Mar 03, 14
As you can imagine, office buildings consume a pretty substantial amount of energy. According to Southern California Edison, the average commercial office building uses about 30 percent of that consumed energy on lighting. Because lighting does make up such a large portion of energy spent in commercial buildings, the energy efficiency of office lighting is an important factor that should be taken into consideration. By making a few lighting updates, ranging from major to minor, your office could decrease its electricity consumption.
Update Overhead Lighting
If your office still uses incandescent or old fluorescent lighting in large overhead fixtures, it could be time for a much needed update. While fluorescent bulbs do consume less energy than incandescents, they still can’t match the energy savings of LEDs. LED lighting uses about 75 to 80 percent less energy than incandescent light sources and last much longer, too. To replace large fluorescent troffers, you can use LED light panels, which will work just as well and use only a fraction of the energy.
If you have T12 fluorescent lighting, upgrading to T8 fluorescent tubes will make a huge difference in energy savings and light quality. However, if you want to make an even bigger difference in energy savings, switch to 18-watt T8 LED bulbs to replace your 32-watt T8 fluorescents. Over the life of a T8 LED, you can expect to save $77 and make up the entire cost of the lamp in approximately 28 months. They also produce virtually no heat. The less heat being produced in the building, the less you’ll be blasting the air conditioning to try and balance the temperature. They are also available in color temperatures ranging from warm white to stark white to accommodate your particular preference.
Efficient Accent Lighting
Whether it’s track lighting to accentuate your company logo or wall sconces that give your conference room stylish flair, most offices use some form of accent lighting. LED technology has advanced to the point where you can find an LED replacement in a variety of bulb shapes, color temperatures, and lumen outputs to replace incandescents or fluorescents in just about any existing light fixtures. If your wall sconces use incandescent E12s, switch them out for LED candelabra bulbs. The same goes for MR16 track lights or your recessed downlights – the possibilities are endless!
For some ideas on innovative accent lighting, check out our previous blog on where to use LED tape light. It’s a perfect solution for lighting coves, shelving, and other places that will give your office space a modern and unique look.
Control the Lights
Because many people stay within the vicinity of their desk or a designated department to do their jobs, there are some areas of the building that don’t require constant lighting, such as restrooms, break rooms, or supply closets. Installing motion sensors in these less occupied areas is a convenient way to monitor the amount of light being used. If you’re lucky enough to have your own personal office, you could also install a dimmer switch to customize the light levels at any given time while curbing electricity use and extending the life of your office’s lighting.
Safety lighting, such as emergency and exit signs, are imperative to the lighting design of any commercial building. These signs are using energy 24/7, so why not find exit signs that use as little as possible? LED exit signs can last up to 25 years and come in an array of designs that will complement the design of your office space. An even more energy-efficient efficient option is photoluminescent exit signs. These signs don’t require any electricity use and recharge when exposed to external light sources.
What are some other ways offices could be more energy efficient? Leave us a comment letting us know, or send us a message on Google Plus, Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn!
Feb 26, 14
As technologically-advanced inhabitants of modern earth, it’s easy for us to take light for granted. However, light and the way we use it can profoundly affect our lives in ways that often go unseen, affecting our perceptions of ourselves, our surroundings, works of art, and our outlooks. Below are some insightful observations regarding the nature of light by some of the world’s most accredited actors, writers, and designers.
Lighting has an important effect on aesthetics. Proper lighting can greatly enhance (or greatly detract) from a person’s physical appearance or the atmosphere of a room.
“There is one fundamental fact about lighting: Where there is no light, there is no beauty.”
– Billy Baldwin, Actor
“I find great lighting and a squint of the eyes makes anyone look better.”
– Cat Deeley, Actress/Singer/Model
“I love lamps. I can’t stand overhead lighting. I have to have everything on a dimmer.”
– Kate Spade, Designer
Lighting can also affect our moods and senses of well-being. The right amount of lighting can make an ordinary place seem almost magical.
“The quality of the light around us has a profound effect on our well-being that should not be underestimated.”
– Thomas Fuchs, Designer
“A room is like a stage. If you see it without lighting, it can be the coldest place in the world.”
– Paul Lynde, Actor/Comedian
“I’m a firm believer that lighting affects mood, and twinkly lights on strings bring something magical to occasions ranging from concerts to weddings, though I’m fond of using them as year-round home decor. There’s a reason why they’re sometimes called fairy lights. When the night is right, there aren’t any strings at all.”
