Tag Archives: LED

Turning the Lights off at Work

It is my opinion that I have cut down my household electricity consumption to a fairly good range.  For a family of four living in an above average sized home using 360 to 390 kWh per month on a twelve month rolling average feels like a success.  Furthermore, I am offsetting more than 100% of that electricity consumption via the solar photovoltaic system on my roof.

Although my children generally groan when I tell them to head back downstairs to turn off lights when they are done playing with LEGOS or practicing piano they understand what is behind the request.  Heck, my son has turned into a little eco-warrior albeit in his own way.  For some reason he is focused on people who smoke.  His frequent refrain when we pass someone smoking is, “Why do people smoke?  It’s not good for them, it is expensive, and the smoke is bad for the environment.”  If only we all could follow the logic of a six year old.

However, much of my days is not spent at home but at work.  It is a fairly standard office setting.  A lot of cubicles, a smattering of offices, and a handful of conference rooms.  It is the type of office environment that would not be out of place in a half hour sitcom or the movie Office Space.  Fortunately my days are not interrupted by Lundberg.

Surprisingly in a recent renovation of the office space some automatic lighting controls were installed that switch lighting on and off based on movement.  This prevents offices and common areas from being lit up all night long when none is occupying the space.  I say surprisingly because the company I work for is not well known for its forward leaning facilities plan.

The conference rooms do not have these features.  Lights are still controlled by wall mounted switches and projectors for presentations have indeterminate timers.  No matter how many LEDs I switch off in my own home, it cannot compare to switching off the conference room lights at the end of the day before going home.  Heck, I turn off the lights in the three conference rooms I pass on my way to get hot water for tea whenever these rooms are unoccupied.

The computer projectors, though, drive me insane.  When these things are blazing away it is like leaving a 300W incandescent bulb burning.  Ever seen a 300W incandescent bulb?  It’s freaking bright and hot.  A couple of taps on a remote is all it takes to turn these machines off yet most meetings adjourn with the projectors being left on regardless of a meeting taking place in the same room or not.

I now find myself turning into the light and projector police at work.  What about you?  Do you turn the lights off at work?

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Friday Linkage 6/23/2017

Rick Perry is not a scientist.  Just ask him, but he apparently “knows” that carbon dioxide emissions are not the main driver behind climate change.  Okay, but what does the former Dancing with the Stars contestant and multiple time presidential candidate failure actually think is driving the climate to change?  Good luck deciphering that opinion.

The part about the “debate” over climate change is that no one asks no-talent ass clowns like James Inhofe what his thoughts are about the issue when it is too hot for planes to take off in Phoenix or the temperatures reach 90 degrees in Siberia.  Sure enough the media is ready to put him on television holding a snowball in the freaking winter—like the presence of snow in winter is proof of anything other than it being winter.

On to the links…

Renewable Energy Just Passed a Major Milestone in the United States—10 percent of the electricity in the United States was generated by renewables in March.  Wind power is now the fourth largest source of power in the United States behind coal, natural gas, and nuclear.

Solar Power Will Kill Coal Sooner Than You Think—We have reached the tipping point where the costs of choosing solar power are the same or better than coal.  Why tether yourself to an outdated fuel?

Forget Coal, Solar will Soon be Cheaper than Natural Gas Power—When this happens a lot of people are going to be gagging on their ribeye steaks across the natural gas basins of the United States.

This Case Could Upend America’s $29 Billion Solar Industry—Everyone loves the free market right up until the moment it impacts their own business.  It’s the same in automobiles, agriculture, and even solar panels.  The reason solar is so cheap right now is that China is selling panels extra cheap.  Each time I get an estimate for a solar PV system on my house the cost has gone down, which is directly attributable to reduced panel cost.

LED Lights are Taking over Households at a Meteoric Rate, but Some are Slow to Make the Switch—Prices for LED bulbs are down 90% since 2008.  LED bulbs are having a measureable impact on electricity consumption.  Even with these crazy numbers there are still a lot of households holding on to inefficient incandescent bulbs and horrible CFLs.

Nevada Boosts Solar Power, Reversing Course—It’s a little bit of good news coming out of the Silver State.  Eighteen months ago Nevada killed net metering which slaughtered its solar industry.  Now it is back.

Texas Is Too Windy and Sunny for Old Energy Companies to Make Money—Am I supposed to feel bad for fossil fuel companies that built business plans under the assumption that they would have control over their markets into the forever future?

California Invested Heavily in Solar Power. Now There’s So Much that Other States are Sometimes Paid to Take It—The LA Times has done some great reporting on the growth and development of California’s entire electrical grid, including the construction of unnecessary power plants to the tune of billions of dollars.  Now it looks like they cannot contain the solar either.

