Here's A Bright Idea!

A blog about lights, and how they can save energy, money and the environment

Upgrading to LED Lighting in Your Office

Posted by adventurelightingblog on December 13, 2013

Let’s face it.  LED Technology is the future of lighting.  But there is still a lot of confusion as to which LED Technology is best for indoor applications in particular.  I’m here to shed light on that question.

The Best way to take advantage of LED lighting is to be able to control it.  Fluorescent Lighting is a proven technology, but it doesn’t offer much by means of control.  Sure, you’re able to dim fluorescent ligthing.  But it’s an expensive endeavor that rarely is used.  New Codes are requiring that each space in your typical office building use at least 3 levels of lighting.  On, Off, and somewhere in between.  That can mean, dimming capability, or separate switching so that only 1 of the 2 lamps turn on in a given fixture.

We’ve found that the best way to ensure you’re saving as much money as possible on your energy costs is to use LED Fixtures with dimming capabilities.  And the best way to do that, is with Lithonia Fixtures and nLight Controls.

vtledThis is an example of an LED fixture from Lithonia.  What makes this unique, is when you couple this fixture (or similar fixtures) with nLight Controls.  Each fixture has two RJ45 sockets on the side, where Cat5e cables can be daisy chained between fixtures.

Cat5e Cabling Control

dual RJ45 sockets allow for daisy chained fixtures and controls.

Here’s where things get really cool.  Each fixture needs to be powered by 120/277v, but from there, all the controls are taken over by the Cat5e Cables.  A Cat5e cable is sent to a wall switch, where it’s snapped into place.  (no power needed)  Then, lets say you wanted to add a occupancy sensor in the ceiling, daisy chain a Cat5e cable to the location, then plug that sensor in and BAM, Occ sensor.  Say you had an office or conference room or Cube Farm that is up against a wall of windows.  Take advantage of Daylight Harvesting with another sensor that can be daisy chained into the system.  All the components can talk to each other, All the components can be programmed to dim or turn on with different scenes.  ALL with nothing more than a Cat5e Cable, and a little bit of Lighting Distributor Know-How.

nLight Control Sample Layout

nLight Control Sample Layout

This type of system is perfect for a classroom, an office, or even warehousing.  It’s simple to install and the REBATES from your energy company can be astounding.

Call or comment for more information!

Brian Huff-
Adventure Lighting


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Outdoor LED Display – See it in Action!

Posted by adventurelightingblog on April 19, 2012

UPDATED!! New fixtures added!

One of the fastest growing LED markets is in the Outdoor area.  We’ve discussed in earlier posts how the indoor LED products are starting to come around, but for the most part, numbers don’t add up.  Well in outdoor situations the numbers are a no-brainer!  The hardest part about understanding LED is actually seeing it live and in person.  We can tell you how a 20w LED fixture will replace a 100 watt High pressure Sodium fixture, but wouldn’t it be nice to actually see it person???  We thought so.  So we built a board of LED fixtures to do just that.

Adventure Lighting Outdoor Lighting Display. LED lighting at your fingertips!

Listed from Top Left being #1, to bottom right being #12.  Here’s what we have:

1) RAB Lighting’s – 91 Watt Area Light.  This fixture is perfect for parking lot lighting and walkway lighting throughout a facility’s property.

2)  RAB Lighting’s – 13 Watt Flood/Spot Light.  This fixture is perfect for lighting up a flag pole or any outdoor sign.

3) Lithonia Lighting’s – 35 Watt Wall Pack.  This general purpose wall pack has an excellent beam pattern and is able to replace up to 175w Metal Halide Wall Pack fixtures.

