Apr 2019

Lessons from the Louvre

Q: What’s the best way to illuminate artwork in my home?

A: If you’ve invested in a beautiful piece of art, you want to display it in the best possible light. One way of doing this is by directing ceiling-mounted spotlights or track fixtures at works exhibited on walls or shelves. This approach works well in a minimalist space and offers flexibility if you like to move things around. Picture or track lights installed on the wall or the frame of an individual work are another option that creates intimacy in a room by visually lowering the ceiling and drawing viewers in for a closer look. Here are examples from our store of Tech Lighting’s Georgi lamp mounted on track and “monopoint” canopies:

Tech Lighting Georgi lamp
John Orcutt, Crocker Cirque with Birch, fine art print, 14 ¾” x 19 ½”
Tech Lighting Georgi lamp
John Orcutt, Hulls on the Beach, fine art print, 13 ½” by 9″

Until recently, halogen bulbs were the lamps of choice for accenting artwork, but today’s LED equivalents have evolved to provide a strong alternative. The European Union has been phasing out the use of halogen spotlights since 2016 and will issue a wider ban of halogen bulbs in 2018. Accordingly, museums have been shifting to LEDs, which offer significant energy savings, lower costs, and better light distribution. Equally important: unlike halogens and other incandescent bulbs, LEDs do not emit the infrared and ultraviolet rays, and accompanying heat, that can damage artwork.

Did you know that Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is illuminated with LED lamps in the Louvre? Specifically, the masterpiece is lit with a custom Toshiba fixture comprised of 34 LED bulbs with precise spectrum controls. Works in the museum’s famed Red Rooms are also enlivened with Toshiba LEDs.

While we can’t provide our clients with highly specialized lamps like the Louvre uses, we have discovered an excellent system for customizing any LED fixture. The SORAA Snap System, used with the lamps above, consists of magnetic disks that snap onto the face of a bulb, allowing you to change the size, shape, and color of the beam to suit your artwork.

We love to support the local art community and regularly invite artists to exhibit and sell their work in our showroom. As you may have guessed, we are currently showing images by nature photographer John Orcutt. Stop by for a tour and demonstration on how lighting can transform your artwork. Here’s a sampling of some of the diverse products you’ll find:


Apr 2019

Tips (and Task Lights) for Aging Eyes

Q: As I get older, I’m finding it harder to see when I read or do other simple tasks in my home, even with my glasses on. Can you suggest some lighting improvements that might help?

A: When I was a teenager, I used to kid my father because he could not read menus in dimly lit restaurants. Now that I’m in my 70s, I realize how insensitive that was! As we age, our pupils actually get smaller, so less light makes it to the back of the eye. Many people start noticing changes in their vision around age 50 and, by the time you’re my age, you need about three times as much light as a 25-year-old does to read and perform fine-motor tasks. In addition to more wattage, older adults need glare-free illumination that is consistent from room to room, since moving from a low-light space to a bright one can be disorienting.

At Fogg Lighting, one of the things we try to educate people about is the concept of layers of light. Basically, you need a mix of light sources at different levels to create a properly lit space. We generally establish a first layer of ambient illumination in a room using decorative fixtures such as a chandelier, pendants, or semi-flush or flush-mount units. Accent and task lighting — typically some combination of well-placed recessed or track fixtures, sconces, under-cabinet units, cove lights, and table and floor lamps — fills in the shadows and helps you see what you’re doing. Contrast this scenario with one in which recessed fixtures are the only light source, as is sometimes the case in hallways. Used on their own, these units create pockets of light and darkness that make the area difficult for seniors (and toddlers!) to navigate.

For reading and other activities, it’s important to have a dedicated fixture that can accommodate the equivalent of a 100-watt incandescent bulb. Choose an opaque shade to reduce glare and an articulated arm if you want the option of shining the light onto a book. Here are a few of my favorite products.

These dimmable lamps by Holtkotter have transitional shapes and efficient halogen bulbs. Adjust the height of the floor lamp and move the arm to direct light where you need it.

