I just dropped the price of
the permaculture playing cards
for a wee bit.

 

 

uses include:
- infecting brains with permaculture
- convincing folks that you are not crazy
- gift giving obligations
- stocking stuffer
- gambling distraction
- an hour or two of reading
- find the needle
- find the 26 hidden names

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LED lights +  RSS feed

 
Fred Winsol
Posts: 155
Location: Sierras
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Appropriate energy use is an elusive topic, and there's no better application than led lights.  Electricity should be primarily used for lighting, pumps/motors, and teledata.  Other uses are inappropriate.

I light up my (beyond net zero, solar)  house on 12  thin-film LED lights drawing a total of 10watts (from Ikea:  http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/8019237  I just cut off the 120v line and wire it directly into my 12VDC system. They consume 80% less energy and last 25 times longer than an incandescent!  it's a no brainer. 


Compared to CFL's and halogen/incandescents, LED lights have an infinite number of possibilities.  Not all LED lights are created equal - especially in the USA.  Europe has adopted LEDs much faster.  They have many choices at way cheaper prices.  All we have is Ikea and luxury car turn signals.

Color is not a problem. Once the white LED came out, there are aninfinite amount of possibilities.  Fixtures and diffusers also influence how the lights look.  just go to any Ikea store (or peruse their on-line store) and you'll be overwhelmed by all the different led light options. 
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LEDs are so appropriate and so slam-dunk, I can't figure out why everyone is not cleaning out Ikea's LED inventory. That's unfortunately the only source we have in the USA for reasonable LED technology: www.ikea.com

Most of Home Depot and Lowe's LED lights are boring and expensive:


I know I have a lot to learn about fickle consumer behaviour, and I have to put my engineering brain on stand-by for a while - but com'on - this ain't rocket science! The worse (hi-intensity) LED's are at least three times more efficient, and last at least five times longer that CFLs.

Another trick is to use luxury car LED light bulbs... great for solar homes wired for 12VDC. Many of them come in white colors and are readily available on e-bay for around $2-4 each.

----------------------------------------------------
There's a very cool stand-alone solar LED light made by Ikea. I gave a friend one of these recently, and it was wonderful to see the reaction and appreciation. It should be in every single home. It would do more to change our fossil-fuel addicted, unaware-of-the-sun, flip-a-switch-if-you-need-it, addicted-to-fossil-fuel, mass-media-addicted-consumerism-blinded behaviour. If nothing else, it'll teach ya how to live with the sun.

Here's the link:  http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/70196857#/70196857/
It's only $19.99! I can't vouch for your payback (and if you need to calculate it you're missing the point). What I like even more about this lamp is that it requires you to move it into the sun each day. That's a behavioural change that some people will object to - and that's at the root cause of our energy addiction issue. We've stopped living with current solar income. So ya gotta move de damn light into the sun once a day - whass de big deal, huh?



 
Len Ovens
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winsol3 wrote:
Appropriate energy use is an elusive topic, and there's no better application than LED lights.  Electricity should be primarily used for lighting, pumps/motors, and teledata.  Other uses are inappropriate.


Pumps and motors.... Like Heat pumps? Fridges? freezers? Air conditioning?

Ok, kidding aside... It depends. What will be used for cooking/heating? Solar would be nice, but a total refit that allows 100% cooking and heating with solar is not likely... though if one is starting from scratch... heating probably is. Gas (natural or propane) should not (IMO) be used for cooking inside Unless properly vented.... equals heat leaving the house. Propane would make sense if the only electricity available comes from solar/generator. However, off grid was not specified. On grid.... you have to look at the efficiency of gas.... just like that wood stove, 100% is actually 85% as the fumes must draw to beyond roof high.... so even a high efficiency water heater or furnace is less than 85%. That is measured while the flame is burning... Then the water heater turns off and the hot water just heated starts keeping the internal fluepipe hot and that heat rises.... out the flue drawing warm air from the house... and heat from your water.... so the flame must turn on sooner... one of those losses not in the rating. The furnace heats the whole house.... if it needs it or not (and it doesn't). It has loses through the ducting which takes away space from other things such as insulation. All of the sudden electric looks good for heating. The cost here? Gas is 60% the cost of electric per energy unit. Sounds cheaper, yet all electric heating/cooking is $200 a month cheaper in this house than it was with gas water/heat. First there is the extra $10 a month they charge for sending you a bill.... so $30/mo in the summer for $20 of gas to heat water. With electric, it is 100% of the paid for power goes to the water, The tank can have extra insulation that will actually do something.... It is easy to add a timer to turn it off when not needed at night. Electric heating is also 100% to the room.... even with a baseboard unit. Each room can have its own timerstat to heat that room when it is needed. Gas for cooking is 40% efficient (not including the effects of venting).... induction is 90%, More than double. Now add solar heating.... water is better kept heated in an electric WH because it has less standing losses and can be further insulated. One room can have solar heating without the rest of the house freezing... the heat turns off in that one room.... all by itself.

