Friday, September 6, 2013

WSRM---CEILINGlights fixture basics!


WSRM---CEILINGlights fixture basics!

Ceiling light fixtures are relatively new within the scheme of house lighting. Gas lighting near the ceiling gave way to the newer knob-and-tube method of running electrical wire. This meant that wires could be run between floors or in an attic with relative safety.
Your options have expanded beyond the chandelier lights of old. Lights can be mounted within the ceiling or hung far down as pendants. They can run on thin cables or easy-to-install tracks. Let's look at your basic ceiling light fixture options, except for a couple of the least popular (fluorescent and spot lights):

1. Flush and Semi-Flush Lights

Ah, the familiar flush and semi-flush ceiling lights! They are found in literally every home. Builders will install these as "default" lights unless otherwise requested (electrical code requires every room to have lighting, so this is a way of taking care of that requirement).
These lights hug close to the ceiling electrical box (which means that they also hug close to the ceiling) and typically drop down between 6" and 15". They are stationary.
Where to Install: Bedroom, bathroom.
  • Cheap. You can pick up a flush or semi-flush ceiling light for as little as $5-10, if you really want one that cheap. And that's why many builders install them unless otherwise specified.
  • Dependable. Unlike recessed, track, or cable lights, these are uncomplicated devices, the true workhorse of ceiling lighting.
Disadvantage(s) Quality of Light. These lights cast an overall-room brightness, without giving you enough light to concentrate on specific tasks. While a flush or semi-flush mount will not provide all of your kitchen ceiling lighting, it's a good base-level light to start with.

2. Recessed Lights

Recessed lights--also called canister or can lights--came of age in the 1970s and 1980s. It seems that every house built in the Eighties had recessed lights. Of course, their ubiquity meant that they would soon become roundly disliked.
Recessed lights consist of the metal canister and the bulb. Both are housed within the ceiling itself, so that no part of the light protrudes below ceiling level.
Where to Install: Living room, family room.
Clean Lines. If you have a modern house, recessed lights are probably the way to go--they minimize obstructions and let you concentrate on other aspects of the home.
  • Difficult to Move. You would need to access the light from the attic, patch the existing hole, cut a new hole, and re-install.
  • Fire Danger. Certain types of recessed lights can be covered in insulation in the attic. Even so, some residential codes do not allow installation of recessed lights in such areas due to inherent fire hazards.
Fixture Shown Here:

3. Pendant Lights

In terms of ubiquity, pendant lights are the new recessed lights (can you say "Starbucks"?). For a time in the late 1990s, pendant lights were the hottest thing, the ultimate in urbanity. Now that their influence has spread, it's their functionality that has remained. Pendant lights are a wonderful way to bring light closer to your work surface.
Where to Install: Kitchen island, kitchen counters.
  • Spotlighting. As mentioned, pendants allow you to focus light on a particular area.
  • Overused. If you don't mind being like the Joneses, buy a pendant light. But remember that the Joneses are probably buying the popular and overdone "capsule" style glass fixtures. Suggest: experiment with the fixture and try something different, like the one shown here (yes, this is still a pendant light).
Fixture Shown Here:

4. Chandeliers

When most people think of chandeliers, they think of fancy fixtures dripping with sparkling glass. If this is to your taste, that's fine. But as long as the fixture both hangs and displays multiple bulbs, it's a chandelier--so, any style is possible.
Where to Install: Dining room.
  • Adjustable Height. Chandelier fixtures usually can be adjusted up or down to better accommodate the table below.
  • Costly. By virtue of the amount of materials used in chandeliers (more metal, more bulbs, etc.), chandeliers tend to be expensive. That's one reason why you confine chandeliers to one place, instead of sprinkling them all around the house.
Fixture Shown Here:

5. Track Lights

Like our friend the recessed light, track lights had their heyday in the Seventies. Track lights freed up tables, floors, and other surfaces from merely being places to put a lamp. More importantly, track lights were adjustable...
Where to Install: Kitchen, bathroom, den, mancave, home theater, hobby room, workshop.
  • Adjustable. Yes, in theory, you can endlessly move track lights along the track. Will you, in practice, do this? That's the question. You might do this in a room with a lot of activity, such as a workshop or hobby room.
  • Unsightly Tracks. The tracks are large and difficult to disguise.
Fixture Shown Here:

6. Rail or Cable Lights

A newer version of the track light. Rail or cable lights pull their power from a continuous, charged metal rail or thin cable (your choice). Unlike the track light's track, which was meant to be camouflaged, rails and cables are meant to be seen: they are part of the style. Where to Install: Kitchen, bathroom, den, mancave, home theater.
  • Adjustable. Like the track light, you can slide the lights along the rail or cable to any spot.
  • Very Noticeable. Yes, the rails and cables are part of the look. But in many cases, they draw too much attention--away from other room elements.
Fixture Shown Here:

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

WSRM--- The Hazards from CFL Light Bulbs!