For a more modern look, I love these sleek LED fixtures by Koncept, which are dimmable, adjustable, and work well in tight spaces.

Want more information? We are trained to design lighting plans that will see you through the aging progress. Stop by our store for a free consultation tailored to your specific needs.

Apr 2019

Understanding LED Light Bulbs


Q: It used to be easy to replace a light bulb; now there are so many options, I don’t know what to choose. What do you recommend?

A: It’s hard to imagine a household commodity that has changed more in the last five years than the light bulb. The incandescent bulbs we all grew up with wasted a lot of energy and have been phased out. Government mandates ushered in the brief reign of the more efficient, but widely despised, compact fluorescent bulbs, or CFLs, which emit terrible-quality light and are difficult to dispose of because of their mercury content. The public’s loathing of CFLs accelerated the development of light-emitting-diode bulbs known as LEDs, which now rule the lighting world. These use up to 80 percent less energy than the old incandescents and can last for decades. LEDs are improving all the time and their prices are coming down. However, the quality of light they produce varies significantly, so it’s helpful to understand some lighting nomenclature before you buy.

Most LED bulb boxes have a Lighting Facts label that indicates brightness (measured in lumens), color temperature (labeled K for Kelvin temperature), energy use, estimated energy costs, and expected life. Since most packages also specify the type of incandescent bulb the LED replaces, you don’t need to pay much attention to the brightness measure. Instead, zero in on color temperature: 3,000K is my recommendation for a universally flattering, warm-white light. Anything higher is going to have a cooler, bluish-white cast. Another good measure is the Color Rendering Index, or CRI, which tells you how accurately the bulb renders colors compared to an incandescent bulb, which has a CRI of 100. For LEDs, a CRI of 80 or higher is best.

To ensure an LED will fit in your fixture, bring your old bulb with you to the store and compare the bases. The splayed fins that LEDs have to dissipate heat make them larger than other bulbs. Make sure the bulb is dimmable (you may need to replace your dimmer switches with LED-friendly ones to avoid annoying flickering or buzzing). And if you plan to use the bulb outdoors and/or in an enclosed fixture (some LEDs require more airflow than these lights provide), check that these applications are noted on the box.

If you haven’t already, now’s the time to embrace this new technology — unlike previous innovations, this one is here to stay.

Mar 2014

Why the CRI – Color Rendering Index – Is Important For You

Technical Explanation: The CRI is a unit that measures the ability of a light source to reproduce the colors of objects faithfully in comparison with an ideal source of light, or natural sources such as sunlight. The CRI is a determined value ​​from 0 to 100, with 100 being the value “perfect” or daylight.

Real World Explanation: The CRI determines how you and your surroundings appear to you and the other people in your environment.



Mar 2014

Current Trends in the Lighting Industry

Here is an example of what is happening in the the world of lighting today and what will continue to happen in the foreseeable future. LED’s are all the rage and designers are finding all sorts of new ways to incorporate them into light fixtures. The reasons are clear: LED’s consume far less energy than incandescent light bulbs, LED’s are cool to the touch, LED’s have better color temperature than they did in the past, LED’s have a super long life, and LED’s are small so fixture design can be very creative. In addition to LED fixtures like this one, LED light bulb design is evolving very quickly also. Technicians are finding ways to make them more attractive and more like the good old fashioned incandescent light bulbs. Some of the new LED light bulbs even grow warmer in color temperature as they are dimmed, just like incandescent light bulbs do. Additionally, new, more efficient heat sink materials are being developed which allow LED light bulbs be more streamlined and closer in appearance to both A-lamps and candelabra bulbs. Pretty soon you will be able to use LED bulbs in chandeliers and not notice a difference between them and the candelabra bulbs they replace. Best of all, LED’s are becoming less expensive all the time as manufacturing becomes more efficient and more manufacturers enter the marketplace. As with anything though, I urge you to be careful when buying any LED product as there still are huge quality differences among the myriad of products and producers out there. Try to see the product before you buy it to make sure the color of the light is acceptable to you. I recommend buying dimmable LED light bulbs and fixtures – some LED’s are not dimmable. I also recommend caution in using dedicated LED recessed lighting fixtures. Once you install them they are in the ceiling a long time and the quality of the light might not be satisfactory for you. Instead, consider buying a regular recessed fixture and using an LED light bulb. That way you are not locked in. Please visit our website www.fogglighting.com and like us on Facebook. You also might be interested in the Underwriter’s Laboratory app, LightSmart, which can be downloaded from the App Store. It has all kinds of great information about lighting…and its free.

