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IAMA technology manager and lighting specialist for a family owned light bulb company! It's a slow afternoon so AMA about lighting, bulbs family businesses or whatever!

My short bio: I have double duty as a technology manager and lighting specialist at a small, family owned business that sells light bulbs, ballasts, batteries and all manner of lighting stuff. I love my job and people seem to be kind of fascinated by light bulbs- so it's a slow afternoon and I thought I'd take some time to answer questions- ask away!

My Proof https://www.facebook.com/lightbulbsetc/posts/10154649864492989

 9   0  

When you eat, is it a light snack?

 3   0  

Good one!

 5   0  

What do you wish more people knew about home lighting/electricity?

 10   0  

Oh man, just the basics would be helpful. I do our online customer service chat, and if people would just take a minute to pay attention to wattage and voltage it would make find their bulb so much easier. I also wish that people understood color temperature a little more. Like a person that says "I want my kitchen to be bright white, so I'd like a bulb with a color temp of 6000k. Yep, that's going to be really, really bright light- practically blue!

 5   0  

What do you wish more people knew about home lighting/electricity?

 9   0  

Hey- I have one more thing: No, you do not have to call the EPA if you break a CFL. No, you are not going to die of mercury exposure because you broke a fluorescent tube. We'd all be dead over here if that was the case. :)

 5   0  

Not long ago my apartment owners replaced all permanent fixtures with GU24 sockets. I'd be more annoyed if I had to actually buy the bulbs that cost 3x as much as normal screw-ins, but there's still an annoyance in having to catch the building manager during office hours to get a replacement. And forget about trying to replace one in the dark.

It feels like this dumb socket is reinventing the wheel for no particularly good reason... so what's the deal with GU24 and its ilk? What is the good thing about it that I'm missing?

 8   0  

This answer is going to kill you. They GU24 socket was created to literally force you to use energy efficient bulbs. You can't buy an incandescent with a GU24 base. You can buy an adapter... :)

 2   0  

Thanks. Had a feeling it was something along those lines. Couple weeks ago all my permanent GU24 fixtures were forcibly moved from fluorescents to LED by building mgmt. Got a pile of screw-in LEDs for everything else a couple months back after a wicked gov't hydro company rebate program landed me a dozen for about 9 bucks. I'm probably set for life at this point given how long they last!

 3   0  

That is a great deal- and yes, these should last you forever! I love my LEDs.

 3   0  

I've got a trough of upward facing T-8 fluorescent bulbs bouncing light off my ceiling for indirect lighting. The fixtures are pretty old and a lot don't work reliably. I'm considering swapping the ballasts for something that would be LED friendly, but with the way heat sinks are designed on long LED bars, would it be dangerous to have upward facing LEDs?

 7   0  

Great question! First, you can totally bypass the ballast- might need a little rewiring but it's easy and worth the time. Also, no worries on upward facing LED T8s- you'd be just fine.

 3   0  

Have you heard of this, and isn't it fascinating??

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centennial_Light

 2   0  

It's AMAZING. Those lights were made to last... not like the incandescent bulbs of today. I love to show it to the kids at my son's school when I do science talks about light bulbs.

 3   0  

Why is your company still selling incandescent bulbs? CFLs and LEDs are much more cost effective and reasonably priced. Even in some energy efficiency programs in the USA they give these bulbs away for free (I install LEDs myself).

 1   0  

Because people want them! We sell more CFLS and LEDs and other bulbs, but some people just really, really like the incandescent bulbs.

 2   0  

Can you recommend a good book to read?

 2   0  

Yes! I'm reading The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen right now. Good stuff. Also do more podcasts these days, so S-Town, TAL and Breakdown are on my list.

 2   0  

What's your take on advanced lighting control systems? The sort that detect occupancy, light level, etc. and dim accordingly. Worth the money?