4) Juno Lighting’s – 50 Watt Decorative Wall Pack – Polaris wall pack designed for higher end architectural look.  Ultra efficient LED Fixture with a nice look to match.
5) RAB Lighting’s – 52 Watt Wall Pack – Designed to replace up to a 250w HPS / Metal Halide Wall Pack
6) RAB Lighting’s –  78 Watt Flood Light – Designed to Replace 250w to 320w Metal Halide Flood Lights.  Perfect for lighting up the side of building.
7) Lithonia Lighting’s – OLW14 – 26w LED Wall Pack – Ideal above man doors on your building!
8) Lithonia Lighting’s – OLAW – 35w LED Wall/Area Light.  Perfect Dusk to Dawn Fixture Replacement
9) Lithonia Lightins’s – OLW – 35w LED Wall Pack – For larger HID Replacement applications
10) RAB Lighting’s – 13w Wall Pack – Designed to replace 50w-70w HID Wall pack, above man doors.
11) RAB Lighting’s – 20w Wall Pack – Designed to replace 70w-100w HID Wall Pack
12) RAB Lighting’s – 26w Wall Pack – Designed to replace 150w HID Wall Pack

Adventure Lighting LED Display Board - Lights On!

The lights are on!

One of great features of our display is the nLight Touchpad Control.  Thanks to our friends from SensorSwitch, we are able to individually control each light on the board to easily compare like fixtures.  The wiring is all done over Cat5 cable, making it easy and cheap to install.  This switch will individually control 16 different channels.  And it looks cool to boot!

nLight Touch Control Pad - Programmed Channels - Adventure Lighting LED Display Board

nLight Touch Control Pad – Programmed Channels – Adventure Lighting LED Display Board

Here’s what the inner workings look like from the back. 
Adventure Lighting - LED Display - Back of Display

Adventure Lighting – LED Display – Back side of display

We’re excited to show our display to anyone who would like to see the latest and greatest in LED Fixtures on display.  Stop by if you’re in town.

Adventure Lighting - LED Display - Full Shot

Adventure Lighting – LED Display – Full Shot

Questions? Comments?

Brian Huff
Adventure Lighting

Posted in Business Lighting, Buying Local, Great Lighting Products, Latest News, LED's, Lighting, Save energy, Save money, The environment, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Rare Earth Phosphors Send Prices Skyrocketing!

Posted by adventurelightingblog on April 19, 2012

If you’ve noticed the increasing prices of fluorescent lamps jumping lately, there’s a reason.  And it’s not just manufacturers making more money!  You may have heard about a “Rare Earth Phosphor” crisis in the global market.  The lack of phosphors has sent prices skyrocketing across many industries, including fluorescent lamps.  Here’s what’s going on…

Rare Earth Phosphors Raw Material

Our friends in China have clamped down on production of Rare Earth Phosphors.  Supply and Demand = prices have gone up.  This problem first presented itself last summer, and prices have steadily increased ever since.  Prices that are normally guaranteed for a year or two are now being quoted for a few months at a time.

Bottom line- Time to start stocking up on lights!

Update: The 700 series T8 lamps that were slated to be discontinued this summer have been ok’d to be produced for another 2 years.  The Rare Earth problem has pushed prices too high to force everyone to move to the 800 series lamp.  With that being said, if you’re a fan of better quality light, and more lumens per watt, you may want to move to the 800 series anyways.

Thanks for reading!

Brian Huff
Adventure Lighting

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NEW LED Lamps hitting the Market!

Posted by adventurelightingblog on November 3, 2011

Good Morning Everyone!  It’s been a while since I’ve posted, and a lot has changed in the past few months.  Based on the comments of this blog, everyone wants to know about LED!  I will try to satisfy the audience in this post…

We just received our first samples of the 4′ linear LED T8 Tube from Philips a few weeks ago.  We have them installed and they are performing surprisingly well.  They’re running without a ballast at 87-88 watts for the 4 lamp fixture with Foot Candle measurements close to that of the T8 fixture next to it.

