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              A campaign to save money and help the environment by using energy efficient light bulbs

Monday, November 04, 2013

Guest Blog : "LED technology advance with the help of smart controls"

Energy Efficient LEDs and Smart Controls

by Danny Paradee of Dr Bulb

The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that lighting is responsible for 17% of the total electricity consumed by residential and commercial sectors. For the commercial sector alone, which includes commercial and institutional buildings and public street lighting, lighting consumes about 21% of the total electricity.

Not only is LED lighting saving people money, but the technology is advancing at an incredible rate. Quality LED luminaires have a life of up to 70,000 to 100,000 hours, which adds up to an incredible 20 years of use at 12 hours a day. Soon the issue will switch from having to change your light bulb to changing the fixture itself! This year alone, large strides have been made in how efficient LED bulbs can be.

  • Ushio created a candelabra lamp using LED filament design that emulate a 15 to 20 watt lamp that lasts 40,000 hour...and only uses .6 watts
  • Toshiba has a new outdoor area light that emits 20% more light at 30% less costs.
  • Soraa offers a full spectrum light source that is equivalent to a 65 watt halogen. 

Smart Controls

We know that energy efficient lighting like LED and CFL is helping to reduce energy use across the world. But with cities, towns and property owners still looking for ways to cut energy and costs, sometimes energy efficient lighting is not enough. Even with LED lighting, there is still an issue of “over lighting” spaces. Is it necessary to illuminate certain spaces at full brightness at all hours? 

With smart controls, this problem can be eliminated.

Effective lighting control systems were a big topic at LightFair International 2013. Property managers are now able to monitor lighting and remotely dial down power use with a cellular connection. 

Commands can be sent to wireless nodes throughout the property, which increases system efficacy and reduces overall power use when required. Options for the LED lighting controls are more than just the classic on and off. Controls are capable of changing colors with RGB sources so the LED lights can set the mood in a room.

Many lighting control companies feature control systems linking motion-based lighting (occupancy sensors), switches and dimmers, and light fixtures to a centralized controller. Occupancy sensors make sure that lights are on only when motion is detected. This ensures that the right amount of lighting is provided when needed, which eliminates wasted energy and reduces costs.

Besides reducing energy use, many control systems reduce maintenance by alerting the controller when a lamp needs replacing. This also cuts costs by eliminating late night patrols for street lighting.

LED lighting uses only a fraction of the energy typically used for high intensity discharge (HID) lamps. With energy efficient LED luminaires like LED high bays or LED bollard lights as well as smart controls, the energy savings and return on investment can be incredible

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Guest Blog : How LEDs are making creative lighting designs easier...

For today's guest blog Megan Chase of offered to write an article about the latest applications for energy efficient light emitting diode (LED) illumination technologies.


Growing uses for LED's

With lighting and technology quickly advancing, the uses for LED lights and LED strip lights are becoming more universally used in many different ways. From creating warmly lit rooms, to use in public places, to an intense color changing desk that intensifies your gaming experience, LED lights are being used in a whole variety of interesting and creative ways.

Street Installations
Now that waterproof LED lights are big on trend, there have been more LED strip light street installations than ever. Uses include being wound around tree trunks, underneath benches and tables, along paving areas, around signs and under canopies. Because LED strip lights are so flexible and easy to use, they are a common favourite for outdoor use. Being used in many places as a eye-catching lighting feature, they not only light up public spaces, but they set a stylish and contemporary scene.

Offices and Businesses
The garish and outdated fluorescent bulbs are quickly being forgotten in offices and are being replaced with a variety of LED lights. Not only are LED lights both more economical and cheaper to run than older bulbs, but they also create a more pleasant and attractive light to work in. Fitted in spaces such as along reception areas, under desks and as cove lighting, they are a stylish lighting option which create a professional first impression for businesses.

Future of LED’s
Because of the clear and multiple benefits of LED’s over ordinary incandescent and fluorescent bulbs, the future of this green lighting solution looks very promising. It is anticipated that they will popping up in all manner of popular places and spaces from white LED lights for doctors surgeries to vibrant colour-changing LED strips for nightclubs. Proving to be high quality, reliable and long lasting, both homes and businesses can benefit from its clever design.

To find out more about what is now possible with LEDs visit

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Guest Blog : The Evolution of the Light Bulb

Now that the era of incandescent light is drawing to a close, if feels like an appropriate time to consider the history of electric domestic lighting. 

Here's a guest review article that has been submitted by Adam Stevens of Enviko specifically for Ban The Bulb about the evolution of the bulb.

Light bulbs have been a vital piece of technology which has been undervalued due to it's huge contribution to modern life. It was first concocted in 1850 by Joseph W. Swan who began working on a light bulb using carbonised paper filaments in that very same year.

