Buyers Guides

How smart lighting helps improve home security

From virtual assistants, to mobile-controlled central heating systems, modern homes are more connected than ever before, and this is transforming the way we carry out day-to-day tasks.

Smart lighting, in particular, is becoming a must-have gadget, both inside and outside the home. We recently surveyed some of our customers, revealing that more than a quarter (28%) of them are already using smart lighting in their homes, and of those who are not, half have considered investing in it in the near future. When asked why smart lighting is so appealing, over a third (35%) of our respondents agreed that improving home security was the the primary driver.

Smart home security starts with smart lighting

When It comes to using traditional lighting for improving home security, one of the oldest tricks in the book is leaving a light on while the house is left unoccupied. However, this method relies on using manual timers, or leaving lights on round-the-clock, including at night. Not only is this a waste of electricity, it also looks unnatural, which has the potential to do more harm than good.

Smart lighting solves this problem because it allows users to control their lighting from any location, via the convenience of a mobile app. Whether away on holiday or unexpectedly working late at the office, homeowners can set their lights to automatically turn on at the touch of a button, creating the illusion that their property is occupied, which subsequently serves as an effective deterrent to any would-be intruders.

Some smart lighting devices, such as Philips Hue products, make it possible to create lighting patterns throughout the home; from turning on lights in one particular room, to across an entire floor. Additionally, some smart lights can be paired with integrated light and sound changing themes to mimic different types of home event, such as a television being watched.

What’s more, smart lights can be scheduled to switch on and off at certain times of day. This means all of the preparation can be done prior to leaving the house, which is particularly useful before a long holiday. In this scenario it’s a good idea to stagger the timings, as a rigid schedule can be a give-away that the lights are being automated and that no one is home.

Switching home security up a notch

Smart home devices are becoming more intuitive, more helpful, more fun, and more affordable than ever before, but it’s easy to forget that as well as providing comfort and convenience for homeowners, many modern connected technologies can also help to improve safety and security in the home. When used alongside alarm systems, security lighting, and security cameras, smart lighting can be an extremely effective form of home security. Click here for more information.

Buyers Guides

What are Edison bulbs?

Edison light bulbs – also known as decorative filament bulbs, or vintage light bulbs – describe an incandescent style of lamp made popular by the Edison Electric Light Company at the turn of the 20th century. Edison bulbs are easily recognised by the intricate designs of their internal filaments; and for the warm golden-yellow light they emit. Designed to be on show, these bulbs are best suited to exposed fittings such as lanterns, open wall lights, and hanging pendants.

Edit Spider ceiling pendant with decorative bulb

The earliest Edison bulbs housed a carbonized bamboo filament, which was later replaced with a more efficient and longer lasting tungsten filament. Extremely long and winding filaments were used to ensure a sufficient amount of light emission from the bulb, and this remained the case until more efficiently wound tungsten filaments were incorporated into the designs. The introduction of a neutral gas to the bulb also helped to increase brightness and lifespan.

In the 1980s, these antique-styled bulbs were extremely popular amongst collectors and prop houses. This remained the case up until the 21st century, when a new Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) placed a ban on low-efficiency lighting, and pushed for alternative fluorescent bulbs. Edison-style light bulbs were not included within the ban but were listed under “specialty lighting”. For those who didn’t appreciate the shape and cool light light produced by fluorescent lamps, the Edison bulb provided an attractive alternative.

Today, Edison bulbs continue to grow in popularity due to the fact they look great and can be utilized in any style of interior, from industrial-styled spaces, to sleek and contemporary homes. Whether you are looking to create an eye-catching lighting feature or simply add a comforting and cosy glow to a space in your home, Edison bulbs are the perfect choice.

Lucide Cubico table lamp paired with decorative filament globe bulb

LED Edison bulbs

In more recent years, the rise of LED technology has led to the production of LED Edison bulbs, which boast similar aesthetic appeal, with the added benefits of lower power consumption and a longer lifespan than their traditional alternatives. These decorative LED bulbs are available in a variety of shapes and styles, including popular squirrel cage, globe, and candle designs.

