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What Will Your Lighting Look Like in the Future?

January 15, 2007

(ARA) – The next time you walk into a department store, or model home for that matter, pay close attention to how the room is lit. You just may get a peek into the future.

You’ll notice the old standard incandescent bulbs that produce light by passing electricity through a thin filament which becomes hot and glows are nowhere to be found. They have been replaced by smaller, brighter, more energy efficient bulbs – some so tiny that you probably don’t even notice them.

“Because incandescent bulbs are so inefficient – only about 10 percent of the electric energy is turned into light – as more efficient alternatives, like compact fluorescent lamps, become available and practical, we have an opportunity for a major change ,” says Terry McGowan, director of technology for the American Lighting Association. “People are coming to realize that switching over to fluorescent and LED light sources will not only save them money, but benefit the environment as well.”

Fluorescent bulbs use two-thirds less energy to give you the same amount of light. They last six to ten times longer than traditional incandescent lighting, and they burn much cooler which makes them safer to use. They can also offer a more natural looking light.

Light emitting diodes or LEDs have an average life of 10,000 or more hours compared to 1,000-2,000 hours for an incandescent bulb. LEDs also better resist shock and vibration, operate at a lower temperature and consume less power.

“Having these smaller, more efficient bulbs to work with has really opened a lot of doors from a lighting design standpoint,” says Joe Rey-Barreau, who serves as the ALA’s education consultant. Through his work as an architect and lighting designer in and around Lexington, Ky., Rey-Barreau has had the opportunity to really put them to the test.

Among the trends he is seeing: In the bathroom, people are moving away from the hot globe lights that used to frame the mirror and instead putting in decorative glass shades that conceal fluorescent bulbs or tubes. “Throughout the rest of the house, there’s a trend towards modern, sleek well-designed fixtures with chrome and nickel finishes that no longer show off the bulb. LEDs and fluorescents are now being hidden inside decorative tubes within the fixtures,” says Rey-Barreau.

Fluorescents are becoming the bulb of choice for general room lighting too. And, because they last so long, LEDs are especially popular for lighting needs in hard to reach areas, like for step lights and outdoor landscaping lights. They’re also being used under cabinets, inside cabinets and for task lighting.

McGowan points out that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy estimate that if every household in the U.S. replaced just five of its incandescent light bulbs with energy-saving designs the reduction in emissions of greenhouse gases would be equal to removing 8 million cars from the road and the reduction in electricity would be equal to the output of more than 21 power plants.

“Bottom line: switching to fluorescents and LEDs is not only good for the environment, but for our wallets as well. They are definitely the future of lighting,” says McGowan.

For more information about the latest trends in lighting, or to find a lighting store near you, log on to

Courtesy of ARA Content

Think Safety When Installing Your Christmas Lights

December 5, 2006

It’s that time of year again. It’s time to put up your Christmas decorations.

Most of us focus on finding the perfect decorations. There is a lot of neat stuff out there. But you also need to be concerned about your extension cords, outside receptacles and lights.

You should inspect your strings of lights for cut, nicked or damaged cords and missing or broken lamps. You also need to inspect your extension cords for damaged cord ends or cut or nicked insulation. If that male plug has a broken ground terminal, replace it. If there are any burn marks on the male plug or female connector, replace them.

Your outside receptacles need to be ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protected. These are the receptacles with the test and reset buttons. You are supposed to test these receptacles monthly. I know, no one does it, but now is a good time to push that test button. If it trips and resets, you’re good to go. If it doesn’t trip or trips but doesn’t reset, replace it.

This is also a good time to change your outside receptacle covers to the weatherproof “in use” covers. I know you have seen these. They are the covers with the clear lid that looks like a bubble. These are the only weatherproof covers out there that are still weatherproof when something is plugged into them.

If you plug in all of your lights and it trips the breaker once you turn them on, you need to unplug a couple of strings of lights and plug them into another receptacle on a different circuit. You can’t just change the breaker to a larger size to accomodate your needs. Circuit breakers are sized according to the load served and wire size. Increasing the breaker size is a potential fire hazard.