LED 4' Philips T8 Fixture

4' LED T8 Fixture Retrofit

The wiring was difficult.  I recieved a call from a gentleman in California a few months ago asking about these LED 4′ tubes.  His main concern as we talked was how easy they are to install.  I can speak from experience that it’s not as easy as replacing a ballast.  I spent approximately 30 minutes re-wiring the entire fixture.  With that being said, it looks really nice. 

4' LED T8 Philips Tubes

4' LED Philips Tubes

I was surprised to see that you can’t actually see the individual LED’s in the lamp.  You probably wouldn’t notice that the fixture is LED unless we told you.  (which is a good thing)

LED T8 Tube

There it is! 4' LED Philips T8

As far as how much it costs… All I will say is that you’d better be sitting down.  Give me a call/email/comment on the post to inquire more about this emerging technology.  This is where lighting is going, we’re getting closer, but we’re not there yet.

Jack Huff, along with his son Brian and wife Sue, owns and manages Adventure Lighting in Des Moines, Iowa. For more information, go to

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Cheap CFL’s Are Hurting Our Industry, And The Green Movement

Posted by adventurelightingblog on April 19, 2010

 At least once a week someone comes in to our store, complaining about a CFL they purchased.

Not one they bought from Adventure Lighting. No, these troublemakers are purchased elsewhere.

“What’s wrong with it,” I ask.

The most common responses:

“It burnt out already.”

“It overheated and melted.”

“It flickers.”

“It’s not as bright as it should be.”  

“Where’d you buy it?” I innocently inquire, knowing the answer before they give it.

“(Insert name of big box store here)”

I always feel bad for the person who got snookered into buying a “discount CFL.” They’ve probably read about the great benefits of compact flourescent bulbs, and are trying to save money on their electric bill while also doing their part for the environment.

Then they get burnt, literally – and that hurts all of us: consumers, reputable CFL distributors and the entire “green” movement.

No one knows who originally said, “You get what you pay for.” But the person should have their face enshrined on currency.

Some of these cheaply-made CFL’s claim to last 5, 6, even 10 years in some cases. But you’ll be lucky to get 6 months out of most of them.

But don’t be fooled.  There’s a reason that many of these big box stores only charge a buck or two for an 13w CFL, that we know costs double that to make properly – and it’s not out of the goodness of their hearts.

The truth is that these knock-offs are poorly designed, cheaply made and in many cases, dangerous. They can melt, catch fire, short out circuits and cause damage.

I’m not trying to specifically promote what we sell at Adventure Lighting – I think our products speak for themselves, plus there are a lot of reputable light companies in Des Moines who sell quality CFL’s, just like us.

What I am trying to do is save you money, time and headaches, while helping keep you and your family safe.  And the whole point of the CFL is to save energy and money, but when a consumer has a bad experience with one CFL, they’ll never go back.  And that doesn’t help anyone save energy.

Some things, you can buy at a big box store, or grocery chain. CFL’s should not be one of them. Period.

Those of us in the lighting industry, live, eat, breathe and talk about lights, every day – that’s our job. We read the trade journals, talk to the manufacturers, stay up to date on the latest news and, most important, stock the best brands – for us, that’s Philips, Technical Consumer Produts and Greenlite.  

So when it comes to your CFL’s, leave them to the lighting professionals.

And in the meantime,  I promise never to sell lumber, plants or milk. Although I would love to sell cookies and pastries – my wife would probably veto it. 🙂

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The New LED’s Are Here! The New LED’s Are Here! :)

Posted by adventurelightingblog on April 14, 2010


This post is going to be short and sweet – THE NEW LIGHTS ARE IN! THE NEW LIGHTS ARE IN! 

Okay, so I get excited about silly things – that’s what my wife has been telling me for many years lol. 

But of course any of us in the light industry will get as excited as a kid on Christmas when new things come out, especially when we get our hands on them. And nothing right now is more exciting than LED technology.  

I’ve posted earlier stuff on LED Refrigeration products – but today we received something just as cool: new Par30 and Par38 LED’s.  


