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.
Christmas is only 24 days away, but it’s not too late to put on your best lighting display ever! You may think you already know everything about Christmas lights and decorations, but there are a few awesome products you may have missed. Here are five of our favorites.
Bring back your (or your parents’) childhood memories with candelabra base bubble lights. Used since the 1940s, these unique bulbs aren’t as popular as they once were, but they’re a great idea for a retro-style Christmas. Each bubble light houses a tiny incandescent bulb that creates both heat and light to bubble the liquid within the tube. They even work as nightlights when the holidays are over!
Color-Changing LED Bulbs
Jealous of your neighbor’s Christmas light show, but don’t have time to set up complicated controllers? Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just screw in some magic bulbs that did all of the work for you? Color-changing LED Christmas bulbs are just what you’re looking for! Simply replace your existing incandescent or LED C7 or C9 bulbs with these and watch as they cycle through red, blue, green, yellow, orange, and purple.
LED Snowfall Lights
If you live in a climate like ours here in Dallas, you may have given up hope for a White Christmas. But hang LED Snowfall lights from your trees and you can still watch the “snow” fall in the night sky. Ranging from 7 inches to over 6 feet long, each set of these suspended, water-resistant tubes contain cool white LEDs that chase and drift in randomized patterns, emulating a beautiful and calming snowfall.
Ideal for candlelit Christmas ceremonies and picturesque holiday displays, battery-operated candles are a safer and cleaner alternative to real candles. Great for windows, tables, and mantles, the wax-drip details and metallic bases of these incandescent and LED candles add a traditional look and feel to any space.
Christmas Light Stringers
C7 and C9 Christmas light stringers are the pro’s secret to a perfect outdoor holiday display. Not only can you choose whatever color of incandescent or LED bulb to use with these stringers, you can also cut them to fit any surface. Reached the end of your gutter? Cut off the excess wire and cap it. Visit our site to pick up whatever length you need, but don’t forget the end plugs!
You’ve set up your Christmas tree and gathered the family around, Clark Griswold-style. You plug in the lights and voilà!
A second goes by before you hear a collective groan. Your tree is so gnarled and lopsided it looks like it’s being slowly eaten away by moths. Half of the lights don’t work, and the other half only flicker. In short, your Christmas tree doesn’t look anything like the picture on the box.
Professional interior designers know setting up an artificial Christmas tree isn’t as easy as it looks. They know just how to adjust, test, and tweak until a Christmas tree looks bright and full, virtually oozing holiday cheer. Fortunately, you can do the same. Use these 4 professional tips for a problem-free tree this year!
Tip #1: Set Up the Stand the Right Way
First, set up your tree stand. Though this may not require the touch of an interior designer, it is literally the foundation to everything that comes after.
For two-piece steel or plastic stands, simply slide the two pieces together and apply slight pressure to the center hub until it clicks. For one-piece fold-up stands, open the legs to their locking position and tighten the bottom thumbscrew to secure. If you have a one-piece stand, no assembly is required.
If your stand is wobbly or flimsy, throw it away and get a real Christmas tree stand made with sturdy materials, superior craftsmanship, and wheels to make the tree easier to move and store.
Christmas Tree Bases
Tip# 2: Assemble the Tree Once Piece at a Time
Second, assemble the tree, taking time to adjust and level as you do so. Patience is key.
Insert the bottom section of the tree into the stand. Secure the tree by tightening the thumbscrews and allow the hinged branches to fall into their natural, horizontal position.
If you have a multi-section tree, add the other sections, taking care to lubricate the pole ends for easy insertion and removal at the end of the holiday season.
Tip #3: Shape the Tree Like a Pro
There are two basic ways to shape a tree: The traditional “V” shape and the “upswept” shape.
For a traditional shape, separate all the small limbs from the main branch, then work from the trunk outward, moving one limb up and one limb down, forming a “V” shape. Also form a “V” with the second set of limbs, but instead of up and down, angle one to the left and one to the right.
For an upswept tree shape, simply angle the limbs outward and upward, as if wind were blowing from the bottom of the tree.
Traditional Shaping (Top) and Upswept Shaping (Bottom)
Tip #4: Test Lights and Apply them Section-by-Section
Unless you have a pre-lit Christmas tree, the next step is to add your Christmas lights. Before you start, however, plug in each set of lights to make sure they work. Test for burned out bulbs and partially dead strings with a light tester and avoid the hassle and embarrassment of having to redecorate your tree halfway through Christmas dinner.
Now start lighting the tree, but not all at once. Make sure your tree is evenly lighted by hanging lights section-by-section and making corrections as you go.
Walk into any big box store this holiday season and you’ll see two, maybe three, options for Christmas mini lights: Number of bulbs, bulb color, and if you’re lucky, wire color. After all, these are the only choices most people consider.
