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heat by-product of incandescent bulbs?  RSS feed

 
Kelda Miller
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!!! gasp !!!

So we all know that incandescent bulbs aren't efficient for lighting because they produce and let off heat. BUT during the winter, might it be more efficient to use them because of this heat by-product?

For example, in the fall when I had a bulb-heated dehydrator, I would sit next to it while it was dehydrating and I was food processing. I would stay warm without having to turn on the furnace or light a woodstove.

Fluorescent lights use less electricity, true, but then they also have mercury in them correct? Which doesn't rate it very well for non-toxicities sake. So they might not be the environmental wonders we make them out to be.

What I'd like to know, how does a light bulb compare efficiency wise with other electric heat producers. A couple lamps to take the edge off a cold bedroom rather than an electric space heater? Or even a furnace, though that calculation would get trickier, because its not purely electric...

Of course, this is mild winter climate talk. Or spring and fall when real cold hasn't set in. But in the northwest we have plenty of moderate days.
 
paul wheaton
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I think there are a lot more positives for the incandescent, including the kind of light that comes from it.
 
Matt Ferrall
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I was just reading about towns buying LED stoplights and the LEDs not being able to melt the ice on the light so it builds up until you cant see it anymore.Now they will have to retrofit with special visors or heaters?!I dont thing incandesent bulbs would be an efficient heat source and my gut instinct tells me any transfer from light to heat would just be a trade off.Many space heaters do not have an ultra low setting so if a light bulb is all the heat a person needs then a person would save energy over a heater.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Any electric heat bothers me.

Radiant heat, as mentioned elsewhere, can make a person feel more comfortable for a given rate of BTUs applied to the house.

But energy applied inside a house by electricity is the survivor of a very difficult journey. Assuming we begin its story in a coal fire, a large proportion of its cohort were dumped into the cooling system of the power plant turbine, and a lot more were dissipated in long-distance power lines, switching stations, and transformers along the way. It's like the title character from Saving Private Ryan, and I want to quote Tom Hanks' character: "Earn this!"

That said, I think the scenarios discussed here are some good uses for incandescent bulbs.
 
Matt Ferrall
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In the beginning we had the open fire.Talk about stacking functions!Heat,light,and phycological/social needs all emenated from this fire.Then some `wise guy`says"hey,lets cage this fire in the name of efficiency".Well how efficient is it to create the need for a lighting infrastructure.And the curse continues in our cultural obsession with seperating light from heat.IMO-the opposite direction of stacking functions(seperating?scattering?)
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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I'm definitely not opposed to stacking lighting with heating. I could definitely see changing a particular reading light to incandescent every autumn, and back to LED every spring, if a person's habits suggested such a routine.
 
charles c. johnson
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electric heat is redundant. you are paying the power company to convert heat into electric so you can convert it back, that being said i suppose you could convert lamps to ceramic heater kinda like the candle heaters to store some of the wasted heat
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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charles johnson "carbonout" wrote:i suppose you could convert lamps to ceramic heater kinda like the candle heaters to store some of the wasted heat


I might, instead, suggest applying some gold leaf to the light fixture, so that heat from the bulb is more efficiently directed to the user.

Storing or diffusing electric heat eliminates its most unique property: how concentrated and easy to control it can be.
 
charles c. johnson
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gold leaf , to just the top of the bulb?
 
                                          
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I posted this in the Ban on incandescent light Bulb thread, then saw this one.  Here's some more information on the candle heaters Charles mentioned.  Sigh.  Well, here goes again...

One of the things I always remembered about incandescent light bulbs is that they are an efficient heat source that also happens to generate light.

With that in mind, I still do use incandescent bulbs around the house, in a home made heater.  I found the concept at http://www.heatstick.com/ in their Kandle Heeter.  I have been making these for a while, both as candle powered version of various sizes, and as electric versions, powered by a 40W light bulb.  An incandescent works fine, for the one in my bathroom, I have gone to a small halogen 40W flood light.  I keep that one in my bathroom, where it provides a small, radiant heat source that is beautiful to boot.  I have also made a larger version, that uses a oil lamp for the heat source.  All these heaters are beautiful and cost pennies a day to operate.

Go to the Kandle Heeter website for an idea how the concept works.  It does work, and very well, proving the heat from an incandescent bulb can be put to good use.
 
paul wheaton
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Ernie Wisner
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we use incandescent lights to keep enough heat in a boat to ventilate them and keep things from freezing.

rather than ban the bulb use it wisely. CF bulbs are really not good in places where you turn the light on and off many times a day, they die fast. also the flicker if CF's can cause migraines in many folks prone to them. for me a CF over stark white paper will again lead my eyes to shut down for up to several weeks, blindness is not to bad but its a bit scary for those around me. LED's do not put out good light for much, its the wrong spectrum for our eyes to pick up some details.

all of this can be worked around but you got to think about it.

