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Technical Lighting Help

A Happy Lighting Holiday!

About twenty-five years ago my wife and I started to collect blow-mold lighted snowmen. We bought them at garage sales and end-of-season closeout sales. Before long, friends would call from their own estate sales adventures and ask, “There’s a 4’-0” snowman here. Do you want it?”

In the previous house, we arranged them on the porch in a chorus. When we moved to the current porch-less home, we set them in the flowerbed alongside the front path. On the porch, they were pretty well protected, but in the newer house, they became fodder for vandals. A 10’-0” blow-up snowman, compliments of another garage sale attending friend was dragged across the lawn before the “genius” teen-vandals realized it was tethered to the ground and the heavy blower unit had torn a hole in the sagging white giant’s base. It lay on the sidewalk, exhausted and deflated. No more holiday greetings for this guy.

The last time I set them up, a year ago, another collection of vandals decided it would be fun to knock over the chorus, bowling pin-like. When they fell, of course, some of the incandescent lamps broke.

After the vandals, some of the lighted snowmen were not as illuminating as before! Incandescent filaments are very sensitive.

So why this tale of snowmen and vandals in a lighting blog? The last sentence. “…some of the incandescent lamps broke.” They broke, because of impact. Had I placed LED lamping in the snowmen, it is likely my repair task would have been easier. Stand them back up and I would have been back inside with a hot cup of cocoa ten minutes later. Instead, I had to open them all and replace all of the lamps…and it was COLD! LED are much more resilient to vibration and impact. The fragile filament could not handle being thrashed to the ground. LED, like the blow mold snowmen themselves bounce back, unharmed.

There is another reason to consider using LED lamping in your lightened holiday menagerie. Heat. I was reminded of this by a friend when he began setting up his holiday decorations. Most of these items came equipped with a very low wattage maximum. The large 4’-6” snowmen have labels warning against anything over 40-watts of incandescent light. That warning is not there for illumination maximization, but instead, because of heat. If too much heat was generated, the plastic snowman, might begin to look like the blow-up version the kids destroyed a few years back, all melted into a puddle, or at the very least deformed in some way.

A 40-watt incandescent lamp delivers 450 lumens of light, but creates a fair amount of heat at the same time. Because the LED lamps create a fraction of the heat, increasing the lumen output is now possible. My friend called because his decorations appeared “dark and gloomy.’ He wondered if he could increase the lumen amount to brighten them by switching to LED. A jump to 800 lumens (a 60 watt incandescent equivalent) consumes about 11 watts of power and will be cooler than the 40 watt incandescent, despite an almost doubling of light output.

This year, as you bring the holiday décor down from the attic, remember that re-lamping with LED will save you some money on electricity, but it also could invigorate your gloomy lighted treasures and make them that much more festive.

To everyone, have a great, well-lit holiday season and stay tuned for more tips and information on lighting, from your friendly neighborhood lighting geek, as we move into 2023!

2 replies on “A Happy Lighting Holiday!”

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