Lighting serendipity

Apr 9

Written by:
4/9/2013 7:33 PM  RssIcon

I am strange in a way.  I see "good" and "bad" outdoor lighting even during the daytime.  Lights do not even need to be turned  on and I can "see" if they are good or bad.  And one of the most vexing problems is how to modify / change behavior, particularly of the ubiquitous "post" lamp here in the United States.  They have a "bulb up" orientation, which does not lend themselves to "good" downward facing lighting in an easy way.

Until now, perhaps.  Let me explain.  And this is a bit circuitous, so bear with me.

My wife and I do not get out all that much together.  With two teenage daughters, there are a lot of other expenses that come before "a night out," but we had made a date to go out this last Sunday.  I had tasked her with deciding where she wanted to go eat, though by that afternoon, she was still undecided.  We had a few errands to run first, so we talked about some options.  Finally, she said, "Let's go to Texas Roadhouse."

I was skeptical.

"Isn't it loud there?  You don't like loud places."  She said, "No, it will be okay.  Besides, I want a really big burger."

For those of you who have never seen my wife before (she's been in a number of "Eyes on the Sky" videos as various characters), she is not large.  Not skinny, mind you - just... normally slender.  So for her to say she wants a big burger - that meant she was seriously hungry.

"Okay," I said.  We drove on down there.  I even offered that if the parking lot looked full, we could go somewhere else.  She demurred, and when we got there, they weren't terribly busy.

We went inside.

It wasn't too loud, and it was a nice restaurant as that type/style of restaurant goes.  I was remarking to her about the decor, and the color of some of the mood lighting (it was pink) with the wood colored walls, when I looked at the light over our table.

"Huh."

"What's that?" she asked me.

"The light bulb - check it out."

The lights over our table were meant to offer some "mood lighting" to some degree - enough to see your food, but not so harsh as to be blinding or scream, "KID FRIENDLY!" restaurant.  No, what was interesting was how the bulb was made.

It was partly silvered.

Imagine your typical incandescent light bulb.  Now invert it so the "socket" end is up, and the globe is down.  Now imagine half of that "globe" hanging down was dipped in a silvery paint - not the kind like you get a paint store, that's more of a grey/flaky type thing - but an actual silvered look.  That was this bulb.

What that did with the type of light fixture it was in was to provide the perfect mood lighting - the filament was not visible to the eye, so all of the direct light went up into the fixture itself - that was painted white - and then bounced back down to the table to light faces / food.  It was, honestly, a nice ambience.

But I had a different idea.

If one inverted this bulb so that the silvered side was up, this bulb could be used in post lamps!  And I had the perfect one(s) in mind - two of my neighbors, and yes (sadly) one of my own.  We have a post lamp in our backyard, which I had been discussing changing (and still may).  But with this bulb, I can replace the one in it with a better one, and get all "downward facing" light, without the expense of changing the fixture.

And so can everyone else.

The bulbs aren't necessarily the cheapest - the 60W ones were $2.00 or so apiece where I found them online.  I ordered a number of them.  I also got some 25W and 40W ones for comparison.  But this could be a real help not only for my local situation, but for others.

I will post more about this after I get the bulbs here and try them out. And you see, I would have never seen these if we had not gone to Texas Roadhouse to eat dinner - about which my wife was rather insistent about going to eat.  So because she insisted, and because I saw those bulbs, I may have figured out a way to reduce light pollution around me - and you too.

Stay tuned.

51 comment(s) so far...


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Re: Lighting serendipity

That sounds very interesting. I was at a local Texas Roadhouse a few weeks ago with friends but didn't notice the lighting (and yes, I too am a geek and notice lighting like you do), perhaps they had a different decor.

I'm interested in seeing how well these work in a post lamp, but I foresee a problem with this. The problem is that incandescent bulbs are being phased out will likely not be around much longer. Everyone seems to be switching over to CFL now (which I think is a bad idea, but that's another story). I would hope that a solution like this could not only be available, but also encouraged. They would probably also work well in those ubiquitous "porch lanterns" that splash light everywhere.

By Jim on   4/11/2013 10:35 AM
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Re: Lighting serendipity

Jim, I know incandescents - at least in their previous form - are being phased out. But halogens are a functional equivalent, which essentially uses the old form (round bulb/standard base) and puts newer/better components inside to make it more efficient. Looks the same, functions better. I think that's what these are, so perhaps my "incandescent" label is inaccurate - I'll have to see when I get the bulbs.

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The Nightlight

This blog includes what to see in the night and daytime skies, thoughts on telescopes, binoculars, and other astronomy observing accessories and equipment, plus my own occasional notes on objects I've seen and observed. Oh, and the random theater or other "my take on life" post. In other words, there is always something interesting. Check it out.