Miscellaneous Lighting Aspects Blog

A bunch of posts we couldn't decide where to place 'em.
  • Two Shipping Myths Big Business Doesn’t Want You to Know

    Two Shipping Myths Big Business Doesn’t Want You to Know

    Who doesn’t like saving money? How many times have you left a website because they didn’t offer free shipping? As a small family-operated online retail company, we get hundreds of questions a day. However, the most popular questions we get are about shipping prices. Almost everyone wants free shipping.  Today we are going to share the top two myths big business doesn’t want you to know.

    Myth 1: Free Shipping Always Saves Me Money!

    The other guy offers free shipping, why don’t you?  We get this question every day, and every day we tell our customers the same thing. “Shipping isn’t Free.” In all our years of business, we haven't found a single carrier who is willing to ship our orders for free. In fact, every week, our shipping carrier sends us that pesky little invoice requesting payment for service. 

    Shipping CostSo how does that other guy get away with calling it free shipping then? Here is what they don’t tell you. Let’s say you order a recessed trim for $21.41 with free shipping, and live in a state with 10% sales tax. The cost of the trim is $2.41 and the shipping cost is $19.00. However, you are getting free shipping so these two costs are combined into 1 line item. The 10% sales tax on the $21.41 trim is $2.14, making your total order $23.55. It is only $2.14.”I can’t get a cup of coffee for that much.” “I am getting free shipping, so I don’t mind giving away my money.”

    What if the other guy decided to charge you shipping?  Let’s find out. Back to our favorite $2.41 recessed trim. Because they charge you shipping, the $19.00 is a separate line item. This means the 10% sales tax is only being applied to the $2.41 trim, making the order total $21.62 instead of $23.55. You just saved $1.93!! Still not a cup of coffee, but savings is savings.

    Now that we know sometimes free shipping isn’t always the best deal. I bet you are wondering “Why does it cost $19.00 to ship that $2.41 trim.” You are not alone. Let’s see why.

    Myth 2: The Cost Of Shipping Depends On The Cost Of The Order.  

    How could something so inexpensive, cost so much to ship? This recessed lighting trim has to go into a box so it gets to you undamaged. No one wants to delay their DIY project due to a cracked or dented trim. To prevent this mishap, the warehouse puts bubble wrap, air cushions, or paper inside the box to prevent movement. Then they tape, and label the box. We want to focus on the shipping cost, not the handling costs, right?  We use UPS to ship this trim; however, all the common carriers are about the same. 

    How are shipping costs determined? All the popular shipping carriers have a shipping calculator on their website. This calculator asks for the delivery location, the dimensions of the box ( Length, Width, and Height), and the weight of the box. With that information, they will tell you how long and how much it cost depending on when you want the package. We use ground service as it is the least expensive. In our $2.41 trim example, we enter the following information: Miami, Florida, 11” x 8” x 8”, and 1 pound. Why Miami? We have been shipping a lot of boxes there right now, but you can go to UPS.com to test this for your location. 

    UPS Billable WeightIf the box weighs 1 lb, why is the billable weight 5 lbs? All shipping carriers combine the weight and the size of the box to determine the actual cost to transport your package from us to you. The industry calls this “dimensional weight.” After plugging all this information in the shipping calculator, the cost to ship this trim ground from New Mexico to Miami, Florida is $19.00.

    What if I put a $5,000 diamond ring into the same box, would it cost more? The delivery location is the same, the box dimensions are the same, and it weighs less than a pound. Using the handy shipping calculator, we find that it still costs $19.00 to ship UPS ground from New Mexico to Miami, Florida. 

    If shipping isn’t free, why do we offer free shipping? First, we know that is what people want. Many times that is the first thing consumers seek out when buying online  Second, we need to stay competitive, and offering “free shipping” on some of our products helps us do that.  We are a small family business and we have to try to compete.  If you run a small business you know how hard this can be.

    Same Box Size

    Why do we still charge shipping on some items, if people want free shipping? Well, we want to give our customers the opportunity to find the best deal for their project. Many times a customer can save money having shipping as a separate line item, especially when buying larger quantities or heavier items.

    We know you have choices out there, and hopefully, after reading this you are a more informed consumer that will choose Total Lighting Supply for your next lighting project.



    Posted in:

    Tags: Big Business, Dimensional Weight, DIY Projects, Family Operated Business, Free Shipping, Getting a Deal, Myths, Saving Money, Savvy Shopper, Shop Local, Small Business

  • Track Lighting Design That's Smart and Sustainable

    Savvy Salon Style With Grip Lock Lighting and SORAA LED Bulbs: Smart track lighting solutions for a smart design-a true story about sustainable track lighting design.


    Calleis Salon and Spa. Photography by Wandering Albatross Photography

    Concept: an Aveda Salon, Calleis Salon and Spa, wanted an image of their space to work functionally and to have a feel of quality, yet convey a naturalness. For the designer of the space, it was fortunate that the Aveda Company did not come with design specific restrictions-the designer had free reign.

