Articles about DIY


Power Saving Tip: If you use tube style fluorescent lights, don't turn them off if you expect to be back in the room within 45-minutes to 1-hour. The reason is that the ballast draws so much power to get the tubes lighted initially, that it's better to leave them on.




How to Improve Your Home Lighting

by Damien Andrews

If your home lighting improvement project calls for new light fixtures in the computer room, then you again have lots of choices. For computer, TV, and video game rooms, I always advise the use of indirect lighting. You just can't beat it! Whether you go fluorescent lights or incandescent lights, make sure it's indirect and you'll be amazed at the reduction of eye strain and how much better your screen will appear – and with no glare! These types of rooms can also benefit from either multiple switches – to control the amount of light present in the room, or dimmer switches. It depends on the type of light fixtures your assessment and choices call for. A great, very inexpensive home lighting improvement for such rooms comes in the form of the touchier lamp sporting an efficient fluorescent light – either tube or screw-in type. This type of light fixture aims its light straight up already, making it indirect off the ceiling. Much simpler and less costly than installing indirect light fixtures, to be sure. Touchier (sometimes spelled " Touchiere") lamps also come in an amazing array of sizes, shapes, colors and materials. Speaking personally, the light fixtures I have seen that I liked best were almost all touchier light fixtures. The point being, keep the touchier light fixtures in mind all during your home lighting improvement projects.

Let me just say a few words about halogen lights. First, when they initially appeared on the market, I was a huge fan – like I thought about putting posters of halogen lights on my bedroom walls, but my wife thought her watercolors looked better. Halogen lights do have purpose, to be sure – but rarely, anymore. This is simply because of economy and the environment. With the cost of electricity climbing regularly, and the impact of gluttonous electricity consumption on the environment, halogen light fixtures should only be used when they are the best solution.

Improving your home lighting in the garage is dependent on whether or not you have a shop in your garage. If you do not have a shop in your garage, then fluorescent lights is the way to go – one fluorescent light fixture holding two 4' low wattage bulbs per parking space is great lighting. If you have a shop in your garage, then double that number per parking space: a one car garage gets two fluorescent light fixtures; a two car garage gets four fluorescent light fixtures; a three car garage gets six fluorescent light fixtures. Position the lights so that they slightly favor specific work or storage areas – like over the workbench or in front of a cabinet. Otherwise, space them out pretty evenly and you'll be able to use your shop at night for just about anything. Remember that the closer to your ceiling you mount your fluorescent light fixtures, the more the light will fill the room. TIP: if you can, only put a switch on the fluorescent light fixtures that you want to come on whenever you flip the switch. Use string/chain pulls on the others and only turn them on when your work requires it. Save more dollars for another do-it-yourselfer tool! Or another light fixture.

Solar home lighting is, well, wonderful stuff. If you haven't perused the rapidly evolving sea of available solar lights lately, you really owe it to yourself to do so. And when you're pricing your solar lighting fixtures, don't just consider the fact that you will never pay an electrical bill for their use, also consider the appreciable savings associated with no 110-volt wiring! Lastly, be creative with the available solar lighting fixtures – you'll be amazed at the home lighting improvements you can do for cheap – and in no time at all. TIP: always try to point the solar collection panel on your solar lighting fixtures due south, also known as solar south.



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Here's a creative use for a solar lighting fixture. My wife likes to go out to her small garden shed at the oddest hours. She only needs a small shovel or some fertilizer – but she apparently needs it at 11:30 PM. I bought a solar lighting fixture that has a motion detector with it, and 20' of electrical wire from the battery to the light. I mounted the light inside the shed and the solar collector on the roof facing solar south. As soon as she opens the door the shed fills with light, and remains so until she's done. When she leaves the shed, the solar lighting fixture turns itself off. There's so much light in the shed that she actually now does some straightening at night. The best I can tell, in the summer the light will burn for about 40-minutes – in the winter, about 25-minutes.

Power Saving Tip: If you use tube style fluorescent lights, don't turn them off if you expect to be back in the room within 45-minutes to 1-hour. The reason is that the ballast draws so much power to get the tubes lighted initially, that it's better to leave them on.

Solar lighting fixtures are unbeatable for yard and landscaping lighting. And the choices are ever so much better than just five years ago. You're no longer confined to solar lighting fixtures made of plastic. Today, if your wallet can handle it, you can purchase solar lighting fixtures made of stainless steel, aluminum, copper and more. And some solar lighting fixtures today come with the more advanced collection materials – allowing the lights to burn for 8-10 hours after dark! Again, you can install them anywhere – no wiring is called for – and that saves BIG bucks!

Also check out solar lighting fixtures that are 'switched.' These lights allow you to turn them on and off as needed with a switch. They come with remote solar collectors and ample wire to do a good, easy install almost anywhere. Some solar lighting fixtures now have infrared sensors attached to their switches – and some solar lighting fixtures even have both infrared and motion detection systems. One or two of these mounted on short posts near your garden will keep rabbits from eating your future salads!

Solar lighting fixtures are also hard to beat for home lighting security. I generally install the units with motion sensors, but will install solar lighting fixtures with motion and infrared when called for. There are entirely too many uses for these types of solar lighting fixtures to mention herein, but I am confident that more of them are installed just outside of garages than anywhere else. They also work great to light up the walkway between the house and any remote buildings you access regularly during darkness – such as detached garages, workshops, etc. Pro Tip: If you install the collection panel for a solar lighting fixture on a roof, be sure to completely seal the holes where the screws go in. I dip the screw's threads into the caulk, screw it in place to its appropriate torque and then cover it with more caulk. The point is to make sure it's completely sealed. Few things are worse than a slow drip through the roof. It does all its destructive work long before it's seen indoors – when it costs a pretty penny to properly repair.

Let me get back to using solar lighting fixtures for home security. Let's face it, crime is up – and anything we can do to make our homes safer for our families is great. You need only see one 'home invasion' news broadcast to convince you that home security is a serious concern today. And at the risk of irritating redundancy, solar lighting fixtures are unbeatable for home security lighting. Light is a tremendously effective crime deterrent. The more light, the better.

I suggest springing for the extra $10-12 for infrared sensors on home security solar lighting fixtures. Don't just buy units that turn on when they detect motion. Solar lighting fixtures that turn themselves on at night have the added deterrent effect of causing the newly illuminated criminal to be concerned if the light was manually turned on – and if someone is perhaps watching, or has perhaps even already called the police. I my experience, four security solar lighting fixtures are adequate for most urban homes.

As this brief treatise has shown, improving home lighting is a broad and encompassing topic that offers many options and advantages. Every do-it-yourselfer can spruce up the old homestead, improve security, make life easier, save money and help reduce electrical consumption when he or she decides to take on the challenging and fulfilling task of bettering home lighting.


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