Mar 2013

A Timely Article From The New York Times

I think the following article that appeared yesterday in The New York Times is great reading for everybody, not just lighting professionals.

March 20, 2013

New Reasons to Change Light Bulbs


People sometimes have trouble making small sacrifices now that will reward them handsomely later. How often do we ignore the advice to make a few diet and exercise changes to live a longer, healthier life? Or to put some money aside to grow into a nest egg? Intellectually, we get it but instant gratification is a powerful force.
You don’t have to be one of those self-defeating rubes. Start buying LED light bulbs.
You’ve probably seen LED flashlights, the LED “flash” on phone cameras and LED indicator lights on electronics. But LED bulbs, for use in the lamps and light sockets of your home, have been slow to arrive, mainly because of their high price: their electronics and heat-management features have made them much, much more expensive than other kinds of bulbs.
That’s a pity, because LED bulbs are a gigantic improvement over incandescent bulbs and even the
compact fluorescents, or CFLs, that the world spent several years telling us to buy.
LEDs last about 25 times as long as incandescents and three times as long as CFLs; we’re talking maybe 25,000 hours of light. Install one today, and you may not own your house, or even live, long enough to see it burn out. (Actually, LED bulbs generally don’t burn out at all; they just get dimmer.)
You know how hot incandescent bulbs become. That’s because they convert only 5 to 10 percent of your electricity into light; they waste the rest as heat. LED bulbs are far more efficient. They convert 60 percent of their electricity into light, so they consume far less electricity. You pay less, you pollute less.
But wait, there’s more: LED bulbs also turn on to full brightness instantly. They’re dimmable. The light color is wonderful; you can choose whiter or warmer bulbs. They’re rugged, too. It’s hard to break an LED bulb, but if the worst should come to pass, a special coating prevents flying shards.
Yet despite all of these advantages, few people install LED lights. They never get farther than: “$30 for a light bulb? That’s nuts!” Never mind that they will save about $200 in replacement bulbs and electricity over 25 years. (More, if your electric company offers LED-lighting rebates.)

Surely there’s some price, though, where that math isn’t so off-putting. What if each bulb were only
$15? Or $10?
Well, guess what? We’re there. LED bulbs now cost less than $10.
Nor is that the only recent LED breakthrough. The light from an LED bulb doesn’t have to be white. Several companies make bulbs that can be any color you want.
I tried out a whole Times Square’s worth of LED bulbs and kits from six manufacturers. May these capsule reviews shed some light on the latest in home illumination.
3M ADVANCED LED BULBS On most LED bulbs, heat-dissipating fins adorn the stem. (The glass of an LED bulb never gets hot, but the circuitry does. And the cooler the bulb, the better its efficiency.) As a result, light shines out only from the top of the bulb.
But the 3M bulbs’ fins are low enough that you get lovely, omnidirectional light.
These are weird-looking, though, with a strange reflective material in the glass and odd slots on top. You won’t care about aesthetics if the bulb is hidden in a lamp, but $25 each is unnecessarily expensive; read on.
CREE LED BULBS Cree’s new home LED bulbs, available at Home Depot, start at $10 apiece, or
$57 for a six-pack. That’s about as cheap as they come.
The $10 bulb provides light equivalent to that from a 40-watt incandescent. Cree’s 60-watt equivalent is $14 for “daylight” light, $13 for warmer light.
The great thing about these bulbs is that they look almost exactly like incandescent bulbs. Cree says that its bulbs are extraordinarily efficient; its “60-watt” daylight bulb consumes only nine watts of juice (compared with 13 watts on the 3M, for example). As a result, this bulb runs cooler, so its heat sink can be much smaller and nicer looking.
TORCHSTAR These color-changeable light bulbs (available on Amazon) range from $10 for a tracklight-style spotlight to $23 for a more omnidirectional bulb. Each comes with a flat, plastic remote control that can be used to dim the lights, turn them on and off, or change their color (the remote has 15 color buttons). You can also make them pulse, flash or strobe, which is totally annoying.
The TorchStars never get totally white only a feeble blue and they’re not very bright. But you