– Erin Morgenstern, Writer
We also underestimate the effect that lighting has on the way we feel about our favorite movies. Consider the contrast between the bright, colorful beauty of the ocean in Finding Nemo to the dimly lit, dreary settings of the latter (and more sinister) Harry Potter movies.
“Lighting is vital. Without that they’ve got nothing. And, of course, color and texture. When they showed me a little piece of Finding Nemo, I said this has got to be the biggest hit.”
– Joe Grant, Writer
“So much of movie acting is in the lighting, and in loving your characters. I try to know them, and with that intimacy comes love. And now, I love Voldemort.”
– Ralph Fiennes, Actor
Most importantly, lighting is all about perception. That’s why we often use lighting metaphors to describe a positive or negative outlook on life.
“Freedom is just Chaos with better lighting.”
– Alan Dean Foster, Writer
“The secret to life is to put yourself in the right lighting.”
– Susan Cain, Writer
How do you feel about lighting? How does it affect, shape, or inspire you? Let us know in the comments below or give us a shout on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, or Pinterest.
Feb 24, 14
Do you ever find yourself looking for ways to give your space a modern lighting makeover? We’ve got the perfect solution: LED tape light. Due to its thin profile, LED tape light is a discrete lighting option for unexpected and hard-to-reach areas that could never be lit otherwise. Adding to its versatility, tape light comes in a variety of colors, is dimmable, and can be trimmed to fit any space. So, where are some good places to install it? Below are some areas where LED tape light will add a modern element to your overall lighting scheme.
If you have stairs in your home, you know how jarring it can be to turn on a bright stairway light in the middle of the night just so you don’t trip and fall. Instead of flipping the switch to turn on that downstairs foyer or hallway light, use LED tape light for more subtle illumination that won’t completely take you out of your drowsy, just-woke-up state. Place warm white tape light underneath the upper edges of each stair (pictured to the right) or on the underside of the railing for hidden down lighting. To give the tape light a clean look, you can use LED tape light extrusions to conceal the tape light itself.
There are certain places in your home that are dark and hard to reach, such as above and under kitchen cabinets and in ceiling coves. LED tape light can turn these seemingly useless spaces into the perfect place for sleek accent lighting. Installed above your cabinets, tape light will provide stylish up lighting and give new life to boring wall space. High-output LED tape light installed in a ceiling cove can pull double-duty as both overhead and accent lighting in your living room.
Display Cabinets and Shelving
LED tape light is also a great option for lighting enclosed areas such as display cabinets, shelving units, and closets. The picture to the left shows a perfect example of how tape light can transform a few shelves on your wall into an eye-catching feature among your home’s décor. Because LED tape light uses very little energy and has very low heat output, you won’t have to worry about it being hazardous inside a closed display cabinet or in a small closet shelf. Plus, your tape light can be hardwired to a wall switch using an LED driver, so that it works independently from your overhead lighting.
One of the more fun options for LED tape light is using it to outline an object with light or provide backlighting. We’ve mentioned in previous blog posts how tape light is great for backlighting televisions because your eyes are less likely to strain in the dark. Well, the same could be said about other electronic devices like your computer. Even though regular tape light would work, USB LED tape light is a much more convenient option. Just like standard tape light, this USB tape comes in many different lengths and colors, including RGB color-changing. All you have to do is plug in the cable into your computer’s USB port. Backlighting isn’t just for electronic devices either – it can be used behind mirrors as well to give them a unique halo effect.
For those of you who really want to make a contemporary statement with LED tape light, you can use it to create glowing silhouettes around or under unexpected pieces of furniture such as a bathroom vanity (pictured to the right), the underside of a bar or kitchen counter top, a pool table, or even underneath your bed frame. Installing tape light underneath furniture creates a warm glow that provides modern, low-profile accent lighting. Much like stairway lighting, LED tape light used as furniture accents gives you a way to achieve low lighting during the night with an added element of safety.
What are some creative ways that you’ve used LED tape light? Let us know in the comments below or give us a shout on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, or Pinterest.
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!
Feb 19, 14
It can happen to the best of us. You’re applying your make up in the mirror. Everything looks flawless – or so you think. Just after you jump in the car to head off to that big event, you pull down the mirror to take one last look. It turns out that your foundation is uneven and your eye shadow just isn’t quite the shade of brown you thought it was. This is most likely a symptom of poor lighting wherever it was you applied your makeup. When it comes to applying makeup, there are a few lighting factors you should always consider.