Then in 1878 Thomas Edison, the person famous for the light bulb, founded the Edison Electric Light Company. The year after Swan began installing light bulbs in homes and landmarks in England.

After this breakthrough and homes were lit, ductile tungsten was invented. This made light bulbs a lot safer and brighter. The filament material started to be used as tungsten filament much like the modern incandescent light bulb. This was manufactured by the General Electric Company and William Coolidge in 1908.

As tungsten has a very high melting point it can be heated to 3000°C to achieve a white hot glow providing a level of brightness never seen before in a light bulb.

However, due to the high level of heat, these bulbs did not last as long as previous versions, therefore a fix was conjured up. This fix was to insert inert gasses such as nitrogen and argon into the light bulb to reduce tungsten evaporation or sublimation.

These gases did reduce evaporation and increase filament life, and they also carried heat away from the filament, which reduced its temperature and brightness. Again, a fix was needed. The boffins then came up with the idea to wind the wires into fine coils, again as they are in modern incandescent filaments. This reduced convective heat loss and allowed the filament to operate at the desired temperatures.

Nowadays, light bulbs have improved but are still not energy efficient. Only four to six per cent of the electrical power supplied to the bulb is converted into visible light. The other 94 per cent is lost as heat.

Although, these light bulbs are now being phased out in many countries they were attractive to consumers for the following reasons:

     Wide, low-cost availability
     Easy incorporation into electrical systems
     Adaptable for small systems
     Low voltage operation, such as in battery powered devices
     Wide shape and size availability

Compact Fluorescent Lamps are a lot more efficient than the outdated incandescent bulb as they give out the same amount of visible light while using only one-fifth to one-third of the electrical power, as well as lasting eight to fifteen times longer.

Due to their efficiency, the CFLs have a higher retail price but do save a considerable amount which will save you more than the retail price difference. They typically have a service life of 6,000 to 15,000 hours over the incandescent lights service life of 750 to 1,000 hours. And for LED lamps they can last up to 100,000 hours.

Europe has tried to implement a law that requires people to switch over from incandescent lamps. This was the EU guideline 244/2009 which will prohibit the production and import of less energy efficient light bulbs by 2012. The UK had already implemented a law much like this which has been working ahead of the EU law.

As a result of this standard filament bulbs from 60W upwards have now been phased out and lower output bulbs were also phased out in September 2012. Halogen spotlights will have to meet new minimum efficiency standards from 2016.

LED Lamps use 90% less electricity that old-fashioned incandescents and within the next few years are likely to take a massive portion of the lighting sector due to their dimmable capabilities, colour range and falling prices. 

What are your predictions for the future of light bulbs? Tell us via email 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

NYT: LEDs emerge as a popular ‘green’ lighting
Here is an article by Diane Cardwell from the New York Times:
LEDs emerge as a popular ‘green’ lighting

"The lighting industry has finally come up with an energy-efficient replacement for the standard incandescent bulb that people actually seem to like: the LED bulb.