get the point: LED bulbs can do more than just turn on and be white.
PHILIPS HUE For $200, you get a box with three flat-top bulbs and a round plastic transmitter, which plugs into your network router. At that point, you can control both the brightness and colors of these lights using an iPhone or Android phone app, either in your home or from across the Internet, manually or on a schedule.
It offers icons for predefined combinations like Sunset (all three bulbs are orange) and Deep Sea (each bulb is a different underwaterish color). You can also create your own color schemes by choosing a photo whose tones you want reproduced. You can dim any bulb, or turn them all off at once from your phone. (Additional bulbs, up to 500, are $60 each.)
Philips gets credit for doing something fresh with LED technology; the white color is pure and bright; and it’s a blast to show them off for visitors. Still, alas, the novelty wears off fairly quickly.
INSTEON This kit ($130 for the transmitter, $30 for each 60-watt-equivalent bulb) is a lot like Philips’s, except that there’s no color-changing; you just use the phone app to control the white lights, individually or en masse. Impressively, each bulb consumes only 8 watts. You can expand the system up to 1,000 bulbs, if you’re insane.
Unfortunately, the prerelease version I tested was a disaster. Setup was a headache. You had to  sign up for an account. The instructions referred to buttons that didn’t exist. You had to “pair” each bulb with the transmitter individually. Once paired, the bulbs frequently fell off the network entirely. Bleah.
GREENWAVE SOLUTION This control-your-LED-lights kit doesn’t change colors, but you get four bulbs, not three, in the $200 kit. You get both a network transmitter and a remote control that requires neither network nor smartphone. Up to 500 bulbs (a reasonable $20 each) can respond. Setting up remote control over the Internet is easy.
The app is elegant and powerful. It has presets like Home, Away and Night, which turns off all lights in the house with one tap. You can also program your own schedules, light-bulb groups and dimming levels.
Unfortunately, these are only “40-watt” bulbs. Worse, each has a weird cap on its dome; in other words, light comes out only in a band around the equator of each bulb. They’re not omnidirectional.

The bottom line: Choose the Cree bulbs for their superior design and low price, Philips Hue to startle houseguests, or the GreenWave system for remote control of all the lights in your house.
By setting new brightness-per-watt standards that the 135-year-old incandescent technology can’t meet, the federal government has already effectively banned incandescent bulbs. And good riddance to CFL bulbs, with those ridiculous curlicue tubes and dangerous chemicals inside.
LED bulbs last decades, save electricity, don’t shatter, don’t burn you, save hundreds of dollars, and now offer plummeting prices and blossoming features. What’s not to like? You’d have to be a pretty dim bulb not to realize that LED light is the future.

I do not sell any of the LED mentioned here, but you can see that there is trend starting. Be picky. Get the color temperature you want. Be sure to visit FoggLighting.com for some great lighting.

Mar 2013

Light Sources Part I – LED’s

There is a lot of buzz these days in the lighting industry about LED, technically know as Solid State Lighting. Everybody is jumping onto the LED bandwagon. I get emails everyday from manufacturers  from the Far East trying to sell me their LED products. Beware, there is a lot of bad LED product in the marketplace. Conversely there is a lot of good LED product available too. Hopefully this posting will enable you to distinguish between the two.

