Here's A Bright Idea!

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


Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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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For Most Light Problems, Here’s A Light Solution

Posted by adventurelightingblog on March 28, 2010


Working in the lighting industry for over 25 years, I’ve had, and heard, my share of problems with fluorescents and incandescents.

The dumb light

With incandescents, it’s pretty simple – the light’s burned out, the glass shell is broken or the light isn’t getting juice. They’re what I call the “dumb” light of our industry, which is one of the many reasons why I’m so pro-fluorescent.

Yet with CFL’s higher IQ – like most smart people – comes more challenges. From pre-heats to instant on, there is a long list of things that can go wrong; light won’t come on, light flickers, light comes on at the ends but the middle stays dark, light glows then fades, light has dark rings around it, light hums when it shouldn’t, light is strange color when lit – the problems are endless.

Luckily for me and all my brethren in the lighting and electrical industry, there are fewer reasons that cause these fluorescent problems than there are problems themselves, and even fewer solutions that solve those problems.

Yet that doesn’t mean that figuring out the reason or solving the problem is always a piece of cake.

Fluorescent - smarter light, more issues

It can be as simple as no power getting to the fixture or a burnt-out bulb to more complex issues, like a bad circuit, bad starter, bad socket, bad ballast, grounding issues, low line voltage, bad connection to the metal reflectors…and the list goes on.

As any of you light pros can attest, it can sometimes be challenging when we’re trying to help solve a problem for a customer who doesn’t live in our “light” world and therefore may not know a ballast from a breaker. I personally love these customers, because they inevitably allow me a “teachable” moment, to explain what’s going on in terms they can understand and shine a little light on this industry that I so dearly love.

For contractor or laymen, there are lots of trouble-shooting resources on the internet. Even though I may be relatively new to the web and all the very powerful tools it provides (and, let’s face it, all the silly time killers that I generally avoid) when I find something I like, I want to share it with you – particularly if it pertains to our industry.

I’d like to recommend one, in particular, that I think does a great job of explaining the lighting problem, the potential reason and the possible solution.

Leave troubleshooting to the pros

Before I offer it here, I do want to send out one warning to untrained consumers who read this blog – never ever ever under any circumstances attempt to do any troubleshooting or do-it-yourself lighting fixes yourself. There’s a reason electricians have to go through all those years of training and apprenticeship in order to be licensed and bonded in the state of Iowa. Leave it to the pros!

Having said that, I wanted to share with you this very smart, concise, handy guide to fluorescent lighting troubleshooting that I stumbled upon recently. It’s actually an older web site, from 2006, but I love the way it’s laid out and easy to understand. Just click the URL below:

Whether you’re a an experienced electrician or don’t know a thing about lights, this guide can either be a great resource, or just very interesting reading. Happy problem solving, and let me know if it helps.


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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Color Temperature

Posted by adventurelightingblog on February 9, 2010

One of the things that bugs me the most when I’m out visiting new customers or potential clients is when lamps in the fixures are a different color.  Usually this happens because a maintenance person goes to a local big box store and picks up whichever lamp is the first he/she finds that is the same size.  I think that it looks a bit tacky.  But most times customers don’t know the difference and don’t know what to look for when buying lamps.  Here’s a quick lesson on what to ask for.

First you need to know if you have T12 or T8 lamps in your fixtures.  (I’m talking about the 4 foot bulbs that are in 95% of office fixtures)  The T12’s are fat, and the T8’s are skinny.  Next you’ll need to know the color.  On the bulb it will say something to the effect of “Warm White” or “Cool White” on a T12, or 735 – 741 – 750 on a T8 lamp.  The difference is in the look of the lamp.  A Warm White color, or a 2700 kelvin to 3500 kelvin temperature looks a lot like a standard everyday 60watt light bulb that everyone has in their homes.  The “cool white” color or 4100 kelvin temerature has a colder look to it.  All this means is that there is more blue in the color.  Then there is a 5000 kelvin lamp that is representative of a “daylight” color.  See this picture below.  It goes from Warm White to Cool White, to Daylight.

Correlated Color Temperature Explained

Kelvin Color Temperatures, Explained

 As you can see the warmer color on the left is a lot different than the Daylight color on the right.  And putting them together in a fixture will cause an eyesore. 

Why would you use one color over another?

Well, many people find the warm color to be comforting in a residential enviornment.  It darkens tan colors and gives a general warm feel to the room.  The cool white color is generally found all over offices and other commercial buildings and can have an “institution”, cold-like feeling to it.  But for the most part it does a nice job of ligthing office and warehouse spaces.  I’ve had customers move to a daylight lamp because it gets past the institution feeling and gives workers a sense of being outside.  I’ve heard customers say that employees have less problems with headaches while using the 5000k lamp. 

For the most part the color used in your space is a personal preference.  But PLEASE!!! standardize and stick with one color.  We here at Adventure Lighting combat this with our customers by keeping a history of what was bought in the past.  If you bought a case of Cool White lamps 2 years ago, we’ll make sure you get the same color lamp today.

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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Get Your Rebates Now – But Will They Last?

Posted by adventurelightingblog on February 8, 2010

Want these lights? Click here!

The lights that pay for themselves

One of the biggest selling points of our Adventure Lighting lights, especially for business owners, is that over time, the lights pay for themselves and then some – through their light efficiency and cost savings.

Therer’s also another very compelling reason to switch your company’s lights from incandescents to CFL’s – in most cases, the retrofit is paid for,  lights and labor, with the Mid-American Energy Rebate program.

Find out more about Mid-American Energy rebates

They really ARE at our service

But now comes the scary part – will the rebates last? We’ve heard about approaching deadlines for TARP funds, and news headlines talking about funding running out for other savings programs. We also hear from company owners and consumers who question whether the Mid-American rebate program will be around long-term.