Here's a few toys we just got in


Yeah, like I said, it probably doesn’t exactly have the high-tech buzz of “Ipad.” But let me tell you, these amazing lights from Philips are awe-inspiring, just the same. In fact, there isn’t a company in the world that has spent more money on research and development in LED lighting than the good folks at Philips Lighting.  

As good as these lights are, they’re going to get even better.  The Par Lamps we received today aren’t dimmable – but the next generation will be.  And while there are a lot of dimmable products out there today,  I trust that Philips would have bought it by now, if they thought it was viable. They haven’t, and my money is with them – figuratively and literally. 


A new par 30 LED in action


These lights are beefy and provide excellent light output. So if you’d like to see them in action, stop on out and we’ll show ’em off to you – or give us a call and we’ll bring these amazing lights out to you and put them through their paces, so you can see them in action for yourself.

Meantime, I’m going to play with them – isn’t that what you’re supposed to do with cool toys at Christmas? 🙂 



Jack Huff, along with his son Brian and wife Sue, owns and manages Adventure Lighting in Des Moines, Iowa. For more information, go to

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Head To The (New) Exit Signs?

Posted by adventurelightingblog on April 12, 2010


A friend sent me an article on emergecy exit signs from an online magazine that I don’t read, called Slate.

After reading it, I will almost certainly continue not to read it, but do want to address something the article points out. There is apparently a movement afoot to do away with our current emergency exit signs.

The exit sign we know and love


“Do away with” is not entirely correct. More accurately,  some people want to replace the standard “EXIT” sign that you and I have grown up with, with a picture – specifically, a human form who appears to be running towards an open door.

A different exit sign, used in other countries


This is not a new movement. They’ve been working on this for over 25 years. What’s new is that they’re getting some traction, particularly with a group that never seems happy with how things are – yep, you guessed it, Congress.

The reason for wanting the change?

Our current emergency “exit” sign can not be understood by people who can’t read English. Also, the color is red, which pretty much means “danger” in any language, and could actually scare people away from it, who didn’t know any better – or so says this group of sign-changing lobbyists.

That’s why a new style of exit sign was invented in the late 70’s, by designer Yokio Ota. It shows a human figure running towards what appears to be an open door. Ota’s design was adopted by the International Standardization Organization and is now the template for many countries around the world.

So be it. If they like it, use it.

Here in the U.S. the standards for exit signs were set in the 30’s by The National Fire Protection Association. And while the color red has become the standard, it’s not required by the NFPA – just enough contrast between the writing and the background, so people can read it.

Maybe I sound like an old fogey – do something, doesn’t mean it’s right for us, here in the good ole’ U.S.

The argument that someone who doesn’t speak our language, wouldn’t understand what an “EXIT” sign means, seems ridiculous. Since people the world over are used to seeing a sign associated with a doorway that leads them out of the building they’re in, wouldn’t it be reasonable to think that a foreigner who sees a lot of big, red, illuminated signs above a lot of doors, would figure out in short order that that’s probably a ぬける sign? (“to exit” in Japanese)

I mean, is it really that much more clear when you look at Mr. Ota’s running man sign? Besides, having to constantly look at a person running for the exits while I’m trying to enjoy a movie, is scarier to me than thirty-foot high red flashing EXIT letters.

And regardless of whether it’s a red word or a green guy, wouldn’t someone with that person, teach them what it means, or wouldn’t they learn on their own? If I saw ぬけるin red, repeatedly over doors in Japan, I think I’d get the hint – hey, that must be an emergency exit!

 I’m all for change, if it’s change for the better, or change for a reasonable purpose.

But we’re talking about retrofitting literally tens of thousands of signs in this country, just for people who are not living here but are simply visiting – because I’m guessing that the people who do move here from overseas, have to learn some ability to speak English. Does that seem reasonable?  I couldn’t imagine moving to China without eventually learning some Chinese – wouldn’t I have to, if I was going to be able to survive being there?

