Friday, September 6, 2013

WSRM---CEILINGlights fixture basics!


WSRM---CEILINGlights fixture basics!

Ceiling light fixtures are relatively new within the scheme of house lighting. Gas lighting near the ceiling gave way to the newer knob-and-tube method of running electrical wire. This meant that wires could be run between floors or in an attic with relative safety.
Your options have expanded beyond the chandelier lights of old. Lights can be mounted within the ceiling or hung far down as pendants. They can run on thin cables or easy-to-install tracks. Let's look at your basic ceiling light fixture options, except for a couple of the least popular (fluorescent and spot lights):

1. Flush and Semi-Flush Lights

Ah, the familiar flush and semi-flush ceiling lights! They are found in literally every home. Builders will install these as "default" lights unless otherwise requested (electrical code requires every room to have lighting, so this is a way of taking care of that requirement).
These lights hug close to the ceiling electrical box (which means that they also hug close to the ceiling) and typically drop down between 6" and 15". They are stationary.
Where to Install: Bedroom, bathroom.
  • Cheap. You can pick up a flush or semi-flush ceiling light for as little as $5-10, if you really want one that cheap. And that's why many builders install them unless otherwise specified.
  • Dependable. Unlike recessed, track, or cable lights, these are uncomplicated devices, the true workhorse of ceiling lighting.
Disadvantage(s) Quality of Light. These lights cast an overall-room brightness, without giving you enough light to concentrate on specific tasks. While a flush or semi-flush mount will not provide all of your kitchen ceiling lighting, it's a good base-level light to start with.

2. Recessed Lights

Recessed lights--also called canister or can lights--came of age in the 1970s and 1980s. It seems that every house built in the Eighties had recessed lights. Of course, their ubiquity meant that they would soon become roundly disliked.
Recessed lights consist of the metal canister and the bulb. Both are housed within the ceiling itself, so that no part of the light protrudes below ceiling level.
Where to Install: Living room, family room.
Clean Lines. If you have a modern house, recessed lights are probably the way to go--they minimize obstructions and let you concentrate on other aspects of the home.
  • Difficult to Move. You would need to access the light from the attic, patch the existing hole, cut a new hole, and re-install.
  • Fire Danger. Certain types of recessed lights can be covered in insulation in the attic. Even so, some residential codes do not allow installation of recessed lights in such areas due to inherent fire hazards.
Fixture Shown Here:

3. Pendant Lights

In terms of ubiquity, pendant lights are the new recessed lights (can you say "Starbucks"?). For a time in the late 1990s, pendant lights were the hottest thing, the ultimate in urbanity. Now that their influence has spread, it's their functionality that has remained. Pendant lights are a wonderful way to bring light closer to your work surface.
Where to Install: Kitchen island, kitchen counters.
  • Spotlighting. As mentioned, pendants allow you to focus light on a particular area.
  • Overused. If you don't mind being like the Joneses, buy a pendant light. But remember that the Joneses are probably buying the popular and overdone "capsule" style glass fixtures. Suggest: experiment with the fixture and try something different, like the one shown here (yes, this is still a pendant light).
Fixture Shown Here:

4. Chandeliers

When most people think of chandeliers, they think of fancy fixtures dripping with sparkling glass. If this is to your taste, that's fine. But as long as the fixture both hangs and displays multiple bulbs, it's a chandelier--so, any style is possible.
Where to Install: Dining room.
  • Adjustable Height. Chandelier fixtures usually can be adjusted up or down to better accommodate the table below.
  • Costly. By virtue of the amount of materials used in chandeliers (more metal, more bulbs, etc.), chandeliers tend to be expensive. That's one reason why you confine chandeliers to one place, instead of sprinkling them all around the house.
Fixture Shown Here:

5. Track Lights

Like our friend the recessed light, track lights had their heyday in the Seventies. Track lights freed up tables, floors, and other surfaces from merely being places to put a lamp. More importantly, track lights were adjustable...
Where to Install: Kitchen, bathroom, den, mancave, home theater, hobby room, workshop.
  • Adjustable. Yes, in theory, you can endlessly move track lights along the track. Will you, in practice, do this? That's the question. You might do this in a room with a lot of activity, such as a workshop or hobby room.
  • Unsightly Tracks. The tracks are large and difficult to disguise.
Fixture Shown Here:

6. Rail or Cable Lights

A newer version of the track light. Rail or cable lights pull their power from a continuous, charged metal rail or thin cable (your choice). Unlike the track light's track, which was meant to be camouflaged, rails and cables are meant to be seen: they are part of the style. Where to Install: Kitchen, bathroom, den, mancave, home theater.
  • Adjustable. Like the track light, you can slide the lights along the rail or cable to any spot.
  • Very Noticeable. Yes, the rails and cables are part of the look. But in many cases, they draw too much attention--away from other room elements.
Fixture Shown Here:

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

WSRM--- The Hazards from CFL Light Bulbs!


