Beam Angle Explained

Jan 18, 13 Beam Angle Explained

Reflector bulbs are more than just floodlights and spotlights. Like any light bulb, they come in shapes and technologies to fit any application. Two cases in point are the PAR and the MR16. These common bulbs, whether halogen, CFL, or LED, are highly specified, containing engineered surfaces that control the beam of light to an angle so precise it takes seven different classifications just to explain their possible uses!

Very Narrow Spot (VNSP)

The very narrow spot is just like it sounds. At 7 degrees or less for an MR16 or 15 degrees or less for a PAR lamp, this reflector casts an intense, focused beam without a square inch of wasted light. Bulbs with a VNSP beam angle are often used to highlight a small statue or figure on display in a museum or in a jewelry store to make diamonds “pop.”

Narrow Spot (NSP)

landscape lights

Photo by RBerteig (flickr)

Like the very narrow spot, the narrow spot is most popular in commercial applications. At 8 to 15 degrees for an MR16 or 16 to 30 degrees for a PAR lamp, the reflector casts a beam slightly less focused than a VNSP. Look for bulbs with an NSP beam angle in retail settings highlighting a special or sale item or in landscape bullets illuminating a sign or garden feature.

Spot (SP)

The spot, though primarily used in commercial applications, also shows up in homes from time to time. At 16 to 22 degrees for an MR16 or 31 to 60 degrees for a PAR lamp, the reflector casts a medium-sized beam. Bulbs with an SP beam angle are used in stores to highlight a special or sale area or outdoors to illuminate an architectural feature.

Narrow Flood (NFL)

Fireplace Spot Light

Photo by ell brown (flickr)

Businesses and homeowners alike find uses for the narrow flood. At 23 to 32 degrees for an MR16 or 61 to 90 degrees for a PAR lamp, this reflector casts a medium-wide beam. Stores use an NFL beam angle to highlight a display table, while homes might use this bulb in recessed eyeball lights to illuminate a painting over a fireplace mantle.

Flood (FL)

This true “floodlight” has wide variety of applications. At 36 to 45 degrees for an MR16 or 91 to 120 degrees for a PAR lamp, the reflector casts a wide beam. Bulbs with an FL beam angle can be seen in everything from pendant lights in coffee shops to recessed lights in living rooms.

Wide Flood (WFL)

Need a lot of light? There are worse options than the wide flood. At 46 to 59 degrees for an MR16 or 121 to 160 degrees for a PAR lamp, the wide flood has a dispersed beam to cover a large area. Bulbs with a WFL beam angle are common in many general illumination applications from motion-sensing lights above garage doors to recessed cans in auditoriums and movie theaters.

Very Wide Flood (VWFL)

recessed lights

Photo by mccun934 (flickr)

The very wide flood finds its way into specialty applications, more often than not. At over 60 degrees for an MR16 or over 160 degrees for a PAR lamp, this reflector casts an extremely wide beam. Bulbs with a VWFL beam angle are used to illuminate without highlighting any particular object or area. They’re good options for outdoor flood lighting and low-ceiling recessed lights.

Keep in mind these designations vary slightly from manufacturer to manufacturer. Some brands, like Ushio, throw them out altogether for their simpler system of “narrow,” “medium,” and “wide.” Also note that just because a bulb may have a commercial application, that doesn’t mean you can’t use it in your home. Use reflectors to make your walls a canvas for your lighting ideas, and be sure to share those ideas with us on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, or Pinterest!

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Light Post Lighting News: New Fluorescent Technology, Rockefeller Tree, and More

Dec 10, 12 Light Post Lighting News: New Fluorescent Technology, Rockefeller Tree, and More

Here at 1000Bulbs.com, not only do we sell thousands of lighting products, lighting accessories,  and (my favorite) Christmas decorations to satisfy even the most seasoned lighting veteran, we also have our ears to the ground, scouring the Internet for news-worthy…news. Introducing Light Post, a bi-weekly gathering of lighting innovations and of course, news. So make sure you swing by every other week for your dose of Light Post.

Wake Forest Introduces Revolutionary Fluorescent Bulb

Physics professor David Carroll and his team of researchers at Wake Forest University have created a fluorescent bulb set to replace LEDs and standard fluorescents. These new bulbs, based on field-induced polymer electroluminescent (try saying that fives times in a row) technology, or FIPEL, are shatterproof, flicker-free, and won’t burn out. No more of the mosquito-in-your-ear humming noise many office workers complain about now. Besides no more humming, these lights give off a soft, white light and are extremely efficient, at least twice as efficient as compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL). Better yet, these lights are long-lasting: Carroll has one that has worked for about a decade. These lights should be available to consumers as early as next year.