LED squirrel cage bulb with decorative criss-cross LED filament

LED Edison bulbs are more than a passing trend – their warmth and vintage appeal make them the perfect choice for any interior space. With a variety of shapes, sizes, and colour temperatures to choose from, LED Edison bulbs deliver the best of both worlds: the stunning vintage style and warmth of an incandescent, met with the energy savings of LED. Click here to view our full range of decorative filament bulbs.

Andrew Evangelidis Head of Buying

Andrew is an experienced buying professional who takes an entrepreneurial approach to identify new lighting solutions and ensure Lyco have first-to-market ranges for our customers. Having previously worked for well known brands such as Wickes, Carphone Warehouse and Toys R Us, Andrew has now turned his hand to sourcing commercial lighting and ensure our customers receive top brand quality products at marketing leading prices. He manages a team of commercial and decorative buyers who travel the world finding new products that our customers don’t even know they need yet.

Buyers Guides

Dimmers – how to avoid flickering or buzzing

Dimmers allow you to achieve the exact light level that you desire in a room and consequently alter the mood to whatever you choose.

There are various types of dimming options available, but the most popular are ‘phase control’ (or phase-cut) dimmers which by ‘chopping out’ parts of the voltage and so reduce power to the light bulb or lamp.

There are two types of phase control dimmer available, ‘trailing-edge’ and ‘leading-edge’, and they work in different ways which ultimately affects their compatibility with certain lightbulbs:

Leading-edge dimmers

Leading-edge dimmer switches are cheaper and simpler than trailing-edge, and were used originally to dim incandescent and halogen bulbs or wirewound magnetic transformers.

Many existing leading-edge dimmer switches have a relatively high minimum load, which often rules out their use with modest LED lighting circuits. However, leading-edge dimmers are by far the most common dimming control in existence.

One example of an excellent leading-edge dimmer switch is the BG Screwless 1-Gang 2-Way 400W Dimmer

Trailing-edge Dimmers

Trailing-edge dimmers are more sophisticated than leading-edge dimmers, and usually provide a much smoother dimming control, absent of any buzzing noise, and are ideal for use in most homes.

A trailing-edge dimmer has a lower minimum load (often 10W or below) than leading-edge dimmers, making it a better choice for dimming modestly sized low-powered lighting circuits.

Particularly beneficial for incandescent and halogen bulbs is the ‘soft start’ feature in trailing-edge dimmers, which prevents filament bulbs from dying or exploding of thermal shock when first switched on.

LED lights and dimming

Unlike incandescent bulbs, which are all dimmable by default, LED bulbs have a built-in driver in their base. The driver converts AC power to DC power and maintains a constant current to the LED. This is at odds with a phase control dimming system, since the driver attempts to compensate for the sliced-out portions of input voltage.

LED fixtures such as downlights usually include the LED driver, either of a ‘constant current’ or ‘constant voltage’ type, depending on the LED array design. In either case, the same issue arises: the LED driver or power supply will try to patch up the missing parts of input voltage. In theory, LEDs should be fully dimmable, and normally they are – provided they are paired with a compatible driver.

However, widespread LED compatibility problems exist, and often supposedly dimmable LED driver designs only work with selective dimming control systems. These problems show up in a number of ways, including flickering, flashing, and dead travel.

How to avoid LED dimmer compatibility issues

For an LED lightbulb to work with a phase control dimmer, the electronics of its driver must be compatibly adapted.

Leading-edge dimmer switches are sometimes called ‘incandescent dimmers’, because they were originally designed to handle the resistive load of incandescent light. Existing dimmer switches tend to have high minimum loads and may require multiple LED lamps in order to even have a chance of working.

For an increased chance of compatibility, trailing-edge dimmer switches tend to work better with the capacitive load of an LED driver. The Varilight V-Pro LED Dimmer 1 x 300W is from the award-winning V-Pro range. It has an industry-wide reputation for delivering one of the best LED dimming performances available.

Research & Investment

If you’re installing a dimmable LED circuit from scratch, it’s worth checking out the bulbs that you’re likely to use and then look for a list of tested dimmer switches. Most leading bulb manufacturers test their dimmable lamps with a variety of switches and publish lists of known compatible models.

Similarly, you can upgrade your existing dimmers and so avoid compatibility headaches. What’s more, such an investment is likely to extend the lifespan of the lamps you buy, giving you an added incentive.

