How to Choose Landscape Lighting

Apr 27, 12 How to Choose Landscape Lighting

Most homeowners install landscape lighting for safety concerns. For example, we put PAR38 Halogens above our garages and entrances so we can see at night and detect intruders. Others may install inexpensive solar powered LED lights to line their sidewalks or flower beds. However, these applications fall far short of what is possible with landscape lighting.

During the day, your neighbors see everything touched by the sun, but at night, you’re given a blank canvas that you can “paint” with the right lighting design. When used thoughtfully, landscape lighting can have a transformative effect on your lawn, highlighting focal points and adding dimension to your yard.

To begin your project, decide between solar and low voltage landscape lighting. Line voltage landscape lighting is also available, but is only recommended for large commercial applications. Solar lighting is inexpensive, easy to install, and doesn’t use any electricity since it derives all its power from the photovoltaic panels on the fixture. However, solar lights are undependable. Solar landscape lights are dim and produce light for only a few hours. For this reason, doesn’t carry solar landscape lights, nor do we recommend them. Instead, we suggest low voltage landscape lights that operate at either 12 or 24 volts. When used with the right outdoor transformer, low voltage lights are safe, easy to install, and even easier to maintain.

Next, you have the choice of Halogen or LED landscape lights. Halogen landscape lights are the traditional type of landscape lighting. They are relatively inexpensive, yet they use a large amount of electricity. The advantage of LED is huge energy savings, though your up-front cost may be much more. A typical Halogen landscape bullet, for example, can use as much as 60 watts, but an LED of the same brightness will use only 10. LED lights will also last 50 times as long as Halogen; this means significant long-term savings and much less maintenance.

Now design your landscape lighting layout. On the typical home, you’ll need three types of lights: Pathway lightsbullet lights, and in-ground well lights. Pathway lights, as the name implies, go along pathways, including sidewalks and driveways. You can install bullet lights in the ground and pointed upward to highlight trees, bushes, statues, fountains, and building facades. You can also install bullet lights pointing downward from trees, which makes the tree look full and vibrant while casting a soft glow over your entire yard. Finally, you can use well lights in many of the same areas as bullet lights. Because they are buried, well lights are more concealed, making them perfect for spotlighting trees where there isn’t any other foliage around to hide a bullet light.

So have you installed or considered installing landscape lights at your home? If you’ve already installed them, what are your experiences? If you haven’t, what type of landscape lights most interest you? Drop us a line in the comments below, or give us a holler on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+. You can even post your project photos on Pinterest!

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Exit and Safety Lights

Oct 19, 11 Exit and Safety Lights

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.

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Cyalume Glow Sticks

Aug 22, 11 Cyalume Glow Sticks

As a form of recreational light, “glow sticks” are popular options for children who go out trick-or-treating on Halloween and are fun options at parties and other recreational events. However, they have many practical uses as well. They are great options for safety lighting and are popular devices for the military, law enforcement, and other emergency personnel. They are useful for signaling, illumination, surveying, perimeter control, and many other uses. Cyalume safety products has taken advantage of the glow stick’s potential as a safety product by creating a line of industrial and military-grade chemiluminescent “Lightbars.”

Cyalume Lightbars are single use products that contain non-toxic hydrogen peroxide and dye that produce a chemical luminescence when combined. Fresh out of the package, illuminating substances are separate. Generally, one is in a glass ampoule and the rest surrounds it. When the consumer wants to use it, they bend the stick to break the barriers between the substances. Another option is to shake it hard to make an encased steel ball do the work. As the substances begin to combine, they start to glow.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of Cyalume safety products is the fact that they are waterproof and non-toxic. This means they work in just about any weather condition and are always safe to use. Other benefits include consistent light output without needing batteries, shelf life of several years, and easy storage. When needed, they can start emitting light within seconds.

Among Cyalume’s products are military-grade 6-inch light sticks, high-brightness “Impact” Lightbars, and the LightStation and S.E.E. evacuation kits. Cyalume has also started making the SnapLight flare alternative, which is a non-toxic alternative to traditional road flares. For these products and more, visit

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Smoke Alarm Safety

Mar 14, 11 Smoke Alarm Safety

House fires happen. That’s an unfortunate fact of life. Most people know that in order to keep their families and homes as safe as possible, they need to have a smoke detector in every bedroom, every major room, and in the hallways leading to rooms and bedrooms. This, of course, allows you to hear the alarm if a fire breaks out, even when you are sleeping. However, not everyone knows that fire alarms need occasional maintenance.

Most household smoke detectors installed today use a battery backup in case of a power loss. These batteries need to be checked or replaced on a regular basis, twice a year according to most experts, so what better opportunity than daylight saving time to do those quick checks? Next time you change your household clocks, check your smoke detector batteries as well. If there is any doubt that the battery is fresh, throw it out and replace it with a new one. Another good idea is to switch from standard alkaline batteries to Lithium batteries. Lithium batteries can be more expensive, but they can also last up to ten years, saving money in the long run and keeping your home safer.

You may also use this time to determine whether your home is as safe as it could be. Sure, you may have the best smoke detectors installed in all the right places, but what happens if you have a Carbon Monoxide leak? Carbon Monoxide (CO) is known as the silent killer because it is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas which can go undetected by humans. While even the human body uses this natural substance to some extent, high levels of carbon monoxide starve the body of oxygen and can be just as dangerous as a fire. Many detectors today combine both smoke detection and carbon monoxide detection, but they can also be installed separately, depending on your specific needs.

Don’t let this year’s “spring forward” be such a drag. Use the time change to your family’s advantage and test that your smoke detectors are working and have fresh batteries and even consider installing Carbon Monoxide detectors. You can get detectors as well as a good supply of batteries here at at below retail prices.

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CFL Mercury Concerns

Feb 28, 11 CFL Mercury Concerns

Many people have concerns about mercury present in CFL bulbs, but we are here to discuss why the mercury concern has been blown out of proportion. The fact are very simple, nobody wants to expose their family and home to possible mercury contamination, but how can we alleviate these concerns with the growing popularity of CFL bulbs? The best way to address these concerns is to look at the reality of the situation. According to the Energy Star program, the average CFL bulb contains 4 milligrams of mercury. To put that into context, this amount of mercury is equivalent to the amount of mercury in a bite of albacore tuna. Also, an old-fashioned thermostat would have at least 500 milligrams.

By calculations, you actually have a role in releasing mercury into the environment whether you use CFL bulbs or not. When you use a traditional incandescent bulb, you need four times the amount of energy that you need for a CFL. Since the electrical plants are the biggest contributor to mercury release, you have the potential of four times the amount of mercury released when you use an incandescent bulb instead of a CFL. Even adding in the small amount of mercury inside the CFL bulb, this does not add up to even one-third of what releases when using an incandescent.

One concern many people have is that the mercury inside the lamp will get out if you break the bulb. Even though the bulb is made of glass, these bulbs are not fragile and can take normal handling. If a bulb breaks, then follow recommended guidelines for cleaning up. It is a simple process and does not require special cleaning materials or a call to your local HAZMAT. One reason why the mercury concern has been dramatized is because people do not understand the minuscule amount of mercury in each bulb and the simple cleaning process for removing it.

If a bulb burns out, make sure you recycle the bulb instead of sending it to the landfill. That is one way you can prevent mercury from entering the environment. Many solid waste agencies and even home improvement stores provide options for CFL bulb recycling. All you need to do is specify a special container to collect your bulbs. When you plan a trip for recycling or going to the home improvement store, take the bulbs with you and recycle them. Taking a few precautions and educating yourself will show you why the mercury concern is not as bad as it seems.

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