Use natural light whenever possible. Natural light is the cheapest and easiest way to get the best lighting for makeup application. If you can, place your vanity stand or mirror close to a window that will allow plenty of natural light to give your face an even, pure wash of illumination. Even though natural light is one of the most unforgiving forms of light in terms of being able to see every imperfection, at least you will know exactly what you’re trying to detract from or enhance.
Look for lighting with a high color rendering index (CRI). How you perceive different colors is extremely important when it comes to makeup. A foundation color may look like it matches your skin tone under a certain light, but if that lighting has a low CRI, you may realize that it doesn’t match at all once you step out into the daylight. If you normally apply your makeup in the bathroom, make sure your vanity lighting has a high CRI so that you’re able to see the true color of your foundations, eye shadows, etc. As a general rule, try to keep your lighting’s CRI above 80. For lighting with a perfect CRI of 100, you will want to go with incandescent bulbs to light your vanity.
Avoid using overhead lighting only. Have you ever been in a fitting room and noticed that harsh, overhead lighting accentuates every tiny flaw on your body? The same thing can happen when applying your makeup under a single overhead light. Using only one light source above you will cast accentuate shadows that are created under the eyes or other areas that won’t do your makeup application process any good. One pendant light or flush mount fixture won’t give you the smooth, even illumination you need in order to see all of your face in its best light.
Don’t overdo it on the wattage. When choosing bulbs to use for the area where you usually apply your makeup, remember that high wattage and lumen output does not equal quality makeup lighting. The best lighting for makeup is anything that produces a soft light that isn’t terribly bright. This effect is best produced by lamps that are diffused through shades or glass that you might find on wall sconces or pendant lights.
Use multiple light sources. Even if we can’t all have mirrors surrounded by light bulbs like movie stars do in their dressing rooms, there are still ways to surround your face with light. Using a bathroom vanity fixture with more than one light is one way to achieve more even illumination. But an even better solution is to use light sources on either side of your face. Placing two fixtures on either side of your mirror at eye level will highlight all areas of your face and provide great task lighting.
What are some of your makeup lighting tips and tricks? Share them with us in the comments or write to us on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn, or Pinterest!
Feb 14, 14
Planning out the perfect date can be stressful, but creating the right atmosphere is half the battle. A date night at home complete with dinner and a movie is great, but going the extra mile by changing up your lighting will make it even better. So, if you’re planning a low-key, romantic evening in with your significant other this Valentine’s Day, these simple lighting pointers will help you set the mood.
For some of us, having a nice dinner out on the patio might seem a little implausible this time of year. But why not bring that same outdoor bistro feeling indoors? Commercial light stringers fitted with decorative globe lights will create a warm, romantic glow in your dining room or kitchen. The low-wattage globe bulbs will give off the type of dim light that you typically see in softly lit restaurants. You can also use these outdoors when the weather finally does warm up.
Do you have any leftover holiday decorations? It might be time to break them out. A similar and more inexpensive lighting option to patio lights is using Christmas light strings. The color you use is up to you, but using warm white light strings will create a more relaxing atmosphere that doesn’t feel like you’re just decorating for a holiday party. They may not be as sophisticated as outdoor patio lights, but it’s the thought that counts, right?
Turn Down the Lights
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a romantic restaurant that uses bright interior lighting. Even if they do exist, would you prefer to spend a special evening with your significant other under harsh, bright light or soft, low light? If you prefer the latter, installing a dimmer switch to control your lighting fixtures is the best way to accomplish dim mood lighting. If installing a dimmer for your overhead lights seems like a bit of a hassle, or you want a quicker dimming solution, try a plug-in dimmer switch. Just plug your table lamp into the dimmer, and use a sliding switch to adjust the light levels any way you want.
For a more unique approach to accent lighting, replace existing light bulbs around your house with colored bulbs. Studies have shown that color affects mood, with red being a color used to evoke excitement and passion. However, be careful about going overboard. If you want your colored lighting to be a bit more subtle, don’t replace any overhead lights with colored bulbs. Placing red or pink party light bulbs in a few table lamps here and there will produce a more subdued, but still unique effect.
You can never go wrong with the soft glow of candlelight. For the same effect without the possible fire hazard, try wax LED candles. Made from real wax, these flameless candles have a battery-operated LED light that produces a dim flickering flame effect that will provide relaxing illumination in any area of your home. At least if you forget to turn them off, the worst thing that can happen is a dead battery or two.
Do you have any lighting tricks that you use for your date nights? Let us know in the comments below, or share them with us on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, LinkedIn, or Pinterest!