 3   0  

VERY cool. VERY expensive and I don't know if the technology is there yet to make it worth the investment. I do use smart bulbs in my house and I like those, but there is limited automated control. I do like being able to turn on my lights before I get home, and dim them from my couch.

 2   0  

How are the high CRI bulbs selling?

I work for a LED manufacturer and we have moved into the California Energy Commission 2018 spec early.

 1   0  

Not as well as we thought- yet.

 2   0  

A bit of a weird question - as a "light professional", do you prefer brighter or dimmer indoor settings? Do you think the typical house lighting is good?

I moved to the US northeast 15 years ago from a much sunnier country, and was immediately struck by just how dark American indoor lighting seems to be, at least in this part of the country.

At the time a rental apartment would have maybe a couple of small lightbulbs, and people would decorate their apartments with puny floor lamps and table lamps that leave the entire room in perpetual darkness. Even today with LEDs and fancier recessed lighting in some homes people still seem to opt for a few 60W equivalents.

 1   0  

I prefer brighter, myself. I use bright LEDs in my kitchen and bathroom, and I have smart LEDs in my living room so I can control the brightness! We play a lot of video games in my family so I like to be able to dim them when we play and then brighten them when it's homework time.

 1   0  

what's the best way to dispose of different kind of lights: fluorescent, halogen, incandescent, etc...?

are there any commercially available bioluminescent lighting solutions?

 3   0  

We recycle them. If you can't bring your old bulbs to us, take them to your local big box store- most of them will take them. Fluorescents are the major deal with recycling, because of the tiny amount of mercury. We actually sell bulb recycling kits so people can dispose of them properly. I have never seen a commercially available bioluminescent lighting solution. Apparently there were old exit and emergency signs that were half-life- but they made us nervous. :)

 1   0  

What do I need to do in order to be able to dim my LED bulbs without buzzing? What can I do to reduce buzzing in general?

 1   0  

They really shouldn't buzz. It could be a crappy LED, or maybe you might need to update your dimmer. Do you have an older home? I've never heard any of them buzz on a dimmer. Now a CFL is another story.

 1   0  

35 years old so I don't think it is wiring.

I tried two dimmer switches this weekend in my basement on PAR30 recessed fixtures (3 on one circuit, all led bulbs) and they both resulted in buzzing. Is it a lack of voltage? Should I keep one non-led bulb in one of the fixtures in the circuit?

 1   0  

Hmm. Are you seeing any flickering or drop in light? I'm wondering the same- that it might be a voltage issue.

 1   0  

Also, there is a case to be made for older dimmers that a made for incandescent lighting might not be compatible with the newer dimmable LEDs- and the quality of LEDs varies greatly.

 1   0  

for decorative fixtures, is there any reason not to use cheap xmas LED string lighting vs general purpose LEDs?

 1   0  

Just kinda depends on what you like I guess- and the fixture itself. LED C7s and C9s (christmas bulbs) are great- as long as the base type is correct.

 1   0  

Being in the industry, what's the first thing you notice about a person's lighting in their own home as soon as you walk in?

 6   0  

Honestly, I look at what kind of lighting they use more than anything. When my husband and I go to a restaurant, we almost always check out what bulbs they are using. He quizzes me on it- he's been doing this longer than I have. I do like to see how people light their kitchens. I use LEDs in a 5000K over my prep surfaces. Expensive but worth it. I don't understand dark kitchens.

 1   0  

My wife bought an artsy fixture that requires "edison" bulbs they are $12 a pop. Do they last any longer than regular bulbs?

 1   0  

Well, if you get the LED ones, they last a long time. I love the look of those bulbs. We sell many of them to restaurants because of the warm ambient light they put off.

 1   0  

What are typical margins for bulb manufacturers? Does it depend on whether it's for manufacturing LEDs, fluorescents or light bulbs? Also, I've noticed some companies specialize in packaging LED systems for industrial and commercial applications. I have to imagine that with the underlying components getting cheaper, that's a pretty attractive business. Thoughts?