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting not Hampered by Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy definitely left a dark spot over New York City, flooding pretty much everything, costing millions of dollars, and leaving lots of people without power. However, the Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting erased any dark spot cast by the superstorm. The massive 80-foot Norway spruce, complete with 30,000 lights and topped with a Swarovski star, came to life November 28. The 10-ton tree resided at the Mount Olive, N.J. home of Joe Balku and was a mere 22-feet tall in 1973 when Balku bought the house. Today, the tree measures about 50 feet in diameter. The iconic tree will remain in the public eye until January 7.
After that, it will be turned into lumber for Habitat for Humanity.

Streetlights in Central London to be Controlled by iPads

If this isn’t evidence of technology becoming more and more important in our everyday lives, I don’t know what is. Westminster City Council announced it will be replacing about 14,000 central London street lights with new, iPad controlled smart lights. The iPad application will be able to monitor street lighting levels and reliability, monitor which lights are not working properly, and can even predict when a light will fail. Installation of the new lights will cost about $3 million, but it will save taxpayers hundreds of thousands a year.

Texas Towns and Parks Scale Back Lighting to See Stars

Having recently moved from a small, Texas town to the big city, I can certainly attest for the lack of star-gazing ability here in the Metroplex. That’s why many Texas towns and state parks are fighting light pollution. In recent years, Texas’ state parks have seen a decline in visitors and to lure them back, the parks are promoting chances for night-sky viewing, away from the city lights by advocating cities and towns to use down-facing light fixtures, so as not to pollute neighboring areas with unnecessary light.

LED Lights May Boost Milk Production in Cows

There may be a link between higher milk production and LED lights. An initial experiment done in 2010 at Oklahoma State University found a 6% increase in milk production in cows when traditional lights were replaced with LEDs, which consume at least 75% less energy than conventional incandescent bulbs, in areas where cows were housed. While the research is still underway, and if the results can be replicated in other institutions, not only will cows produce more milk, but the savings over the long run will be tremendous for farmers.

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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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Energy-Saving Light Bulbs (Video)

Today’s article takes a slightly different approach than usual. One of the questions we often get here on the blog and in our Wednesday Lighting Q&A on Facebook is about energy-saving bulbs. Specifically, people want to know what defines an energy-saving light bulb and what makes an LED better than a CFL, a CFL better than a Halogen, or any variant on that question.

With that in mind, we’ve recorded a short, introductory video that we hope will answer most of your questions. Of course, we’ll gladly answer any remaining questions you may have in the comments section below, on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter or Google Plus accounts. You can also check out our related Squidoo article, also titled “Energy-Saving Light Bulbs.”

So grab some popcorn and sit back! (Assuming that’s OK with your boss)

 

 

[TRANSCRIPT]

Welcome to 1000Bulbs.com, the Internet’s number one retailer of light bulbs and lighting products. In today’s video, we’ll be discussing a very popular but often misunderstood topic: Energy-saving light bulbs.

“Energy-saving” is a term thrown around pretty often these days, especially referring to light bulbs. But just what is an energy-saving light bulb? Though there is no strict definition of an energy-saving bulb, one thing is certain: It must be more efficient than an incandescent bulb. That said, energy-saving bulbs fall into one of three product types: Halogen light bulbs, compact fluorescents (more commonly known as “CFLs”), and light-emitting diodes, better known simply as “LEDs.” Let’s look at each bulb type one-by-one to understand their benefits.

First, for reference, we have incandescent light bulbs. Though they’re old technology, they’re still very common. On the plus side, incandescent light bulbs are inexpensive and completely dimmable. However, these attributes are overshadowed by how inefficient they are as well as their short lifespan.

Next, we have the first of our energy savers, the Halogen light bulb. You’ll notice that these look very similar to incandescent bulbs. Also like incandescent bulbs, Halogen bulbs are inexpensive and dimmable. However, Halogens only last about 1,000 hours, and they’re only 15 to 20 percent more efficient than incandescent bulbs.

Now we have the compact fluorescent, which is probably what you think of when you hear about energy-saving bulbs. CFLs have many positive attributes, including being relatively inexpensive, at least in comparison to LEDs, as well as lasting eight times longer than an incandescent or Halogen and using about 80% less energy than an incandescent bulb. Unfortunately, most compact fluorescents are non-dimmable. They also contain a small amount of toxic mercury, so they have to be recycled, and some people find their characteristic spiral shape off-putting.

Finally, we can discuss LED light bulbs. Not only are these the most efficient light bulbs available to homeowners, they last 50,000 hours or more, and most models are fully dimmable. Of course, anything has drawbacks, including LED. These bulbs are an emerging technology, so manufacturers are still working out some of their “kinks.” Also, as a new technology, LEDs are still relatively expensive, though their prices are dropping rapidly as technology improves.

So let’s look at these four bulbs side-by-side: An incandescent bulb produces 13.3 lumens–the standard measurement of light output–for each watt of energy used. A Halogen light bulb is only slightly more efficient, producing 16 lumens per watt. Compact fluorescents, however, make a huge leap in efficiency, producing 61.5 lumens per watt. But by far the most efficient is LED, which produces nearly 90 lumens per watt!

To learn more, be sure to visit 1000Bulbs.com!

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