Tesla is Changing the Electric Grid—It’s all part of Elon Musk’s plan.  Sell you a car that is really just a giant battery on wheels and sell you a house covered in solar panels with a Powerwall to tie it all together.  Suddenly Tesla is the company that can help the electric grid manage its peaks and valleys in demand and generation.  Talk about power.

Scientists Sharply Rebut Influential Renewable-Energy Plan—So if we cannot get to 100% renewables—which is a debatable assertion given that much depends upon the timeline and technology developed during that time—what is the number we can get to economically and technically?  I remember a time when a lot of influential people were saying that 10% seemed out of reach.  Well…

Rick Perry Just got Scooped: New Report Shows Cleaner Grid Provides Reliable Power—Is there a bigger knucklehead in government than Rick Perry?  Trump is a bully and I fully believe that Steve King is some kind of demon sent from hell to torture anyone with good sense.  But Rick Perry?  What a knucklehead.

Interior Chief Ryan Zinke Wants to Shed 4,000 Staffers in Budget Cuts—Your government is going to look a lot different in four years and it is going to take a long time to rebuild the expertise that is going to be lost in these purges.  It is intentional to degrade the service and capability because it allows people like Paul Ryan to say, “See, government does not know what it is doing.”  No shit Sherlock.  When you staff it with incompetent toadies it is no wonder government does not work.

Friday Linkage 11/21/2014

Winter blew in with some force. Keystone XL went down in the Senate. Obama pissed off Republicans by leading, taking executive action, and doing something about the mess that is U.S. immigration policy. Remember, every time you hear a Republican moan about the imperial presidency these were the same people who were okay with W using signing statements to change the intent of laws. Every time a Republican screams an angel’s head explodes.

On to the links…

Chicken Abuse Revealed by Undercover Videos at Koch Foods Sites—Well, it looks like the Kochs just don’t hate liberals but they also hate chickens.  I wonder how fast ag gag laws are going to show up in every state with a Koch funded legislator and lobbyist?

Emissions Rules Yield Little Benefit along Colorado’s Front Range—Basically, even if emissions from any one particular well are decreasing the impact of so many new wells swamps the improvement of a single site. If you drive anywhere in eastern Colorado you get a real sense of the boom in oil and gas drilling.

‘Scandalous’ Solyndra Program Actually Earned Taxpayers A $5 Billion Profit—Where is Darrell Issa’s righteous indignation now? Oh right, he’s a vaudeville performer in politician’s clothing. The program, in total, worked even if particular projects failed.

Don Blankenship Charged with Conspiracy over Mine Explosion that Killed 29—Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy or a snappier dresser:

rally12_i0909072049581.jpg.662x0_q100_crop-scaleIn case you were wondering, he plead not guilty.

New ‘Solar Cloth’ Allows Solar Cells To Be Stretched Across Parking Lots, Stadiums—The U.S. is covered in an estimated 61,000 square miles of roads and parking lots. Imagine if just a fraction of that were covered in relatively easy to deploy solar cloth?

Google, IKEA, And SunEdison Bought A Lot Of Wind Power This Week—Private companies and utilities are adding a lot of wind to their portfolios. I wonder what the driver of this behavior is right now?

Wave Goodbye to the Two-Car Family—Has there been a bigger driver of bad planning behavior than the American love affair with the personal automobile? Not that I can think of, but the switch away from auto ownership will have equally huge outcomes.

The 10 Biggest Factors Changing Millennial Driving Habits—I was going to blame hipsters, but it looks like there are a lot of correlations driving behavior here.

Why Going to the Library is one of the Best Things I Do—I think I said something similar a short while ago, even using the term “original sharing economy.” It’s good to see people agree with me.

Hellmann’s Are a Bunch of Giant, Eggless “Mayo”-Slinging Hypocrites—These clowns got all huffy with a company using the term mayonnaise in reference to their spread which did not contain eggs, but the plaintiffs also did the same thing. Huh? Oh right, it’s big food trying to smash an upstart. My bad.

Appliance Science: The illuminating physics behind LED lights—LEDs are transforming lighting, but how many of us actually understand how the little buggers work?

Is the Future Flat?

No, this is not some contrived musing about the “flatness” of our globalized world. Sorry, Mr. Friedman.

This is about the Philips SlimStyle LED light bulb. The light bulb is a really unique design in that it does away with the traditional globe or bulb shape that many LEDs attempt to mimic. See it in profile here:

LED Profile

The bulb is a 60 watt “equivalent,” which means it is supposed to put off the same number of lumens as a 60 watt incandescent, consuming 10.5 watts and the bulb is also dimmable. This was a key requirement as I am looking for bulbs to replace my last incandescent bulbs in a dining area fixture that is often dimmed. Mood lighting baby!

