Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Inventing the Light Bulbs of the Future

In the world of technology, drastic change is the norm. If you place a ten-year old cell phone next to a modern iPhone, the differences are jarring in both appearance and performance. However, one earth-shaking technology has remained nearly unchanged for over 130 years. Up until recently, if you bought a light bulb for your home or office, be it incandescent, CFL or Halogen, you were getting roughly the same technology Thomas Edison invented in 1879. Could you imagine if that was the case with your TV, phone, or computer? While Edison’s light bulb concept is still successfully illuminating the world, there has been a recent push to do the unthinkable…reinvent the light bulb.

The LED Revolution  

Light-emitting diodes, commonly known as LEDs, have been around since the early 1960s. Over the past few years, LED light bulbs have become the cutting-edge technology in the world of lighting. While LEDs in many forms have been popular in commercial and industrial applications, they are only now breaking into the retail light bulb market. Many of the advances that are building the multi-million LED light bulb industry didn’t come out of the labs of a corporate behemoth, but in fact were born at Louisiana State University.

In 2010, two LSU students, Bin Yu and Leo Zhao, teamed up with LSU’s business incubator program to create a home-use LED light bulb. Yu and Zhao have taken existing LED technology, in this case, LED tubes that are found in commercial LED strip lights, and fashioned them into an energy-efficient home bulb. According to their website, their HITLight bulbs use about 20% of the energy of traditional lighting and last up to 50,000 hours with the appearance of the classic light bulb. At this point, the only draw back to LED light bulbs is cost, with the HITLight costing $9 per bulb. However, when you factor in the energy saved and long life span, LEDs save money in the long haul.

At Bulb Direct, we are always looking to stay on the cutting-edge of lighting technology, which is why we are proud to stock a wide variety of LED lighting solutions. If you are curious to learn more about LED lighting technology and the creation of the HITLight bulb, please feel free to contact us directly today.

Monday, December 1, 2014

LED Rebates: Don’t Miss Out!

You’ve probably heard about the long-term energy savings of using LED bulbs, but you may not know that many utilities have programs in place to encourage their use. Rebates on LED bulbs and fixtures can make your costs negligible and preserve vital electric resources.

With the darker days of winter and the holiday season soon upon us, we’ll all be using lights more. By taking advantage of the rebate programs, you can now switch from conventional lighting systems to energy-efficient LEDs at minimal cost. You save money, energy and the bother of replacing bulbs frequently.

To qualify for the rebate, the products you purchase must have ENERGY STAR® or Design Lights Consortium (DLC) designation. Rebates are offered by the utility companies in your area. You can search for rebates by local utility, or click here for a full list of the rebates offered nationally. You can typically search by category, product, and/or zip code.

As the price of LED bulbs continues to go down, so do the rebates. Now may be the perfect time to look into replacing your energy-hogging incandescent bulbs with LEDS both indoors and out.

And the sooner you start using LEDs, the greater your savings will be over time – and the higher the rebate!

Bulb Direct can help you choose the right LED bulb for your everyday and specialty needs. We’re just a click or a phone call away!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Bulb Direct Supports the National Kidney Foundation

At Bulb Direct we work hard for our customers but we also like to work hard to support causes that are important to us. We recently participated in the Kidney Walk for the National Kidney Foundation in Upstate and Western New York. The entire walk raised over $55,000 to support local programs and services and Bulb Direct was ranked as the 4th place fundraising team raising over $2,000.

To reach our fundraising goal  we employed some creative ideas over the month of September, including bake sales, a silent auction, can and bottle drive, a 50 50 raffle, hosted a Tastefully Simple party, candy sales, and of course received a lot of donations. We’d like to thank all of our walkers who helped to raise money to fight kidney disease, especially Maureen Hann who was able to bring in over $500 in donations.

To learn more about Bulb Direct, visit our website. We can also be followed on Twitter and LinkedIn to receive more company updates, learn about our fundraising activities, and stay up-to-date on lighting industry news.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Confused about Wattage? Here’s help!

In the days when incandescent bulbs were your only choice, a watt was just a watt. It was pretty easy to decide whether you needed a 40, 60, or 100 watt bulb.

But with newer energy-saving options, the game has changed. When you look at bulb specifications today, a watt in an incandescent is not the same as a watt in an LED or a watt in a CFL.

Why is this? And what does it mean?

First, wattage measures electricity, not brightness. A bulb’s brightness is measured in lumens. The more energy efficient the bulb is, the lower the wattage required for the same brightness compared to a less efficient bulb.

