures give you light on the kitchen counters so you can work safely. Lighting around bathroom mirrors and on vanities provide light so you can see when applying makeup or other personal grooming tasks. A number of attractive options exist for task lighting that run the gamut from industrial-looking full spectrum lamps all the way to beautiful decorative shade lamps.
Another type of lighting to consider in your lighting scheme is lighting to enhance the look of a room. You can add spotlights to give works of art the lighting they deserve. You can use sconces on walls to illuminate columns of light or to add depth long hallways. Up-lights can work to show off architectural features or give a particular large plant the lighting it deserves. This type of highlighting helps to enhance what you want and makes the rest fade into the background.
You can beautify your home with residential fixtures designed to work with your home’s current décor. You can also start a redecorating project by starting with a new lighting fixture in a room. You can take a traditional room and lead it towards transitional with a modern light fixture. With so many options available, you can select a light fixture that is perfect for any room in your home. You can find them in a number of finishes ranging from polished brass to brushed nickel. With modern and traditional styles, the options for your home continue to grow. Find your new fixture today.