So on the grid... electric seems to win as being appropriate. It does take some effort to make it work well, but it can be done.... The Paul, heat only yourself method, can only make it even better.

Off the grid, everything changes. Electric power becomes really costly very fast. The heat only yourself method still applies..... maybe a "lap dog"? It becomes worth while to schedule things. Take a freezer for example, if the battery is being used, just keep the temp at -10C, but when the sun is shining, and the batteries fully charged.... go for -40C if nothing else is running. Wash things (dishes, clothes, people) when the solar water has sun to keep it hot. Try for no back up. Probably wood for cooking.... when the sun is not out, but remember, rice, beans, stew,etc. can be solar heated and then cooked retained heat....

And before LED lights? Use day light! Go to bed when it gets dark. Then, if needed, use LED lights.... The .8watt night lights are all thats needed for most things.

Anyway, I took a lot of time/space to say.... blanket statements don't work. Even off grid, there are times when electric heat makes sense. Keeping a wind gen from overspeed comes to mind....

The jury is still out on LEDs, They should last a long time. It remains to be seen if any manufacture will make them do so.... or if they design the power supply for early fail. At least with led lighting, it is possible to build your own.
 
Fred Winsol
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Location: Sierras
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Hi Len:  Thanks for your thoughts.  I respectfully disagree with most of your remarks.  I've been in this biz for over 30 years... designed and built 3 uber solar/eco/cradle-to-cradle home... My background is energy engineer ( BSEE -lots of BS!,  certified energy auditor in 197 and part-time university teacher in Europe and CSU - Calif)  I am a big follower of RMi and Amory Lovins + company.

LED lights:  I've had LED lights for over 10 years now... got the first ones in Europe and have yet to have one burn out.  You're right - daylighting always comes first... including reflective surfaces to get it in as far as possible.

Appropriate energy:  The definition of this is in the eyes of the beholden... I think appropriate is a hierarchy of how many BTU's it takes to extract, transport + distribute the energy  vs. the actual useful work the energy does in delivering a useful service for us.  We don't really use energy (as Amory Lovins says) we use 'energy services'.  We really need to change our energy thinking and get more into science:  Best example I can think of on this is CARB (Calif Air Resources board) ranking of 27 fuels and gasoline, bio fuels etc bottom out the list.  They concluded that gasoline has about a 2-4% conversion rate for energy needed to get it into the car vs the actual energy needed to turn the wheel.  So should we stop driving? no... but if we could ever get a decent electric plug-in car, it would be a big step up the appropriate energy ladder.

Permaculture has some cool principles that can be applied to appropriate energy... besides it's own rules on energy.  Effectiveness is more important than efficiency.  Being 60% efficient at heating a 10,000 cubic foot house with 2 people occupying 50 cu.ft. is pretty ineffective.  Also - with grid electricity, what comes out of the plug is about 15-20% of the energy it took to get it there... check it out.  Grid electricity is one of the biggest jokes on efficiency ever.  I'm big time into microgrids.

Heating  and cooling is the option of last resort for using electricity.  I think first would come clothing, then solar (European Passiv standard and our own passive solar designs), solar heating + adsorption, biomass gasification (incl. rocket stoves), geothermal and then maybe a gas heater... Yeah i know... most people can't get into those...

As far as water heating goes... that's a slam dunk even more than LED lights.  Solar water heating is too easy.  And using electricity for water heating is crazy from an efficiency standpoint.

I don't buy into any of the cost arguments since all the electric/gas utility costs and then entire energy sector (including renewables) is heavily subsidized by government and monopolistic utilities and the capitalistic war-mongering energy industry... ask me how I really feel about these guys....

Ok - enough rambling... just my own opinions...  maybe
 
Len Ovens
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winsol3 wrote:
Hi Len:  Thanks for your thoughts.  I respectfully disagree with most of your remarks.   I've been in this biz for over 30 years... designed and built 3 uber solar/eco/cradle-to-cradle home... My background is energy engineer ( BSEE -lots of BS!,  certified energy auditor in 197 and part-time university teacher in Europe and CSU - Calif)  I am a big follower of RMi and Amory Lovins + company.

Feel free to disagree, Sometimes I argue with myself and loose too... 

LED lights:  I've had LED lights for over 10 years now... got the first ones in Europe and have yet to have one burn out.  You're right - daylighting always comes first... including reflective surfaces to get it in as far as possible.