This chart shows just how much less electricity—wattage—is needed for different bulb types. As you can see, lower wattage bulbs deliver the same brightness—lumens—much more efficiently that their incandescent counterpart.

Brightness (lumens)
LED (watts)
CFL (watts)
Incandescent (watts)

Suppose you want to replace a 75 watt incandescent bulb with a CFL. As shown above, you would need an 18 to 25 watt CFL bulb to deliver the same brightness as your incandescent.

Using energy-efficient bulbs can make a big difference in our energy consumption. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that if every household replaced a single incandescent bulb with an ENERGY STAR® LED or CFL, we could save nearly $700 million annually in energy costs.

Make the right choice with the right information! For help with all your light bulb needs, call us at Bulb Direct.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Why the ENERGY STAR® Rating Matters

You see the ENERGY STAR label on lots of products and appliances, but do you know what it really means?

An ENERGY STAR label tells you more than just the energy efficiency of a product. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issues stringent specifications for earning the ENERGY STAR label. Guiding principles include:
  •  Products must offer increased energy efficiency, performance, and features demanded by consumers.
  •  If a qualified product costs more than a less efficient one, consumers must be able to recoup their investment within a reasonable amount of time.
  •  Products must employ non-proprietary technologies in competitive manufacturing settings.
  •  Energy consumption must be clearly labeled on the product and verified through testing.

ENERGY STAR‘s goal is to reduce greenhouse gasses and pollutants caused by inefficient energy usage and to make it easy for consumers to identify those products that can save on energy bills.

ENERGY STAR also has a partner program for businesses and buildings that support their guidelines. Bulb Direct is an ENERGY STAR retail partner. That means that we have met these specifications, among others:
·    We use ENERGY STAR marks on our products and the EPA has approved our usage of the ENERGY STAR logo.
·   We provide the EPA with a full list of our products on a regular basis.
·   We promote ENERGY STAR products and apply the ENERGY STAR label to qualifying products if the manufacturer did not do so.

So what does this mean for you? With Bulb Direct, you are assured that we will disclose energy efficiency information so you can make informed decisions about the products you purchase.  

The next time you’re making product or appliance choices, look for the information you need to make a responsible choice—and choose ENERGY STAR!

Bulb Direct offers more than 14,000 types of light bulbs for a wide variety of equipment and applications. Learn more about how Bulb Direct can help with your lighting needs. Just click here!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

LEDs vs. CFLs: Which is Right for You?

It used to be that choosing a light bulb wasn’t difficult. But today’s broad spectrum of products can leave you scratching your head over which bulb will serve you best.

Two of the most popular energy-efficient choices are Light-Emitting Diode bulbs (LEDs) and Compact Fluorescent bulbs (CFLs). Let’s compare the two.

Bulb Type
  Takes about a year to recoup cost
  Spreads light in all directions
  Slow to reach full brightening capacity, especially in cold temperatures
  Most can’t be dimmed
  Can’t be used in all sockets
  Contain mercury, which must be recycled
  Can last from 18 to 46 years
  Use a little less energy than CFLs
  Brighten instantly, even in frigid temperatures
  Can be dimmed
  Lifespan not affected by turning them on and off frequently

  A-type bulbs may not provide light in all directions
  Can be heavier
  May have unusual shapes
  More expensive, but getting cheaper

When choosing between CFLs and LEDs, ask yourself:
·         Do you need focused or multi-directional light?
·         What are your color temperature requirements?
·         How much do you want to invest in the bulb?
·         Will the bulb be used outside? (Most LEDs and CFLs work outdoors but can’t get wet, and CFLs are slow to brighten in cold temperatures.)
·         Do you require dimming?
·         Are there limitations for the fixture where the bulb will be used? (Heat build-up in enclosed fixtures may be a problem; check manufacturer recommendations.)
·         Will the bulb be used with a photocell or motion detector? (Check manufacturer requirements for bulbs before buying.)
·         Are you concerned about the mercury content in CFLs?

Finally, take a look at the Facts label that appears on all bulbs. It will tell you the energy usage and cost, brightness, life expectancy, and color temperature.

Need help choosing the bulb that’s right for you? Contact us at Bulb Direct!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Electricity 101

Though you may have learned the basics of electricity in high school, you may not remember much other than the fact that AC/DC is not just a heavy metal band name. You need a little more!

If you’re staring at a burned out light bulb wondering what to look for, check first for the amps, volts and wattage requirements of your light fixture. These are basic electrical specifications you need to get started.

In simplest terms:
·         Amps is the amount of electrical current flowing through a device.
·         Volts is the force of the electricity being sent.
·         Watts is the electrical power delivered per second.

