Tag: lighting

Best Smart Light Bulbs For Alexa

The Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance A19 smart bulb was the first smart product to join Alexa’s friends list, and it’s our pick as the best smart light bulb. All current Hue models work with Alexa, allowing you to power multiple lights on and off, dim them, change a bulb’s color, and even create light groups to enable color schemes throughout the house on command. Just know that in addition to your Alexa device, you’ll also need the Hue Bridge (unless you get the Echo Plus, which includes a Zigbee radio like the Hue Bridge), a hub that can handle up to 50 Hue-ified lights.

Similar to the Philips Hue, the LIFX A19 bulb works with Alexa, so you can verbally power, dim, and change the colors of the lights. LIFX doesn’t have quite as many partners or the same versatility as the Hue lineup. However, LIFX bulbs work with Wi-Fi (versus Zigbee for the Hue series), so you don’t need a separate hub or gateway.

Those Halls Won’t Deck Themselves: Pros Help With Holiday Lights

It is that time of year again, the time for outdoor holiday lighting, and homeowners now have options besides climbing a ladder in the cold to hang decorations.  Professional lighting installers say business is brisk as the economy skates along, with homeowners willing to pay to avoid the headache of untangling strings of lights and running extension cords.

Nick Schriver, founder of Decorating Elves in Tampa, Fla., said people increasingly outsourced chores like mowing lawns and picking up dry cleaning, so hiring someone to put up Christmas lights
was an extension of that trend. “The culture is becoming more service oriented.”

Mr. Schriver said he began hanging Christmas lights as a side job while in college some 16 years ago and eventually founded his own outdoor lighting company. Decorating Elves, he said, now has 10 full-time employees and adds 50 during the holiday season. (The firm also provides year-round outdoor lighting services).

“It’s becoming bigger,” he said, adding that the company is busy enough that it has to turn down jobs during holiday crunchtime.

While Christmas décor accounts for the bulk of his seasonal business, Mr. Schriver said, he also has some demand for Hanukkah-themed displays, like large menorahs illuminated with blue and white lights.

Outdoor holiday lighting is so popular that the Association of Outdoor Lighting Professionals, a trade group, gives an annual award just for that category (which Mr. Schriver’s company won in 2016 and 2017).

Safety may also be a factor behind the interest in professional installations. The Consumer Product Safety Commission last year estimated that in 2016 there were 14,700 holiday decorating-related injuries treated in emergency rooms, or an average of 240 per day during November and December. The most frequent decorating incidents were falls, the commission said, including three deaths involving falls from ladders.

Many professional companies not only hang and remove the holiday lights, but also store the decorations after the holidays.

How much does it cost to have a professional take over the decorations?

That will vary by region, the size of your house and the dazzle of the display. Basic décor, like lights that outline your roof and front door, may cost $500 or less if you own a single-story home. But if you have a larger house with lots of gables or want more eye-catching décor, the price can stretch to thousands of dollars.

At Christmas Decor, a professional holiday decorator with locations across the country and in Canada, the average cost of a display in the United States is $1,650, said Brandon Stephens, the
company’s president. Pricing tends to be higher on the coasts, he said, and lower in the nation’s interior.

“I’d say there’s a larger group of people more willing to spend on decorations,” he said. The company said its sales last year rose by 14 percent, with a similar increase expected this year.

While classic white lights remain popular, consumers have choices far beyond the traditional. Homeowners may now select tubes of glowing lights that mimic falling snowflakes, giant ornament
decorations or app-controlled light strips that blink in patterns synchronized with music.

“People are looking for that showstopper,” Mr. Stephens said. Specialty items include six-foot-tall, three-dimensional snowflakes.

Christmas Decor’s representatives take a photo of your house with a tablet, then superimpose lighting displays on the image. If the suggested display is too costly, the software can adjust the
proposed lighting until the represented results fit your budget.

While professional installations are costlier than doing it yourself, the advent of LED lighting, which is much more energy-efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs, means powering the holiday décor doesn’t have to be as wallet-draining as it once was. Some people still prefer the look of incandescent lights, but professionals say the quality of LED lighting has improved significantly in recent years.  The bulbs no longer “flicker” and are available in a range of colors.

Here are some questions and answers about professionally installed holiday lighting:

How can I manage the cost of my outdoor holiday display?

Try teaming up with other homeowners on your street for a group quote for lighting installation. “If you and your neighbors get together, you may get a lower per-house rate,” said Sarabeth Asaff, chief writer with Fixr.com, a home services site. Putting the lights on a timer will help manage your electrical costs. And as with other home improvement projects, she said, seek three bids to get a true picture of what the job should cost.

What if I prefer hanging lights myself?