Although priced at around 20 times more than the old-fashioned incandescents, bulbs based on LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, last much longer and use far less electricity, a saving that homeowners are beginning to recognize. Prices for the bulbs are falling steadily as retailers like Home Depot and Lowe’s sell them aggressively and manufacturers improve the technology.
And because the light in LED bulbs comes from chips, companies have been able to develop software applications that let users control the bulbs, even change the color of the light, with tablets and smartphones. Apple sells a three-pack of such bulbs, made by Philips, with the hardware to operate them for about $200.
“You’re seeing all of your growth in the LED category,” said Brad Paulsen, a Home Depot merchant. “We absolutely expect LED technology in four or five years to be the most popular lighting technology that’s out there.”
Last year, LED sales, though small at about 3 percent of the residential market by some estimates, grew faster than those of any other lighting technology, according to retailers and analysts.
Among A-type bulbs, the most common, LEDs will outsell incandescents in North America in 2014, according to projections by IMS Research, an electronics research firm that is now part of IHS Inc. And LEDs will become the most popular A-type technology by 2016, with North American shipments reaching almost 370 million, a more than tenfold increase from the roughly 33 million shipped last year, the firm estimates.
Already at Philips, LEDs were responsible for 20 percent of lighting sales last year, according to Ed Crawford, general manager of the lamps division.
Incandescent bulbs, while cheap, are very inefficient, wasting most of their energy as heat as they pump electricity into filaments to make them glow. The government has been pushing consumers to other technologies for several years, in part by phasing out the manufacture or import of the least efficient bulbs.
The first big alternative to emerge, compact fluorescent bulbs, has left many consumers dissatisfied. The light quality is seen as harsher, the bulbs can be slow to warm up and difficult to dim, and they contain toxic materials.
LEDs are more expensive, but offer better light quality and more flexibility. And thanks to heavy marketing by retailers, customers are beginning to discover their appeal.
“The LED you buy, even though you pay even $25 or $30, it’ll last like nine or 10 years,” said Tariq Syed, a machinist at an electrical utility who was eyeing LEDs at the Home Depot in Vauxhall, N.J., on Thursday. “And environmentally, it’s safe, too.”
Bulb manufacturers are rushing into the market, sending prices falling. Home Depot sells some 40-watt-equivalent bulbs for about $10.
“Most of the manufacturers are moving toward new designs in solid state lighting, as are we,” said Jim Crowcroft, vice president for market development at TCP, a company based outside Cleveland that manufactures energy-efficient lighting under its own brand as well as the house brands of several mass retailers.
Although the company still sells far more compact fluorescent lights, growth in that business has slowed, while demand for LEDs is skyrocketing, he said. “In the long run, solid-state lighting is going to make a whole lot of sense for almost every lighting application.”
For the manufacturers, LEDs pose a new challenge. They offer higher profit margins, but because they can last for decades, people will be buying fewer bulbs — of any sort. The Energy Information Administration estimates that total light bulb sales will fall by almost 40 percent by 2015, to just under a billion from 1.52 billion bulbs, and continue their decline to about 530 million by 2035, with LEDs making up a steadily increasing portion of the market.
As a result, many companies are competing to establish themselves as popular brands.
“The company that can dominate will make a lot of money,” said Philip Smallwood, senior lighting market analyst at IMS Research. “So it’s a big push to get into it early.”
With demand growing for LEDs in other uses — like backlighted phone and computer screens, automotive lights and street lamps — manufacturers have been able to develop their technologies and benefit from economies of scale to help bring the price down, said Thomas J. Pincince, the chief executive of Digital Lumens, which sells LED systems to businesses.
In the commercial and industrial sector, use of LEDs is more common than in homes, analysts say, because companies are more likely to do the long-term cost-benefit analysis of buying lighting than homeowners, who are still largely driven by the upfront price.
Goldman Sachs estimates that in the residential sector, penetration of LEDs will rise from 3 percent last year to 16 percent in 2015, still lagging the commercial and industrial sector as well as outdoor applications like parking lots and billboards.
But as the cost of an LED approaches $10 — a tipping point that would speed mass adoption, according to Mr. Smallwood — retailers have been stepping up their efforts to market the lights, often with proprietary brands like Home Depot’s EcoSmart jostling for shelf space with established names like Philips and General Electric.
“One day I randomly walked into a Home Depot and thought, ‘LED — when did that happen?’ ” said Clayton Morris, 36, a host of “Fox & Friends Weekend,” who was buying the bulbs in Vauxhall as part of his project to slowly replace the incandescents in his Maplewood home. “It’s a hefty investment upfront,” he said, “but it just seemed like a great savings.”
At the same time, in an effort to transform light bulbs from a cheap, disposable product into something that consumers might show off to their friends, manufacturers have been adding functions that could ultimately fit into a larger home automation system. Often Bluetooth- or Wi-Fi-enabled, a new generation of LED bulbs offers all manner of new remote controls and automatic responses. The Philips Hue, sold exclusively at Apple stores for the next month, can change colors along a broad spectrum and offers settings that can mimic sunrise in the morning or use a special “light recipe” intended to raise energy levels. The bulb has been a big hit, executives say, attracting a host of software developers who have created free apps for new features, like making it respond to voices or music. The bulb can also tie into the Nest thermostat, a so-called smart device from Apple alumni who helped develop the iPod, that learns consumer heating and cooling patterns and adjusts to them automatically.
“For me, it was, ‘Wow, this is really cool, this is piece of futuristic technology that I could have,’ ” said Jonathan Crosby, 25, who works at an Apple store in the Bay Area and learned about the Hue because of all the customers asking about it. He bought starter kits for himself and an uncle, purchases he might not have made without the hefty employee discount.
The bulbs, he said, offer a hint of the lifestyle of people like Bill Gates of Microsoft, who lives in a house loaded with high-tech conveniences. “It’s amazing, like the futuristic Bill Gates is now me,” Mr. Crosby said".

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

LUX magazine : Are commercial LED tubes safe?
LUX magazine has produced a timely and useful video explaining the controversy surrounding the safety of commercial tube LEDs.

It appears that buyers still need to take considerable care when sourcing their tube LEDs as electrical fittings are likely to need rewiring and several of the designs on the market could easily give electric shocks to anyone touching them!

As with anything electrical, it is clearly important to take great care when making purchasing decisions and to talk to people who know what they are talking about that you can trust.

As things stand, always make sure that you are fully briefed on all of the relevant safety issues.