I know LEDs can last and last. I have seen LEDs still shining over 30years. I have a few 120v ac LEDs and so far (aside from one that was bad from the box) they have all done well. My less than optimistic remark has more to do with the power supply. I have CFLs that are quite old and still work fine, I have seen newer ones burn out early. It would seem that the quality of the power supply in the new CFLs has gone down (purposely?) I am wondering if LED lamps will do the same once they become "mainstream". I suspect the 12v versions will last much longer than the 120v ones.... plus 1 for off grid stuff.

Appropriate energy:  The definition of this is in the eyes of the beholden... I think appropriate is a hierarchy of how many BTU's it takes to extract, transport + distribute the energy  vs. the actual useful work the energy does in delivering a useful service for us.

I understand all that. however, where I stand is that I have only so many resources and ways of doing things. I have to pick from what is available. All grid energy sources are subsidised, transported and have horrible losses due to transport. In order for me to be able to get off that grid, I need to save money.... So least money paid to heat is for me most appropriate. It may not be the best use at this time of my resources to go solar on a house I don't intend to stay in for long. So, here... in this house electric wins. It is the most appropriate use of what I have available. That said, anything I can do to reduce my use of that energy source should be used... and we do. Right now (and for some months) the heat is off. We don't use hot water unless we need to. During heating season, we wear warmer clothes and let the indoor temp fall some... some rooms never get heated even though they are used because they are warm enough for what they do.... 12C seems to be the minimum temp inside even with -10C outside. We do some solar cooking... not today though, no sun. The only cooling we do... is fridge/freezer.... opening the right windows at the right time does the house.

Anyway.... if I could do only one thing with my electric power what would I do? Preserve our food. Before lights, pumps.... whatever. We live on a fault line (PNW) and rely on (local) hydro. (we are about 3 miles from the source) if that dam went, no power. I am slowly buying solar cells, not for light or water (I can haul that manually) but so I can keep our freezer going.... we can live without everything else. The food in our freezer would be a big loss. In time I am hoping to learn to preserve all our food without... but we are not there yet. So perhaps for me, the most Appropriate use for electric is food preservation.
 
T. Joy
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I'm going to have to get a solar lamp, that's awesome!

The other light thing you linked to, I don't even understand what that is. Perhaps that's why people don't switch? I am not an engineer and just don't have the time to try and figure this stuff out. I need it REALLY dumbed down for me to get it, differences in energy use, etc. Wading through the advertising overwhelms me, let alone finding a way to determine what is true or not.
I'll take your recommendations though so keep 'em coming!
 
Fred Winsol
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Location: Sierras
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Hi Len:  Yeah, i hear you about food preservation and refrigeration... that's my big challenge... I've blogged about my journey through this over the years at:  http://winsol3.blogspot.com/2011/04/refrigeration-101.html


I refuse to buy a propane SunFrost refrigerator... sometimes I think about going up country to haul down snow... but what's the footprint on that?  Also, I always think that with all our small stores + supermarkets why the heck are we freezing stuff at home? when we can just 'outsource' it to the local store... or even neighbors... it's not like we live in the pioneering days.

If one is planing on moving along and not staying in one place for a long time the whole appropriate energy thing really changes.  when i do a site evaluation... no matter what the occupants' situation... I always look for the SW exposure blue sky area... if there's none available it really challenges any kind of solar HW.  If there is SW exposure and it's a temporary gig... then it would only make sense to design+build something that's portable and to take along when movin-on.  And building a SHW collector is too bulky. Even a 20-30 gallon breadbox heater would be an issue.. and plumbing it is a pain.

maybe the only thing i end up recommending for something like that are investing in hi-quality thermal curtains.


 
Fred Winsol
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Hi T.Joy:  Yeah that Ikea lamp is awesome...' look ma - no wires!'

You're a step ahead of the game if you ignore advertising on lighting - and most media reports.

here's a short review of LED lamps:  They were used in electronics back in the 60's or before as small indicator lamps.  Great review at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Light-emitting_diode

The first generation of LEDs were marginal and multi-colored and DC only (like for RVs, boats, etc.) then they invented white LEDs and then they made the first AC (230VAC in europe, 120VAC in USA) LED lamps and these dudes had 50,000-100,000 hours life!  Then as any capitalistic driven industry would do, they started making the LEDs brighter, increased the price, decreased the hours, etc.  You know if everyone buys a 100,000 life LED, a manufacturer would be out of business after the first marketing success... not 'good' business.

Personally, I avoid all incandescent, halogens and even CFL's (although I continue to use ones I have until they burn out).  I would recommend you go visit an Ikea and maybe even an RV or boating store and check out all the various LEDs.  It's important to check out the fixture it's in... AND to test the lamp outside the store display area... they play a lot of tricks with lighting and color contrasts in stores...  and remember to ALWAYS return used light bulbs to stores that have REAL recycling programs (Ikea's is the best, but HD and Lowe's are sometimes OK - depends on store manager).

hope that helps...



