Color Temperature Revisited

Jun 06, 14 Color Temperature Revisited

Have you ever purchased a new light bulb expecting the same warm, yellow light as the bulb you replaced, only to end up with a much brighter, whiter light instead? Chances are you neglected to consider the bulb’s color temperature before making your purchase. Nothing turns people off from making the switch to LED or fluorescent lamps like accidentally selecting a bulb in the wrong hue, so we figure it’s about time for us to revisit this topic in a new light.

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Five Easy Steps to Choosing the Right LED

Jan 10, 14 Five Easy Steps to Choosing the Right LED

The light bulb ban is bringing energy efficient bulbs, such as LEDs, to the forefront. While this is ruffling the feathers of those not eager to give up the traditional incandescent bulb quite yet, we’ve composed a list of some things that will make the transition to LED lighting as seamless as possible.

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Light Post Lighting News: Christmas Light Tour, Holiday Safety, and More

Dec 22, 12 Light Post Lighting News: Christmas Light Tour, Holiday Safety, and More

For this week’s issue of Light Post, we’ve collected some excellent lighting stories, from a Dallas-area Christmas light tour, to some last-minute holiday lighting tips, and even a scoop on how LED lights are helping astronauts sleep. So, post up in your favorite spot and enjoy Light Post.

Farmers Branch Offering Tour of Lights

If you live in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, check out the Tour of Lights in Farmers Branch. This drive-through event features hundreds of thousands of Christmas lights and displays. To get there from the intersection of Interstate 35E at Valley View Lane, follow the candy cane signs down William Dodson Parkway to Farmers Branch City Hall, through the DART station area and to the Farmers Branch Historical Park. What makes this event even sweeter is that it’s FREE. The Tour of Lights runs through December 1 to New Year’s Eve.

Holiday Lighting Safety Tips

These tips come all the from Wayne County, NY, but lighting safety tips are universal and will ensure you have a safe holiday season.

  1. Make sure you inspect your lights each year before putting them on the house. Look for worn or frayed receptacles, cords, and loose connections. If you find anything out of place, replace your lights with new ones from 1000Bulbs.com.
  2. For those who’ve seen ‘Christmas Vacation’, you know that electrical cords and cats don’t mix. Well, neither do toddlers and electrical cords. Make sure cords are out of reach of your four-legged friends and the kiddos.
  3. The only hassle with live trees is keeping up with all the stray needles and refilling the water when your cats drink out of the tree holder. Having a live tree takes a few more safety steps. Cut the base of the tree at a 45-degree angle to allow water absorption. Also, use mini lights as they produce much less heat than regular lights and reduce the drying effect on the tree. Pesky, water-drinking cats aside, your tree will drink anywhere from a quart to a gallon of water each day, so refilling the water prevents the tree from drying out.
  4. All of these safety tips are no replacement for checking and replacing the batteries in your smoke detectors.

LED Lights to Combat Astronaut Insomnia

Apparently sleep is tough to come by on the International Space Station. NASA flight surgeon Smith Johnston explains why: “The station is noisy, carbon dioxide is high, and you don’t have a shower (seriously?).” This is why NASA is spending $11.2 million on switching out the space station’s fluorescent lights for color-alternating LEDs. The LEDs will alternate from blue, white, and red, based upon the time of day. NASA says it plans to have the switchover completed by 2016.

LED Lighting Options Help Christmas Displays Go Green

One year, I put about 7,000 lights on my parents’ house. They liked the lights, until they got their electric bill. However, there are a lot of money-saving options like LED mini lights. LEDs are the most efficient lights you can buy, and will save you a ton in electricity costs. Powering 600 incandescent lights for six hours a day will cost about $80, while the same number of LED lights will cost only $7.

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Does Color Temperature Affect Sleep?

Jun 29, 12 Does Color Temperature Affect Sleep?

It’s a long accepted fact that production of the hormone responsible for sleepiness, melatonin, can be suppressed by light. The pineal gland uses the presence of light to determine when to release and suppress the hormone, setting our “internal clock” to a cycle of wakefulness and sleep, also known as a circadian rhythm. Not surprisingly, the large amount of artificial light we encounter in the modern world can have a negative effect on this cycle by suppressing melatonin production even at night. However, recent studies suggest that not just the amount of light, but also the color of the light we encounter may affect our sleep cycles.

