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  • Why Hong Kong Is Replacing Its Iconic Neon Lighting

    Walking the streets of the culturally rich autonomous territory of Hong Kong, one of the most distinctive features of the city is their colorful neon signs. While the rest of the world is having a debate about induction vs LED and halogen vs fluorescent, Hong Kong's citizens are struggling with the slow but steady replacement of their iconic neon with new commercial LED lighting fixtures.

    Back in the 1970s, Hong Kong experienced a post-colonial golden age of commerce. Shops were mostly at ground-level, and shopkeepers wanted to lure in customers, so they invested in the neon signs. Many of them ended up being huge and elaborate, as the growing government at the time didn't have any bylaws restricting signage size. Some of the signs even stuck out vertically from the sides of buildings, literally stopping foot traffic in their tracks and making tourists crane their necks skyward for a better look.

    The reality is that neon signs use preciously scarce gases AND a lot of energy. It's believed by the United States Department of Energy that switching to LED lighting in the states can practically slash national energy usage in half. Can you imagine the energy conservation possible in Hong Kong with the same LED strategy?

    In the decades since the advent of Hong Kong's neon explosion, the Hong Kong Buildings Department has set up codes and restrictions. They cracked down on the estimated 100,000 signs in the city about a decade ago. Each year, they take down hundreds of signs that have been abandoned or aren't up to code. Their hope is that new LED signage will be better managed by owners and stay within regulation.

    A few notable places in Hong Kong still proudly display their neon lights, such as the Bank of China Tower, but most neighborhoods have switched over to the energy efficient LED alternatives. Although LEDs are brighter and less expensive to maintain than neon signs, some in Hong Kong mourn the loss of the warm-glowing neon, an art form and short-lived cultural quirk.

    In the U.S., these neon fixtures became associated in the early to mid 20th century with immoral places like liquor stores and clubs, so they aren't as ubiquitous in our businesses and public spaces. American culture has pretty readily accepted LED technology. Still, the story of Hong Kong shows how culture can affect the fate of technology.

  • Agriculture Experiments With 'Vertical Farming'

    Anyone paying attention to the world-wide agricultural community right now can tell you that things are... getting weird. Frustrated farmers, high costs, record food demand, environmental factors and government regulations are all clashing to create a very uncertain time for farmers and food producers. Fortunately, we have the technology to attempt to make food production easier. One fascinating example of this is what's called 'vertical farming'.

    Across the world, college students and massive corporations alike have experimented with a type of alternative farming that grows crops sustainably in an indoor space with high powered LED lighting. It uses no synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides. Often, crops can hang in vertical troughs as they grow -- especially short, leafy crops like lettuce and spinach -- hence the name 'vertical farming'.

    Smaller vertical farming projects have taken place in converted areas like trailers and shipping containers. Large-scale alternative agricultural projects can even take over whole warehouses. The warehouse lighting fixtures are replaced with special LEDs. These aren't your typical white solar parking lot lights or yard-illuminating LEDs. They're specially designed LEDs in the red and blue color spectrums, optimized for growing nutritionally complete plants even without proper sunshine.

    One of the main issues with vertical farming? The energy use. LED lights do consume far less energy than traditional lighting. In fact, an LED bulb uses only about 15% of the energy a comparable halogen bulb would, and with 85% more light output to boot. That's why solar parking lot lighting, replacing neon signs with LED signs, and LED screens are all booming in popularity. But the large strings of LEDs used in vertical farming still need to be on up to 16 hours a day to make up for the plants' lack of sunlight, which consumes a lot of energy.

    Vertical and small-space farming is so promising for small communities and rough climates to produce fresh, healthy produce, so it's disappointing that they aren't more widespread due to the potential costs. The good news? New advancements in LED technology are being tested and discovered all the time. Hopefully soon enough we'll be able to reduce the cost of running LEDs even further to facilitate big, world-altering projects like vertical farming.

