LED Freezer Lights – Hot Topic, Cool Look

LED lighting has been a hot topic lately, particularly when it comes to their application as freezer lighting for grocery and convenience stores. 

For every day lighting use, the superior LED technology hasn’t quite pushed aside the CFL or even the creaky incandescent. (Stay tuned – it’s coming in the next few months.) For now,  consider its use in temperature controlled food displays, the LED’s first shot over the CFL’s bow. 

In fact, LED has already begun pushing aside typical fluorescents in grocery store freezer lighting and with good reason – the advantages are just too numerous for store owners to ignore.  

The average reach-in cooler at a store is lit with a 58 watt fluorescent light bulb.  Replacing that bulb with a LED strip specially designed for that application, uses only 30 watts of energy. The difference, shown below, is striking: 

As you can see,  not only is there significant energy savings to be found in terms of the energy used by LED’s vs. fluorescents, but an extra benefit comes from the LED’s expelling less heat, therefore the coolers don’t have to work so hard. 

Here are before and after pictures of a typical commercial cooler – with standard fluorescents, and using new LED technology.  


But if you’re not a store owner, you may be asking the obvious – “What’s in it for me?” Unfortunately, there may not be much. Certainly by reducing the cost of doing business for store owners via lower energy costs, it can help reduce costs for the average consumer – if owners choose to pass along those savings to their customers.  

Okay, not likely. What IS of benefit to consumers is being able to count on meats and other foods lasting longer while in freezers and coolers.  This is because there is significantly less heat, and NO UV light ruining food while it’s in the freezers or meat cases. Ultimately, then, LED’s are a win-win for both owners and the customers who visit their stores.  

LED lighting is on the horizon and coming quickly.  We think that in the next 3 years every grocery store and convenience store will be equiped with this cutting edge technology.  So the next time you’re strolling through your local grocery store, take a look and see if you notice any changes taking place in the way food is displayed in the freezer case. It could be the brand new LED, an incredible advance in lighting technology that’s going to change how we light everything.  


Jack Huff, along with his son Brian and wife Sue, owns and manages Adventure Lighting in Des Moines, Iowa. For more information, go to www.adventurelighting.com 

Finding The Right Electrician

 We get asked all the time, “Do you know a good electrician?” 

The answer of course is, yes.  We know many  electricians.   Most of the electricians we work with – and we’ve worked with dozens and dozens over the years – are highly trained, highly skilled professionals who know what they’re doing. If they’re not, then they usually don’t last long.

Having said that, there are bad electricians, just like there are bad lighting distributors!  Here are a few things to look for to make sure you get a qualified electrical contractor:

1. Make sure they’re licensed and bonded

Nothing is more important than this. And since we get asked all the time about what this means, it’s worth taking some time to explain.

To legally work in the state of Iowa, an electrician must be licensed. The types of licenses include electrical contractor license, Class A master electrician, class A journeyman electrician, Class B master electrician, Class B journeyman electrician, apprentice electrician, special electrician and unclassified person.

The difference between a Master’s and Journeyman’s license, according to the Iowa Electrical code, is that someone with a Master’s license, has “the necessary qualifications and technical knowledge to properly plan, lay out, and supervise the installation of electrical wiring and equipment for light, heat, and power.” A Journeyman electrician is “a person having the necessary qualifications to wire for or install electrical wiring and equipment.”

So what’s the difference? Experience and skill – the Master electrician has pretty much seen it all and done it all. The Journeyman, while skilled, is still learning.

The difference between Class A and Class B is that a Class A license “will not have any restrictions placed on the license.” A Class A license “requires that the electrician meet the requirements of the Board for experience and that they have passed a written, supervised licensing exam.” In other words, the Class B license will have restrictions, since you don’t have to pass a written exam to get it. Some electrical work can’t be done by someone with a class B license, some can.

So what’s an electrical contractor? It’s someone who works for an electrical business who is either certified as a Class A or Class B Master electrician or who has one on staff, who has also registered with the State of Iowa’s Division of Labor, as a contractor.

Confusing enough? 

For a more in-depth explanation, go to the Iowa Department of Public Safety web site, at:  http://www.dps.state.ia.us/fm/electrician/license_verification.shtml

2. Check the referrals

Any electrician worth his wire cutters will have a long list of customers you can contact. Make sure you call at least half a dozen. Ask them about their experience – was the electrician prompt, did he do the job he said he’d do, was his pricing fair, would you use him again? There are also multiple review sites on-line. Most electricians who’ve been in the biz long enough will have racked up multiple customer comments on several review sites. Overall, good electricians leave a path of satisfied customers, who will be more than happy to share their experience with you.

3. Make sure they look the part

 Looks can be deceiving. But in the case of electricians, the way they look and carry themself, usually tells a pretty accurate story.

