Here's A Bright Idea!

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

Archive for the ‘CFL's’ Category

Feeling Blue? Turn On Your CFL!

Posted by adventurelightingblog on March 3, 2010

Many of us start to feel a little blue this time of year – a bit down in the dumps, sluggish, tired, even a little sad. Chronic gray skies, bitter cold and a record 61 inches of wind-blown snow over four months will do that! We also have a human genetic tendency to want to sleep more, stay in more, that whole “hibernating” feeling. 

The medical term for varying degrees of the winter blues is Seasonal Affect Disorder, also known as Seasonal Depression, or SAD. 

Feeling a little SAD?

!AD is a medical diagnosis – I don’t pretend to be a psychologist, no matter what my wife says! My degree is in electrical wiring, not brain wiring. But I’ve read and researched enough to know that one of the ways a person can help reduce the symptoms of  Seasonal Affect Disorder, is right in our Adventure Lighting warehouse. 

S-A-D? Meet C-F-L! 

So how do compact fluorescents help Season Affect Disorder? 

The breakthrough in light therapy came in 1980, when the National Institute of Mental Health showed evidence that intense light can have an impact on the release of melatonin in the brain, which affects our mood. There is much research since, supporting the use of bright white light, blue light and low intensity green light, for symptoms of SAD

In the middle of it all is the beautiful, versatile, and therapeutic compact fluorescent. 

Many so-called light therapy “boxes” are made of a set of fluorescent bulbs put inside a box with a diffusing screen. The box is then placed on a table where the person with SAD can then place their face within proximity of the light array. The treatment can last from a few minutes to several hours. The person doesn’t look directly into the light but instead goes about their business, reading, writing – as the light shines on the objects the person is looking at, the light box is doing its thing. 

The early light boxes needed “full-spectrum” bulbs producing light similar to the outdoors – regular fluorescents didn’t cut it. But with advancements in light technology, positive effects can be felt using cool-white, tri-phosphor and bi-axial lamps – all of which we stock in our Adventure Lighting warehouse.  

Light boxes specifically designed for SAD are manufactured and sold all over the internet. Considering they typically start at $350, the question then becomes, can you make your own light box? 

Yes you can! 

We've got your light box right here!

There are several ways to accomplish this. The simplest is to purchase a standard 4 lamp 2′ x 4′ Troffer (a Troffer is a recessed fluorescent) which is a standard office fixture stocked at Adventure Lighting. 

The light threshold for an effective light box is 10,000 lumens. To get there, you’ll have to decide what types of lights you want to use. We’d recommend a 4-light, F32T8 with an electronic ballast. It’s much more energy-efficient, and will produce 9,600 lumens per fixture. 

If you’re handy, you can also construct an actual light “box” using wood, standard CFL’s and multiple light sockets. An 18w CFL produces 1100 lumens, so you’ll need 10 to get to 10,000. 

Build your own light box

If you think you have SAD, please see your doctor. Again, I’m not a trained therapist.

But if you’d like help in building your own light box, then email us, call us or stop in and see us. We may not know the brain, but we do know lights – and we’d love to share a few “bright” ideas that can help you have a brighter winter, starting with the incredible, versatile, energy-efficient, therapeutic, miraculous, CFL!

 

 

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

Posted in CFL's, Season Affect Disorder | 5 Comments »

Turn Out The Lights? Read This Before You Flip The Switch

Posted by adventurelightingblog on February 26, 2010

 

We’ve been told over the years – by our parents, spouses, bosses and even the U.S. Government – to “turn the lights off when you leave the room.” The reasons are simple – turning off lights conserves energy, saves money and prolongs the life of the light. Right?

On or off? Here's a bright idea

Well not always. Believe it or not there are some very good reasons to leave the light on

First, let’s make it clear – if the light is an old-school incandescent, go ahead and turn it off. And leave it off. Forever. Only 10-15% of the energy consumed by incandescents, actually goes towards illumination. The rest is wasted as heat. So the first step is to replace all of your inefficient incandescent bulbs with modern CFL’s (from Adventure Lighting) – a longer lasting, more energy-efficient, better for the environment, better light, period. 

