Sunday, January 16, 2011

It's not easy being Green!

Remember that song by Kermit the frog?  "It's not easy being green"  Well, many of our clients feel the same way!  We've done a lot of research to sort out the differences between so many types of lighting; searched the Internet, spoken with experts who lecture at our "Breakfast Club" meetings, and joined organizations such as the Designers Lighting Forum (DLF), NYC.  At these meetings, we meet with other lighting professionals with whom we can discuss types of lighting. 

So where does this leave us?  A bit overwhelmed by it all?  I don't blame you!  Here's the complaint we hear most often: "Our clients want to be more friendly toward the environment and save money, but none of us like the lighting effect of  Fluorescent lighting:"  I couldn't agree more.  The most important thing we've learned is that there is more to Sustainable life than Fluorescents!  Yes you heard it here!  Common' you ask, if we can put a man on the moon, why can't anyone make a CFL look like an incandescent?  For one thing, when Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, it was his goal to imitate gas light, the popular mode of lighting at the time, and just like gas, incandescent has a filament that burns and glows with a warm, yellow light.  That is why they don't last as long as newer kinds of lighting.  They "burn out" quickly.

Enclosed Wall Sconce -
Great with CFL's
Drum Pendant -
Perfect for CFL's


In an effort to create something that is reasonably priced and lasts longer, CFL's have started to dominate the market.  However, it's never going to glow like a candle.  The bulbs, or "lamps" as they are properly referred to, are filled with a gas.  It's like trying to match the color of a your chartreuse fabric to a ready-mixed chart of paint for your walls.  You'll come really close but never quite make it!  The best we can do is choose the "color temperature". 

Incandescents glow at 2700 Kelvin and you can buy CFL's at 2700K as well, however, it's only close.  So, we recommend them for enclosed fixtures such as drum pendants, flush and semi-flush mounts, where it works especially well.  And, we've also found some CFL's that can be dimmed.  Sweet!

Candelabra Base

My favorite alternative is "Xenon".  Yes, just like the lamps they use in the headlights of your car!  They also have a gas inside, but they also have a filament that glows.  Xenon gas is whiter than Fluorescent, they are available in Edison or candelabra bases and are really small so you can get a lot of light in a small shade or fixture.  They cost more than an incandescent, however, they last at least three times as long.  They also dim.  The reason I consider them sustainable is that they give off more light using less wattage.  For instance, the 60-watt version is perceived by the human eye like a brighter, 100-watt incandescent.  So, you'll use less electricity and buy fewer bulbs in the long run.

This tiny sconce has a
shallow shade - good
choice for a Xenon bulb.

Some of the "new" lamps we're using are actually old technology.  For instance, Cold Cathode lighting, another lamp that has gas inside, is a cousin of Neon.  Fiber Optic lighting was first developed in the 1950's.  More on those, the ever-popular LED and Metal Halide next time - there is a lot to "look at!"

For more information on green lamps and lighting, visit Lampworks' Sustainable Page.