Electrical

Now's the time to update your home lighting system

The time change has awakened in many of us our neglect of home lighting systems.

Frentz and Sons biggest seller this week has been light bulbs, such as for front porches; flood lights, used on garages, over decks and back yards; and photoelectric cell-driven technology. “All of a sudden everyone needs a bulb for the porch light that’s been burned out all summer,” says Mike Frentz.

Indeed, the time change allows children to walk or ride to school in daylight. At night, though, the rest of us pull into our driveways at 6 p.m. in darkness. If you’d rather be greeted by the warm glow of a well-lit home when you arrive, you might consider:

Learning about halogen lighting
Regular light bulbs operate basically in a vacuum with a tungsten filament. Halogen lights replace the vacuum with halogen gas, it's a more clear and bright light because it emanates from the blue-white end of the spectrum. They’re more expensive to purchase, but less expensive to power than regular lights.

Floodlights have been the biggest seller this week at Frentz and Sons. But if you peruse the shelves a bit, you’ll notice halogen equivalents for almost all regular light bulbs. Floodlights, for example, have gone halogen to better and more efficiently light back yards and driveways.

“Halogen lights are energy savers,” Mike says. “Same amount of light, a better quality of light that will seem brighter, but with less electricity.”

Photoelectric cells
The same things you fiddled around with in high school science class are making a comeback. Now they’re small enough to be convenient and useful around the house, particularly the ornate outside lamp posts in front of many Royal Oak homes.

“These are really good if there’s a light you want to stay on all night long, for your own comfort or as a deterrent to break-ins,” Mike says. When the cell no longer senses light, it trips an internal switch, to light the light bulb. The process reverses at dawn, so you don’t have to remember to turn it off.

Light timers
“I really recommend these because they can save you money. These are for situations where you may not want a light on for the entire evening, and not always at the same time,” Mike says.

• They carry a standard clock timer that plugs into a socket and has a mark for each of the day’s 24 hours around its dial. All you do is move a little pin to the time you want a light to snap on, and put another pin at the time you want it to turn off. These are great for living rooms and people who have a pretty regular schedule.

The Big Brother Zone
A decade ago this stuff was only available in movies or from that brother-in-law who’s always traveling, wears a shoulder holster, speaks 12 languages, has several passports but swears he’s just running an import/export business. Today, you can purchase an outdoor lighting fixture that senses not only motion in a 180-degree radius, but also detects body heat. When it detects either one, it snaps on two floodlights that stay on until they have detected no motion for up to 12 minutes.

“The point is that you don’t want it to go off when a tree branch moves in the wind. That’s why it detects body heat,” Mike says.

A similar until for indoor use replaces a light switch. It has a small electronic cell that monitors motion and senses body heat. “It’s great for family rooms and kids’ bedrooms, where you’re always telling them to turn out the lights when they leave. With this, the light comes on as soon a someone enters the room, and turns off as soon as they leave.”