 1   0  

That is a hard question to answer because it varies greatly depending on the bulb. We've been doing this for thirty years so I guess I would say it's a good business to be in. We are a wholesaler and retailer, so we work with both commercial and residential customers- including retrofits- so yes, it is a pretty good business as long as you have diversification of product and really knowledgeable people. I've been here for six years and although technically, I'm the IT Manager because that is my career, learning about the bulbs has been really rewarding. It's certainly an ever-changing and interesting place to work. Always something new!

 1   0  

The lights in my apartment take a minute or so to actually come to full brightness. It's actually quite annoying. What is causing that, and is it fixable?

 1   0  

Are you using CFLS? Those can have a bit of a warm-up period.

 1   0  

What's your opinion on Satco bulbs? My store pushed them heavily, but I think they sucked.

 1   0  

Well hey! We don't buy Satco anymore. That should tell you something. :) Small world! Do you know Jim and Sean and Larry?

 1   0  

It's been a few years since I left the business to go back to school. If I remember correctly, I think I worked with Jim mostly. You guys were always helpful!

Hah, good to know about Satco. We seemed to get the most returns with their product! Something was always malfunctioning. I tried to get my boss to drop them, but he was in love with them for some reason.

 1   0  

Hey thanks! Jim is very good at his job. Did you go to KU?

 1   0  

I'm actually out of state, attending law school. I'm finishing up this semester and hopefully returning to KC this fall.

 1   0  

Best of luck to you!

 1   0  

Do you have photos and paintings of Thomas Edison in your store and house? If not, why not? And when do you plan on adding photos and painting of Edison to your house and store?

 1   0  

Not in my house, but in my office, I have an edison bulb framed advertisement!

 1   0  

What is exactly are the job duties of a technology manager and a lighting specialist respectfully?

 1   0  

I am in charge of all of our computer systems, including our ERP and VOIP servers. I manage the buying for technology and the relationship with our advertising. As a lighting specialist, I answer questions about light bulbs!

 1   0  

Where did you go to college and what did you major in?

 1   0  

Meredith College in Raleigh, NC and I majored in theatre!

 1   0  

Did you ever go to any Thomas Edison museums? If not, do you plan to go to one or perhaps more?

 1   0  

I did when I was a kid! My mom took me. That was long before ,y light bulb years, though.

 1   0  

What are your hobbies outside of work?

 1   0  

I like to hang out with my family, volunteer at my kiddo's school, read books, try new craft beers, play video games and tend my garden.

 1   0  

What is the thermostat temperature at store to combat all the heat from the lights in the store?

 1   0  

They aren't all always on! It's set to 76 right now. :)

 1   0  

What do you think of indoor lighting that can quickly grow plants?

 1   0  

I think it's great as long as it is growing something legal! ;) We get a lot of requests from young folks growing tomatoes in the basement. HAHA!

 1   0  

How old are you and how many years have you been at your job?

 1   0  

I'm in my 40s and six years.

 1   0  

Are you married, dating, single? If married, how many years? Do you have any kids? If you have kids, how many?

 1   0  

I'm married to my boss. Literally.

 1   0  

Do you have any pets? If you do, how many, which types, what breeds/colors, what are their names?

 1   0  

Cats!

 1   0  

Does your lighting/bulbs shop sponsor any local little league teams or local middle school and high school sports teams? If not would it be something your store would think about? It would help with civic pride, help with awareness of the store and drive in New foot traffic.

 1   0  

We sponsor my nephews basketball team!

 1   0  

Is there any background music in the store? If so which types of music play over the speakers?

 1   0  

Nope!

 1   0  

What are your favorite subreddits?

 1   0  

too many!

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What is your favorite beer?

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Right now? Boulevard's Heavy Lifting IPA.

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How tall are you?

 1   0  

tall.

 1   0  

What are your favorite pizza toppings?