Remember, also, that LED bulbs are more complex than incandescent, so sticking to the same model of bulb is advisable when you find a winning formula. Once you have everything working, the many benefits of LED dimming will become apparent and transform the lighting in your home!

Andrew Evangelidis Head of Buying

Andrew is an experienced buying professional who takes an entrepreneurial approach to identify new lighting solutions and ensure Lyco have first-to-market ranges for our customers. Having previously worked for well known brands such as Wickes, Carphone Warehouse and Toys R Us, Andrew has now turned his hand to sourcing commercial lighting and ensure our customers receive top brand quality products at marketing leading prices. He manages a team of commercial and decorative buyers who travel the world finding new products that our customers don’t even know they need yet.

Buyers Guides

Solar lighting myths debunked

Solar lighting is changing the way we illuminate our outdoor spaces. By employing the sun’s completely renewable source of energy, solar lights are the most environmentally friendly lighting solution available, and also free to run. Solar lights are also incredibly easy to install because there’s no need for wiring, and because of this they can also be moved easily and positioned further away from a building than a wired light fitting might allow.

However, despite these benefits, there are many myths surrounding solar technology and its capabilities as a viable lighting solution. Time to bust some myths.

1. Solar lights don’t work in winter

Solar lights work best when exposed to natural daylight for long periods of time, particularly throughout summer months when the days are longer. However, because solar lights harvest energy from daylight, not direct sunlight per se, they will continue to work in winter too, even on cloudy and overcast days – albeit for shorter periods of time in most cases. So long as solar charging panels are positioned away from shady areas and obstacles, kept clean of dirt and debris, and angled to maximise exposure to the sun, there’s no reason solar lights can’t be enjoyed year-round.

2. Solar lights need to be switched off every day in order to charge

In some cases this may be true, but many solar lights, such as the Solarcentre Eco Wedge LED solar wall light, now come equipped with PIR motion sensor technology, which maximises efficiency by only triggering illumination when motion is detected – this is particularly useful for practical outdoor lighting or security lighting.

Other solar lights, such as the Cole and Bright LED solar post light, come equipped with dusk to dawn settings, meaning the lights will come on when night falls, and switch off again when sunlight is detected. Alternatively, some solar lights can be manually operated, with options to turn on or off, or to operate in 12 hour cycles, for example.

3. Solar lights aren’t practical

When outdoor solar lights first came onto the scene, they were viewed by many as a novelty lighting solution that offered more form than function. But this has now changed, with solar lights offering a number of practical solutions, including security flood lights, wall lights, and even shed lights.

4. Solar lights are unreliable

Solar lighting technology has come a long way in recent years, with the most significant improvement coming in the form of LED bulbs. Capable of creating bright light without generating the waste heat of traditional bulbs, LEDs mean power is put to better use, generating more light for longer periods. In addition, significant improvements have been made to solar battery cells, making them more efficient, more reliable, and less vulnerable to the harsh British weather.

5. Solar lights aren’t bright

Just because solar lights aren’t connected to the mains, it doesn’t mean their output is weak. The Cole and Bright spotlight, for example, offers 300 lumens for three hours, dropping to 50 lumens for three hours, and then ten lumens for the final four hours.

While a solar powered light will not be able to compete with a mains powered light in terms of light output, at least not for sustained periods, the light they emit is perfectly suitable for most home related tasks, be it adding some wow-factor to a garden party, or illuminating a path or driveway.

Solar lighting is the future. Discover our collection and try solar lighting yourself by clicking here.

Buyers Guides

Give the gift of light this Mother’s Day

This year, Mother’s day falls on Sunday 11th March. If you’re looking for a unique gift for the mother, stepmother, grandmother, or mother-in-law in your life, consider one of the following lighting-inspired ideas.

For the techy mum

If your mum is fascinated by all things technology, then a colour changing smart LED bulb is the ultimate lighting gift. The Philips Hue starter pack contains everything needed to get them up and running, and with a choice of 16 million different colours to choose from, they’ll never get bored!

For the busy mum

Is your mum always on her feet, busy 24/7? If so, then she deserves nothing more than to sit back, relax, and put her feet up for a change. Our LED candle lights make the perfect addition to any relaxing night in – just add wine (or a cup of tea), a long bath, and a good book.