  • Induction vs LED: The Environmentally Friendly Design of Induction Lighting

    induction lighting

     

    Induction lighting has only come into common use recently, but its unique technology is making waves. Think of the long-term demand on sports field and parking garage lighting, or the number of warehouse lighting fixtures that are needed for those large spaces. We have used inefficient and wasteful bulbs in these fixtures for decades, but options like induction are making light bigger, brighter, and better for the environment. Here's why induction design is at the forefront of green lighting tech.

    It's Long-Lasting and Durable

    What usually causes light bulbs to die are the inner filaments or electrodes burning out. Induction lighting has no internal filaments or electrodes, so it lasts for an extremely long time. While LED lighting has a long lifespan, especially when compared to traditional incandescent lighting, more people are waking up to the unique benefits of long-lasting induction lighting. When it comes to the induction vs LED debate, induction lighting deserves a second look.

    The average lifespan of a continuously used induction light is around 100,000 hours, or around 11 years. And that's when the light is on 24/7.

    It's Energy Efficient

    Induction lighting's revolutionary technology also makes it incredibly energy efficient. It has high efficacy, often outputting as much as or more than 60 or 70 lumens per watt. The high brightness to low energy consumption ratio means businesses and buildings who use induction lighting get great bang for their buck, often spending less monthly on their electricity bill than they would have with many alternative lighting choices. Less energy use also means less consumption of fossil fuels for the environmentally-minded.

    It's Safer Than You Think To Dispose Of

    Although induction bulbs can last quite a long time, they are bound to burn out someday. If you do have a defective or old induction bulb, the good news is that it isn't very difficult to dispose of. The majority of induction bulbs do contain a small amount of mercury but it's in a solid state, not quite akin to the non-solid mercury in compact fluorescent bulbs. As long as you practice company policies for safe removal (including not touching the mercury directly, and only handling it with materials and tools you will promptly dispose of), you and everyone else will be perfectly safe. That mercury CAN be dangerous to the environment when not disposed of properly, so be sure you are giving old bulbs to stores or recycling programs in your area that accept them, not dumping them into your everyday waste.

    Induction lighting is only in its early growing stages, yet Mr. Nikola Tesla gave us the base invention of the induction light over a century ago. Today, we're still integrating it with modern technology like solar panels. Who knows where induction lighting will go next?

  • Improvements in High Power LEDs Leading To A Bright Future

    high power ledWho doesn't want the most powerful option for their hardware? High power LEDs are, of course, the stronger cousins of common LED lights. Because they are brighter and more powerful they are also more expensive. In the past, high intensity LEDs were used sparingly and mainly in industrial settings. They needed massive heat sinks and brought up plenty of frustrating thermal management issues. Recently, developments have been made in LED technology that makes high power LEDs more practical and efficient, cutting out bothersome "hot spots" while managing brightness levels more effectively.

    Competing technology, such as HID (high intensity discharge) lighting for headlights, has argued that high power LEDs can be beat out in brightness with modern tech. The LED advantage is that they last 10 times longer than HID options, and high intensity LEDs take it even farther. They're so efficient that they need essentially no maintenance for their long lives, and still allow businesses to stretch for steadily strengthening environmental standards. All this makes them especially convenient for roadway lighting, which areas like Virginia Beach have taken advantage of in the past five or so years.

    Specific advantages that come with high power LED technology includes:

     

      • Silicone lens technology, used in conjunction with LEDs to make more durable and inexpensive security cameras.

     

      • Saturated color spectrum, which has come a long way from the red-only LEDs of yore. Many bright colors mean more room for creative applications.

     

      • Widely customizable secondary optics, which means higher control over color mixing and beam angle.

     

      • Low thermal resistance, harkening back to the past issue of overheating and constant thermal management.

     

      • More eco-friendly than most popular electric lighting options, and easily compatible with solar technology in particular.