You have company. The National Retail Federation expects holiday spending, including money spent on decorations, to increase by about 4 percent this year. Christmas Lights Etc., an online décor seller, offers do-it-yourself suggestions on its website, including tips for attaching lights to your gutters.

You can also look for advice on choosing lights on Wirecutter, a New York Times affiliate. The site recommends conical LED lights from Christmas Designers.com as the best for outdoor use.

Just be careful on those ladders!

How much will LED lighting save me on my electric bill?

Quite a bit, said Steve Rosenstock, senior manager of customer technical solutions with Edison Electric Institute, an association that represents investor-owned electric companies.

A string of 100 large, traditional incandescent light bulbs costs about 9 cents an hour to run, compared with half a cent an hour for a string of mini lights, the institute calculates. But a similar string of LED lights would cost just about 0.05 cents an hour to run.

7 Different Types of Outdoor String Lights

Decorate your backyard with stunning string lights that will turn the cold night into a warm and lively one. They’re magical enough to have that glowing and dreamy ambiance. Choose from the different types of string lights that will instantly set mood and illuminate your outdoor area.

If you live in Southern California, you love spending your free time outdoors. You will probably have your friends over at your house in your backyard to enjoy some cool summery nights with you, by either playing cards or having a heart-to-heart chat. Or if that’s not your idea of the perfect California night, then playing with your kids late into the evening or having a party with your family surely must be.

In order to make the most of these fun activities, it is important that the atmosphere and ambiance of your outdoor space are up to the par. But don’t worry, uplifting your garden or backyard doesn’t demand a lot of hard work. An immediate way to achieve a desirable outdoor space is by installing some stunning string lights. Yes, you read that right!

Having a source of light in your beautiful outdoor area will improve the overall mood of your entire setting and prevent mosquitoes from bugging you. The luminous space will effortlessly beautify the surrounding, making it appear prettier than ever. If you get creative with your string lights, your outdoors may have the potential to shine brighter than anyone’s in your neighborhood.

String lights come in many types, but we suggest you choose from the ones that we have listed down below. Why, you ask? Well, that’s because these are some of the most sought-after outdoor string lights that can transform your outdoor setting in the most remarkable way.

1. LED Festoon Globe Lights

These LED lights are a great addition to any garden or backyard, specifically because of their romantic and dreamy charm. They beautifully create a welcoming atmosphere when hung from a ceiling or roped around a dining or seating area. If in case, you don’t have anything to attach these lights around your seating or dining area, you can get lighting poles to suspend them from and give a luminous effect instantly.
You can find LED festoon lights in multiple brands, but our top pick for you is Brightown. Brightown’s LED string lights typically come in a globe shape that reminds us of the cosmos – the earth, moon, and other celestial objects. They are surprisingly minimalist in style and design, but at the same time, add the right amount of elegance to any outdoor area. These clear bulbs tend to give out a warm, white glow, illuminating a vast amount of space in a twinkling.

The biggest advantage that you can get by investing in these particular lights is the facility to connect at least 20 strands of them together for an intense lighting effect. Considering their excellent quality and affordable price, it won’t be wrong to regard them as a wise investment.

2. Solar LED Lantern String Lights

With lantern string lights, you get the opportunity to create a surreal lighting experience that is ethereal in every sense of the word. These lights appear like traditional paper lanterns but are made from tarpaulin – a durable cloth-like material that can last in all seasons – even in winters, too.
The best part about these string lights is that they are solar-powered, helping you to save up on your energy bills. The surprising bit is that they stay on for a long period of time, for up to 15 hours on the steady mode while they can last up to 20 hours on the twinkling mode.

To have a fun, festive mood in your garden, install lantern string lights. These lights will give a classy and stylish feel to your outdoor area.

3. Colorful String Lights

Bright, colorful string lights are generally used during festive seasons like Christmas or Easter. If any of these special occasions are around the corner, go ahead and invest in these glow-ups and welcome the joyous event in your own glamorous way. When it comes to colorful string lights, you always have the option to mix and match the color bulbs. For example, for Christmas, you can go for red, green, and blue lights and for Easter, you can choose any fun combination of colors like orange, pink, and yellow or green, purple, red, and blue – the options are plenty.

But hey, you don’t always need a holiday season to make the most of these multi-colored string lights. If you are happy, and you know it, hang colorful lights!

People who have invested in these kinds of LED lights have shared that these lights are easy to install and are quite effective at illuminating an entire backyard or garden space.

4. Vintage String Lights

Are you aiming to give a timeless, retro spin to your patio or backyard? Look no further than vintage string lights. Also known as Edison bulb lights, these string lights have managed to retain their charming antique appearance for centuries. What makes these bulbs still so perfect even after all these years, you may wonder? It is the unique way in which they produce a warm glow. The wire instilled inside the bulb produces warm golden light which is quite pleasing to the eyes.