LED is an energy efficient light source that may or may not be dimmable. Check the product information to be sure. It is a product with a long life. Manufacturers claim up to about 27 years under normal operating conditions. The light output degrades slowly over the life of the LED meaning it does not burn out all of a sudden.

An LED is a Light Emitting Diode, a simple type of semiconductor that is similar to semiconductors used in computers. It is a solid material that conducts electrical current. Light is emitted from the semiconductor die which is a chip of semiconductor material treated to create a positive-negative junction. When voltage is applied the current flows from the positive to the negative side and excess energy is emitted as a photon and heat is emitted in the form of conduction. The natural color of the photon is not white. What we see today as LED lights require the LED to be coated with different materials to give white light (as well as many other colors). LED’s are a directional light source by nature. They emit light in one direction. In order for an LED bulb to emit light like an incandescent light bulb reflectors must be used inside the LED capsule. That’s the technical stuff.

Typical LED replacement light bulb.

Looking at the picture to the left you will see a typical LED replacement light bulb. Notice the fins on the bottom of the bulb. They serve as the heat sink. This is probably the equivalent to a 40 watt incandescent light bulb. Inside are many individual LED chips arranged in an “array” to product sufficient light output to generate about 800 lumens. The reason you have not seen any 100 watt equivalent LED replacement bulbs is because they have not figured out how to dissipate the heat that would result in generating about 1,600 lumens. Imagine a heat sink twice the size of this one! You could not get the light bulb into the socket.

Examples of directional and
under cabinet LED’s.

Looking at the photo to the right you will see an example of an LED replacement directional light bulb, probably replacing a PAR30. The fins on the back are the heat sink. Below that is an example of an under cabinet linear LED fixture comprised of many LED chips. They are arrayed in a linear fashion to provide a even distribution of light on a counter top. This type of linear fixture can also be used as cove or toe kick lighting. In my opinion the best residential application today for LED lighting is this type of under cabinet lighting.

There are a few things you should be aware of when considering LED lighting for your home.

First is the cost. The payback period for LED vs incandescent is between 4 to 7 years. LED technology is doubling about every 18 months following Moore’s Law. This means a couple of things for you. First, prices are sure to come down in the next few years. Second, new and better LED products are going to be available in the next few years. Imagine LED technology being like computer technology in the 1980’s. So the question is: Do you wait or do you jump in now, knowing that the product you buy today will be far surpassed in the next few years? Keep in mind that these LED’s will supposedly last for up to 27 years under normal operating conditions and hours. Conversely if everybody had waited for computer technology to improve before jumping in, the technology might have stalled. The benefits of buying LED now, like energy conservation, might outweigh the uncertainty of what future LED technology will be.

The next thing you need to be aware of is quality. There are HUGE quality differences in today’s LED products. These differences could ruin your LED lighting experience if you do not do your homework. LED’s are manufactured by lots of different companies in lots of different factories all over the world. Like everything else some factories have better quality control than others. Individual LED chips have individual properties that distinguish them from each other. Good quality control means that LED’s with the same characteristics are grouped (binned) together. This means the LED’s with the same color qualities and same lumen output should be used to make a fixture or replacement bulb. These will perform as they are rated to perform. Also as with anything else a low price might be a red flag.

Color temperature and CRI (reference my previous posting) are two of the big considerations. If you get an LED with the wrong color temperature it can feel like you are living in a parking garage. If you get one with poor CRI you will be very disappointed about how items in your home look. Maybe the drapes on your windows will look green instead of orange. Remember CRI should be in the mid-80’s and color temperature should be around 3000K for relaxing light.

Lighting in your home is a big deal. My advice would be to try LED and see how you like it before going all in, and get the best you can afford.

Please visit my website, fogglighting.com, and email me with any questions. I do not have all the answers, but I know where to get them.