Mar 26, 14
As most of us are unlikely to be out in our yards enjoying a glass of cool, fresh lemonade in 50-degree weather, it is easy to forget about our outdoor lighting during the cooler months of the year. However, with the warmer weather just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about how you will be illuminating your yard. Here are some basic considerations everyone should keep in mind for lighting their outdoor areas year-round.
Choosing Outdoor Lights
Outdoor/Wet Location Approved
Before selecting an outdoor bulb or light fixture, always make sure the product says it’s suitable for outdoor or wet locations (such as any item in our landscape section). If a product is suitable for outdoor locations, then it’s also suitable for wet locations, and vice versa. Unapproved products may become damaged or otherwise hazardous if sprinklers, pool water, rain, or other damp conditions come in contact with their electrical components. If you’re not sure, you can always try contacting the manufacturer to double check. Sometimes a product will say it’s UL, ETL, or CSA listed for these locations. These are all acronyms for safety organizations that verify products’ operating capabilities in certain locations, including indoor/outdoor, dry, damp, and wet places.
Line Voltage vs. Low Voltage
While perusing potential outdoor lights, you may have noticed many products are offered in either line voltage or low voltage options. But what exactly does this mean?
Intermatic Low Voltage Transformer
Line voltage lights run using the standard voltage that powers most appliances and bulbs in your home – usually 120 volts. This includes table lamps, ceiling fixtures, chandeliers, and more.
- Low voltage lights require a transformer to bring down their voltage supply to 12 or 24 volts. Common low voltage bulbs include miniature bi-pin bulbs found in landscape lighting and MR16s found in indoor track lighting as well as outdoor fixtures. The primary advantage to using low voltage lights is that they are safer to use; a 12- or 24-volt shock won’t do half as much harm as a 120-volt shock. Also, if you’re buying a fixture that uses an MR16, you will have plenty of options for controlling your lights’ beam spread.
Common Outdoor Lights
Security/Motion Sensing Lights
Security lighting should be top priority as homes possess multiple points of entry for potential intruders. Of course, you should always keep your doors locked, but wouldn’t it be better to ward off unwanted visitors before they get too close for comfort? These 200-degree motion-activated security lights can provide great coverage for your front, back, or side lawn.
Many homes have pathways or sidewalks leading up to the front entrance or around their backyard. Whether you’re using them to welcome guests to your home or guide them through your yard, low-to-the-ground path lights will create a warm, inviting ambiance in either location. We offer options in many colors and shades to match whatever theme or color scheme you may have.
Steps are easily the most accident-prone areas in the front or backyard, especially since their presence can come as a surprise in the dark. But with proper illumination, you can greatly reduce this hazard. Step lights will illuminate each step in a stairwell or elevated path, drawing guests’ eyes to the floor and ensuring that these spaces remain accident-free.
Can you think of any outdoor lighting essentials we missed? Have any questions? Leave us a comment or drop us a line on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn, or Pinterest!
Mar 12, 14
With Spring Break well underway, the spring-time wedding season is quickly approaching. If you’re one of the lucky couples tying the knot in the upcoming months, you may have already been planning to take advantage of the temperate weather conditions and fresh-bloomed flowers to set the stage for a gorgeous, outdoor wedding. But with all the details that go into making your big day special, one thing you probably haven’t considered is how to take advantage of your lighting. Although there are many ways to make your outdoor wedding shine, below are some of our ideas on how to highlight key areas of your ceremony.
Lighting the Aisle: Lanterns
Lanterns with candles are a popular choice to line the path to matrimony. However, we recommend using these beautiful LED lanterns instead to reduce the risk of a fire hazard. These battery-operated LED lanterns will be reusable for years, and they will also be easier to use and maintain throughout the ceremony since you won’t have to deal with the mess of wax candles. Lanterns would also look great from above – if you have trees in your location, consider hanging them from there.