    Location: Helena, Montana. The space of the salon/spa is modern and colorful-so is the packaging of the Aveda products. The designer, Rebekka (Bekka) Cantrell of Sussex Construction, wanted to work with a monochromatic color palette that conveyed serenity; one that was quiet and understated. Bekka chose to work with the color palette of driftwood. From a design standpoint, she needed the track lighting to compliment the earthy feel, and yet have it be bright and feel natural. The lighting also needed to be high color rendering. One side of the space had lots of natural light and the other side did not-the designer also wanted lighting between these two areas to be balanced and to be able to control it in order to be able to adjust with the seasonal changes. The designer also wanted to be able to use a lighting source that was sustainable-as that is part of the mission and reputation of Sussex Construction-for green building experience while being sustainable.

    When our lighting designer here at Total Lighting Supply told Bekka about the SORAA bulb, she fell in love with it as it was a single point light source that offered crisp, clear light with no harsh shadows. You can find out more about the SORAA bulb here. With the space having a lot of natural light on one side and none on the other, there really needed to be a balance of light on both sides. There were a lot of areas where the light needed to be closer to the product-where it had to be brought down into the space, as the ceilings were 14 ft. high. The designer wanted an uncluttered look and also needed to be able to change the lighting with the light shifts that come with seasonal changes. She needed a suspended track lighting system to solve the problem and Grip Lock offered that solution since it was totally unobtrusive. With the Grip Lock Suspension System, it gave the designer a way to bring lighting down in to the area without having the lighting fixture be a key visual feature when clients walked in to the space. It also allowed for a more natural feel to the space.


    Calleis Salon and Spa. Photography by Wandering Albatross Photography

    The salon/spa is also in a green building and SORAA met the bill on that one. In addition, Helena's building code requires 70% efficiency on lights-a tough one to meet, but becoming more and more do-able with all the lighting choices out there. Even in track lighting.


    Calleis Salon and Spa. Photography by Wandering Albatross Photography

    For the client, going with the SORAA bulbs were a big initial investment, but the designer did some number crunching and calculated that it would only take 3 years and 2 months to realize the payback on this. Plus, this also met the building code, satisfied the clients needs for the space and leaves a smaller carbon footprint. From a design and client standpoint, the math worked on this, as did the visual and the esthetics. Definitely a win-win scenario.

    The track lighting allows the client to show off a lot of natural products in a natural looking light. Everything is soft and muted. Even the wood is eco friendly in this site being locally harvested and reclaimed. The light is diffused. The areas where the designer dropped down light was the cash register and the wash basin areas where a lot of light is needed. The designer says that even with artificial light in these areas, it still had a sense of it being a natural light source. This lighting effect is something that can never be achieved with halogen lights since they are not a single source light. SORAA is a natural looking light source that is even-halogen is not. Not to mention, that for the designer, SORAA had the color temperature she was looking for AND the right amount of lumens.


    Calleis Salon and Spa. Photography by Wandering Albatross Photography

    If you've worked with Total Lighting Supply on a lighting project and would like to see an article about your experience here at our blog, contact us-we'd love to work with you on this!

    Posted in:

    Tags: retail lighting, lighting retail space, Salon and spa design, sustainable track lighitng

  • Pendant Track Lighting Adapter explained!

    Now you can utilize pendant lights on your 3 wire H style track lighting system with this easy to install track lighting adapter. Learn how it works by watching the video below!

    Posted in:

    Tags: pendant lighting, track lighting adapters, 3 wire, H style

  • The "KISS" Method: Keep It Super Simple

    Many of you are familiar with the "KISS" method? Keep it super simple (well, there is another version out there-the "keep it simple s-----", but we won't use that language here!) Sometimes simple is the best. One of our clients that does large trade shows in the fashion industry came to us with a dilemma. They had three days to light a huge color banner of one of their models for a trade show in Austin, Texas. The trade show facility vendor wanted to rent them $1800 in LED lighting for the three days they were there- which was way outside of their budget. They needed the banner to stand out and be seen, but the quoted rental fee definitely put it out of reach. The owner of the fashion company called and talked with our lead lighting designer, Mark Scott. Mark has been in the lighting industry for 30 years and has wonderful and creative solutions to just about any lighting dilemma. His simple solution got the banner to stand out with even, bright light all for under $300 total. The client also got to keep the lighting fixtures for their next upcoming show too. Sometimes a simple solution is the way to go. So, what was the simple solution? They used two 500watt wide flood Par64 fixtures with bulbs, and one PAR64 flood to highlight the banner on the top left so it would be slightly brighter there.

    Easy solution, and boy did that banner stand out-it was easily seen from the other side of the convention center. No matter what your project is, from kitchens to landscape lighting, good lighting can make all the difference in the world. The staff at Total Lighting Supply are not about just selling part numbers on box, they are about getting you the light you need to make your project sparkle.

    Looking up at the par lights above the trade show booth


    Full view of the poster (well lit, we might add!)

    We here at Total Lighting Supply are on a mission to demystify lighting aspects one bulb, one fixture at a time.

    Want to be demystified even more? Go to our You Tube Channel and check out the informational videos that we've made for you.

    Posted in:

    Tags: trade show lighting, trade show lighting solutions

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