 
Len Ovens
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winsol3 wrote:
I refuse to buy a propane SunFrost refrigerator... sometimes I think about going up country to haul down snow... but what's the footprint on that?   Also, I always think that with all our small stores + supermarkets why the heck are we freezing stuff at home? when we can just 'outsource' it to the local store... or even neighbors... it's not like we live in the pioneering days.



My son is hyper-sensitive to anti-biotics... we buy our meat side at a time from a local farmer we know grass feeds... and no drugs. So the freezer is important. We do have "root cellar", but one wall is SE and not insulated for the top 3 feet or so. Gotta fix that. Still cooler in there than the BM. I am thinking about putting a tank next to the outside wall of it down as low as I can go.... run pipes up under the side walk. The warmer fluid would rise in the winter and keep snow/ice off my side walk while cooling the fluid.... and the earth around it to keep the root cellar cooler in the summer. I would have to do it by hand though and insulate first. I had also thought of putting a radiator inline on my incoming city water which goes through that room too.... it might help some and would be inexpensive.... it would also preheat the water for the water tank just a bit.

Anyway, i'm getting way off topic.... not sure if there is a better thread for this stuff or not.

On topic.... with 120v LED lamps... I think when they quit, I will be taking them apart. I expect the PS to be what fails, the MOV (the MOV would be the easiest thing to engineer to fail early... and it would fail at a surge allowing the manufacture to blame that, I have fixed a few free TVs just by removing the MOV and replacing a fuse), caps and diodes are what would go first.... There should be parts I can use One more good thing about LED lamps then is that they can be home recycled. My son dropped a new one.... the "bulb" shattered, but it still worked just fine.... the bulb was just there..... for what? looks? I happened to be using it in a closed application so it is ok. Not sure how an LED would work in an oven.... not sure I really need an oven lamp either.... or an oven door window. If you want an oven lamp... stick to incandescent.

I have been using two Philips LED lamps (like the picture above) for reading lamps, one for my Yf's desk and one for me. They are nice on the eyes (CFLs bug me up close), just enough for good reading without lighting up the whole room, nice and cool. and as they stay on for longer lengths of time, they do save energy. I think these are 7 watt.... about like a 40w for brightness. (maybe a bit more... but not like a 60)
 
Fred Winsol
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I am thinking about putting a tank next to the outside wall of it down as low as I can go.... run pipes up under the side walk. The warmer fluid would rise in the winter and keep snow/ice off my side walk while cooling the fluid.... and the earth around it to keep the root cellar cooler in the summer.


This sounds tricky,  Len.  What type of a tank are u thinking about?  I like the concept that Dr. John Haitt had in the 70's about using soil's thermal properties with a barrier... check out http://www.norishouse.com/PAHS/UmbrellaHouse.html

maybe there's a way to reverse this concept (store winter cool for summer cooling) with the air-flow pipes on a small root cellar.  The hard part is digging around it to get the thermal barrier in.  I'm building a small one of these as a guest house.

The other thing you might want to try on your root cellar is massive thermal mass.  Get as many dense rocks as you can and just load them in there or around.  I think thermal mass works better on reducing thermal gradients than insulation does.  A combo is probably ideal.

 
Len Ovens
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winsol3 wrote:
This sounds tricky,  Len.  What type of a tank are u thinking about?  I like the concept that Dr. John Haitt had in the 70's about using soil's thermal properties with a barrier... check out http://www.norishouse.com/PAHS/UmbrellaHouse.html


Actually my idea is based on that... and on a writeup I saw from NY state (I think), where the guy runs his fridge from a cooling coil that freezes a brick of ice in his cool cabinet. I have also seen someone who has done sidewalk clearing using "7" or upside down "L" shaped tubes full of RV antifreeze. The fluid at the top gets cooled by the icy walkway and falls to the bottom of the down tube, while the relatively warm water at the bottom rises and warms the earth. If I put a tank of white plastic pipe (PVC?) at the bottom of the upright, I should be able to store cool in the mass of the ground and concrete. I think I shouldn't need to put an isolating layer like a PAHS because water sinking through should bring the cool down too.... but I only have a little room to work with anyway (5 by 8 feet or so), so it wouldn't hurt to isolate the bottom part and insulate the concrete wall on the outside above the tank while I am at it. Right now that room is only a few degrees less than the "crawl space" beside it.... The inside walls and roof have 4inch foam insulation, but the outside wall are just concrete and while one of them is NE, the other is SE and gets full sun till about 1pm. It is right next to a driveway, so I can't put bushes there to shade it either. I may have to give up the mass on that wall and insulate inside.
 
Fred Winsol
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I opened up a separate topic on this heating and cooling... hope that's ok.
 
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Permaculture Playing Cards by Paul Wheaton and Alexander Ojeda
https://permies.com/wiki/57503/digital-market/digital-market/Permaculture-Playing-Cards-Paul-Wheaton
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