Archive for the ‘LED Lighting’ Category

Set Phasors on Stun! Scottie, Warp Power Up to Full Capacity!

September 20, 2013

phasor

It was reported recently  that some bright folks have figured out that if you watch the current of the power grid with phasor measurement units (picture colorful layers of EKG displays),it will reveal potential disruptions in the power supply nationwide and help us catch a problem before it gets too big, like it did in the summer of 2003 when 50 million people lost power.

Knowing when trouble is coming is great but if we tax the grid with cooling and lighting, watching re runs of Star Trek, and running blenders for margaritas’ in the summer, what do we do about it?

Either generate more power (Que Scottish accent shouting “I dannae is she can’t take any more captain!”) or we change our behavior (put the blender away)  We may have escaped this summer unscathed, but reducing our electircal load year round is a great idea.

Here’s one more option:  Energy efficient appliances, lighting and homes!  When you replace appliances or lighting, make sure it EnergyStar rated or is a LED or CFL for lighting.  As for our homes, increasing your comfort can mean reducing your bills as well and using less from the grid at the same time.  Air sealing and insulation makes a big difference on the cooling bill.  Consider a home performance assessment, that way your shields will be up and ready for anything.

Thanks,

Jason

Equipment: Reach for the stars!

September 18, 2013

I’ve been talking about the demonstration home at one of our locations lately, and ASI installed some great upgrades including a high efficiency water heater and HVAC system, Energy star appliances, and LED lighting.  We’ve discussed many of these things in the past because they make sense, especially when electric rates can be high.

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It’s a great idea to reduce the wattage of lights but who wants to read in the dark?  Lighting is like comfort, you don’t need to compromise in order to be more efficient.  When it comes to lighting, Lower wattage CFL’s and LED’s allow us the best of both worlds just like high efficiency equipment.  As an added bonus, the LED lighting that we install has a life of over 50,000 hours. That’s a lifetime for most people.

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They say HVAC is the heart of home performance and good equipment goes hand and hand with good buildings, these are stars that are both within your reach.

Thanks,

Jason

 

Can the LED Mean no More Excuses?

June 14, 2013

We have written about LED lighting in the past, and there are lots of good reasons to consider it in your home.  The recessed lighting options out there can help with energy savings as well as tackling a troublesome air sealing dilemma.

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But the big hurdle for me is the light bulb. We use them everywhere in our homes and in places where we really need them like to read or get down the stairs.  There have a number of bulbs making their way to market, and one of them is CREE.

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It did cost me $12, but my biggest complaint is that I may have to keep the receipt for 10 years if it fails under warranty.  If it only lasts 10 years, it will have been a $1.20 a year investment and I expect to spend that much a year to keep it on about 6 hours a day since it uses only 9.5 watts produces 800 lumens.  An incandescent might cost $8 a year to burn the same hours and it sure won’t last 10 years.

What does it look like though, since nostalgia and good looks matter and have kept some of us from changing standard light bulbs to compact fluorescents.    Go figure, I think it looks like a light bulb.  I’m running out of excuses. Even with antique fixtures, something crying for an old Edison bulb I think it looks pretty good.

Thanks,

Jason

 

In home electric monitoring, Real Time Data and Age Old Adages

May 24, 2012

By U.S. Air Force photo by Edward Aspera Jr. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

NYT reported last month that although there are some early adopters of monitors of electric use in our homes, it is predicted that more than half will have them in the next ten years.    Notable in the Times article is a quote from Dan Yates, CEO of Opower: “Simply making energy usage visible can have an impact”.   I can believe that; after all, “knowledge is power”, right?

Blending physics, and metaphor, with this age old adage (I can’t resist throwing in some physics), power implies transformation.  It is a function of using energy to do work.  My point is that energy monitors aren’t worth squat unless we change our behavior based on what they tell us.  In fact, since you plug them in, they use electricity, they don’t save it.

Local utilities are offering energy data with things like the green button which we’ve written about in the past. Changing light bulbs to CFLs or LEDs can make a big impact with electric loads.  When you use electricity—for A/C or to heat water for example—more efficient systems can make a difference; and so can improving the home in other ways.   The gains in insulating and air sealing, proper shading, and good windows can really make an impact on your energy usage as well as your comfort.

I wonder if the adage “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing” is relevant?  Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to keep an eye on your electrical usage, but don’t get caught watching and not acting. Or maybe, “a fool and his money will soon part” fits too.

Thanks,

Jason

LED Lighting Facts: New Consumer Label for Lighting

February 13, 2012

 

Expect to see LED light bulb packaging sport a new label this summer.  The intent is to introduce some transparency in the market and guard against exaggerated claims in lighting performance.  

This should lend some clarity on lumens, (a measure of the light output) how many lumens per watt, helping us better understand the bulb’s efficiency as well as the light color.  One of the arguments against migrating away from incandescent has been the quality of the light.   Hopeful labeling will help shed some light on this subject (sorry I couldn’t resist). More here at lightingfacts.com

Thanks,

Jason

CREE offering a new look for great lighting!

February 2, 2012

Our favorite LED, recessed down-lighting from CREE, the CR6, has gotten more colorful.  Well actually the available trim kits have.  Following the footsteps of Henry Ford “you can have any color as long as it is black” the CR6 has until now only been available in white.   CREE is offering Mr. Ford’s favorite color, black, as well as “wheat” (I might call it bronze) and plain old “anodized” or silver. Energy efficient, dimmable and long lasting, here is to good looking lighting that works!