     

    While high-power LEDs of the past have traditionally been used solely on large-scale uses like streetlights, car headlights, and large warehouses, today they are easier to scale down for practical commercial uses. Outdoor lighting for homes such as on stairways and in backyards can take advantage of durable, dimmable intense LEDs. Flashlights and security lighting have started to rely more on them. High intensity LEDs have also lent their power to "grow lights" that nurture indoor gardening projects such as herbs and citruses that would otherwise be impossible to grow in certain climates and indoor conditions. While the streamlining of high power LED tech continues, the possibilities are virtually endless.

  • A Different Light: A Flash of History Leading to Induction Lighting

    energy efficientWith energy efficient light becoming a growing market, you might be curious about various options out there. One option in particular has a fascinating history, and is being called an "old new technology": induction lighting.

    Most early lightbulbs relied on heat filaments or electrodes to produce light. Induction lighting is revolutionary in comparison, lasting many times longer than, say, fluorescent lamps. How? Induction lighting occurs by transmitting energy through electromagnetic fields to stimulate gas atoms inside a glass tube, causing them to release a light-producing photon. The lack of filaments to burn out means they can last up to 100,000 hours.

    Who came up with this in the first place, you might ask?

    Nikola Tesla, the "Father of the Induction Light", and many other inventions.

    As far back as the 1890s when Edison was still tinkering with the incandescent light bulb, Tesla was studying how alternating currents (AC) behave at high frequencies. He created induction lighting quite by accident. Originally, illuminating the glass tube was just a visual cue Tesla created to demonstrate how AC power could be moved wirelessly through the tube.

    This accidental creation is one of the most fascinating things about the scientific record of Tesla. He conducted and recorded many, many experiments on energy movement and behavior without meaning to actually invent much. His experiments stemmed from a genuine and passionate scientific curiosity.

    That being said, he did also set out to create some specific inventions. The actual number is unclear, but it's estimated that Tesla had around 300 patents in his name. Unfortunately, Tesla passed away fairly penniless and mentally unwell (he was in love with a local pigeon, for example), yet his scientific legacy lives in our daily lives. WiFi, lasers, robots, and radio are all here today either directly through Tesla's inventions or his research.

    Manufacturers such as Phillips caught on to induction lighting methods about a hundred years later, and Phillips built the first induction lamp for mass consumption around 1990. In the next couple decades, the wattage and compactness of induction lighting has gradually greatly improved. Today, induction lights are some of the most energy efficient on the market.

    The magic of improving lighting technology can perhaps best be summed up by Tesla himself: "Phenomena upon which we used to look as wonders baffling explanation, we now see in a different light."

  • Rated Light and Lumen Maintenance Life: Do They Matter?

    lumen maintenance

    There is much more to lighting than just the fact that it helps us see in the dark. Have you ever heard of rated life? Rated life is a major part of the lighting and what makes a light work for how long.

    Rated life is basically the life value that gets assigned to a particular type of lamp. Any rated life in the hours of a light source (LED or other) applies under operational conditions and is created for failure criteria. If you’re thinking about it statistically, the rated life measure is Bp and is measured in hours. The “P” in the Bp signifies percentage.

    So, if a B50 rated life of 1,000 hours equals 50% of the tested lights that have lasted more than 1,000 without failing. B50 is the light’s rated average life. Another example is B10 of 1,000 hours. That means that only 10% of the tested lights failed within 1,000 hours. That means that the product with a B10 should last longer than a product with a B50.

    On the other side, we have lumen maintenance life. Lumen maintenance life is the elapsed use time at which the percentage of the lumen maintenance is reached and expressed in hours. Rated lumen maintenance life is different from rated life as it refers to the elapsed use time over which an LED light source maintains the percentage of its initial output of light.

    Like rated life, rated lumen maintenance is measured with a few letters. This one is measured in Lp, meaning the percentage of light output. So, if L70 of 30,000 hours means that the LEDs produce 70% of light output at 30,000 hours. If an LED has an L50 of 30,000, it can decay faster than one with the L70.