For the outdoorsy mum

If your mum loves spending time in the great outdoors, come rain or shine, then outdoor lighting could be just the ticket. At Lighting Direct, we have a wide selection of weatherproof outdoor garden lights, with strings of festoons and fairy lights taking top spot on the popular gift list due to their versatility and eye catching designs. Alternatively, surprise her with a fun feature light, such as the colour changing Sheep or Reindeer shaped silhouette lamps.

For the working from home mum

If your mum’s work space could do with a little TLC, why not treat her to a new desk lamp, such as the timeless Lucide Kreen Desk Lamp. Alternatively, for something slightly less practical but a lot more fun, this neon heart light would bring any home office to life. For something more subtle, battery powered fairy lights bring a magical sparkle to any workspace.

For the musical mum

For any mum that loves putting on her dancing shoes and enjoying a good old sing along, a high tech bulb such as the AwoX white changing LED Bluetooth speaker bulb is the ideal gift this Mother’s Day. Alternatively, with summer on the way, the Smooz colour changing light with built-in speaker will provide hours of light and music both indoors and out.

Buyers Guides

Steinhauer Lighting now available at Lighting Direct

At Lighting Direct, we pride ourselves in our ever-growing collection of cost effective lighting products, from a diverse selection of handpicked suppliers from around the world. To that end, we are delighted to announce the arrival of innovative Dutch lighting brand, Steinhauer.

Steinhauer is a family-owned company that was founded more than 80 years ago and has been a pioneer in lighting innovation ever since. From then until the present day, the company has always been extremely passionate about designing and manufacturing unique fittings in line with the latest lighting trends.

The Steinhauer company is renowned for its production of lighting products to suit both modern and classic interiors. From eye-catching pendants to classic floor lamps, distinctive ceiling lights and decorative bulbs for children, their product range is vast, exciting, and now conveniently available right here at Lighting Direct.

Here is a round up of some of our favourite Steinhauer products, perfect for adding a little extra wow-factor to your home this year.

Copper accents

This copper pendant would make a stunning addition to your kitchen, dining room, or living room. Height adjustable and suitable for use with energy efficient LED bulbs, this pendant is white on the inside for maximised light output, and finished with a gorgeous shade of copper on its exterior, making it a highly practical and yet aesthetically pleasing addition to your home.

Industrialised illumination

Drawing inspiration from a car headlamp, this adjustable grey metal wall light boasts a striking industrial design and can easily be tilted to offer angled illumination along the height or length of a room. This lamp would make a stylish addition to a contemporary kitchen or utility room layout, but being such an adaptable piece, its potentials in the modern home are practically endless.

Must have metallics

This curvaceous silver drop shaped hanging lamp would make the perfect finishing touch in any room. Its stenciled steel body envelopes around its light source to create an attractive ornamental feature that is as practical as it is pretty. Its height can be conveniently adjusted to suit the chosen room, and we recommend setting this fixture centre-stage for maximum impact.

Got a favourite from the Steinhauer range? Connect with us on Twitter or Instagram and let us know! Click here to browse and shop the full range of Steinhauer products

Buyers Guides

Five ways to reuse your Christmas fairy lights all year round

Taking down Christmas decorations can leave your home looking a little dim and lifeless come January. Those of us that use a lot of festive lighting around our homes are likely to notice the change most, as corners previously illuminated by trees and feature lights return to darkness, and magical lights that once flickered and twinkled are replaced with practical lamps. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

While some Christmas lights should rightly be reserved for Christmas, there are others that can be enjoyed year-round. Fairy lights, for example, are extremely versatile and can be incorporated into most interiors, at any time of year. Not convinced? Here are five inspiring ideas that should help you change your mind.

Subtle bedroom illumination

Your bedroom isn’t just for sleeping. It’s a space to relax, to watch some television or read a book, and to chill out after a long day. Wrap your twinkling fairy lights around your headboard or along the length of a shelf or windowsill to create a calming boudoir atmosphere fit for unwinding and catching those zzzs.

Give your mirror the LED treatment

A mirror surrounded in soft fairy lights adds a touch of glamour, as well as adding some useful illumination for those close-up inspections.