If your circuit is overloaded, I recommend installing a dedicated 20 amp GFCI circuit for your Christmas lights. If you install a new circuit, another consideration is to control your lights from a switch inside or automate the process with a time clock.

A final tip is to wrap some electrical tape around the connection between the female connector and male plug to prevent melting snow and ice from getting in there and tripping the GFCI receptacle.

Remember, don’t use an aluminum ladder because they are conductive; use only wood or fiberglass ladders when working around electricity. Make sure the circuit is off or don’t plug in the lights while installing them.

Choosing A Chandelier Light Fixture For Your Home

November 26, 2006

With such a variety of chandeliers available today there is always that perfect one for any home. With a range of styles, designs and finishes to choose from selecting a chandelier can be as much of a creative process as you would like it to be. Each chandelier adds a touch of class to any room and warmth or vibrancy into any atmosphere. Styles can range from elaborate and large to modern and aesthetically pleasing. Chandeliers complement other lighting well and will add value to your home.

When choosing a chandelier for a dining room, the Victorian style is highly recommended as this popular design will add tranquillity and calm to a room that can be chaotic at even the best of times. There are always popular choices to choose from with Wrought Iron and Crystal styles at the top of the list. Some chandeliers can be hung alone as a center piece feature that will dress up any room. Choose from the vast array of finishes and shade styles to find a design that will create a room of modern style with a touch of love for art. Chandeliers can range decorative styles to create a modern, dramatic, simple, elegant and formal look.

The styles of chandeliers available include Tiffany, Victorian, Art deco, South western, Tropical, Crystal, Transitional, Early American, Lodge style, Whimsical, Old world, Oriental, Traditional classics, Country cottage, Architectural and mission style. Each chandelier style can work best in it’s own setting whether for a modern look, shimmering elegance, relaxed or sleek and shiny. Find the perfect finish for your room and it will work wonders with existing furniture and style. The finishes range from white or beige, multi-coloured, polished gold or brass, crystal, polished nickel or chrome, wood, rattan, iron, brick, bronze, rust and antique or satin brass. The type of chandeliers can include centre bowl, no shade, pot racks, crystal and shaded candles.

Chandelier Installation
Before you begin the installation check the ceiling electrical box to ensure a new light will be securely supported. If the new light is around the same weight as the old light, then the electric box should be able to support the new light fixture. When hanging over a dining table, centre the light in the middle of the table with 30″ distance between the tabletop and the light, to prevent any bumped heads. When buying bulbs, you should decrease the bulb wattage when larger numbers of bulbs are required. For example, a 2 socket light could be fitted with two 60 watt bulbs, whereas a chandelier with three or more light sockets is probably more suited to 40 watt bulbs. Once correct bulbs are installed, the chandelier should give off sufficient light coverage without blinding anyone. Dimmers are helpful as they allow you to adjust the light to your requirements.

Cleaning Chandeliers
It is always a good idea to clean your chandelier at least once a year to keep it looking clean and shiny. Before you start, turn the lights of at least 10 minutes before you begin so the bulbs can cool down. Never clean the chandelier while the lights are on, this could lead to a burnt hand. If you are going to remove the pieces then separate the light in sections or draw up a picture of how the light fits together so you won’t be frustrated and confused later when trying to put the pieces back together. Place a blanket or duvet under the light to catch any pieces of the light that may fall. Keep the fixture in the same place as you clean and do not turn it around as this may strain the power cable.

When you are ready to begin, remove the trimming such as pendants and place in container. Clean with mild detergent and then rinse in hot water. The hotter the water the less spots. When cleaning festoons, place under water at arm length to stop from intertwining. Always use mild detergents as harsh cleaning products can make the pendants brittle and blackened. Many darken with age but it is always good to delay this as long as possible. When cleaning the body of the light, it is recommended to use a dry, lint free cloth for the best possible result. Remember to dust the bulbs as well as these are give away to cleanliness of the light. Replace all light pieces on the chandelier and lightly polish it to remove any remaining spots.

Some Chandelier Links
Save on chandeliers here! – America’s Lighting Superstore!