Not to worry, says Mark Reinders, communications manager for Mid-American Energy.

He told us that, while he would “never say never,” the rebate program, which started in Iowa 10 years ago, has “no sunset clause” and will be around a long time. Reinders emphasized  that the Mid-American’s energy efficiency programs have had “a huge impact on lowering greehouse gases and producing costs savings for customers.” An additional benefit, says Reinders, is that “Mid-American Energy doesn’t have to keep building new plants.” So it’s  a win-win-win, for consumers, the company and the environment.

Rebates work - for everybody

The program has become so popular that it’s been expanded by Mid-American Energy to include Illinois, South Dakota and most recently, Nebraska – but Iowa was the first and, we think, the best! In fact, Mark told us that one of the reasons the program has been so measureably successful in Iowa is because of our steady population numbers – while energy consumption has increased (all those computers and big screen TV’s and Ipods, I suppose) our state population has remained constant, therefore the overall impact of the program has been greater.

In a future post, I’ll talk more about the rebate program process, how it works and how much money it can save your business – the numbers are truly amazing!

For now anyway, we can all rest easy – those fantastic Mid-American Energy rebates aren’t going anywhere. 🙂 

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 Lighting, Rebates, Save energy, Save money, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

T8 vs. T12 Lamps

Posted by adventurelightingblog on February 1, 2010

One of the most common questions we receive at Adventure Lighting is, should I upgrade from T12 to T8 lamps

Here’s the rundown on why this is a no-brainer. T12 Lamps are being phased out of production.  I’ve heard that 2012 will be the last year they’re made. Now, I’m sure the lamps will still be available, but there are reasons why they’re going away. 

Upgrading to a T8 is a no-brainer

A standard 4 lamp fixture, similar to what most every office in America uses, has a standard 40 watt T12 lamp on a standard magnetic ballast (which won’t be produced after June of 2010) and uses 172 watts of energy.  The same fixture retrofitted with T8 lamps and a new electronic ballast uses 112 watts of energy – that’s a 35% reduction in energy usage!  To retrofit an existing fixture with the new ballasts is a simple process that requires very basic wiring knowledge.  Remove (2) T12 ballasts, replace with (1) T8 ballast, and replace old lamps with new ones in the same sockets.

Find out how to save money on your lighting!

Lower costs, brighter lights

Not only are you going to see a 35% reduction in energy consumption, you’ll also see a dramatic difference in light output.  The Standard T12 lamp produces 2,650 initial lumens per lamp.  The standard T8 produces 2,800 initial lumens per lamp, 6% brighter.  But the standard T12 lamp produces 2,300 design lumens and the T8 produces 2,660 design lumens.   


Initial lumens –  the average lumen output of the lamp after 100 hours of operation under controlled lab conditions. 

Design Lumens are the average lumen output of the lamp after 40% of its rated life. 

You can see that the T12 lamp loses 14% of its light output over the first 40% of its life, whereas the T8 only loses 5% of its light output.  Combine that over 4 lamps and you have a loss of 1,400 lumens per fixture as compared to 560 lumens lost on a T8 fixture. I’ll get into why the T8 lamp is a better lamp as far as color later – but the 35% energy savings and a better lumen maintenance are 2 of the reasons why switching is better. 

Let’s say your office runs those fixtures 12 hours a day, 5 days a week.  At an average energy cost of $0.07 per KWh you’re looking at a savings of $13.10 per year.  If you have 50 fixtures in your building, that’s a savings of $655.00 per year. And by the way, MidAmerican Energy gives you a rebate of $18 per fixture to do this.  $54 dollars if you have an audit done. (We’ll get into this at a later post.)

Find out how retrofitting your lights can save you money!

Making the switch, makes cents - and sense

I think I’ve made a compelling argument as to why upgrading from T12 to T8 technology is a no-brainer.  Call us and let me come out to look at your situation to give you a free assessment of what can be done to upgrade you today! 

Brian Huff, along with Jack and Sue, own and manage Adventure Lighting in Des Moines, Iowa. To find out more, visit


Posted in Lighting, Save energy, Save money, Uncategorized | 88 Comments »

A Light That Pays You To Use It?

Posted by adventurelightingblog on January 22, 2010

Come see how far we've come!

We've come a long way

Since 1806, when Humphrey Davy created an electric arc between two charcoal rods connected to a battery (Thomas Edison wouldn’t patent the light bulb for another 70 years) inventors have been building brighter, longer-lasting, more energy efficient bulbs.

Today’s CFL’s (Compact Flourescent Lights) generate 20% more light yet burn 70% cooler than standard incandescents (the kind we all grew up with) and last up to 10 times longer. When you do the math (or if you’re like me, have your wife do it for you) you find out very quickly that CFL’s literally save you money, even compared to their slightly higher cost.

Find out why CFL's are better

CFL's continue the light's evolution

For example, on average, a CFL will save you $22 in a year of normal useage, compared to an incandescent. And that’s just one bulb – the average home has 30 light fixtures. Again, do the math – or better yet go to our web site, and use our energy savings calculator.

The other great benefit of CFL’s is their lower impact on the environment. If every homeowner in the United States replaced just one of their old-school incandescent bulbs with a CFL, it would be the energy emmisions equivalent of taking one million cars off our highways. Plus at Adventure Lighting we sell Philips brand CFL’s, which also have 30% less mercury – easier on the environment.  

So whether you’re a business owner or home owner, think about retrofitting your lights – it pays in so many ways!

Brian Huff, along with Sue and Jack, own and operate Adventure Lighting in Des Moines, Iowa. For more information visit

Posted in Lighting, Save energy, Save money, The environment, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »