Archive | September 2012

Solar-powered light bulbs now shine in Canada

Long, blisteringly hot summer days have been the silver lining for those farmers who, along with more conventional crops, harvest the sun for energy. But city slickers who invest in solar-powered products can also profit from long stretches of sun-soaked days.

Outdoor solar lights have become increasingly popular over the past few years. A new entry is a cute and clever solar LED unit from Paradise Lighting.

Shaped like a conventional incandescent bulb and made out of durable plastic, it has a coated string to turn it on and off. There’s also a clip that can be easily attached, for example, to the belt loop of a little person making his or her way to a campground privy after dark.

The possibilities for these bulbs, which take AA batteries, are endless. At the cottage, we hung several on branches gathered in an old milk can — an eco-friendly way to provide soft lighting at the dock after dark. I also keep one by a sunny window to use in case of power failure.

Regular readers will recall that I was enthusiastic about these bulbs earlier in the season. At the time, however, they were only available through Camping World, a U.S. website that, as it turns out, charges Canadian consumers exorbitant shipping and handling fees. Someone at Home Depot must have a good eye for great product, because the lights are now available in packs of four for $35 through homedepot. Shipping to my north Toronto home would be about $5.

Many farmers in parts of Ontario and farther east would have been happy to see the sun dip behind the clouds and give way more often to rainy skies over the past few months. The extreme dryness has not good news for those who grow corn and grains, and it has compounded the effect of a late frost, which put a serious dent in such crops as pears, peaches and plums.

Consumers can still take advantage of the harvest by pickling, canning and preserving. Plenty of information, along with recipes, can be found at the website for Bernadin, a well-known maker of canning supplies available at food retailers.  There are also good tips for buying and storing fruits and vegetables.

Williams-Sonoma also has an extensive selection of home-canning and preserving supplies. Sets of four basic, metal-topped Kilner jars start at about $29. There are also jars with such phrases as “Perfectly Pickled,” “Delicious Jam” and “Home-grown Herbs” printed on them. You’ll also find extensive canning and pickling information on the site.

Another upside to hot dry weather has been the slow growth of grass. Still, many find even infrequent mowing of grass to be a bore. For them, there’s the Husqvarna robotic Automower — an energy-efficient, electronic mower that its makers say uses less energy than any conventional mower, which makes it cost-effective to run — once you get past the price tag of $2,900, that is.

I tried one recently in my own back yard and loved how quietly it tootled around, cutting the grass in a random pattern, and watched in disbelief when, after it had run out of juice, it skittled back to its charging station, where it sat for about 45 minutes before restarting. It runs for about the same amount of time on one charge. It took about four hours to get the job done from start to finish. A pin code for the starter discourages theft.


LED lighting saves on coal use

I am not sure why Republicans, including presidential challenger Mitt Romney, seem to favor inefficient lighting systems that waste energy. Saving money and saving natural resources would seem to be a conservative approach.

When it comes to energy, I am trying to be a conservative, and that’s not always easy in a 112-year-old home originally heated by chunks of coal in fireplaces.

A few years ago, I tightened up the attic and had insulation blown in. And I had mostly converted to compact fluorescent light bulbs.

This weekend, the old house was introduced to its first LED light bulbs — even more efficient that CFLs, with the ability for dimming and no mercury.

We bought six — five 40 watt bulbs for a dining room chandelier. I had tried the CFLs but they burned out quickly and flickered strangely because the fixture was on a dimmer switch. The CFL light was also too harsh there.

The LED’s are fantastic. Combined with a couple of candles, to further soften the mood, they will allow for romantic dinners once again — without as much guilt about lives or landscapes lost to coal mining. (Both types of resources, human and natural, are too valuable to waste.)

Each of those cost $9.97 each. But, it seems I’ll never have to replace them again.

We spent $25 on a 60 watt LED. That felt more like a stretch. But, it goes into a floor lamp where we had an incandescent bulb that put off so much heat (and wasted energy) that one could warm their hands after working outside in the winter with no gloves.

The new lighting promises to save hundreds of dollars in LG&E bills over their lifetimes.

And I love thinking how the workers who built our house in Clifton atop a limestone block foundation could never have dreamed of such technological wonders, just 20 years after Thomas Edison had begun to commercialize the incandescent electric light bulb.

Vision X Lighting today announced the launch of the Optimus Series LED Driving Lights, advancing lighting technology to the next level. Utilizing Vision X Lighting’s all new proprietary IRIS Reflector Technology, the Optimus series provides the ultimate focus for long range lighting by producing 693 ft. of usable light from a single 3.5″ tall, 10-watt LED.

Compared to a standard 55 watt low beam headlight reach of 88 ft. and a standard 65 watt high beam reach of 153 ft, the Optimus propels light further than any single 10-watt LED light fixture in existence. Optimus lights also feature Vision X Lighting’s Prime Drive technology for integrated thermal management and dimming capabilities.

The Optimus Series lights are available in two models, a single 10-watt LED version and a dual 10-watt LED version, known as the Optimus Single and Optimus Dual. All Optimus lights feature a waterproof & rugged die-cast aluminum housing, industrial grade waterproof deustch connector, adjustable trunnion bracket mounting, and 11-32V DC multi-volt input.

A miningindustrial version of the Optimus is also available featuring a reinforced single stud fixture mount. These key features allow the Optimus Series to be used in almost any application including: automotive, motorcycle, ATV/UTV, marine, mining, industrial and more.

What took an 8″ Off Road Light or 60-watts of LED is now achievable using a compact 3.5″ light that can mount anywhere. The days of having to mount a light bar, brush guard, or add unnecessary brackets are over. Optimus lights are also available in kits as OE Fog Light replacements.

The Optimus Series starts at just $129 for a single light, and is available in two light kits complete with a wiring harness for only $249. The Optimus single is available this week, and all models are expected to be shipping early September. Find out why Vision X Lighting employees coined this light “Project Light Cannon”.

To save gas, turn wires into light beams

To save gas, cars of the future could shed some weight by replacing all the wires under the hood with beams of light, according to research on optical wireless technology.

Basic LED lights are sufficient to send data between engine parts, such as between the brakes and the car’s speed control system.

Infrared light can also be used in situations where invisible light is preferred, according to the researchers at the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom.

Such lights are inexpensive, meaning the technology isn’t a cost prohibitive replacement for wired systems.

What’s more, the university says, unlike the heavily regulated and often congested radio wave communications such as your cellphone uses, optical wireless is an unlimited and unregulated spectrum.

“Optical wireless is relatively unknown at the moment,” Roger Green, who is leading the research, said in a news release.

“But it is not hard to imagine a day when passengers can watch TV streamed through a beam coming from their overhead light, or when parts of the engine can ‘talk’ to each other without wires.”

To get there, Green and his colleagues are focusing their research on “how to transmit the beams of light around corners, how the materials inside the car affect the signals as they are transmitted and how to adjust those signals accordingly,” The Engineer reported.

If successful, the technology could help reduce the weight of vehicles, which in turn will make them more fuel efficient.

Given the recently announced fuel economy standards that will require all new vehicles to have an average of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, this technology could help auto manufacturers hit that target.

Green recently presented his research at the International Conference on Transparent Optical Networks held at the University of Warwick.

Also, unlike CFLs, some LEDs can be dimmed as low as an incandescent bulb. Another plus is that they come to full brightness instantly.

Consumer Reports also tested light bulbs’ brightness and color temperature in a sphere and a computer analyzed the results.

“We found that some LEDs have the same warm glow as incandescents,” said Dan DiClerico with Consumer Reports.

But not all LED bulbs are stellar. The Miracle LED claims to be equivalent to a 60-watt incandescent. However, it’s not as bright as a 40-watt bulb. While it’s long lasting, it gives off a strange bluish-white light.

With all LEDs, the big disadvantage is the price. Many cost $20 or more per bulb.

“LEDs are more expensive, but they’re designed to last so long – 23 years or more – that you’ll likely save about $130 over their lifetime,” said DiClerico.

So which LEDs are best? Among 60-watt equivalents, Consumer Reports top-rated two bulbs: the EcoSmart from Home Depot that produces a white light and a 12.5-watt Philips that has a warmer, yellower light. Both cost around $25.

Consumer Reports says prices of LEDs are coming down and are expected to continue to drop even more. Also, unlike CFLs, LEDs don’t contain any mercury. That means cleanup is easier if a bulb happens to break.

LED Lantern runs on salt water, doubles as a USB charger

Ever since the earthquake and subsequent Fukushima nuclear disaster that occurred in Japan last year technology has been developed to help if such an event were ever to occur again. One of the biggest problems to overcome in Japan was a lack of power, which has led one Japanese company to create a light that runs purely on salt water.

Green House Co. Ltd. has developed the LED Lantern (GH-LED 10WBW), which contains no battery, instead replacing it with a water bag. A mix of 350 milliliters of water and 16 grams of salt allow the lantern to act as a light source for up to 8 hours. After that, you just refill the bag for another 8 hours of light.

The LED Lantern functions by using the salt water as an electrolyte. Once placed inside the lantern the solution works with magnesium and carbon rods to produce the necessary power for the light. The magnesium rod also needs replacing, but works for at least 120 hours and replacing it with a new rod is thought to be a simple task.

The luminous power of the light is rated at 55 lumen, but the lantern isn’t just limited to acting as a light source. On its casing you will find a USB port, allowing you to plug in and charge other devices. So if you are stuck in a power outage at night you can use the LED Lantern to light the way while it charges your smartphone.

Green House is expected to release the LED Lantern before the end of September in Japan. The one thing not yet know is the price, but due to the limited parts it uses I can’t see this being a very expensive device, but it’s certainly one lots of Japanese households will want to have ready in a cupboard just in case

Cree has been especially busy, unveiling three new products in the past few days. The company announced THE EDGE high output LED series, introduced 150-mm 4HN silicon carbine epitaxial wafers, and expanded its product offering with very low basal plane dislocation 4H silicon carbide epitaxial wafers.

Providing the utmost in safety for such applications as auto dealerships. The EDGE high output area and flood light LED luminaires use 50 percent less energy in most applications compared with the high output sources previously used such as 1000 watt metal halide solutions. Looking at new cars at night used to be problematic at best. THE EDGE provides much better color quality to showcase inventory after dark.

The solution is based on NanoOptic technology that delivers light where it’s needed. Its thermal management qualities enhance reliability and provide more than a decade of near maintenance-free service. THE EDGE reduces energy and maintenance while improving performance and illumination. Contact company for pricing and delivery.

High quality, low micropipe 150-mm 4H n-type SIC epitaxial wafers feature uniform layers as thick as 100 microns. The 150-mm diameter single crystal SIC substrates enable cost reductions and increased throughput. Available in limited quantities. Contact Cree for pricing and availability.