An electrician who takes pride in their work will usually take pride in their appearance. Look for a company logo, or at least a business card with pertinent information including phone number, web site and license number.

4. Good electricians don’t cut corners

 We like to save money as much as you do, but cutting corners, especially on electrical work, is no place to pinch pennies.

 Be weary of electricians who will do things that seem unsafe, in order to accommodate your budget. Instead, a good electrician will be willing to modify plans but still stay within code, in order to save you money.

5. Good electricians use good materials

 The quality of the products your electrician uses, make a difference. When trying to stay within your budget, a less than scrupulous electrician may suggest he use sub-standard equipment. That’s not a red flag, that’s a race stopper.  Good electricians insist on using the best materials, because they want your project to be safe and to last. 

6. Trust your instincts

 If you meet an electrician and get a “bad vibe,” then trust your feelings and look elsewhere. There are literally hundreds of electricians in the phone book – a lot of skilled fish in the contractor sea. So don’t feel obligated to use the first one you find.

There are plenty of good electrical contractors out there. Do your due diligence and you’ll find one. And if you need a referral, just ask us. We’ve got ’em. 


Jack Huff, along with his son Brian and wife Sue, owns and manages Adventure Lighting in Des Moines, Iowa. For more information, go to www.adventurelighting.com 

Occupancy Sensors For Today’s Offices


Being Green and Saving energy is a big topic for companies. Not only because it saves companies money but also because it’s the right thing to do. And let’s face it, it’s great PR for them – consumers like to know that the companies they buy from, care about the environment.

Hands down the best way to save energy is to not use any at all – call it light abstinence.

And one of the things that can really help is occupancy sensors. They’ve been around for some time, but newer versions have taken the technology one step further, to create a more user friendly product.

Occupancy sensors work the same as a normal wall switch. Except in their case, they can detect when nothing is moving in the room. At that point, they shut off power to the lights. 

There are some minor drawbacks.

One of the most annoying things that can happen is when we’re in a bathroom that has an occupancy sensor in it, and the dumb thing shuts off after a few minutes of inactivity, while we’re still there, behind a door. Hello! I’m right here! 

Well no more going potty in the dark. (My wife claims I’ve been doing this since we got married.)

New sensors incorporate sound sensitive technolgy that reacts not only to the infared heat of a body when it walks into the room, but also to a person in a bathroom stall yelling, “HEY!!  Who shut off the lights?!”

One thing to consider – and this relates to a previous post – when installing occupancy sensors in bathrooms that have fluorescent Lights, make sure you set the sensor to turn off on the longest time available on the unit. When the lights turn off and on a lot, the life of the lamp is greatly reduced AND people get stuck in stalls without lighting – kind of a double whammy.



Jack Huff, along with his son Brian and wife Sue, owns and manages Adventure Lighting in Des Moines, Iowa. For more information, go to www.adventurelighting.com 

Feeling Blue? Turn On Your CFL!

Many of us start to feel a little blue this time of year – a bit down in the dumps, sluggish, tired, even a little sad. Chronic gray skies, bitter cold and a record 61 inches of wind-blown snow over four months will do that! We also have a human genetic tendency to want to sleep more, stay in more, that whole “hibernating” feeling. 

The medical term for varying degrees of the winter blues is Seasonal Affect Disorder, also known as Seasonal Depression, or SAD. 

!AD is a medical diagnosis – I don’t pretend to be a psychologist, no matter what my wife says! My degree is in electrical wiring, not brain wiring. But I’ve read and researched enough to know that one of the ways a person can help reduce the symptoms of  Seasonal Affect Disorder, is right in our Adventure Lighting warehouse. 

S-A-D? Meet C-F-L! 

So how do compact fluorescents help Season Affect Disorder? 

The breakthrough in light therapy came in 1980, when the National Institute of Mental Health showed evidence that intense light can have an impact on the release of melatonin in the brain, which affects our mood. There is much research since, supporting the use of bright white light, blue light and low intensity green light, for symptoms of SAD

In the middle of it all is the beautiful, versatile, and therapeutic compact fluorescent. 

Many so-called light therapy “boxes” are made of a set of fluorescent bulbs put inside a box with a diffusing screen. The box is then placed on a table where the person with SAD can then place their face within proximity of the light array. The treatment can last from a few minutes to several hours. The person doesn’t look directly into the light but instead goes about their business, reading, writing – as the light shines on the objects the person is looking at, the light box is doing its thing. 

The early light boxes needed “full-spectrum” bulbs producing light similar to the outdoors – regular fluorescents didn’t cut it. But with advancements in light technology, positive effects can be felt using cool-white, tri-phosphor and bi-axial lamps – all of which we stock in our Adventure Lighting warehouse.  