LED's are great for applications where you dont need to see fine textural details. computer room, living room that sort of thing if you put a slightly yellow filter around them they can be a nice low power option. CF's woork well in places you dont turn the light on and off and where the slight blue or pink can be used to advantage. work shops, potting benches, closets porch lights etc. incan's are the best for reading and socializing spaces, the light is the right spectrum to not change the face contours and they dont glare badly on paper. used to be able to get a little fan thing that ran off the heat of the bulb to move the heat out into the room. its not much heat but it adds up fast in a socializing room.

worst application i have ever seen for CF or LED is the kitchen. both lights change the spectrum and disallow you do see some fine details like true color. a pink CF makes meat look more red (you might notice this around the butcher case in the market) Color is an important indicator to us of freshness. texture is also an indication of food getting bad and thats both a visual and feel thing the visual part is important. Anyhow use the bulbs where they will do the best work and you will be happy with it; condemning the incan cause it puts off heat is as silly as blowing up factories cause pigments can cause silicosis.
 
                                          
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Paul,

I had some pictures, I'll have to take more, I had them on my phone and it died and they went with it.  Sigh.  I'll post some that show all 4 versions I have worked out so far.  BTW, I filled up the parrafin one Friday night, checked it Saturday and it was over half full still.  I came home late Sunday expecting it to have burned out, and IT WAS STILL BURNING!  I am impressed.  It was pretty much empty, but it was still burning nicely. 
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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charles johnson "carbonout" wrote:gold leaf , to just the top of the bulb?


No, on the fixture behind. Often the inside of a reading light fixture is kind of cup-shaped (as though the designer had seen bad drawings of a parabolic reflector a couple times), painted white. White paint is pretty good on the visible part of the spectrum, but gold is supremely good in IR (and OK in visible). So I might put some gold leaf there.

It would be weird using it on a disposable part of the system.
 
charles c. johnson
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yeah that would be wasted full good point
 
Ernie Wisner
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Joel Hollingsworth wrote:
No, on the fixture behind. Often the inside of a reading light fixture is kind of cup-shaped (as though the designer had seen bad drawings of a parabolic reflector a couple times), painted white. White paint is pretty good on the visible part of the spectrum, but gold is supremely good in IR (and OK in visible). So I might put some gold leaf there.

It would be weird using it on a disposable part of the system.


Joel i would submit that most folks will buy the fake gold leaf cause its what most places sell. so you might want to spec a brand of real gold leaf.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Ernie wrote:Joel i would submit that most folks will buy the fake gold leaf cause its what most places sell. so you might want to spec a brand of real gold leaf.


Oh, good point!

I happened to stop by the craft store not long ago. I didn't write down brand names (had not yet read your comment), but cheaper stuff had a characteristic sort of language, trying to weasel out of specifying exactly what metal was in it: "Gold tone" and similar sort of language. It was sold by the ounce.

The actual gold leaf, by contrast, was vague about the weight included (three sheets!), but specific about the "gold" issue.

There's very little gold in a sheet; you should be able to see through it. If you were buying by weight, I would recommend waiting until the current mania is over (perhaps a couple months after Glen Beck loses his job?), but I think the expense of gold leaf is mostly the capability of pounding it so mind-bendingly thin.

Aluminum is no slouch as a heat reflector, either, and would be better for light.

It also occurs to me that, even if things are very reflective, it's worth being very careful about heat: only using materials that can take the temperatures your light fixture already produces. Maybe the aluminum foil vent tape would be a place to start: off-the-shelf, and with an adhesive designed for moderately high temperatures.

Another small thing might be worth mentioning: I understand decorative gold leaf is often applied over red paint, and might be covered with glaze for durability. That isn't what you'd want to do for a heat reflector at all: you'd want to apply it over white paint, and not apply any topcoat.
 
Max Kennedy
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Electric lights as heaters, erk, ack!  promote inefficient electrical use, high grade energy to produce lowest grade energy, promoting mountain top removal for the coal to use in generating plants to generate heat, to make electricity, to loose 10-15% in transmission and 75% out the stacks of coal fired power plants.  Ummm, not a good idea.  With respect to light quality you can spend a little more than the Walmart special CFL and get bulbs of correct and balanced colour temperature (5000-5500 K) that still lasts 10 times longer than an incandescent and adds less mercury to the environment than found in the coal used to power the incandescent.
 
                                          
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Ack indeed.  I use my homemade Kandle Heeter with a 40W halogen bulb in my bathroom.  It adds a bit of heat and helps keep it warm and dry in there (small space) and works as a nice night light at night.  I use two smaller candle powered heaters in my kitchen for supplemental heat in my house.  I do not need to turn on the regular heat very often.  Works for me, your results may vary...

 
Suzy Bean
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Paul and Andrew discuss CFL fluorescent lightbulbs in this podcast: podcast

They talk about how incandescents produce heat.
 
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