 

Create a wall art feature

If your New Year’s resolution is to be more thrifty or crafty, then consider an upcycling project that will turn your Christmas lights into an artistic feature in your home that shines bright all year around.

Faux fire

There’s no feeling quite like cosying up around the warm cosy glow of a fire when it’s cold and blustery outside. If you’re fortunate enough to have a fireplace in your home (real or not) you can recreate that toasty feeling without having to reach for the matches, by making use of your fairy lights instead. This is a great option for warmer months, when you’re looking to achieve that cosy feeling, but don’t want the heat of a real fire.

Make decorative lamps

Another DIY trend that has been doing the rounds on the popular pages of Pinterest is homemade fairy light lamps. Simply fill a mason jar, vase, or glass bowl with a bundle of fairy lights and set them on a table, mantelpiece or shelves around your home. You can either use a single string of fairy lights per jar, or have a play around with multiple jars in a row, with a longer string of lights flowing in and out of each jar. These also make perfect party or wedding decorations.

Fairy lights are a charming and versatile light solution that can (and should) be enjoyed all year round. Got an idea for reusing your own? Share it with us on Instagram!

Maxine Clarke Senior Buyer

Maxine has been our decorative buyer since 2015. With her experience in working for consumer-led brands, she is the perfect person to pick out the latest lighting trends for both your home and business. Maxine has an eye for the best up-and-coming lighting from the UK and around the world and works tirelessly to add new brands to our portfolio. One of her trends to watch in 2020 is connectable garden lighting; with summer garden parties more and more popular, being able to build and extend your own outdoor lighting with spotlights, festoons and string lights has never been easier – simply plug and play.

Buyers Guides

Valentine’s Day lighting ideas

Whether you’re planning on going all out to impress that special someone this Valentine’s Day, or intend on keeping things low-key, getting the lighting right is essential for creating the perfect mood. To give you a helping hand, we’ve outlined below five simple lighting ideas for achieving the perfect Valentine’s lighting.

LED candles

Nothing says romance quite like the intimate ambience of a candle’s flickering flame. Better still, you can make the most of the moment and avoid any potential disasters caused by naked flames and dripping wax by opting for LED candles instead. Whatever your plans for Valentine’s day, candles add a touch of elegance to any room of the home, whether that be centre of the table at dinner, set around the bath, or next to the bed.

String and fairy lights

String and fairy lights are a fantastic way to create soft layers of dreamy lighting in any room. Whether your preference is for simple and delicate micro wire LEDs, coloured bulbs or cosy white festoons these types of lights provide a comforting feeling wherever they’re positioned.

Smart lighting

If you prefer to add intensity and drama to your evening, then coloured lighting is the way to really set the mood. From soft pink, to deep red, or a colour that you and partner both love, smart bulbs from the Philips Hue range, for example, can deliver up to 16 million colour choices to help you to set up for a romantic evening together.

Feature lamps

We adore the neon pink heart shape light or the Love LED rope light – both from Locomocean. These lights would make a great centerpiece for any Valentine’s Day meal, and would also make a great gift that can be enjoyed all year round.

With the ambient lighting sorted, all that’s left to organise for a truly spectacular Valentine’s Day date is the chocolates, flowers, dinner, and romantic films.

Maxine Clarke Senior Buyer

Maxine has been our decorative buyer since 2015. With her experience in working for consumer-led brands, she is the perfect person to pick out the latest lighting trends for both your home and business. Maxine has an eye for the best up-and-coming lighting from the UK and around the world and works tirelessly to add new brands to our portfolio. One of her trends to watch in 2020 is connectable garden lighting; with summer garden parties more and more popular, being able to build and extend your own outdoor lighting with spotlights, festoons and string lights has never been easier – simply plug and play.

Buyers Guides

Five clever things that you can do with Philips Hue lights:

Philips Hue is the latest range of connected smart lighting to join our Smart Home collection, and we’re excited to show you all of the cool things that these lights can do. In addition to giving you access to 16 million colours – yes, sixteen million – Philips Hue has the potential to completely transform the way in which you use lighting around your home, forever. Whilst by no means an exhaustive list, here are five nifty things Philips Hue can do to make life that little bit easier… and a lot more fun!