The shape of the bulb is critical to its performance. Generally speaking, LED bulbs use large and heavy aluminum heat sinks to dissipate the buildup of heat.   By flattening the bulb and spacing the individual LEDs this bulb is able to eliminate the heat sink. Pretty cool.

I picked up the bulb for less than $10 at a local Home Depot. Does anyone remember when LED bulbs were near $40? Seems like yesterday.

How does it perform? I was concerned that the flat shape would lead to a weird directional light output. Can you spot the flat LED?

Light Fixture Slim LED

Okay, it’s the one in front.

Here is what the bulb looks like naked and on:

Naked Slim LED

 

A Solution to My Lighting Conundrum

Candelabra base (E12 if you are into the nomenclature) bulbs are the devil.  The two lights above the vanity in my master bathroom utilize candelabra base lights for some reason, which I could never figure out because there is more than enough room inside the glass sconces to contain a medium base bulb socket.  The lights have bedeviled me because finding efficient replacements for candelabra base bulbs has been very difficult.

Initially, I tried out several compact fluorescents which all seemed to burn out in record time.  I am talking about a time frame measured in months, like 2 months.  While the lights in the bathroom are turned on for a bit of time every day there is no way that the usage patterns would suggest a bulb lifespan that short.  Heck, the incandescent that came with the lights lasted longer than that.

LEDs have been a no go because the light output for candelabra base bulbs always seems low.  Sure, there are three bulbs per light and two lights meaning that each bulb can be in the 40 watt range to provide a nice amount of light.  But, the bulbs I was seeing in the store equaled the lumens output of a 15 watt bulb or so.  At best the bulb would claim to replace a 25 watt bulb.

On a quick trip to pick up a few hardware items for miscellaneous projects around the house—the joys of home ownership—I stumbled upon these LED bulbs:

ESKAA LED

Candelebra base?  Check.  40 watt equivalent?  Check.  Things were looking good.  At approximately $25 for the pack of three bulbs I was sold.

My primary concern was regarding the manufacturer.  Like CFLs, the “off brand” LEDs I have purchased in the past have had spotty reliability and inconsistent light output.  There have been bulbs, both LED and CFL, that have come from the same manufacturer but performed crazy different.  One time the light output was so different that it looked like two different wattage bulbs installed in the fixture.

ESKAA is a China-based manufacturer of a broad based solution set for lighting–how is that for MBA speak?  What does this mean for you and me?  Not much if the lights do not perform very well.

The construction of the bulbs was pretty similar to what I have seen in other lower cost LEDs: white plastic heat sink base and clear plastic bulb.  One nice upside was that the bulbs were minimally packaged.  If you have opened an LED bulb in the last few months you have probably been left with a pile of paperboard and plastic packaging.  It’s getting a little ridiculous.

The light quality of the bulbs was good and I plan on replacing the assortment of bulbs in the companion light with these very same bulbs after my next visit to the hardware store.  Finally, a solution!

Friday Linkage 3/8/2013

It’s always hard to come back from vacation, but it is hard to get back into the swing of things when you leave weather that is mid-70s and sunny for weather that is mid-teens and snowy.  Oh well, it’s the price that I pay for living in Iowa.

On to the links…

AirBot and WaterBot to Democratize Pollution Monitoring—I want both of these!  Now!  Can you imagine the power in unleashing distributed monitoring of pollution in our air and water?  Bring it on.

New York Times Green Blog Bids Adieu—I am going to miss the Green blog on the New York Times, which was unceremoniously killed March 1st.  As other  major outlets cease providing journalistic coverage of environmental news I can only shudder in fear for the hackery that will follow.

A Snapshot of Drilling on a Park’s Edges—On the edges of Glacier National Park there is a boom in fracking and drilling for natural gas.  Tony Bynum, a photographer who is known for his work in Big Sky Country, has created an interactive map to show what is going on.  It’s a fitting goodbye post for Green.

China Must Send a Clear Message to Consumers on Ivory Trade—I am going to get this out there right away, China is essentially the bane of wildlife’s existence right now.  If there is an endangered species out there right now, it’s threat is usually a result of demand for body parts in China for some bizarre cultural tradition, invented or otherwise.  Granted, other countries are doing the same thing—I am looking at you Japan when it comes to whales and dolphins—but China is a common enemy of wildlife.

Images of Japan’s Barren Tsunami Coast Two Years Later—It’s amazing how little progress has been made in repairing the damage to the coast of Japan following the devastating tsunami.  I understand that the process is long—trust me, Cedar Rapids just now feels like it is getting back to normal after a brutal flood in the summer of 2008—but it seems like Japan is just caught in stasis.

Solar PV has Reached Unsubsidized Grid Parity in India and Italy—You want your mind blown?  Solar PV is now at a price level where it is competing “even Stevens” with fossil fuels.  It’s an inflection point that may accelerate the decarbonisation of our energy system.

