How to Choose Under Cabinet Lights

Sep 28, 12 How to Choose Under Cabinet Lights

Halogen, Xenon, Fluorescent, or LED: What is the best type of under cabinet lighting? If you’ve ever asked yourself that question, you were asking the wrong question. There is no “good, better, best” with under cabinet lights. Choosing the right light is a matter of personal preference, and it depends on how much you value dimming, heat reduction, color accuracy, and energy savings.

Xenon Light Bulb

Xenon Light Bulb

Xenon under cabinet lights are an update of older Halogen lights. Halogen under cabinet lights, especially the light “pucks” you see in hardware stores, are cheap and provide perfect color accuracy (color rendering index), but they use tons of energy and waste most of it as heat. Xenon keeps the benefits of Halogen, but burns brighter and cooler. Their color rendering makes granite countertops or trinkets in display cabinets look their absolute best, and because they are brighter than Halogens, Xenon bulbs save energy by using fewer watts than a Halogen bulb.

Fluorescent under cabinet lights are a great choice for bright, energy-efficient lighting that burns cool. They’re a popular choice in kitchen cabinets and pantries because they don’t add extra heat to their surroundings, which can increase the likelihood of food spoilage. Unfortunately, there are a number of trade-offs. Fluorescent lights have relatively poor color rendering — 80 CRI to Xenon’s 100 CRI — so they distort colors and make granite and marble countertops and backsplashes appear washed out. Furthermore, while they use much less energy than Halogen or even Xenon, they are not dimmable and some models are slow to reach full brightness.

LED Under Cabinet Light Bar

LED Under Cabinet Light

LED is the newest, most energy saving option for under cabinet lighting. To many, LED under cabinet lights are the perfect option. Unlike fluorescent, they are instant on and many models are dimmable. Unlike Halogen and Xenon, they also create very little heat. However, they do have two drawbacks: Color rendering and cost. Like fluorescent lights, their CRI is in the 80-90 range, so they aren’t the best choice when color accuracy is highly valued. They also have the highest up-front cost of any under cabinet choice. On the other hand, they will save the most in the long-term. LEDs use only a fraction of the energy consumed by other types of under cabinet lights. Even better, they last 20,000 to 60,000 hours,  so you’ll never have to replace them and will save on bulb replacement costs.

Again, your choice of under cabinet lights will depend on your specific needs. In general, however, if you prize color accuracy and don’t mind the heat, choose Xenon, but if you prefer energy savings and cool operation, go with fluorescent or LED. Of course, that’s only what we think. Let us know which under cabinet lighting option you prefer in the comments, or drop us a line on Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus.

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Emergency Lighting Guide: Emergency Lights

Aug 24, 12 Emergency Lighting Guide: Emergency Lights

In last week’s article, we discussed one major part of emergency lighting: Exit signs. In this week’s article, we’ll discuss the second part: Emergency lights. A note before you continue: Try not to confuse the terms “emergency lighting,” an overview of the entire topic, with “emergency lights,” a special light that comes on in the event of an emergency or power failure.

Like exit signs, emergency lights are a complex topic, yet also like exit signs, the regulations dealing with emergency lights come down to the same two important documents: OSHA 29CFR and NFPA 101, also known as the Life Safety Code.

Basic Requirements

The portion of OSHA 29CFR dealing with emergency lights (1910.37(b)) is relatively vague. It simply states, “Each exit route must be adequately lighted so that an employee with normal vision can see along the exit route.” NFPA 101, on the other hand, is much more specific. In section 7.9.2.1, it states:

  • The emergency light must provide illumination for no less than 1-1/2 hours.
  • The initial illumination of the emergency light must be an average of 1 footcandle (10.8 lux).

If you are unfamiliar with footcandles, essentially what the NFPA’s requires is that the light cast on any one square foot of an exit pathway must be equal to one lumen or more (a footcandle is equal to one lumen per square foot). This is something you’ll need to consider when choosing your emergency lights and why many of our lights include photometric charts. An emergency light with typical 5 watt tungsten heads may be appropriate for typical applications, but in many cases, you may need one with Halogen heads or even a special high wattage emergency light.

Testing

NFPA 101 also includes specific language about testing your emergency lights. Section 7.9.3 states:

  • A hard-wired emergency light must be tested monthly for a minimum of 30 seconds.
  • A fully battery-operated emergency light must be tested yearly for a minimum of 1-1/2 hours.

For the sake of convenience, not to mention safety, we highly recommend using self-testing emergency lights. These units continuously monitor the input voltage to the fixture as well as the condition of the battery backup. Should the fixture fail a test, an indicator light will signal that it needs to be serviced. At that point, you can choose whether you need to troubleshoot the input power, replace the emergency light battery, or replace the fixture altogether.

Other Considerations

Items not covered in NFPA 101 but still worth considering include remote capability, emergency ballasts, and aesthetic considerations. Remote capability allows you to connect multiple emergency lights, exit signs, or remote heads together, which will all trigger in the event of an emergency. Emergency ballasts keep fluorescent lights operational in the event of a power failure. Finally, you may want to consider the color and style of the emergency light you choose; after all, it will become a part of your décor.