Lighting the Altar: Icicle Light Strings
Many outdoor weddings have an archway or some other sort of covering above the altar, with gazebos being the tried-and-true choice. Hanging beautiful icicle light strings around the roof of an outdoor archway or gazebo will set the perfect romantic mood, enveloping you and your future spouse in a dim, enchanting glow as you say your vows and seal the deal. To really amp up this effect, go with icicle light curtains, where each icicle hangs as low as the ground.
Lighting the Guests: Tree Lights or Commercial Light Stringers
To maximize lighting for your ceremony, why not use nature to your advantage and simply cloak nearby trees with tree wrap lights? A forest of tiny, sparkling lights will certainly give your wedding a magical and memorable atmosphere. Regular Christmas lights will do the trick just as well, though they aren’t guaranteed to be spaced as closely or evenly. Or, if trees are not abundant at your location, another option would be to hang commercial light stringers between tall light posts instead. Available in varying string lengths, these evenly spaced, larger bulbs will create a stunning canopy of light and cover more area than other light strings.
Lighting the Tables: Christmas Lights in Mason Jars
Finally, mason jars filled with battery operated Christmas lights will make charming centerpieces for your guests’ tables, whether suspended from above or resting on the tables themselves. Use these glowing jars to add a simple, hometown reminiscence to your ceremony, or combine them with other decorative elements, such as vases full of flowers or potpourri, for a more upscale ambiance.
Do you have any unique lighting ideas for outdoor weddings? Let us know in the comments or send us a line on Google Plus, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or LinkedIn!
Jan 17, 14
It’s been said that “a room is like a stage. If you see it without lighting, it can be the coldest place in the world.” We would have to agree. Having stylish décor and a great floor plan is one thing, but not having the right lighting to show it off can render it null and void. This is why, when you’re in the market to sell your home, it’s important to make any necessary lighting renovations that may help seal the deal. Not only will having a well-lit home make your space look more appealing, but potential buyers will be glad about not having to make these lighting updates themselves. Even if you’re not looking to sell your home any time soon, making these updates now could help increase your home’s value in the future. Below are a few lighting upgrades that may help you sell your home.
Artificial light can do amazing things, but sometimes there’s no substitute for the real thing. Because home buyers typically look at houses during the day, they’ll be paying close attention to the way natural light filter in throughout the space. Assess whether or not your home has a lot of natural light, and find ways to improve it. Is an overgrown tree blocking your bedroom window? Trim it! Is your couch preventing light from shining through the windows in your living room? Rearrange some furniture! Do whatever you have to do to make sure there is an abundance of natural light accentuating the beauty of your space. This will make your home feel light and airy instead of gloomy and stuffy.
If a potential home buyer knows that they’re already set up for savings thanks to energy-efficient lighting, it will earn you some serious bonus points. Replace old incandescent bulbs with energy-efficient CFLs or LEDs and install low-energy fixtures that won’t rack up the electricity bill each month. Check out our previous blog post for more info on how much money you can save using energy-efficient lighting.
Lutron Skylark CFL/LED Dimmer Switch
Dimming Switches and Sensors
Speaking of energy-efficiency, dimmer switches and occupancy/vacancy sensors are another good feature for your home to have. Not only do they help reduce the amount of light being used at any given time, but dimmer switches are great for giving rooms a comfortable ambiance. Occupancy and vacancy sensors are great for rooms where lights could accidentally be left on for long periods of time such as closets, bathrooms, and laundry rooms.
If you haven’t done it already, installing task lighting into areas as frequently used as the kitchen is very important. Because kitchen counter tops usually have cabinets above them, they are usually not very well lit if all you have are a few overhead lights. Installing under cabinet lighting is a functional and stylish option that will give your kitchen a clean, sophisticated look. Lighting in smaller spaces such as pantries and closets will also add appeal.
Layer Your Light
When it comes to creating a truly well-lit space, only using a few overhead lights won’t do the trick. In lighting design, a room should usually have three layers of light: overhead, task, and accent lighting. Overhead lighting is usually the main source of light in the room such as a chandelier or recessed can lights. Task lighting, such as a vanity lighting over a bathroom sink, will give areas of frequent use even more brightness and clarity. For accent lighting, use anything from strategically placed wall sconces to track lighting to highlight features of the room you would like to stand out. Having these three layers will make your space look clean and bright.