But hey, if the green running man sign becomes the standard exit sign in this country (and I doubt it will, no more than the metric system has become our measurement standard) we’ll sell it at Adventure Lighting – just like we sell the “old fashioned” exit signs.



Jack Huff, along with his son Brian and wife Sue, owns and manages Adventure Lighting in Des Moines, Iowa. For more information, go to

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The Dangers Of Unprotected Metal Halides

Posted by adventurelightingblog on April 9, 2010


I’ve seen a lot of crazy stuff in my 20 plus years in the lighting industry.

For those who are on the outside looking into this business we love, it might seem a bit crazy to associate “crazy” and “lighting industry.” Sort of like associating “comedian” and “CPA.”

But one thing that isn’t funny but is crazy is when lights start to explode.

This can happen, we’ve discovered, with metal halide lights.

First, let me make it clear – of all the lights in the HID (high intensity discharge) family, metal halides bring the greatest number of positive qualities to the table.

They’re more energy efficient than mercury vapor lamps and offer better light quality, and we sell a lot of them at Adventure Lighting, where our clients – and we – swear by them.

But they have their drawbacks.

Metal halides are notoriously slow to turn on. They also have color shifting issues more pronounced than other lamps and put out a lot of UV radiation.

And they can explode.

Not all the time or even most of the time or, to be honest, even some of the time – in fact we’ve only seen it a couple times with a few clients with the thousands of MH’s we’ve sold over the years.

But when anything blows up that isn’t supposed toand I can think of a long list of examples here – that makes people nervous, and rightfully so.

MH light manufacturers are working on this issue and have made great strides. Yet the best solution at this point is also the simplest – using a protected metal halide.

The Protected MH - works great and it's safe

Unlike the unprotected version, the protected MH has a tubular piece of glass around the arctube that prevents glass breakage, should the bulb, on those rare occasions, explode – usually toward the end of the bulb’s life.

The protected metal halide can then be safely used in open fixtures and in areas where people and combustibles are present.

The protected MH costs a little more than its unprotected brother – but the peace of mind it brings seems totally worth it. Plus it also exposes more businesses to the wonderful qualities of the MH lamp.

And not using it, because of a little blow-up, is just crazy. 🙂



Jack Huff, along with his son Brian and wife Sue, owns and manages Adventure Lighting in Des Moines, Iowa. For more information, go to

Posted in Great Lighting Products | 6 Comments »

Car Lot Lighting: Lots Of Wasted Light

Posted by adventurelightingblog on April 5, 2010


I heard last week that a local car dealer (I won’t say who) spends $20,000 a month to light their car lots – or in other words, about the price of a new car, every 30 days.

I am in the wrong business – whew. And I thought we had some big electric bills this winter.

Car lots take a lot of lights - and money - to be visible at night


Auto dealerships have a real conundrum. They want to be good stewards and be energy-efficient, but they also want their cars for sale to be visible and look good to potential buyers.

Yet this dealer I’m quoting, can’t be atypical. Drive past any car lot in Des Moines after dusk and you’ll see dozens of dealerships using hundreds and hundreds of lights to illuminate all those pretty cars, trucks and vans.

So what are the alternatives?

The easiest, AND CHEAPEST, fix is to switch from the basic 400w Metal Halide that nearly every lot uses, to an econ-o-watt 360w Metal Halide.  This bulb is designed to be a direct replacement for the 400w version.  No ballast changes, just un-screw old, screw-in new. 

The Philips 360w Metal Halide - a real energy saver


This bulb puts out just as much light as its higher wattage brother, but instantly saves 40 watts of energy.  Assuming you’re running the lights on your lot 11 hours a night, 365 days a year, at an average of $0.10 per kWh, you could save $16 per year, per bulb.  OH, and by the way, Mid-American Energy gives you a rebate of $3.00 per bulb. 

How many 400 watt lights do you have on your lot?   