 1   0  

Pepperoni and sausage.

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What is your favorite candy bar?

 1   0  

Don't like them!

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What is the best fast food burger?

 1   0  

Wendy's!

 1   0  

What are your favorite sports teams?

 1   0  

ROCK CHALK JAYHAWK GO KU!

 1   0  

Have you ever had a celebrity shop around in store? If so who and did you recognize them?

 1   0  

We've sold to a lot of celebrities online, but I won't reveal their names- because that would be a breach of privacy. Sports stars, music stars, and politicians.

 1   0  

How does your store Advertise locally? Radio ads, newspaper ads, community magazine ads, sign wavers by the street, online ads, Facebook, Instagram, twitter?

 1   0  

All of those!

 1   0  

Do you attend trade shows & conventions for lighting/bulbs/batteries? If, so how many a year and where are the conventions are they any fun?

 1   0  

I have, but not recently. And fun? I guess... if you like talking about light bulbs for three days straight!

 1   0  

What is the coolest invention in the last 2 years that is related to what you sell?

 1   0  

LED guidelights and switchplates.

 1   0  

Do you watch the TV show "Shark Tank"? If so have you thought about selling the lighting/bulbs/battery items featured on the show?

 1   0  

Yes, and no, because we aren't a manufacturer.

 1   0  

How many people work in the store with you?

 1   0  

I don't work in the store, I'm in an office in the back. But we have 25 employees.

 1   0  

How many hours a week do you work?

 1   0  

I work 24 hours a week, give or take.

 1   0  

Do you get any freebies/discounts from working there?

 1   0  

Discounts, yes. Freebies, no.

 1   0  

What are your bosses like?

 1   0  

I'm married to him, and his mom is my other boss, so I think they are pretty great bosses! I do my job well so no complaints from them.

 1   0  

About how many customers do you see in an hour?

 1   0  

I don't see customers but I do chat with them online throughout the day! The store sees customers but I don't work up there.

 1   0  

What is the dress code at work? Suit and tie? Golfing attire: Khakis and polo?

 1   0  

Pretty much whatever I want. I try not to wear yoga pants, but I don't see customers so it's pretty lax.

 1   0  

How much time do you get for breaks?

 1   0  

Whenever I want. It's not as formal as that here.

 1   0  

What are the major & minor bulbs producers besides GE & Phillips?

 1   0  

Oh gosh- there are so, so many. TCP, Ott, Greenlight...

 1   0  

What are the major & minor battery producers and ballast producers?

 1   0  

I honestly don't know anything about those... I ask our staff electrician about those!

 1   0  

What decade have the best and worst indoor lamps?

 1   0  

60's/80's

 1   0  

What are best bulbs to give as a gift?

 1   0  

OTTLITE! They are awesome.

 1   0  

I find public places like libraries', book stores and schools have the worst indoor light? Do they need better fixtures? Better bulbs or both? And which public places do you notice have bad indoor and outdoor light?

 1   0  

Better BULBS! No more fluorescent tubes to read by! :)

 1   0  

What research do you do outside of work to learn about the current products the store sells and products your store may sell in the future?

 1   0  

Sometimes. Our purchaser and our sales team does more of that stuff.

 1   0  

Yesterday I scored a Herman Miller Leaf Lamp for $50. Good deal?

 1   0  

We don't sell lamps, but I know Herman Miller and DAMN! That is a great deal!

 -3   0  

Isn't this an AMA? Or is it "AMA except an area that we look bad in"?

 3   0  

I'm sorry, I was just answering the questions in order! I'm not sure what you're talking about on Amazon, but Clint doesn't do customer service usually- he's in an unrelated department. I'd be happy to PM you and find out about your experience with our company. We're small, family owned and operated, and we have been in business for 30 years- we want our customers to be happy! if you had a bad experience with anyone, please let me know.

 2   0  

Just sent you a PM

 2   0  

Just wrote you back! :)