Tuesday, July 21, 2009

LED - Now or Later?

LED lamps are the new wave in lamps. Lasting 10 times longer than incandescent, no mercury like CFL's, the color is almost as good, lumen output is close to the same and some are dimmable. So why aren't we buying them? Mostly the answer I hear is because they are expensive. LED, the saying "You get what you pay for" really rings true. Good LED diodes are in good lamps, cheap LED diodes are in cheap lamps.

Lets take that argument and look at it. As a rule in technology everything usually gets cheaper every year, BUT it only drops approximately 5 -10 percent per year. The energy savings for one LED lamp is approximately 80 percent over conventional incandescent. If you are one of those that would like to wait for the cheap price you will be missing out on 5 to 6 years of 80% savings. The amount of money saved over the next 6 years well outweighs the cost if purchased now and you will still have 10 to 15 years life left on the bulb. You will never recoup the loss. These lamps are ideal for homes with the lower 8' or 9' ceilings because the heat from LED lamps is far less, saving money with airconditioning cost. Homes with ceilings over 12' benefits are you don't have to change the bulbs.

Another way you may want to use LED lamps is for your landscape lighting. Here the saving has to be worked on a little differently. Looking at a traditional landscape job, if you use 150 watt transformer to light up trees for example, you would normally only be able to use 6 - 20w spots. With LED you can use up to 15 heads on the same transformer, making a layout of some jobs easier and more dramatic in it's effect. Your savings would be 150 watts over using traditional heads or if 5 to 6 heads are all you need drop the size of the transformer down to a 60w saving you 90 watts. Note; beware when purchasing 12v LED lamps, you need to make sure of the type transformers you have either electronic or magnetic and buy the correct lamp.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Ceiling Fans / Energy

All manufacturers have ceiling fans with 3, 4, 5 or even 6 blades. Why? The number one reasons is marketing and style, not efficiency. In my opinion the more blades a fan has, the more efficient it will be (to a point). A fan with five or six blades has blades that are in tune with the size of the motor turning the blades. In "tune" means the manufacturers have spent the R&D matching the pitch and length of the blade with the size of the motor.

Think about a Nascar race, often 3 or 4 cars can break away from the pack and get a good size lead on them but if the rest of the pack gets in line they can catch up and sometimes overtake the leaders and use less energy (fuel) doing so, the reason is vacuum. The movement of the air is more consistent over and through a 5 or 6 blade fan. Fans with more blades also are quieter because they can produce air movement with less energy, which cuts down on the chopping “helicopter” sound some fans make.

New DOE regulation (went into effect Jan. 09) require ceiling fan manufacturers to print in their catalog's and on the cartons some key information for the consumers. In addition to motor size, pitch and length of blades, Cubic feet per minute (CFM), electric used (watts) and air flow efficiency (CFM/Watt) have been added. Example: 6417 cfm, 70 watts, 91.6 cfm/watt. My opinion the "key" number is cfm/watt. Fans with integrated light kits is another subject for another time.

Another topic is whether or not you should operate the fan 24hrs or just when you are in the room. Think of it this way, a good fan recirculates the air in a room about every 5 to 10 minutes. All rooms have hot air next to the ceiling and cooler air next to the floor. Most thermostats are on the wall about 5 foot off the floor and your air conditioner cools the air on the floor up to the thermostats height, and does nothing for the air above that height. A ceiling fan running equalizes the temperature in the entire room top to bottom making your air conditioner run less time to keep your house cool, and when your air conditioner shuts down it can stay shut down longer because the fan continues to move cooler air off the floor past the thermostat.

My best advice is to buy your ceiling fans from a distributor that displays a variety of motor types and sizes so you can listen for any motor noise. Statewide Lighting's locations have a large selection to listen to and educated staff members to assist you make your decision (most box store do not). On the web we are at: http://statewidelighting.com or http://statewidelighting.com/shop/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=1