    Whether you plan to work with LED parking garage lighting or roadway lighting, take a look and see what the Bp and Lp are of each light. While any type of Bp and Lp are fine to use, the math you can do using the equations listed above will prove how long each light bulb will last you. In many areas, the law requires parking garage lighting to be on 24 hours a day. If you choose Lp's or Bp's with a poor life rate, they're not going to be able to meet that legal requirement.

  • FAQ: Everything You Need to Know About LED Lighting

    acorn light fixturesWe’ve all heard about LED lighting, but do we know what it actually is and how it really works? Many people only know that LEDs are a safer light alternative, but that’s pretty much the extent of their knowledge. Here’s your FAQ guide to LED lighting.

    What Is LED Lighting?
    LED stands for Light Emitting Diode. It’s the light that’s produced using a semiconductor during a process called electroluminescence. It’s extremely efficient and can last a lot longer than traditional incandescent lights. While the lights are small in size, they give off a lot of powerful light. They have a cooler operating temperature as well, and can be used in different forms and shapes. These forms include acorn light fixtures and high bay light fixtures.

    Are LEDs Blue Light?
    Many people actually have bad impressions of LED lighting. Why? Because of early versions of technology that caused the lighting to have a blue tint. But over time, the lighting industry has been able to master their designs. The industry was able to create the lighting we want in our homes and businesses. While most LED lighting doesn’t have that blue tint anymore, you can still find the cooler lighting out there for purchase. Just take a look at the Kelvin scale on each lightbulb you’re looking to purchase.

    What is an Integrated LED?
    LED lighting has a number of different possibilities. But in order to understand and access those possibilities, you need to understand the difference between integrated and retrofit bulbs. Integrated LED lighting has the LEDs actually built directly into the fixture. This could be on a panel, a disc, or a strip. The diodes are placed right into the fixture so you won’t see any standard sockets.

    The retrofit option means the LED bulb will be in a standard socket fixture. So it could be in anything like an E26/medium base or an E12/candelabra base socket. If you want to upgrade the LED lighting with the retrofit option you can simply buy the bulb and screw it into a socket.

    The US Department of Energy believes LED lighting has the potential to reduce US energy usage by about 50%. So now that you know a little more about LED lighting, will you choose to install them all around your house? If so, acorn light fixtures are the way to go.

  • Why LED Lighting is So Valuable in Schools

    commercial led lighting

    Have you ever thought about how lighting can impact a school? We find them beneficial in our own homes every day, but how do schools benefit from commercial LED lighting? Here are a few advantages.

    They Can Protect the Students Eyes

    Commercial LED lighting is extremely helpful for students sitting in the classroom trying to learn. Because so many kids have vision issues, it’s so important that they work in an area that’s well-lit. If a light is flickering or super dim, children won’t be able to focus and may try to strain their eyes. With commercial LED lighting, children don’t need to worry about the damage they may be doing to their eyes. These bulbs give off more than enough adequate lighting, which helps keep children on track with their curriculum. The color of the light is a lot cooler as well, helping them concentrate on their studies. It's also bright enough to keep them awake as it works with a child’s circadian rhythm.

    Keeps Harmful Contaminants Out of Their Bodies

    A lot of older lights have been known to give off polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs. PCBs can lead to problems with a person’s immune system, their nervous system, and their endocrine system. Many schools that were built before 1979 ay actually still have the older, PCB producing lights in them. But with the help of modern LED lighting, PCBs can be kicked right to the curb. LEDs don’t give off any harmful contaminants, including mercury and UV rays.

    Can Provide Psychological Stability

    Not only can LEDS help a child focus or prevent them from contracting illnesses, but they can also help their mental state. The color of LEDs is very bright and fluorescent, especially compared to older, more yellow lights. This means that when the “winter blues” start to make their impact during the darker months, the children won’t be impacted inside of the classroom. They’ll be surrounded by bright lights which can make them feel happy and cheery.