It helps to use an analogy. Electricity flowing through a wire is like water flowing through a garden hose.
·         Amps is the amount of water that can flow through a hose based on the diameter of the hose.
·         Volts is the pressure with which water is pushed through a hose based on how far open the faucet is.

If you use a wider hose or open up the faucet, more water will flow. The same is true of electricity. The greater the voltage or amps, the more electrical current will flow.

Now suppose you are using a hose to turn a waterwheel. A certain amount of power is needed to turn the wheel at a certain rate. In electrical terms, this is the wattage delivered to a device.

Wattage is the product of amps and voltage. As a formula, this is expressed as:

Volts (force) x Amps (current) = Watts (power)

A light bulb, like any electrical device, requires a certain amount of power to make it work. You’ll see voltage and wattage requirements listed on light bulbs, which are maximum values.

Tip: You can always use a lower voltage light bulb in a fixture that lists a higher rating – but never use a voltage that is higher than the maximum listed for the fixture! 

At Bulb Direct, we can help you choose the perfect bulb for your lighting needs. We offer a broad variety of bulbs for everyday and specialized use. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Growth of LED Lighting in American Municipalities

Much of the press surrounding the growing popularity and usage of LED lighting across the U.S. has focused on homes and businesses. However, it might be the municipality’s usage of LEDs that point to the industry’s future. In order to get a better feel for how America’s cities and towns have made the move to LED lighting, let’s check out the examples of Raleigh, North Carolina and Honolulu, Hawaii.

It might come as a surprise, but this city of 423,179 in North Carolina’s Research Triangle, was one of the first in America to install LED-based lighting. In 2007, Raleigh teamed up with the LED maker Cree for the LED City program. With this program, Raleigh committed to using LED lighting for all renovations and new projects in order to increase sustainability and lower costs. According to the city, this innovative partnership led to $215,000 in savings in energy and maintenance annually. The initial project was so successful, that in 2012 Raleigh expanded the project to include streetlights in five neighborhoods

After the initial success in Raleigh, many U.S. towns and cities followed their example. One of note is Honolulu, Hawaii’s most populous city and state capital. In a major step, the City and County of Honolulu has committed to replace all 51,700 of Oahu’s city-owned streetlights. According to experts, this move not only makes Honolulu environmentally friendly but also, it will shave an impressive $3 million a year in both energy and maintenance costs for local taxpayers.

For us at Bulb Direct, it’s great to see cities and towns around the country embrace both the financial and environmental benefits of LED lighting. Since the technology first became economically viable, we’ve made every effort to share the benefits of LEDs with our customers. Currently, Bulb Direct offers nearly 140 different types and styles of LEDs for your home and business. To learn more about the benefits of LEDs visit our website or contact one of our lighting experts today:  

Monday, June 30, 2014

Where Big Box Stores Fall Short

When it comes to buying light bulbs, it’s easy to pop into your local big box store. After all, they sell bulbs… along with wood, tile, carpeting, garden supplies, paint, tools, and plumbing supplies. So how much expertise can they really offer when it comes to lighting?

It used to be pretty easy to choose the right bulb. But with recent legislation, energy-efficient bulbs are surging in popularity, and with that surge comes confusion. Bulbs come in more sizes, designs, and with more quality features than ever before.

When selecting the right bulb, it pays to consider:

  • Color temperature, which defines how warm (yellow) or cool (blue) a light source is. Cool colors are typically over 5,000 Kelvin, and warm temperatures are around 3,000 Kelvin.
  • Color rendering, which measures how well a light source can reproduce color as natural light does. A high color rendering index (CRI) means the color is more true.
  • Wattage, which indicates the electrical requirements of a lighting fixture.

As LED bulbs are growing in popularity, consumers are also becoming more selective. When you invest in a bulb that could last decades, you need to make the right choice. If you settle for less, you’ll soon learn that what began as a minor annoyance could become a big one over time. 

At Bulb Direct, we haven an extensive inventory of bulbs with all of these characteristics, plus bulbs in various shapes and sizes for specialized purposes. Bulbs are what we do, so we understand your needs better than your local big box retailer. And if you purchase a bulb that isn't just right, a big box store may not have the inventory or knowledge you need to come away happy. 

So think twice before you head on down to your local mega-store for a replacement bulb. It may cost you more in the long run!

At Bulb Direct, we can help you choose from popular brands such as Osram Sylvania, GE, Ushio, Philips, EiKO, and TCP. Learn more about our broad selection of bulbs by visiting our website.