 

 

Thanks,

Jason

 

 

Nostalgic for that Old Edison Bulb? Comfort(of a kind) and Energy Efficiency in Good Design

January 3, 2012

Panasonic has released a dandy looking light bulb for the future.  It looks a lot like something from the past.  Certainly LED light bulbs have their place in our lighting future as they already do in our present.  Cree  has certainly topped our charts here at GreenHomes America, especially when it comes to recessed down lighting. 

As expected, the Pansonic LED Nostalgic Clear, promises a long life at 40,000 hours and significant energy savings at 4.4w over 20W (for a CFL) with an A-Energy rating.  At 2700k Panasonic claims the bulb produces a soft warm light, and overall it is fairly compact.

I’ve mentioned the Switch bulb which I think looks pretty neat  even when off, but with this one, your interior decorating scheme might be a bit more industrial. 

 Let’s face it, sometimes you can see the light bulb and who wants to look at some clunky piece of technology from the 1980’s Battlestar Galactica days?  I do like the look of the Panasonic Nostalgic Clear.   

The frontier is still multi-directional, bright lighting; something as yet not done well by LED lighting overall, and I am sure is lacking in this Panasonic bulb as well.  Gerry Negley, Cree’s CTO has said, “I don’t know what lighting will look like in the 21st century. I can tell you it will not be constrained with shapes and technology of the past.  It will not look like a traditional light bulb.”  Can’t wait to see, but for now give me something familiar to light the way.

Lights, Vampires and Holiday Wishes!

December 6, 2011

 

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Maybe you’ve seen this already, its’ been floating around the web, but I Love this picture.  Some of us go for broke when it comes to holiday decoration.  I’m only lightly (sorry) using the metaphor “going for broke”.

We celebrate this time of year as the skies grow darker earlier and the season shortens for cultural and religious reasons and just plain fun.    I’m more in the Ditto camp, but we do have a Christmas tree.     

Out of curiosity I used a nifty device called a Kill-A-Watt, and I metered my own Christmas tree at home.  We like the old school lights, the big bulbs and the bubbling ones. One year we left a strip plugged in lying on the couch and burned a hole in it.       

Well, my little tree with a few strips of lights big and small draws about 320watts.  I have an electric tea kettle that boils water with less wattage.  I can make coffee with that.   A co-worker’s tree with LED lights draws about 20watts. 

I’m probably not going to change. I like the light from the tree.  It makes me happy.   I suppose although it’s not efficient, it helps heat my house. (Yes, heating my house in Maine with light bulbs is not necessarily the smartest economic move I’ve made!)

Question I have now is “how about all the other things with clocks and lights, plugged in but not doing anything.”  Mike has mentioned “smart” power strips in the past.  This might be a good stocking stuffer for some (well if you have a big stocking I suppose).  Our TV’s and their electronic entourage, sit around waiting to entertain drawing power with their clocks lights and standby modes.  Set top boxes and DVR’s  can have a huge draw and can be worse than a good refrigerator!       

We make choices with our home and what we do to run the things in them, and it’s good to make informed ones.   Using energy costs money.  Wasting energy costs even more. Maybe the “Ditto” family has some extra cash for the presents under the tree instead, or a week in the Bahamas.  What would you do with the money you’re wasting needlessly on phantom loads?  Oh, don’t forget:  air leaks, spotty insulation, old inefficient heating equipment, leaky ductwork….What does your holiday wish list look like?

Cheers!

Jason.

Interesting LEDs from Cooper Lighting and Commercial Electric

November 1, 2011

There are a couple of interesting LED recessed (or sort of recessed!) lighting fixtures that we’ve tested recently that are worth sharing.  I wouldn’t consider either one the CREE-killer (the CREE CR6 is still my head & shoulders above the rest favorite residential LED fixture).  But each might be a workable option in some situations.

First is Cooper Lighting’s ALL-PRO LED.  This product provides another options for “wet” locations, and at a lower price point than the HALO fixture previously reviewed here.  The dimming seems to work.

Cooper Lighting All-Pro LED Fixture

A couple things I don’t like are the 3000K rating which means it’s in the very white (some say blue) color range.  For comparison the CREE CR6 is a much warmer looking 2700K.  The other big downside for me is the 81 “color rendition index” compared to the CREE 90.  A higher number means things look truer to their natural color to the human eye.   At a rated 14.6 watts, it’s very efficient, but not as good as the CREE.

Price wise, this is comparable to the CREE and cheaper than the HALO.  If you need a wet-rated fixture, this is a worthy choice.

Next up is the Commercial Electric Light Disk.  The light quality is similar to the above product at 3000K and a CRI of 80.  OK, but not on par with the CREE CR6.  However, it does have two big advantages going for it.  It is brighter that either the CREE or the Cooper products.  Not hugely so, but brighter.  Commercial Electric  LED Disk Light

And the big feature in it’s flexibility is the ability to fix in either 5″ or 6″ cans or, uniquely surface mounted right on a 4″ junction box–a surface mounted fixture with a recessed light look.  There might be some very useful applications for this, from closets to simple retrofits would you want a sleeker modern look to replace a clunky looking surface fixture. 

We’ll keep evaluating and reviewing as the technology evolves, and we’ll keep you posted on anything interesting.

Cheers,
Mike

Light Bulb Options

August 14, 2011

With the new light bulb regulations hitting the 100-watt bulbs in January (lower-wattage bulbs will be phased in later over the next few years), Bob Tedeschi has a good article in the NY Times about different light bulb options, and based his his preferences, what works where.

There’s no need to panic–we won’t be living in the dark!

[And a long-term follow-up–still love those CREE CR6 for recessed lighting, LED or otherwise.  It’s just darned good!]


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