Now to the great fluorescent debate – to turn off or not to turn off? 

Fluorescents, when turned on, are like me when I’m watching an NFL game on Sunday afternoons – they really like to be left alone. CFL’s were designed and built to be energy-efficient and thus, happiest when they’re doing their job, providing light. In general, the more you turn a fluorescent on and off, the more you shorten the life of the lamp. The rule of thumb is, if you’re going to be gone more than 15 minutes, go ahead and turn off the light. If it’s less, leave them on. 

But there are other considerations. 

Fluorescents (and incandescents) require a relatively high “inrush” current when they’re first turned on. The amount of extra electricity required depends on the type of light and the ballast, which provides the initially high voltage needed for igniting the lamp and also regulates the current during the light’s illumination. 

There are three basic types of ballasts and three basic forms of ignition, but we won’t go there. Instead, just remember that the amount of electricity used to “start” a fluorescent is roughly equal to operating the light for around five seconds or so.  It’s similar to the “should I keep my car running or turn it off” question. In other words, every time you turn on a light, it’s taking you five seconds worth of cost to do so.

Our best advice is to keep your car – and your lights – on. 

The last consideration is when you’re operating the lights. Peak times – when energy companies charge the most because the most consumers are using the most electricity – vary from state to state, to country to country.

Wow - glad we don't watch TV in India

For example, in India it’s all peak electrical time – there are no off-peak hours. (Glad we’re not running our 50 inch plasma TV over there.) Here in the U.S., peak or “on-peak” hours generally start in the afternoon and last through the early evening. So if you’re going to turn off your fluorescents, do it during this time – but only if you’ll be gone more than 15 minutes. 

Otherwise, leave those beautifully stingy, energy-sipping wonders of technology on, let them do their job.  They’ll be happy, because they get to light up the room, and so will your smile, because you’ll be happy, too. 

And now we want to make you even happier, by giving you something for free!  

As we’ve talked about in previous posts, your response to “Here’s A Bright Idea” has been amazing – we can’t thank you enough for your comments, calls and shared interest in saving money and the environment. 

To say thank you, we’d like to give you two free CFL’s. No purchase necessary. All you have to do is subscribe to our “Here’s A Bright Idea” blog by email. We’ll then send you an email, telling you how to pick up your two free CFL’s. It’s that easy! 

As an email subscriber you’ll also receive other great offers from Adventure Lighting. So sign up, get your two free CFL’s and other great offers from us at Adventure Lighting – and thank you! And if you have a topic or question you’d like us to address in a future blog post, please let us know!

 

 

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

Posted in CFL's, Save energy, Save money | 3 Comments »

Countering The Rap That LED’s Aren’t So Hot

Posted by adventurelightingblog on February 24, 2010

LED’s have been taking a bum rap recently and we want to set the record straight.

Unlike CFL’s or incandescents, LED, or Light Emitting Diode, create light by running a current through a small computer chip which then emits light. There’s no gas, no mercury, no moving parts – making it one of the most energy efficient and durable lights in the world.

Can LED's keep up with Ole' Man Winter?

That incredible energy efficiency, however, has LED to some problems. (excuse the pun) In Des Moines and other cold weather cities, incandescent traffic lights are being replaced with high energy efficient LED’s, which are 90% more energy efficient and can generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings for cash-strapped cities. The downside is the very advantage that LED’s have – they produce far less heat than their predecessors, which allows snow and ice to build up, particularly during this record breaking winter. That has created visibility issues for drivers and headaches for the city road crews who have to clear the snow and ice by hand.

Truth be told, on the coldest, snowiest, windiest days, no traffic light – incandescent, LED or burning caveman torch – can keep up with the snow and ice. Otherwise there are solutions. Plastic covers can be placed over the lights, or they can be coated with a special moisture repellent substance. Airports usually add heating elements to their energy efficient LED’s and still see dramatic savings.