WSRM--- The Hazards from  CFL Light Bulbs!

You may have heard stories or rumors about potential hazards of using Compact Fluorescent Lamps, or CFLs, in your home. Millions of these bulbs are being bought and installed every year, and the pace is increasing as standard incandescent light bulbs are being phased out. What is the real story? Is there any truth to these rumors?
Here are three of the most prevalent rumors, with the facts behind them. There's some truth to each.

CFL Light Bulbs Contain Mercury

This is true. All fluorescent lamps contain mercury. It's part of how they're made, and it's part of 
what makes them work. Every fluorescent tube you see, whether it's in the grocery store, your office, your garage or your living room, has some mercury in it.
That said, there are two things to bear in mind when changing these bulbs, and one important thing to remember if one of them breaks:
  1. There is very little mercury in a single fluorescent tube. And, the amount of mercury is a function of the size of the tube. That means that there is only a tiny amount of mercury in one of the very small tubes found in a Compact Fluorescent Lamp.
    That doesn't mean that it isn't there. It is, and you need to be aware of it. But if you accidentally break a CFL, you're not going to immediately poison anyone in your household, or contaminate your home to the point that it will need to be cleaned by professionals, if you do the cleanup carefully.
    Why? Primarily because the total amount of mercury in one hundred household-size Compact Fluorescent Lamps is less than the amount of mercury in one of the mercury-bulb thermometers that we've been sticking in our mouths for years.
  2. All fluorescent tubes, including CFLs, do need to be properly disposed of. They should not be thrown in the trash or, worse yet, put out with the recycling. And you do need to clean up a spill safely. So what should you do?
    • Ask your garbage collector what you should do with the old bulb or the remains of a broken one, or contact your county waste management authority. Either of them may know of a drop-off facility for hazardous material that's convenient for you.
    • You can also check with the stores that sell a lot of these light bulbs. Many of the large home improvement centers will let you drop used CFL bulbs off at their stores. They've already set up a means to safely deal with the spent lamps. Just make sure, if you have a broken one, that they're prepared to accept that, too.

CFLs Can Cause Migraines

Some people think so. They are sensitive to the subtle flickering that electric lights emit. That flicker is more pronounced, or evident, when the light is a fluorescent tube than it is with other types of lights. The manufacturers are aware of this and are working to reduce the flickering. It is unlikely that they will be able to eliminate it as long as the standard power used with lights is alternating current, because the visible flicker is produced by the alternating of the current. If you're sensitive to this effect, or someone you live or work with is, there are things you can do to reduce the effect.
  • Try changing to different, and newer, fluorescent light bulbs, to see if the improved designs have solved the problem.
  • Change to a different type of light bulb. Standard incandescent light bulbs may have disappeared but their siblings, halogen lamps, are becoming more common and less expensive every day. So are Light Emitting Diode, or LED, light bulbs. Neither halogen nor LED light bulbs have been reported to cause migraines.
  • If you find that you more often get migraines or other headaches at work than at home, and you notice that almost all of the light in your workplace comes from fluorescent fixtures, try moving your work space to a location closer to a window so that you can receive more natural light, or ask the management if they can change some of the lighting to be non-fluorescent.
  • At home you can increase the amount of natural light that enters your rooms. You can install incandescent, halogen and LED bulbs instead of CFLs. You can install only those fluorescent light bulbs and tubes that are shielded.

CFLs Can Cause Skin Cancer

Possibly. Exposure to ultraviolet, or UV, radiation has been linked to skin cancer, and fluorescent lamps emit more energy in the UV part of the spectrum than other types of light bulbs do. And yes, that means that sitting under, or near, any fluorescent light may expose you to more UV radiation than spending the same amount of time in other forms of artificial light will.
That is, this will happen if you are exposed to light from unshielded CFLs. What's the alternative?
  • If you are using the CFLs which have the bent tubing out in the open, where you can see and touch it, only install these in lamps and other fixtures where you can't see the bulb.
  • In those where you can see the bulb, such as your desk lamp or reading lamp or the recessed lights in your kitchen, either install other types of light bulbs or use the CFLs that have a translucent cover over the tube. That covering is almost always an effective shield, or filter, for ultraviolet radiation.
Compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) may be more efficient than other types of bulbs, considering initial price and cost of the power over their lifetimes, but you may also want to consider possible hazards when making your choice of bulbs to buy.