Coal Use Declining in U.S., Going Up Everywhere Else—The U.S. is reaping the fruit of its boom in natural gas by supplanting coal generation, but a lot of the rest of the world is not so “lucky.”

BP Bows Out of Solar—Does anyone remember when British Petroleum was going “beyond petroleum?”  Yep, it’s pretty much a dead campaign now.  At least the outlook for solar as an industry, on the whole, is looking good.

Lancaster, California Requires all New Homes to Have Solar Roofs—Talk about a bright spot.  If you build a new house in Lancaster, California it will have, at a minimum, a 1kw solar array on its roof.  Homes on larger lots will be required to have larger systems.  Dig it.

The Loophole That’s Letting Conservatives Manipulate Renewable Energy Standards—Why do conservatives, in general, hate renewable energy?  It seems like a “win-win” for the U.S. to produce as much of its power from domestic sources that can never run out.  However, nothing lines the pockets like manna from Exxon-Mobil.

CREE LED Light Bulb Hits Price Point—Is $10 per bulb the price point at which LED bulbs fly off the shelves?  I have purchased “off brand” LEDS for about $10 and found their performance to be acceptable, but nothing like the $40 or so bulbs I bought for a pair of high use lamps.  Maybe CREE has cracked the ceiling or floor, as it were.

In A Grain Of Golden Rice, A World Of Controversy Over GMO Foods—I have a problem coming to grips with the role of genetically modified organisms.  On one hand, it seems ridiculous to engineer an organisms genetic structure to make it resistant to herbicides to further a chemical farming regime that is unsustainable.  On the other hand, if something could be done to reduce the incidence of critical malnutrition there may be value.  I hate nuance.

A Cheat Sheet to Win Climate Arguments—Keep this handy infographic ready to joust with climate deniers:

climate-flowchart_final2

Friday Linkage 1/25/2013

I have been really slow to post anything the past couple of weeks.  No excuses, just nothing to say really.  Do you ever have one of those stretches of time where you look back on the past couple of weeks and wonder what the heck you accomplished?  If it was anything at all?  Yep, that has been the past couple of weeks for me.

On to the links…

Japan to Build World’s Largest Offshore Wind Farm near Fukushima—Maybe there is a transition underway that comes out of the disaster at the nuclear plant in Fukushima.  I do not know, but this is a step.

LEDs Emerge as Popular Green Lighting—It looks like we have finally reached the inflection point where LEDs are going to be the dominant form of lighting technology.  This is a good thing.

Solar Panel Prices Continue to Slide—The story is not about the price of solar panels anymore.  It’s about the balance of system costs.  The U.S. needs to work on reducing the balance of system costs to speed adoption of distributed solar generation.

Today’s Seafood Special: Pig Manure, Antibiotics, and Diarrhea Bugs—Shrimp never sounded so good?  Our food safety system is a joke because the foxes are running the hen house.  The only way to guarantee a measure of safety is to know as much as possible about the supply chain of your food and strive to keep it as short as possible.  Yeah, it’s hard but this is the food we put in our bodies.

Popular Antibiotic Tainting Minnesota Lakes—Triclosan is just bad crap.  It’s not really effective as an antibiotic and now it is polluting our waterways because people are so afraid of germs that they expect the stuff to be in every product.  It should be banned.  Now.

Why is Coffee So Expensive?—I tend to fall onto the other side of this question and wonder why coffee is so cheap?  If you ever visit a coffee farm—I have visited several on the Big Island and Kauai—the first thing that will be striking is how labor intensive the effort can be.  Sure, a lot of coffee is harvested mechanically but high quality is coffee is picked manually.  Than you see how much of the weight is lost as the coffee bean is separated from the pulpy exterior.  Never mind transit, roasting, etc.  Now you get my point.

Not Just Another Brookylnite with Chickens—It’s easy to pillory the people with backyard chickens or fancy vegetable gardens as elitists, but growing or raising your own food with whatever resources are available to you has always been a fact of life for people lower down the economic ladder from your average hipster urban farmer.

New Pubs Send Profits to Charity—Why not, right?  Like any of these “schemes” however, I wish people would just donate $20 to their charity of choice directly rather than depend on an intermediary who takes a cut.

Saving Tasmanian Devils from Extinction—I have been following the story of the Tasmanian devils for years as the species looks at extinction from a virulent and contagious face cancer.  It’s a wild story.

New Belgium Brewery’s Kim Jordan Chats with the Denver Post—New Belgium Brewery is important in the beer world because it has helped spread the gospel of good beer.  For me, growing up in the Midwest, New Belgium and Summit in St. Paul. Minnesota were the breweries that produced beer that opened my eyes.  It’s always interesting to hear what people at the head of that movement have to say.