But many businesses also use the cooler running characteristic of LED’s and CFL’s to their advantage.

New LED's chillin in the cooler

 Adventure Lighting is currently retrofitting the cooler lights – literally the lights in the coolers, where beverages are kept cold – at all Short Stop Convenience Store locations, as well as other businesses where refrigerated products require display lighting. These new energy efficient LED’s produce 60% energy savings by themselves, plus their lower operating temperature means refrigeration units don’t have to work as hard. That energy saving one-two punch is great news for business owners looking to pinch every penny in this economy.

This type of savings also holds true for businesses where there are lots of lights in general – replacing wasteful incandescents with more energy efficient, cooler running CFL’s means lower lighting costs year-round plus lower cooling costs in the summer. There’s also a safety factor for residential customers who switch to CFL’s – they generate less heat which means they won’t burn your kids’ (or your) hands or create the high heat of incandescents that can, and do, ignite nearby cloth and other combustibles.

Incandescents, out. Roaring fire, in.

And while we probably wouldn’t mind a little extra heat from our lights during this coldest of winters, think about it this way – you can put your hands around an old 100 watt incandescent bulb to stay warm, or you can replace it with an energy efficient CFL and use the money you’ll be saving to pay for turning up the furnace a bit. Or to buy extra fire wood for your fireplace. Or an extra blanket. 🙂

 

 

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

Posted in CFL's, LED's, Save energy, Save money, Traffic lights, Winter | 1 Comment »

How They Calculate Your CFL’s Savings

Posted by adventurelightingblog on February 19, 2010

Let's do the math

If you’ve ever tried to figure out how the savings using CFL’s vs. old school incandescents are calculated and if they’re actually accurate, I understand your confusion.
 
The manufacturers of the energy-efficient compact fluorescents we sell here at Adventure Lighting make what we believe are the highest quality CFL’S on the market. But they don’t always do the best job of explaining how they come up with how this CFL saves this many watts at this many lumens over this many hours at this cost per hour.
I’m certainly no math wizard – but there is a method to their madness.
 
Take a typical Philips 18w compact fluorescent – it produces a light output of 1250 lumens of light, lasts 12,000 hours (or about 11 years) and saves $68 dollars in energy costs compared to a comparable old school incandescent – according to Philips. 

But how do we know they’re right? We know they’re right because we know the U.S. Federal Government is right. (Okay, insert your joke here lol)   

The Environmental Protection Agency rates all lights under strictly controlled test conditions, typically with lamps turned off and restarted about once every three hours.  There are 100 lamps tested, and when half of them have failed, the rated average life of a light is determined.  For this lamp, half of all the tested lamps have failed at the 12,000 hour mark.      

At $.10 per kilowatt-hour (the average cost of electricity across the US) the 18w CFL we’re referencing uses $21.60 of electricity over its 12,000 hour life. This is a $68.40 in savings compared to the $90 cost of using a 75w old school incandescent bulb.    

In simpler terms, CFL’s last from eight to 15 times longer yet use only 20 to 33% of the energy of incandescents – and those are numbers that don’t require a math degree to understand.  Another quality of CFL’s is that the more you turn them on and off the shorter their life expectancy – conversely, the longer you let them burn the longer the life.    

To calculate how much you can save replacing multiple incandescents with CFL’s, go to our website, www.adventurelighting.com and click “calculate your savings.”    

But if you really want to understand firsthand how CFL’s work, the easiest thing to do is use one – and we can help!    

Just subscribe to our blog via the email subscription area on the right hand side of this page and we’ll give you two free Philips CFL’s. (while supplies last) We’ll send you a confirmation email and how to pick up your two free lights after you subscribe. No purchase necessary.    

And keep an eye out for more great offers in future blogs!    

   

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

Posted in CFL's, Philips | Leave a Comment »