Sleep better

Philips Hue can help you wake up and fall asleep naturally by simulating the effects of early morning and evening light. When it’s time for bed, the lights will emit warm, white LED light that relaxes your body, preparing you for a good night’s sleep. In the morning, the gradually intensifying light will simulate the sunrise, much in the same way as natural light floods through open curtains during the summer.

Set your lights to welcome you home

Using geolocation technology, Philips Hue lights can be set to turn on as you arrive home – no more fumbling around in the dark for the light switch. Similarly, the lights can be set to turn off when you leave the house, meaning lights being left on by mistake becomes a thing of the past.

Control your lights with your voice

Philips Hue works with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit to make it possible to control your lights with your voice. Turn them on or off, brighten them, dim them or change their colours to suit the moment – just say the word.

Create the perfect mood for any occasion

Philips Hue lets you play with 16 million colours or set any shade of white light, from cool energising daylight, to relaxing, warm white light – all with a single bulb! You could match the colour of your light to reflect the interior of a room, set the mood for a party, or help you concentrate on a specific task. Better still, all of your favourite light settings can be saved via the app and recalled with the tap of a finger.

Sync Hue with other clever apps

Philips Hue lights can be connected to a number of ‘Friends of Hue’ smart products to offer some truly unique experiences. For example, connecting Philips Hue with IFTTT (also known as “if this then that”) allows you to create fun personal Applets that will trigger your lights when something happens; lights can be set to change colour based on the weather, can be set to flash in the colour of your favourite sports team when they score a goal, or even pulse when you receive an email or social media notification.

With Philips Hue, the possibilities are endless. Click here try it for yourself

Maxine Clarke Senior Buyer

Maxine has been our decorative buyer since 2015. With her experience in working for consumer-led brands, she is the perfect person to pick out the latest lighting trends for both your home and business. Maxine has an eye for the best up-and-coming lighting from the UK and around the world and works tirelessly to add new brands to our portfolio. One of her trends to watch in 2020 is connectable garden lighting; with summer garden parties more and more popular, being able to build and extend your own outdoor lighting with spotlights, festoons and string lights has never been easier – simply plug and play.

Buyers Guides

Last minute Christmas gift ideas for the whole family

With Christmas edging closer and closer, it’s time to start getting the presents wrapped and the house prepared for the big day. However, if you’re one of those people who has a tendency to leave your Christmas shopping to the last minute, and are yet to buy for your loved ones, then one of these light-inspired gift ideas could be just the ticket.

 

 

Locomocean Slider Lightbox

The Locomocean Slider Lightbox makes a great addition to any party or social event – or adds a touch of whimsy to any room at any time. The Lightbox comes complete with three mirrored metal silhouette sliders containing the phrases “Shine Bright”, “Make It Happen”, and “Be Awesome Today” – surely all the motivation anyone could need for the New Year?

WiZ Hero Colour Changing LED WiFi Table Lamp

If you know someone obsessed with Nordic and Scandinavian inspired interior design, then the WiZ Hero is the gift for them. The simple but striking combination of wood, aluminium, and white glass gives this smart lamp a minimalistic look, while the colour changing capabilities means the Hero is capable of setting the mood for any occasion. The Hero works with Google Home or Amazon Alexa, making it the perfect addition to any smart home-inspired Christmas list.

Smooz Colour Changing LED Outdoor Table Light with Speaker

Get the party started with the Smooz Colour Changing Outdoor Table Light with built-in speaker. This Bluetooth-enabled speaker allows you to play your favourite music from your smartphone, whilst the colour changing lights will help set the perfect party mood.

Locomocean Neon LED Cactus Feature Light

Eye-catching is definitely the best way to describe this LED neon cactus from Locomocean. This super fun and unique light makes a brilliant standout feature in a quirky interior or works as an exceptional centrepiece for a New Year’s Eve party! Not sure if a cactus is right, what about a flamingo?

Reflect Table LED Mirror Light with USB Charging Ports


Markslöjd’s Reflect Table Mirror Light with USB Charging Ports is a makeup lover’s dream. The backlit mirror provides the right level of light to help you achieve perfect makeup application, while the dual USB ports make for easy device charging – perfect for all of those festive selfies!

For more inspiration check out our wide range of Christmas gifts, where you’ll find something for the whole family.