While these lights aren’t as bright as modern lights, they still effectively create a nice, romantic ambiance. What’s better is that they are quite durable and long-lasting in nature. But if you want a longer-lighting effect, go for lighting fixtures like the LED filament bulbs. These lights have the appearance of the classic Edison bulbs but consist of LED light emitters inside them.

5. Outdoor Fairy String Lights

Do you want to turn your patio, or garden, or backyard into a magical land? If you wish to do so, then install fairy string lights. While these kinds of string lights are commonly used in bedrooms, people have begun to consider them as a wonderful outdoor lighting option. So here is your chance to make the most of them in your outdoor open space.

The beauty of fairy lights lies in the fact that they appear like an attractive bunch of fireflies if hung around trees or green bushes. In this way, the lights stand out in a way that’s unique. It’s likely that many of your guests will have never experienced such lighting before.

You can also have these lights hover over your terrace or patio. When, at night, you will light them up, they will look like a sky of beautiful stars above you. You can go with this lighting idea when planning to have a romantic dinner with your partner or are having guests over for a party.

The primary purpose of most lights is to illuminate the surrounding area. But fairy lights work beyond that. They can be installed to make your backyard appear elongated. All you have to do is install the lights in a geometric pattern (which will look like a transparent roof) at the same height as your backyard’s roof, and watch as the magic happens!

6. Twinkle Star LED String Lights

Give your outdoor space a dazzling look by opting for something other than your average globe or bulb-shaped lights. Our top pick is twinkle star LED lights! These attractive string lights give the illusion of real stars, making you want to spend the entire night under these beautiful “stars.” These lights are fancy and bright, so we recommend hanging them for special times like an outdoor wedding anniversary or a Christmas party.

Star string lights come in a mix of both small and big stars, creating perfect harmony in your outdoor space. The brands that sell these rope lights ensure that these lights are equipped with waterproofing with a rating of IP44. Another selling point is that these twinkle star lights also come in eight different modes – twinkle/flash, steady on, slow fade, flash/chasing, sequential, slog lo, and in waves and combination. Owing to their vast range of modes, you can change the style and design of your illumination, depending on the mood and occasion.

7. Jar String Lights

Out of all the outdoor string lights, jar string lights are definitely the fanciest option. Owing to the beautiful effect these lights give off, it is not surprising that they are only seen on special occasions like weddings, wedding anniversaries, birthday parties, etc. It is not common to see them hanging in your outdoor space on a casual night. These string lights are easily available on the market, but, if for some reason, you are unable to find them, the good news is that you can make them on your own, too!

You will need jars – depending on how long you want your string to be – and some fairy lights. Box some fairy lights in each jar and tie them tightly to the string. Make sure that you invest in light-weight string jars and sturdy and durable strings so that the strings are able to handle the pressure imposed by the jars. Commonly, people reuse wine bottles or any other glass bottle for a fun DIY bottle/jar lights. Another way to create these lights at home is to take some empty plastic water bottles, squeeze them randomly, and attach a colorful LED light to it. Use a different LED light for each bottle to create a colorful lighting effect. While these concepts are simple and easy to execute, the final result is always awe-inspiring. These lights have their own unique beauty which is captivating and magical.

Which one of these radiant string lights will you choose to deck up your outdoor space with? Hard to pick one, right? Consider a few things before you choose with lights you want to go with. The size of your outdoor space, the event you’re celebrating, and the type of ambiance you want to create. Once you’ve set your mind on these three factors, choose any one (or more) or the beautiful string lights mentioned above. You’ll be glad you did!

Include “Smart Lighting” for Better Home Security

For over 60% of Americans, feeling their homes are safe is the most important advantage of integrating smart technology.¹ Simple to install (and use), while rich in functional benefits, smart lights can be an appealing addition to the security package for your homes, reducing a potential buyer’s risk and worry in three key ways.

Access from anywhere
Most people know that terrible feeling when you can’t shake the thought you forgot to do something. Using app control, smart lights eliminate some of that anxiety by ensuring connected lights and appliances can be managed from anywhere, at any time. Plus, with many customers looking to buy products that give them remote access or monitoring via their smartphone, this is an effective point for making sales. So, whether it means remotely turning off a coffeemaker on a rushed morning, or setting an automated scene to appear present when away on vacation, control that goes where they go grants the peace of mind buyers want.