If you have questions or comments about emergency lighting, be sure to let us know in the comments section. You can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus!

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Emergency Lighting Guide: Exit Signs

Aug 17, 12 Emergency Lighting Guide: Exit Signs

Are you opening a new business or planning a shiny, new remodel of an existing place of business? One of the things you’ll have to consider—whether you want to or not—is emergency lighting.

There’s good news, however. Despite being a technical subject, federal guidelines on emergency lighting boil down to the contents of only two key documents: OSHA 29CFR and NFPA 101. If those sound like challenging reads, they are, but this introductory article should help you get started.

Because this is a relatively large and technical subject, we’ll be splitting it into two parts: The first part, which you’ll read today, deals with exit signs, while next week’s article will deal with emergency lights.

Let’s start with a question: How many exits does your place of business have? Every one of those exits will need an exit sign. The requirements here are simple. The exit sign must legibly state the word “EXIT” in letters at least 6 inches high and with a 0.75 inch stroke. (29CFR 1910.37(b)(7)). That’s easy; in fact, you would be hard-pressed to find an exit sign in the United States that doesn’t meet those requirements.

Unfortunately, that’s the only easy part. There’s no point in having an exit sign if your employees can’t see it, is there? Your exit signs must be fully illuminated, either by an external light source or by internal illumination. Save yourself some trouble here and go with internal illumination. Using an external light source requires a whole new list of rules that, trust us, you don’t have time for. Besides, with all the pre-approved, self-luminated exit sign options available—LED, Tritium, even photoluminescent (glow-in-the-dark)—why would you use anything else?

Though a little light goes a long way, even with the brightest exit sign, you’ve still got the problem of corners, hallways, and winding corridors. OSHA also requires that, unless the exit sign is in plain sight from every point in the building (good luck with that) you’ll need additional signs with arrows that point the way the door (29CFR 1910.37(b)(4)). Fortunately, most every exit sign available today does double-duty as both an exit sign and a directional sign. To make your exit sign a directional sign, simply punch out the “chevrons” on either side of the unit and mount the sign to point in the appropriate direction. Only in very high-end “designer” exit signs will you need to order a special unit with pre-applied or glass etched directional arrows.

Speaking of “designer,” there’s no problem with injecting some aesthetic sensibility into your emergency lighting. Typical white thermoplastic exit signs work fine on white or off-white walls, but with darker walls (movie theaters being an obvious example) black thermoplastic units look much better. If you run a hotel or an upscale retail store, a unit with a brushed aluminum face or even an elegant edge-lit glass exit sign is a better option. Plus, with any LED exit sign you’ve got the choice of red or green letters.

Be sure to subscribe to our RSS feed so you don’t miss part 2 of this series next week! While you wait, you can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus.

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1000Bulbs.com Now Has Lighting Fixtures!

Jun 22, 12 1000Bulbs.com Now Has Lighting Fixtures!

A light bulb is nothing without the right lighting fixture to power it. At least, that’s the thinking behind our recent expansion into home lighting. This broad, new product line, which includes everything from chandeliers to outdoor lanterns, may be 1000Bulbs.com’s largest product expansion since…well, ever.

We already carried a large selection of commercial and warehouse lights including wall packs, flood lights, and high bays. However, the number of home lighting fixtures we’ve added easily eclipses our commercial offerings. With 3,000 new products spanning 16 categories, you’ll be hard-pressed not to find at least one fixture to suit your home lighting needs.

Despite the large number of new products, we’ve focused on bringing in only high-quality lighting brands. These brands include Nuvo, Troy Lighting, Lazy Susan, Hudson Valley, and the artisan brands Arteriors Home and BoBo Intriguing Objects. Though these are high-end brands, we promise competitive pricing. We even encourage you to call us up or email us for special rates and package deals for large lighting projects, such as hotels, restaurants, and retail.

Most of the new lighting fixtures are part of wider product families. A chandelier, for example, often has a ceiling light, wall sconce, pendant, and vanity to match. Multiple color and style variations are also available to satisfy antique, traditional, transitional, and modern design schemes. Antique lighting fixtures have already shown to be popular, with Troy, Hudson Valley, and Lazy Susan lamps, sconces, and pendants attracting broad customer interest.

Despite the large number of new lighting fixtures on the website, we haven’t forgotten light bulbs. If you take a look at the “accessory” tabs on our product pages you’ll see our staff has recommended the appropriate standard, energy saving, decorative, or antique light bulb to pair with the fixture. We encourage you, for example, to pair reproduction tungsten filament lamps with antique style pendants and incandescent globe lights with bathroom vanities.

We plan even further expansion into home lighting throughout 2012. 1000Bulbs.com is considering additional well-known brands, a wider pricing selection, and more Energy Star Qualified fixtures for future product rollouts. Let us know what you think and what products you’d like to see. Drop us a line in the comments, or contact us on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.

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Do We Need Light Bulbs Anymore?

May 04, 12 Do We Need Light Bulbs Anymore?

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+.

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How to Repair a Table Lamp (Video)

Apr 20, 12 How to Repair a Table Lamp (Video)

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.

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