WSRM--- The Hazards from  CFL Light Bulbs!

You may have heard stories or rumors about potential hazards of using Compact Fluorescent Lamps, or CFLs, in your home. Millions of these bulbs are being bought and installed every year, and the pace is increasing as standard incandescent light bulbs are being phased out. What is the real story? Is there any truth to these rumors?
Here are three of the most prevalent rumors, with the facts behind them. There's some truth to each.

CFL Light Bulbs Contain Mercury

This is true. All fluorescent lamps contain mercury. It's part of how they're made, and it's part of 
what makes them work. Every fluorescent tube you see, whether it's in the grocery store, your office, your garage or your living room, has some mercury in it.
That said, there are two things to bear in mind when changing these bulbs, and one important thing to remember if one of them breaks:
  1. There is very little mercury in a single fluorescent tube. And, the amount of mercury is a function of the size of the tube. That means that there is only a tiny amount of mercury in one of the very small tubes found in a Compact Fluorescent Lamp.
    That doesn't mean that it isn't there. It is, and you need to be aware of it. But if you accidentally break a CFL, you're not going to immediately poison anyone in your household, or contaminate your home to the point that it will need to be cleaned by professionals, if you do the cleanup carefully.
    Why? Primarily because the total amount of mercury in one hundred household-size Compact Fluorescent Lamps is less than the amount of mercury in one of the mercury-bulb thermometers that we've been sticking in our mouths for years.
  2. All fluorescent tubes, including CFLs, do need to be properly disposed of. They should not be thrown in the trash or, worse yet, put out with the recycling. And you do need to clean up a spill safely. So what should you do?
    • Ask your garbage collector what you should do with the old bulb or the remains of a broken one, or contact your county waste management authority. Either of them may know of a drop-off facility for hazardous material that's convenient for you.
    • You can also check with the stores that sell a lot of these light bulbs. Many of the large home improvement centers will let you drop used CFL bulbs off at their stores. They've already set up a means to safely deal with the spent lamps. Just make sure, if you have a broken one, that they're prepared to accept that, too.

CFLs Can Cause Migraines

Some people think so. They are sensitive to the subtle flickering that electric lights emit. That flicker is more pronounced, or evident, when the light is a fluorescent tube than it is with other types of lights. The manufacturers are aware of this and are working to reduce the flickering. It is unlikely that they will be able to eliminate it as long as the standard power used with lights is alternating current, because the visible flicker is produced by the alternating of the current. If you're sensitive to this effect, or someone you live or work with is, there are things you can do to reduce the effect.
  • Try changing to different, and newer, fluorescent light bulbs, to see if the improved designs have solved the problem.
  • Change to a different type of light bulb. Standard incandescent light bulbs may have disappeared but their siblings, halogen lamps, are becoming more common and less expensive every day. So are Light Emitting Diode, or LED, light bulbs. Neither halogen nor LED light bulbs have been reported to cause migraines.
  • If you find that you more often get migraines or other headaches at work than at home, and you notice that almost all of the light in your workplace comes from fluorescent fixtures, try moving your work space to a location closer to a window so that you can receive more natural light, or ask the management if they can change some of the lighting to be non-fluorescent.
  • At home you can increase the amount of natural light that enters your rooms. You can install incandescent, halogen and LED bulbs instead of CFLs. You can install only those fluorescent light bulbs and tubes that are shielded.

CFLs Can Cause Skin Cancer

Possibly. Exposure to ultraviolet, or UV, radiation has been linked to skin cancer, and fluorescent lamps emit more energy in the UV part of the spectrum than other types of light bulbs do. And yes, that means that sitting under, or near, any fluorescent light may expose you to more UV radiation than spending the same amount of time in other forms of artificial light will.
That is, this will happen if you are exposed to light from unshielded CFLs. What's the alternative?
  • If you are using the CFLs which have the bent tubing out in the open, where you can see and touch it, only install these in lamps and other fixtures where you can't see the bulb.
  • In those where you can see the bulb, such as your desk lamp or reading lamp or the recessed lights in your kitchen, either install other types of light bulbs or use the CFLs that have a translucent cover over the tube. That covering is almost always an effective shield, or filter, for ultraviolet radiation.
Compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) may be more efficient than other types of bulbs, considering initial price and cost of the power over their lifetimes, but you may also want to consider possible hazards when making your choice of bulbs to buy.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

WSRM---How to Calculate Energy Savings of Incandescent Lights Vs. LED ?


WSRM---How to Calculate Energy Savings of Incandescent Lights Vs. LED ?