Ward off­ possible dangers
A straightforward tip for improving a home’s security is maintaining well-lit entryways and exteriors. Visibility is the nemesis of a burglar, and studies show that simply using porch, patio and landscape lights can serve as a deterrent to potential intruders. But who has the time, energy, or memory to manually flip property lights on—and then off—every day? Even timers require resets regularly to keep up with daylight cycles. Smart lighting makes this tactic as effortless as it is effective. Users can easily schedule lights to turn on as evening falls, or can time it so the fixture by the front door, or over the garage, lights up just as they are due to arrive home. Alarm systems actually work best when they don’t have to work at all, so using lights as a step of prevention can ultimately make your customers both feel and be more secure.

Part of a Bigger Picture
Smart technology, like smart people, has an understanding that collaboration is a good idea. Voice control through assistants like Alexa and Google Home has brought a new level of ease to using all manner of technology in a house, and it can be an especially advantageous method of controlling smart lights when safety is on the mind—whether that means preventing accidents when arms are full of groceries, or acting fast after an unexpected noise downstairs late at night.

8 Lighting Trends You’ll be Seeing Everywhere in 2019

Lighting can totally make or break a room, and it can be easier to change out than you think, even in a rental. Take it from me—I’ve swapped out three fixtures in my space and brought in my own special bulbs for the recessed cans in my living room and the strip above my medicine cabinet. Don’t be that person that lets a crappy builder’s grade fixture bring down your otherwise awesome room. You can find something cool without spending a fortune, I promise.

Just in case you want to make better lighting a New Year’s resolution, we thought it would be fun to survey some architects, decorators, and design pros to see what 2019 holds for all things lights and lamps. These experts are shedding some light (had to!) on what’s to come, so you can make some informed decorating decisions in the new year. Here are their bright ideas.

1. Landscape-Oriented Lighting
“Linear ceiling fixtures that span the width of the room are feeling fresh as opposed to the traditional vertical drop,” says designer Lauren Grant. Look for clean lined, simple fixtures with exposed bulbs to really emphasize this trend.

2. White and Colored Marble Bases
“White Marble made a comeback a few years ago in lighting via the uber popular arc floor lamps with the marble bases,” says Christina Henck, a designer for Casaza, a new home design platform just launched by Drew and Jonathan Scott. “But several new collections of table and floor lamps that are in production for 2019 use different colors like gray and blackish-green in addition to white marble.” So the classic white Carrara lamp base isn’t going anywhere, but there are going to be more colorful stone options alongside it next year. Good to know!

3. Real Brass
Hope you have a soft spot for gold because it’s coming on strong, particularly in lighting. “We are already seeing a bit of a trend toward new traditional interiors with classic lines and updated colors,” says Janet Lorusso of JRL Interiors. “This has already produced a return to real brass, not the fake lacquered shiny brass, in classic fixtures and chandeliers.”

Lorusso sees this coming year as being all about the living finish—unlacquered brass that will age and patina over time. If you go the vintage route, you’ll be able to find some unique shapes like these scalloped petal fixtures.

4. Integrated LED Lighting
“More and more, everyday use fixtures like ceiling fans and flush mounts are now being designed to incorporate LED lighting, creating more light sources and functional options (i.e. dimmable) for users,” says Matt Elsey, a merchant of interior lighting at The Home Depot. “This is something that was unattainable before due to bulb limitations.”

5. Natural Fiber Lamps
Wicker and woven grasses are everywhere right now, and that’s not changing in 2019. “Woven natural fiber lighting is gaining more and more momentum, as people yearn to have that light and airy look,” says Grant. “Large simple baskets move forward and are expanding into more unusual shapes and colors.”

Henck agrees, adding that this texture is for more than just beach homes. “Natural fibers like rattan, rope, and other woven grasses add a warm bohemian element and provide a sense of casual freedom wherever you put them,” she says.

6. The Bigger the Better
And we’re not talking just slightly overscale here, though that’s an option too. Lighting is going bonkers and insanely big to match other emphasized home features. “With ceilings gaining more and more importance in the design world—painted colors that pop and wallpaper galore—ceiling lights are becoming that much more important,” says Grant, who installed a pair of big white dome pendants over this table.

7. Sculptural Shapes
“Lighting is becoming more and more decorative, even to the point that the fixtures are almost looked at as art,” says Elissa Morgante, co-principal of Morgante Wilson Architects. “We love using sculptural fixtures or lamps that can really be a statement piece in a room’s overall design.”

Jamie Young, president and co-owner of lighting company Jamie Young Co., also thinks we will start to see more natural silhouettes and organic forms when it comes to lighting. “We’re working on developing bold shapes with a modern yet elegant twist,” says Young.

8. Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Interior designer Cecilie Starin sees indirect lighting as super on trend. Think under the counter, behind a mirror or up-lighting a wall, for examples. “It creates a soothing ambiance, and we need that sense of cocooning calmness in our homes now more than ever,” says Starin.

Well, there you have it. Which one of these trends will you try in 2019? Or do you have something else in mind entirely?

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