Greenscape Adjustable Escort Landscape LED Path Light
For some buyers, the quality of exterior lighting can be just as important as the interior. Even though prospective home buyers may be viewing your home during the day, don’t think they won’t notice outdated fixtures flanking your entrance or, even worse, no fixtures at all. Good outdoor lighting is important for a number of safety reasons. Installing LED pathway lights or motion-activated security lights are good safety features to have. Updating any old fixtures to modern ones might not be such a bad idea either. A little curb appeal never hurt anyone.
Are there any lighting upgrades that we missed? Let us know in the comments or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and Pinterest!
Jan 18, 13
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)
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.
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)
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.
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)
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!
Jan 11, 13
So one of the bulbs in those little “puck” lights under your kitchen cabinets or the light in your desk lamp has burned out. You may have even had a burn-out with a landscape bullet light. Once you figure out how to get the fixture apart, you find a tiny bulb with two pins you don’t recognize. Now what?
Sure, you can throw the entire fixture out and just get a new one. That may be easier, but it definitely won’t be cheaper. What happens when the bulb burns out again (which it certainly will)? Are you going to just keep buying replacement fixtures?
Relax. We at 1000Bulbs.com have you covered. Identifying and replacing your existing bi-pin xenon bulb (sometimes called ’2-pin bulbs’ or ‘T-bulbs’) is easier than you think. Just follow these five simple steps:
Step 1: Measure the Pin Spacing
How far apart are the pins from each other? You can figure this out by getting a ruler and measuring the space between the pins. The space between the pins is measured in millimeters. Write this measurement down as it will help you find the right base type.
Step 2: Determine the Bulb Voltage
Check the fixture housing or socket and see if there is a label that tells you the voltage of the original bulb. The label will most likely have a UL or CSA symbol. If it’s not on the fixture, try to find it on the bulb itself. When you find the voltage, write it down. If you can’t find the label or the label doesn’t list the voltage, don’t worry. You may still find the correct bulb with some tips coming up in step 4.
Step 3: Check the Pin Type
Now check the pins on your existing bulbs. Are they straight or looped? Most bi-pin bulbs will have straight pins, but there are also bi-pin bulbs that have looped pins. Knowing if the pins are straight or looped will help you to further narrow down your bulb selection. Along with your pin measurements and voltage, make sure to jot down if your pins are looped or straight.
Step 4: Find Your Bulb
Now that you’ve got the bulb spacing, pin type, and (hopefully) voltage, it’s time to find your bulb. If you measured 4 millimeters between pins, that means you have a G4 base bulb, which comes in 6, 12, or 24 volts. If your measurement is just a hair wider than 6 millimeters, you have a bulb with a G6.35 base, which comes in 12, 24, or 120 volts. A measurement of 8 millimeters means you have a G8 base xenon bulb, which only comes in 120 volts. Looped pins spaced 9 millimeters apart means you have a G9 base bulb, which also only comes in 120 volts.
Step 5: Install Your Bulb
After you’ve figured out what bulb you need, installing it is simple. Your fixture has a glass lens that fits over the bulb. After you remove the lens, insert the new bulb into the socket and replace the lens. Be careful not to touch the bulb itself, as the oils on your fingers will damage the bulb, shortening its life and maybe even causing it to melt. Some bulbs come with a wrapping around the bulb to prevent damage when installing them. If your bulb didn’t come with a wrapping, wear gloves or use something to wrap around the bulb, but be sure to remove the wrapping after you install the bulb.
That’s all there is to it. Remember, replacing your bulb is much cheaper than replacing the whole fixture. While replacing the bulb may not be as easy, after a few times, you’ll get the hang of it. If you have any questions about these bulbs or just questions in general, don’t be shy! Drop us a comment in the box below or reach out to us Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus.