Monday, December 16, 2013

Light Can Help Treat Seasonal Affective Disorder

As the weather grows colder and the day gets shorter, there’s much less sunlight to enjoy. If you live in or near a big city, on a clear day you can expect nine hours of sunlight, compared to 14 hours during the summer months. Although most consider the after-work darkness to be hindrance, for some it is more than just an inconvenience—it can lead to a major health issue known as Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of yearly depression whose cause can be rooted in a drop in serotonin levels brought on by reduced sunlight, according to Mayo Clinic. Other than antidepressants and talk-therapy, one of the best treatments for this disorder involves using light as a form of therapy. There are two main types of light therapy, which is more commonly known as phototherapy: bright light therapy and dawn simulation.

Bright Light Therapy
This treatment method involves exposing sufferers to intense light, usually from a box that consists of a set of fluorescent, incandescent or LED, full-spectrum light bulbs and a screen. This treatment, which is taken while accomplishing everyday tasks, can last from a few minutes to up to three hours per day.

Dawn Simulation
This therapy also uses the light bulb and box set up. It differs from the bright light format in that it is based on giving the patient gently increasing levels of simulated sunlight, which is much like a normal sunrise.

The true key to the success of both bright light therapy and dawn simulation is in choosing the right light bulb. For either therapy to be effective, you must pick the light bulb that will mimic the power and level of outdoor daylight your treatment demands.

We take this disorder very seriously and understand the complications that can arise if left untreated, and we’re proud to help combat the symptoms. If you are shopping for the right light therapy box, visit the Mayo Clinic website for some great tips on choosing the light box to match your needs, then call Bulb Direct to supply the bulbs.  

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

How to Save on Lighting in Your Business

Look around your place of business—whether it’s a classroom, office space, warehouse, or hospital, the lighting is essential. With some businesses using hundreds (or even thousands) of kilowatt hours per week, we understand that these costs can add up. At Bulb Direct, we love to save our customers money through bulk ordering and increasing the ROI of their bulbs, but we recognize there are a few other options to cutting down on energy use (and subsequent costs) in businesses.

One of the most helpful tools we’ve seen is an online lamp replacement tool from Sylvania. The lighting solutions brand allows users to plug in their current lamp (fluorescent, incandescent, tungsten halogen) by type, product code, watts, brightness, average rated life, and base type to find a more efficient and cost-effective replacement. These offerings show options for different standards of lighting options: meets minimum, classic light with 12 percent savings; good, classic light with 12 percent savings; better, 75 percent energy savings; and best, long life energy savings. Then, the user can click through the specific options to see what will cut their pocketbooks and the environment a little slack.

We also think it’s important to evaluate whether your actual lighting is fit for your operation. Obviously, our medical clients have very specific tools and lighting requirements, but those who are in an office or warehouse have more options. If possible, turn off the overhead lights and switch to task lighting with an LED or energy-efficient bulb. According to a study at the University at Albany, using an energy efficient task light instead of overhead light in their capacity could save more $20,000 per year—so we can only imagine how much our clients with similar applications could save.

At Bulb Direct, we know it’s all about increasing your ROI, which is why we take the steps to help your business. From light bulbs in a dental equipment to overhead desk lighting, Bulb Direct is your go-to source. We make it easy and cost-efficient—another step toward decreasing lighting costs. Give us a call at 1-800-772-5267 to see what we can do for your business.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Can I increase my ROI by replacing my old light bulbs with LEDs?

There’s no need for “sticker shock” when deciding between standard older light bulbs and the new LEDs. At Bulb Direct, we’ve been been in the business for more than 25 years, so we’ve seen trends come and go, innovations fall flat, and great ideas turn into great things. But, above all else, we know ROI is essential to our clients, and that’s why we recommend using LEDs.

In a previous post, we highlighted the importance of switching to energy-efficient light bulbs, and when customers are saving energy, they are saving money. Although halogen and compact fluorescents are also cost-effective compared to traditional light bulbs, LEDs are the most expensive and the longest-lasting; therefore, they’re the best choice.

Because they remain cool and last longer than traditional bulbs, you’re saving money, even though you’re purchasing them at a higher cost. In fact, the average cost per year of an LED is a mere $1, whereas traditional light bulbs have an annual approximate cost of $4.80. This means a definite ROI for small business and homeowners, but think of our customers who have chandeliers, large warehouses, and buildings with many light sources—the savings are astounding.

Saving energy and the ultimate ROI is important to Bulb Direct, which is why we offer more than 100 options for customers to choose from. For more information on our LED offerings, head over to our website.

Friday, September 27, 2013

How to Clean Up a Broken CFL Light Bulb

Because we have hundreds of light bulbs in stock, it can be difficult for us to pick one specific item or category to discuss. We’ve blogged about back-to-school bulbs, the best choices for energy efficiency, and what to use in the summer months. And now, we’re going to tackle a heart-breaking (for us) and very important topic: what to do if your CFL light bulb breaks.

Unlike traditional lighting options, CFLs have a small amount of mercury that can be exposed to open air if broken, which is why it’s necessary to take steps other than vacuuming up the mess. (Note: Avoid vacuuming until after all the steps we’ve recommended have been taken. There is a risk of spreading powder or vapors containing mercury if this is done too quickly.)

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has a list of recommended steps to take if a CFL bulb breaks, which we’ve mirrored and added some comments of our own:

1. Once the bulb is broken, clear the room of people/pets and air it out—by opening a door or window, not by turning on your air-conditioner.

2. Pick up large glass fragments with sturdy paper (or if you’re wearing thick gloves, that works, too) and scoop them into a bag or container.

3. Using heavy-duty tape, pick up the remaining smaller fragments and residue.

4. Check with local authorities to make sure the bulb won’t have to be disposed of at a recycling center. If there is no law or regulation in your state, seal the bag or container and dispose of it.

5. Keep airing out the room that the broken bulb was in.

We ask that you take extreme caution in this process—safety is key. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Bulb Direct’s Best Back-to-School Deals

The overabundance of pencils, binders, and book covers in every major retailer means the school year is right around the corner. For many years, educational facilities have made us their go-to for essential supplies, which means we’re getting into the school spirit at Bulb Direct.

Our light bulbs are used in projectors and many large-scale facilities such as gymnasiums, but don’t forget that we also offer a multitude of other products. Think back to your high school chemistry days and fondly recall those bulky safety glasses you begrudgingly wore as you mixed chemicals and hoped for a good grade; we’re doing our part to make that a little easier—from the fashion standpoint, anyway. (You’re on your own for memorizing all the elements of the Periodic Table and pH tests.) We carry dozens of Pyramex safety glasses that adhere to all vigorous safety standards while appealing to the younger generation’s aesthetic.

The major benefit our customers see is the ability to buy in bulk. Say you want to buy LCD projection bulbs, batteries, and 100 pairs of safety glasses, we’ll cut you a deal. Not only will we lower the price for more items purchased, but by combining items, you can take advantage of our flat shipping rate. This isn’t just for local buyers—anyone across the U.S. has this opportunity.

Our website is a one-stop shop for all the light bulbs and accessories  you need, so check it out before your first day of school.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Light Bulbs for your Pool are in Stock at Bulb Direct

As the summer sun heats up this month, you’ll probably want to cool off. If you’re lucky enough to spend some time at your pool, invite us over. All right, we’re kidding (sort of), but once the sun sets and you want to dive in at night, you’ll want a little light—and that’s where we can make a splash.
Whether you need a double-ended R7 base or traditional reflector bulb, Bulb Direct offers a number of options to fit your in-ground swimming pool. These bulbs, which typically last about 1,000 hours, might need to be replaced by a licensed electrician if required by the community—this is standard for most neighborhood and city pools.

But, if your privately owned pool’s bulbs can be changed by the same person who checks the chlorine levels, you might need some guidance, and we’re here to help. Here are step-by-step instructions on how to change a pool light bulb (after you order a replacement from us, of course):

Step 1: Shut off the electricity to the pool lighting system—and we advice using an electrical tester to ensure there is nothing flowing to the sockets.
Step 2: Remove the screw, mostly likely requiring a Phillips-head screw-driver, that holds the fixture in place.
Step 3: Pry the fixture out of the box and pull out of the niche—and pay attention to how the electrical cord rests, so you can replicate its position once the new light bulb is in place.
Step 4: Remove the lens and old bulb then screw the new one into its place and restore the lens’ position.
Step 5: Turn on the power for a few seconds to check if the process was done correctly and the bulb works.
Step 6: After turning off the power once again, reassemble the fixture and put under water to make sure there are no leaks—if not, you’re free to put it back in the niche and re-screw fixture.
Step 7: You’re ready to swim!

Don’t forget to head over to our website before jumping in—we have plenty of outdoor lighting (such as landscape and outdoor illumination) options!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Celebrating 25 Years of Bulb Direct

At Bulb Direct, we don’t believe in being shy about our age—we’re excited to celebrate our 25th birthday! For a quarter century, we’ve strived to deliver superior light bulbs to customers, and we have been met with many challenges and great success.

When we opened in 1988, there were only four employees—and two were husband and wife—so it’s safe to say we’ve grown up a little. In the beginning, we were mostly dealing with schools and businesses that used incandescent and halogen bulbs. But as time changed, so did the demand and manufacturers. Over the past 25 years, products have changed and evolved—whether microscopes, flash tubes, modeling lamps, or projectors, there’s been some type of change—and we’ve kept up to date with those changes. For example, some of those previously used halogen and incandescent bulbs, and now, they’re mainly using compact fluorescents and LEDs. We offer all these products to clients—although some still rely on “old school” light bulbs, and others require the newer versions. We’ve got it all.

We know there is a lot of variety in light bulbs, and it’s only going to keep evolving. As a small company, we have tried to set ourselves apart with excellent customer service.  If a customer calls in with one item they want, we’re able to give them that along with bulbs for other purposes, safety glasses, batteries, and other accessories they might need—we can do it all on one purchase order. Most clients find it’s easier to purchase many light bulbs at once than do many individual orders, which is why we’ve seen such success.

Regardless of how our clients or products evolved over the years, we’ve always been a privately owned company—no matter how big we grow or how busy we are, you’re not going to get a recording when you call our office. But just because we’re a small company, it doesn’t mean our offerings are small, quite the opposite. We offer more than 8,000 skus of light bulbs. If a customer wants a specific product, we’ll do the research and get it.

To celebrate our silver jubilee, we’re offering major savings on our website and showcasing the past 25 years of catalog covers on our Facebook page—let us know which cover is your favorite by “liking” it. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Why Should You Switch to Energy-Efficient Lightbulbs?

Last month, millions across the globe celebrated Earth Month. Although it’s officially over, we were so inspired that we decided to keep the green going. At Bulb Direct, we have hundreds of lightbulbs to suit any customer’s need, but we want to take the time to talk about what is best suited for the environment.

Whether you’re a company looking at larger orders or a customer focusing only on the wattage and voltage, don’t be afraid to stop and check out the “green” options. Energy-efficient lightbulbs use approximately 25 to 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent lightbulbs and can last up to 25 times longer, according to the Department of Energy.

Here’s a look at how each type operates with the associated energy cost:

Traditional bulbs heat up a wire filament inside bulb, which causes it to light. Approximately 90 percent of the energy used is spent on heat—not light. Average cost per year: $4.80.

Halogen bulbs do not heat the entire bulb, but it concentrates heat with halogen gas. Average cost per year: $3.50.

Compact fluorescent bulbs, recognized by their “curly” appearance, requires 75 percent less heat than a traditional light bulb. Average cost per year: $1.61 per year.

Light-emitting diode bulbs are the most expensive bulbs (but last longest) and operate when electrons move through the semiconductor material. Average cost per year: $1.

Reducing overall reliance on non-renewable energy is even sweeter knowing you’re saving the environment—and money, so unscrew tradition, and let’s save some energy.

Monday, March 18, 2013

LEDs vs. CFLs vs. Incandescent Bulbs

As the landscape of bulbs available at your local hardware store or from your supplier continues to shift and settle, it’s worth taking another look at how to compare the options and find the best fit for your needs. The three general choices remain incandescent bulbs, CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps), and LEDs (light emitting diodes). We’ve discussed lumens in the past – the measure of how much illumination is generated from a bulb – and how that standard can be used as a benchmark to compare disparate bulb types. Why is more prominent lumen labeling required, however?

The answer lies in the measure that most of us are used to choosing our bulbs by: wattage. Since LEDs and CFLs operate much more efficiently than incandescent bulbs and halogens, less wattage is necessary to generate the same amount of light, or lumens. A very general rule of thumb is to multiple CFL watts by four to match up with a traditional incandescent, and to multiply LED watts by six or seven. So, a 17 watt CFL and a 13 watt LED will generate about the same amount of light as a 75 watt incandescent.

As you might guess, this lower energy usage translates to lower energy bills. The double-upside of CFLs and LEDs? They last much longer than incandescents – ten times as long for CFLs, and up to fifty times as long for LEDs. These factors offset the higher upfront costs of the newer bulbs by producing long-term savings. With the advances in warmth and light color, especially in LEDs, the benefits of these new options are becoming more and more illuminated.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Added Value with LED Lighting Services

With consumers just beginning to embrace the benefits of LED lighting (aided by continuing price reductions as the technology improves), and businesses a bit more ready to adopt the new technology, one company seeks to further revolutionize how lighting and illumination work. This article describes a startup called Digital Lumens that wants to bring both LEDs and the concept of intelligent lighting control into the mainstream. In addition to carrying out full replacements of a facility’s (like a factory or office) lighting infrastructure, the company will also develop and manage a logic-based lighting plan. This plan will be based around on-and-off hours, normal day and night cycles, as well as intelligent feedback from factors like drawn shades or closed doors.

The outstanding energy efficiency of LEDs, combined with this step-by-step management of energy usage, offers great potential for unparalleled energy savings. Under such a system, the capital investment in hardware (the LEDs), can pay itself back in two years, with a 90 percent savings after that period over the life of the agreement (the initial plan is for 15 – 20 year contracts). According to the article, Digital Lumens has been successful in raising capital so far, indicating that ever-fickle investors believe in the concept. Greener energy and lower bills – what’s not to like?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Five Things to Consider in A Lighting Retrofit: Part 2

Our last blog described the concept of a lighting retrofit as discussed in this piece, and gave the first two from our list of five important considerations in that project. Here are three more factors to weigh as you upgrade your facility.

Lifecycle Cost Evaluation. The “lifecycle” portion of this is important, especially if an LED or CFL retrofit is being undertaken. While upfront costs will be higher, energy savings over the extended life of these bulb types are remarkable as compared to fluorescents or incandescents. To reiterate: the dual savings of increased lifespan (up to fifty times as long, for LEDs), combined with lower energy bills, add up to much lower long-term costs. Be sure to factor in lifecycle, projected energy use, and the initial upfront capital investment when working out your cost analysis.

Certifications. From UL to LEED, there will be certification implications when lamps and ballasts are retrofitted. Most documentation indicates that a listing or certification will be cancelled out with a hardware change. However, UL will evaluate retrofits on-site to relist a facility and fixture.

Recycling. Depending upon the age of existing bulbs and ballasts, specialized disposal may be required throughout a retrofit. Hazardous chemicals and PCBs may be present, and, if you are undertaking a retrofit from, say, CFLs to LEDs, very low levels of mercury will be present in the CFLs, meaning that they cannot simply be thrown out. When in doubt, contact your municipal sanitation department with any questions.
We hope that this guide has proven useful whether you are considering such a project, or have already undertaken one with our help!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Five Things to Consider in A Lighting Retrofit: Part 1

While CFL and LED options are certainly on most facility managers’ minds when considering maintenance and replacement options, sometimes sticking with fluorescents can make the most sense. Even when choosing this option, however, there are still ways to drive down energy costs and increase usage efficiency. One of these ways is a full retrofit, meaning swapping out the existing lighting format for another format without adopting a new technology. In this article, the author describes changing from T12 fluorescent bulbs to T8 fluorescents – an switch, as both types of tubular lamps measure 48” in length.

More important than the specifics of that switch, however, is the list of considerations that the author details, which are applicable to any retrofit. Read the article for full details, and read on for a summary.

Color Quality. With too much of a change in light quality, color, and warmth, employees will certainly feel disoriented on that first Monday morning after the switch, even if they can’t quite put their finger on why. Luckily, it’s fairly easy to choose a retrofit lamp to match up to the previous ambience. “Correlated color temperature” provides an easy indication of light color and temperature, usually, for example, 2700K in homes and offices, and 3500K in hospitals.

Dimming and Flicker. There are few things more annoying than a flickering light above your cubicle (maybe someone stealing your lunch out of the community refrigerator). In the aforementioned T12 vs. T8 retrofit, T8s have been shown to flicker less. For CFLs and LEDs especially, the issue of dimming is a consideration, especially since much more extensive infrastructure work will be required to install the proper switches and controls.

Tune in for our next blog for the remaining options to consider in a lighting retrofit!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Full-Spectrum Lighting Keeps the S.A.D. Out

It’s become fairly common knowledge that what used to just be called the “winter blues” actually has a basis in biology. The feelings of tiredness, reluctance to go outside, and general “down” feeling are often caused by a physiological reaction to the shorter days of the colder months, called seasonal affective disorder, or S.A.D. There are several causes that may underlay the body’s response to this lack of sunlight: one might be a lack of sufficient Vitamin D, a nutrient provided by the sun’s UVB rays. Another may be the disruption of the body’s natural circadian rhythms, our internal clocks, and a subsequent imbalance in melatonin levels.

Both of these reasons can be targeted by one solution: full spectrum lamps and lightboxes. By mimicking the appearance and effects of bright sunlight, 30 to 60 minutes per day sitting near a full spectrum lightbox can help the body readjust its levels, lifting your mood in the process. Bulb Direct features a full selection of full spectrum lighting suitable for lightboxes or regular light fixtures – and remember, you don’t need to sit and stare at the light for the full hour. Just keeping the lamp in your workspace and turning it on occasionally provides everything the body needs to get back to normal. Read more in this Star Tribune article or Elk Grove Citizen article.