Light boxes specifically designed for SAD are manufactured and sold all over the internet. Considering they typically start at $350, the question then becomes, can you make your own light box? 

Yes you can! 

There are several ways to accomplish this. The simplest is to purchase a standard 4 lamp 2′ x 4′ Troffer (a Troffer is a recessed fluorescent) which is a standard office fixture stocked at Adventure Lighting. 

The light threshold for an effective light box is 10,000 lumens. To get there, you’ll have to decide what types of lights you want to use. We’d recommend a 4-light, F32T8 with an electronic ballast. It’s much more energy-efficient, and will produce 9,600 lumens per fixture. 

If you’re handy, you can also construct an actual light “box” using wood, standard CFL’s and multiple light sockets. An 18w CFL produces 1100 lumens, so you’ll need 10 to get to 10,000. 

If you think you have SAD, please see your doctor. Again, I’m not a trained therapist.

But if you’d like help in building your own light box, then email us, call us or stop in and see us. We may not know the brain, but we do know lights – and we’d love to share a few “bright” ideas that can help you have a brighter winter, starting with the incredible, versatile, energy-efficient, therapeutic, miraculous, CFL!



Jack Huff, along with his son Brian and wife Sue, owns and manages Adventure Lighting in Des Moines, Iowa. For more information, go to www.adventurelighting.com 

Turn Out The Lights? Read This Before You Flip The Switch


We’ve been told over the years – by our parents, spouses, bosses and even the U.S. Government – to “turn the lights off when you leave the room.” The reasons are simple – turning off lights conserves energy, saves money and prolongs the life of the light. Right?

Well not always. Believe it or not there are some very good reasons to leave the light on

First, let’s make it clear – if the light is an old-school incandescent, go ahead and turn it off. And leave it off. Forever. Only 10-15% of the energy consumed by incandescents, actually goes towards illumination. The rest is wasted as heat. So the first step is to replace all of your inefficient incandescent bulbs with modern CFL’s (from Adventure Lighting) – a longer lasting, more energy-efficient, better for the environment, better light, period. 

Now to the great fluorescent debate – to turn off or not to turn off? 

Fluorescents, when turned on, are like me when I’m watching an NFL game on Sunday afternoons – they really like to be left alone. CFL’s were designed and built to be energy-efficient and thus, happiest when they’re doing their job, providing light. In general, the more you turn a fluorescent on and off, the more you shorten the life of the lamp. The rule of thumb is, if you’re going to be gone more than 15 minutes, go ahead and turn off the light. If it’s less, leave them on. 

But there are other considerations. 

Fluorescents (and incandescents) require a relatively high “inrush” current when they’re first turned on. The amount of extra electricity required depends on the type of light and the ballast, which provides the initially high voltage needed for igniting the lamp and also regulates the current during the light’s illumination. 

There are three basic types of ballasts and three basic forms of ignition, but we won’t go there. Instead, just remember that the amount of electricity used to “start” a fluorescent is roughly equal to operating the light for around five seconds or so.  It’s similar to the “should I keep my car running or turn it off” question. In other words, every time you turn on a light, it’s taking you five seconds worth of cost to do so.

Our best advice is to keep your car – and your lights – on. 

The last consideration is when you’re operating the lights. Peak times – when energy companies charge the most because the most consumers are using the most electricity – vary from state to state, to country to country.

For example, in India it’s all peak electrical time – there are no off-peak hours. (Glad we’re not running our 50 inch plasma TV over there.) Here in the U.S., peak or “on-peak” hours generally start in the afternoon and last through the early evening. So if you’re going to turn off your fluorescents, do it during this time – but only if you’ll be gone more than 15 minutes. 

Otherwise, leave those beautifully stingy, energy-sipping wonders of technology on, let them do their job.  They’ll be happy, because they get to light up the room, and so will your smile, because you’ll be happy, too. 

And now we want to make you even happier, by giving you something for free!  

As we’ve talked about in previous posts, your response to “Here’s A Bright Idea” has been amazing – we can’t thank you enough for your comments, calls and shared interest in saving money and the environment. 

To say thank you, we’d like to give you two free CFL’s. No purchase necessary. All you have to do is subscribe to our “Here’s A Bright Idea” blog by email. We’ll then send you an email, telling you how to pick up your two free CFL’s. It’s that easy! 

As an email subscriber you’ll also receive other great offers from Adventure Lighting. So sign up, get your two free CFL’s and other great offers from us at Adventure Lighting – and thank you! And if you have a topic or question you’d like us to address in a future blog post, please let us know!



Jack Huff, along with his son Brian and wife Sue, owns and manages Adventure Lighting in Des Moines, Iowa. For more information, go to www.adventurelighting.com 

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