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What’s New in Residential Lighting

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It used to take decades to recoup the cost of an energy efficient light bulb, now it takes less than a year! The good news is both the cost and quality of energy efficient lighting has improved significantly. If you are adding light fixtures, or need to replace bulbs, there are varying choices.

Initially the more affordable light bulbs were compact florescent lights (CFL), reminiscent of a soft serve ice cream swirl. They promised many lumen hours at a fraction of needed electricity, but needed time to warm up to their full light level, they weren’t dimmable, and had toxic mercury in them (always dispose of them at Home Depot or Lowe’s or if one breaks, follow the environmental protection agency’s toxic waste CFL disposal protocol.   Now they are being replaced by LEDs.

LEDs have been dropping in price and improving in quality, making them a bright choice. Initially they were about $50 a bulb, and they distorted the perception of colors. Fast forward to today, LEDs are available in many bulb shapes and sizes, and have color ranges from a warm yellow to cool bluer white starting under $10. They have the advantage of instant brightness, and can be dimmable. LEDs do not burn out, but dim over time, and they retain full brightness over 20 years when used 3 hours a day and use 85% less electricity than incandescent bulbs.

There are more choices than just bulbs. Would you like “smart bulbs” for specific fixtures or areas? You can have bulbs that can be controlled by a hub, smartphone, tablet, NEST thermostat & security, Amazon Echo or Google Home for turning on and off. There are bulbs that will change with preset color choices for such as: tranquil, cheerful, focusing, exciting—and even provide effects, like mimicking the flicker of a candle (Lifx Color 1000). There are also security light systems that will go thru a preset pattern at night if the doorbell rings so it looks like you turned on the bedroom light, then the hall light. You can also preprogram what lights you want on when waking up, coming home, when eating, when watching tv. You can have bulbs that learn your light patterns and play them when you are not at home, provide 5 hours of lighting when there is a loss of electricity, and turn on when a fire detector alarm goes off (BeOn).  You may want to check reviews on sites such as cnet.com

Here are some tips on what to look for when shopping for energy efficient bulbs:

Lumens tell you how bright the light output is, usually put in terms of watt equivalent that most of us are familiar with. For example, 60 watts would be 600 lumens, 75 watts would be over 1.100 lumens. Spaces that have little to no natural light, or for tasks such as cooking you will want more lumens. It also depends on the number of bulbs contributing, e.g. a dining room chandelier will need lower lumens per bulb because of the number of bulbs in one fixture.

Color Temperature indicates the light color spectrum and will make a difference in the experience of the room. Warm white can make things seem yellow (see chart).

Color Rendering Index on a scale to 100, higher is better, and 80 or more indicates a more accurate appearance of colors. Some manufacturers do not include this score on packaging.

Happy Home Remodeling Phoenix!

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