    Lighting accounts for about 11% of energy use in residential buildings and 18% in commercial buildings. But lighting does much more than let you see things in a room. In a classroom setting, LEDs can boost productivity, increase a student’s mood, and even protect them from coming down with an illness. If your school doesn’t have LED lighting, reach out to your district to get them installed or to access replacement lamps.

  • LED Lighting vs. Traditional Lighting: Which Is Better?

    high intensity led

    Even if you think a traditional light bulb is a great option for your warehouse or parking garage, high intensity LED lighting may actually be the better choice.

    High intensity LED lighting has a longer lifespan than traditional solutions. The average LED light will last 50,000 hours minimum, which is perfect for a warehouse or parking garage setting. Since they last so long, you’re not going to have to change them as often. The time saved from switching out these bulbs gives you the opportunity to focus on other business-related tasks.

    High intensity LED lighting is also more energy efficient than typical bulbs. LEDs only use about 15% of the energy that a standard halogen light uses. They provide up to 85% more light output, as well. Compared to traditional lighting and depending on what kind of LED lighting you choose, you can save you up to 90% on your energy bill.

    Surprisingly, safety is actually the most overlooked when it comes to benefits of LED bulbs. LEDs barely emit heat compared to a traditional bulb that converts more than 90% of energy into heat. Because of this, using LEDs won’t overheat your workers and won’t force you to spend extra money on air conditioning.

    If you plan on using LEDs as warehouse lighting fixtures, you’re going to have the best color rendering index (or CRI) on the market. What this means is that LED lighting is bright and white, unlike a traditional bulb that’s yellow and almost monochromatic. Look for LEDs with a CRI between 65 and 95. Those will get you the best color.

    Finally, LED lighting comes in many shapes and sizes. Consider LED string lights: they’re extremely small so they can be used in any application. You can even combine the lights in bunches to get a traditional-looking bulb. Most people choose to use this type of LED lighting in isolation as a small light for projects. Others will string them out in a linear fashion for a more aesthetically pleasing appearance.

    Compared to standard lighting, LED bulbs are the better option. They last longer, cost less, and are much safer.

  • Why You Need to Install Induction Lighting in Your Manufacturing Facility

    led warehouse lighting fixtures

    If your manufacturing facility could use some additional lighting or brand new LED warehouse lighting fixtures, you should consider induction lighting. If you’re unfamiliar with induction lighting, it can be a big help to a manufacturing facility for many reasons. Here are a few of the benefits.

    Energy Savings
    Induction lighting can be extremely helpful for any business as it doesn’t use a ton of energy. In fact, it only uses about half of the energy that’s typically required to run most other lighting systems. By switching to induction lighting, you can expect to see a decrease in your monthly energy bill by as much as 50%.

    Low Maintenance
    Manufacturing facilities often have high ceilings and difficult-to-access LED warehouse lighting fixtures, which means repairing and maintaining them can be difficult and even dangerous. Standard bulbs won’t last you very long, but induction lighting bulbs will last up to 100,000 hours before they need any service. Induction lighting fixtures don't have electrodes or filaments, the items that frequently cause other bulbs to burn out quickly. As a result, induction lighting systems can have an extremely long life.

    Immediate Response
    Induction lighting, like corn lights and halogen bulbs, is better for manufacturing facilities as it doesn’t take forever to turn on. Standard lights usually have a warm-up time, which means they take a little while to light up to their maximum brightness. Since the lights will likely be turned on throughout the day, the instant-on means no flickering. This will help decrease worker eye strain, physical discomfort, and headaches.

    Low Heat Production
    Unlike many other LED warehouse lighting fixtures you can use, induction lighting bulbs don’t give off a ton of heat. This means you won’t have to worry about turning the air conditioner on as often or losing money by opening windows. Your employees will be able to stay more focused since they won’t have heat pounding down on them during the workday. This will help increase workplace productivity.

    If you’re hoping to revamp you warehouse lighting fixtures, consider induction lighting. Take a look at the benefits listed above to see why you need induction lighting in your shop!

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