LED (light-emitting diode) lights can save you significant amounts of money, while helping to save the environment. LED lights offer a zero-maintenance lighting alternative that provides equivalent illumination to incandescent bulbs, with environmentally safe components, at a lower wattage. LED lights also emit considerably less heat than their incandescent counterparts and last longer, which saves replacement costs and inconvenience.

Friday, August 16, 2013

WSRM---LEDLights Bulbs Mature At Last!


WSRM---LEDLights Bulbs Mature At Last!

About ten years ago I invested in an LED (light emitting diode) company, and [cutting to the chase] we were too early. The technology and the market did not come together as soon as we had expected, our first application win was short-lived, and the venture turned a lot of dollars into dimes. Along the way I heard the pitch about the promise of LEDs many times (usually when more money was needed), including the potential for LED bulbs to replace billions of incandescent (or “Edison”) bulbs sold each year.

Despite this painful experience, it hit me some time this year that LED light bulbs actually have arrived:
  • They’re available atHome Depot and my local hardware store (and many other places).
  • They look good — I’ve intermixed them with Edison bulbs in my house, and they are not easy to distinguish, except by the half-second lag between switch movement and the appearance of light.
The economics are now attractive.  
      A bit more on economics: an Edison bulb (and all other pre-20th century light sources) is essentially a heat source that produces a little bit of light. A “65 Watt” Edison bulb produces about 700 lumens (a lumen, “lm”, is a unit of visible light power). If you had perfect conversion of electricity into light, you would need only 1.0 Watt (“W”) of electrical power to produce 700 lm. So, an Edison bulb is 1.6% efficient. For such a widely deployed technology, this is amazingly bad. But Edison bulbs are much better than the kerosene lamps they replaced …

       A comparable LED bulb* consumes 13 W and produces 730 lm, which is 5.2x better efficiency than an Edison bulb, but still only 8%. The theoretical efficiency of an LED is about 30%, but commercially available LED materials are ~16%, and making a light bulb involves a power supply, phosphors, a protective container, etc., all of which dissipate energy.
   Why are LEDs better? Edison bulbs function by making a Tungsten filament very hot, and a hot object glows: radiating energy on a broad spectrum of wavelengths, only a small part of which is visible to the eye. The rest of the radiated energy is mostly heat.

    LEDs function by driving electrons across a junction between two semiconductor materials in which electrons move at different energy levels. When the electrons cross the junction, they drop from the higher energy level to the lower one, and the energy each electron loses when it drops takes the form of light to a large extent. The color of the light is mathematically determined by the energy level difference. So all of the light produced by an LED is the same color, and LEDs can be designed to produce light in the visible range. This precise conversion to one color is why LEDs are referred to as “digital light”. There is some waste heat caused by inefficiencies within the LED, however, the net result is a big gain in the percentage of electricity converted to visible light.

This digital precision creates a problem, too. Our eyes prefer full-spectrum analog light: what you get from a light bulb, a fireplace, or the sun. LED bulbs use a mix of phosphors (materials that absorb light and re-emit it at different colors) to convert the single color from the LED into multiple colors that mimic the spectrum, imperfectly. I find today’s LED bulb light pleasing, but my wife thinks the same light looks too orange.
LEDs are also long lived because they do not operate at the high temperatures that degrade the filaments of Edison bulbs. The LED itself has an expected life of about 50,000 hours (six years) of continuous use. Its power supply is less robust, so LED bulbs are usually rated for 25,000 hours. How long they last in practice is TBD, however: I have not used any for 25,000 hours. Edison bulbs are good for about 2,000 hours.
Here is how the dollars work out today. This example is for flood lights of the type used in down lights (“cans”), which is most of what we have in our house (pictured above). If you use a 65 W Edison bulb heavily (6 hours per day, 2,200 hours per year), it consumes $21.50/year of electricity (@ $0.15/kWh). The LED bulb uses 80% less electricity and lasts 11 years, so the electricity savings is $17.20 per year, plus a replacement Edison bulb @ $2, resulting in $19.50 of savings. The LED bulb costs $27 at Home Depot. So you get payback in 1.5 years and expect to keep saving for quite a few years beyond that. If the bulb is less used the payback is longer but the ROI is still good.
These savings will not change my lifestyle. But, a good ROI combined with less need to change bulbs and the satisfaction of being “greener” has caused me to stop buying Edison bulbs and install LEDs as bulbs burn out, focusing on the heavily used and hard-to-reach locations.
The easy thing to predict is what will happen, and the hard thing is when. We got the when wrong in 2003, but I have a deep love of innovation, and I’m pleased to see success come along in the end. The lesson here for investors is, when it takes this long and costs this much, the odds for start-ups are not good. The bulbs I am buying come from GE and Philips, WSRM,the three long time leaders in consumer lighting.