But “most” people aren’t informed buyers. Any informed buyer craves selection, and that’s why we offer literally hundreds of mini light choices at 1000Bulbs.com.
Of course, with so many choices available, we realize it can be frustrating to find just the right mini lights you need, so to make that process easier, here’s a quick guide to buying mini lights.
Have you ever had to double or triple-wrap a Christmas tree with lights to make it bright enough? The typical set of mini lights has bulb spacing (the amount of wire between individual bulbs) of 12 inches. In almost all cases, that’s too far apart.
The maximum bulb spacing for a Christmas tree, gutter, or house trim should be 6 inches, not 12. To wrap an outdoor tree trunk, pole, or banister, tighter bulb spacing of 4 inches is better. For wreaths, garlands, and other objects with a small diameter, you may even want to go with 2.5 inch spacing.
Wire gauge isn’t just a topic for electricians. When it comes to mini lights, the thicker the wire, the longer it lasts and the more end-to-end connections you can make.
The standard wire gauge for mini lights is 22 AWG, but for especially long runs or harsh outdoor conditions, use a thicker wire gauge of 20 or even 18 AWG (the smaller the number, the thicker the gauge).
Lead and Tail Length
Lead length is the distance from the outlet (the male plug) to the first bulb in a set of mini lights. It is typically 3 to 6 inches, but many shorter “craft” lights have longer leads of 2 feet or more.
Longer leads are great for wall-mounted items like wreaths that are usually far away from a wall socket. Having a longer lead means you won’t have lights “floating in space” before they reach their destination.
Tail length is the other end of the string (the female plug) that connects to the next string in the series.
Mentioned earlier in the section on wire gauge, mini lights with a thicker wire gauge are able to handle more end-to-end connections. Though the exact number may vary, most 22 AWG 100 light sets are UL listed for up to three end-to-end (male to female) connections. A 20 AWG set of the same length may be rated for twice that—6 connections. Exceed that recommendation and the fuses within the light string will overload and burn out.
Interestingly, the recommendation for a 50 light set is usually the same. Why? For safety reasons, UL does not recommend more than three end-to-end connections for a 22 AWG string light of any length. If you plan a particularly long run, it is better to use a few 100 or 150 light stands than several shorter strands.
What Are Your Plans?
What are your Christmas lighting plans this year? Let us know what you have in store. Drop us a line in the comments below, or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus. If you have something especially interesting, we may even pin it on Pinterest!
Buying a Christmas tree, to many, is a yearly ritual of taking the family to a tree lot and buying a fresh, newly cut evergreen tree. For the more practical, it’s an ever-so-often trip to a store ending in “mart” to buy an artificial tree. There is always a conflict between aesthetics and practicality when it comes to buying a tree. What if you could select an artificial Christmas tree so realistic you would swear it even smelled like a real tree? What if it was also so well constructed you could pass it down for generations?
With today’s designer Christmas trees, like those from Barcana, that’s possible. Hardy branches, lifetime warranties, and quick setup are common to every tree we carry at 1000Bulbs.com. Though quality and durability are a given no matter which of our trees you choose, after you pick the size and the “species” of your tree, you have one decision left, whether to go with PVC or PE branches. Both are great options, but one or the other may be a better fit for your home or business.
The most common type of Christmas tree is made of polyvinyl chloride, more commonly known as PVC. At 1000Bulbs.com, we call these “classic” trees because they’re made of the material used to build Christmas trees for the past several decades. The manufacturing process is simple: Thin sheets of flexible PVC are cut into long, flat strips and then attached to a twisted wire shaft. Production of PVC trees is inexpensive, so savings that are passed to you, the customer. Though they aren’t the most exquisite option available, PVC Christmas trees are better constructed than they used to be, making them a good option for any homeowner on a budget.
Despite quality improvements, however, PVC trees barely compare to polyethylene, or PE, trees. Premium quality, ultra realistic PE Christmas trees are produced with the interior designer in mind. Their branches are injection molded and three-dimensional. Because the molds are created from real evergreen needles, PE branches are almost indistinguishable from the real thing. Though PE trees were once quite expensive, their price is now more in line with PVC trees, making them an option for homeowners as well as professional designers.
What both types of trees have in common is easy setup. If you remember tree setup taking an hour or more, you’ll be shocked to find out how quickly and easily you can set up a designer Christmas tree. If you don’t believe us, you can see for yourself in this Christmas tree setup video, where we set up a designer tree in less than 10 minutes! PE trees especially are almost “ready to go” right out of the box. The branches hold their shape well, even in storage, so they need very little “fluffing” and adjusting. Many models are even pre-lit with incandescent or LED lights. Whichever type you choose, you won’t be disappointed.
What kind of Christmas tree are you setting up this year? Let us know in the comments or drop up a line on Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus. We’d especially like to see your holiday decoration photos on Pinterest!
And one more thing: We’re giving away one of our designer Christmas trees on Facebook. Click here to enter!