Another alternative is to completely change out the fixtures to an LED replacement fixture.  This isn’t a cheap solution, but the energy savings and maintenance savings can be an excellent way to justify this option.

Another alternative is to only turn on every other light, rotating them each hour. Many car dealers look at me like I’ve lost my mind when I suggest this, but there’s plenty of research to show that car lots can be well-illuminated using this method. There are special sensors that can accomplish this – and we’re talking about a 50% reduction in lighting costs. If you’re writing a check for 20 grand a month to Mid-American Energy, it seems like it might at least be worth considering.

How much car shopping do you do after 2am?


In fact, if all car dealers across the country reduced their energy consumption by just 10%, they would see a total of $193 million in energy savings. For some dealers, those savings could be the difference between staying in business or turning out the lights, for good.

The other option is something “going green” proponents have been suggesting for years – shut all the lights off after 2am. Yes there are people who browse car lots at that time. But I know that no car dealer is actually selling cars at those hours. In fact the vast majority of cars are purchased in daylight. Perhaps all the car dealers in town could enter into some kind of joint agreement.

Sure. And maybe the KCCI Weather Beacon will go dark.

Red means...?


But if I was a smart car dealer who really wanted to make a PR splash, I’d tell the public that I was going to start shutting off my lights after 2am, to save energy, and the environment – and that I was going to pass those energy savings onto my customers.

Turn off the lights, sell a few more cars. Hey, maybe I am in the wrong business.

Jack Huff, along with his son Brian and wife Sue, owns and manages Adventure Lighting in Des Moines, Iowa. For more information, go to

Posted in Business Lighting | 10 Comments »

Almost Time To Stop Using Those T12 Ballasts

Posted by adventurelightingblog on April 1, 2010


If you’re still using those old, creaky, outdated 4-foot T12’s and the magnetic ballasts that go with them, here’s a reminder – you won’t be able to buy those ballasts new, starting July 1st. 

That’s because the Department of Energy will ban the manufacture of the ballasts starting on that date – no more replacement ballasts for the T12’s. And that’s probably going to tick some people off, who either didn’t know the ban was coming, or forgot about it. 

You’ll still be able to buy the electronic ballasts, of course. But the magnetic ballasts are going the way of The Vega and New Coke. And so are T12’s, which will no longer be made after 2012.

This whole thing started back in 2005, when ballast manufacturers had to stop selling magnetic ballasts for new fixtures with full wattage T12 lamps. A year later, light fixture manufacturers had to stop using the ballasts in their T12’s. 

It’s not like people aren’t still buying the T12’s – we sell our share. I also read something the other day that said 30% of all 4-foot fluorescent light sales in the U.S., are T12’s. That means a lot of people are going to wake up July 1st needing to retrofit their T12 lighting sockets, otherwise they’re going to be scrambling to find replacement ballasts from anyone who happens to have any left in stock. 

Bye-bye, ballast


But let’s face it, the technology is outdated, and there are far better alternatives to the T12 – the T8 and T5 are much more efficient, provide better light and last longer. Plus there are a load of incentive programs to motivate companies to upgrade to more advanced lighting technology, whether they’re still using the T12’s or even more outdated incandescents. 

There are some T12’s that will manage to avoid the Government’s axe. Here’s the list, from The National Lighting Bureau: 

T12 dimming ballasts that dim to 50% or less, two-lamp F96T12HO ballasts designed for outdoor sign applications where temperatures may fall to as low as -20F, and magnetic ballasts with power factors less than 0.90 designed and labeled for residential building applications. 


If that’s you, then you’re safe. If not – or if you’re not sure and don’t want to get caught with your T12’s down – call us at Adventure Lighting and let us help. We’re at 515-288-0444. 

As for me, I can’t wait to see those T12’s gone – don’t let the door hit you in the ballast. 🙂  



Jack Huff, along with his son Brian and wife Sue, owns and manages Adventure Lighting in Des Moines, Iowa. For more information, go to

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