A 2005 study conducted by researchers at Kyushu University in Japan suggests that exposure to high color temperature light immediately preceding bedtime reduces the length of stage 4 sleep. In the study, the researchers exposed different subjects to 3000K, 5000K, and 6700K light sources for 6 hours before going to sleep. Researchers monitored the subjects’ sleep patterns and came to this conclusion:

Given that the S4-sleep period is important for sleep quality, our findings suggest that light sources of higher color temperatures may reduce sleep quality compared with those of lower color temperatures.

Other studies by the University of Basel in Switzerland and the University of Connecticut found similar results.

Though these findings are not yet accepted scientific fact, it’s worth noting that manufacturers have already started to create products with these ideas in mind. Philips, for example, produces an entire line of “Wake-Up Lights” that use increasing light intensity and color temperature to wake you from sleep, a method that is marketed as a more natural alternative to alarm clocks. The computer program and smartphone app f.lux reduces the color temperature of screens for less obtrusive nighttime reading. On the flip side, companies have long used “full spectrum” office lighting to increase alertness and productivity, assuming that if high color temperature lighting discourages sleep, it must also encourage wakefulness.

While the scientific community works this all out, what can you do now to improve your sleep? Start with what we do know: Bright light of any color temperature suppresses the production of melatonin, so limit the use of artificial light in the hours preceding sleep. This is easy to do with dimmers, 3-way bulbs, and even low wattage bulbs. Second, conduct your own study: If you currently use high color temperature bulbs and have difficulty sleeping, switch them out for soft white or warm white bulbs and see if you notice a difference.

If you try these ideas out, we’re curious about the results. Does color temperature have any effect on your sleep? Let us know in the comments, or drop us a line on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.

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Do Yellow Bug Light Bulbs Work?

Jun 08, 12 Do Yellow Bug Light Bulbs Work?

Ah…summertime. Warm weather, pool parties, barbecues, and bugs. Lots and lots of bugs. Few things can turn a summer day into utter misery faster than a swarm of flying insects. You’ve tried greasy bug spray, citronella candles, Tiki torches, maybe even blowtorches. So we can imagine your surprise when you saw a yellow-colored “bug light bulb” at your local hardware store. Could it be true? Could screwing in a light bulb solve your bug problems for good?

To answer that question, let’s start by clearing up some myths about yellow incandescent bug lights and their energy-saving cousin, compact fluorescent bug lights. Bug lights do not kill bugs (you’ll need a bug zapper or Paraclipse fly trap for that), nor do bug lights repel bugs. Bug lights simply attract fewer bugs than other light bulbs. In short, a bug light will not magically solve your bug problem, but it will make you and your home less visible to most flying insects.

As discussed in a past article, light is divided into multiple wavelengths, measured in nanometers (nm), as you can see in the graph below. The human eye can only perceive a small band of wavelengths in the light spectrum, from about 390 to 750 nm. Insects perceive a similarly small band of the light spectrum, though their band of vision is shifted further to the “right” of the spectrum than ours. In fact, any wavelength higher than about 650 nm is virtually invisible to most flying insects.

Visible Light Spectrum

Image courtesy of Chemistryland.com

So why are bug lights yellow? Wavelength and color temperature have an inverse relationship, which you can also see in the graph. As the wavelength of a light source decreases, its color temperature increases (as according to Wien’s displacement law). Low color temperatures are red-yellow and exhibit a long wavelength, while high color temperatures are blue-violet and exhibit a short wavelength. By coloring a bulb yellow, then, the manufacturer has decreased the color temperature and in doing so increased the wavelength into a spectrum unseen by insects.

That’s the science of how bug light lights work, but the larger question is whether they are effective. From personal experience, I can say yes, they are. However, bug lights are not a panacea for all your bug problems. This is for a couple reasons. One is that not all insects are the same; different bugs see slightly different wavelengths. Second, no light source is made up of one, pure wavelength. Even an apparently yellow light may exhibit some shorter (and bluer) wavelengths that insects may still see.

To get the most out of your bug light, remember this: The bugs aren’t there because they like the light; they’re there because they like the smaller (and tastier) bugs that buzz around the light. If these smaller bugs sense any light whatsoever, it won’t be long before they buzz their way to bask in it. And once the small bugs are there, it won’t be long before the bigger bugs follow. Once that happens, you have a bug party on your hands, light or no light. The best thing to do to avoid a swarm of bugs is to turn the light off when you don’t need it.

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