LED lights photos

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I didn’t blog more about them when I received them because I didn’t want to suggest to a friend of mine what I did get him for his birthday ;) I also wanted to make a long post explaining the difference in usage patterns between compact fluorescent lights and LED lights, but it’s late, and I’m actually working on quite a few other stuff at once, so for now I’ll just link this photoset where I’ve described a bit my LED lights :)

And to leave you with a link for today, I think this podcast from RTÉ looks quite interesting :) I’ve downloaded a few episodes but only listened to latest for now, I’ll have something to listen to tonight :)

I’m happy with my LED lightbulbs

Yesterday I received the new LED lights I ordered last week. They are quite nice, very little power consumption, and they do quite a nice light. The 2W spotlight version I have in my bedroom now make as much light as a 25W incandescent lightbulb.

It sure isn’t the flood of light I had before, with just two fluorescent lights, but I didn’t want so much light in my bedroom anyway, it distracted me wile reading, and caused me not to sleep when I wanted to read something. The new lights give me a cone of light just on my bed, and keep the corners of the room in half-shade, which is a very nice visual effect, I have to say. There is enough room to cleanup and to choose my clothes day after day.

I’ve traded 2x8W fluorescent lights with 3x2W, so it’s a decent improvement in consumption too.

I also bought another one, spherical, true white rather than warm (amber) white as the ones of the bedroom, to put in the lamp on my office room. I used a bigger 20W fluorescent light before, it flooded the whole room with light. Now it only lits the area of the desk where I work, exactly like I wanted. The bulb there is less than 2W, which is quite a nice saving too.

I’ll be looking for some different kind of bulbs for the stairs though, as the opaque types I found on the eBay store where I bought these didn’t seem powerful enough to light my stairs properly.

But, for all the people skilled with electronic out there, I’d like to know something. Somehow the lights I have in my room lit up even when I turn them off. It’s not entirely bad for me as I actually sleep better with a minimum of light around, rather than in pitch dark. But I’m a bit concerned. I thought it was a condensator before, but it doesn’t uncharge even after a whole night, so I’m more thinking along the lines of a possible electric problem, like a wrong return line, or some problem with the grounding, but I admit i have o idea how to proceed. If I unscrew the light, it shuts down.

Also, the fluorescent lights I removed started being employed already: one replaced one of the stairs’ bulb, that was the last one in the house, now I can say that the whole house is powered by green lights, either fluorescent or LED.

Talking about lights

Russell Cooker posted today about fluorescent and incandescent lights. It’s an interesting reading for those of you who are interested in energy saving for environment and money (the two things can easily go along).

His notes about the need to remove excessive heat from incandescent lights might not be as obvious as it seems for many people, but it’s actually an important part of the whole package. I for one started spending extra money for compact fluorescent lights (CFLs, like Cooker called them) when I was sure I couldn’t put air conditioning at my house, and during summer even just turning on a light made me sweat.

Unfortunately, I’m afraid I never tried a low pressure sodium lamp, so I don’t even know what they look like. I should look them up on Wikipedia, but I haven’t had time to do that yet, and I doubt it’s going to be my next “paradigm shift” in lamps. As he said, fluorescent tubes aren’t always an option.. they don’t even look that good, and they can be a bitch to deal with as their starters an fry quite easily if the voltage is not properly regulated… and where I live, even if the nominal voltage should be 220V, it’s usually about 200V – sometimes, still having lights on, I have the UPSes moving to battery, even the line-interactive ones! – so just having three of those is hard enough.

I wrote before the night I was hospitalised, by the way, that I would be considering LED lamps, and so I do have LED lights in my bathroom on the mirror, rather than fluorescent (making too much light to be useful) or incandescent (wasting too much power). Maybe they are less efficient as a whole, but rather than using a more-efficient CFL using five times the power needed by two LED lamps to make more light than needed, I find this useful.

Similarly, I’ve been wondering about my bedroom. I already have a LED-powered desklamp; the new furniture that my sister got me gives way less shadow than before, as I don’t have a bridge-like wardrobe anymore, so I removed one of the three CFL I used to use. Still the amount of light is huge. When I want to read something before going to sleep, two CFLs are already too much, but I can’t reduce the lamps too much or I wouldn’t be able to have enough light to clean the room, or find the proper clothes to wear for a night.

So my idea at the moment is to get one ceiling light with four lamp sockets, and two switch lines (thus two switches). On a pair of sockets I would put the two CFLs, on the other two, two LED lamps. Having two switches I could easily choose between high light (for cleaning and choosing clothes), and lower light for reading (and no light for sleeping). Unfortunately I can’t really make decision on placement of lights here, as the house is quite old, and breaking the ceiling to change the lights position wouldn’t be feasible – especially after painting the room anew last september – but if I’ll ever get an house of my own, I would certainly prefer having a lot of smaller lights around, so that I could use the right light as needed, rather than a “catch all” light.

LED lamps, part two.

You might or might not remember that the last post on my blog for the three weeks I spent on ICU was talking about mirror lights.

Well, my interest in LED light bulbs hasn’t disappeared yet, so a few days ago I decided to take a look to eBay to see if there are other similar LED lights to put on a desk lamp (I needed one in my bedroom to read something before sleeping without having the ceiling light on, which makes it difficult to get sleepy.

When I looked for LED lamps last summer, the only eBay shops carrying them were Hong-Kong shops, and indeed I bought them there (they arrived while I was in the ICU). When I looked the other night, the shops were mostly German instead. Nice change I’d say, although I can’t tell how this happened.

So I ordered four new lightbulbs, two of a “candle” type, and two spotlights. The (cheaper) spotlights have a reddish light, unsuitable for me to read (I react better to greenish light), but still nice, they would probably be good for either my mother or for big flashlights. The two candles instead are quite good, they make quite some light, and consume less than 2W. I put one of them in an old ceramic and glass desklamp my mother was not using for a while, and put it in my bedroom (strange effect such a classic lamp against the modern bedroom, but the light is quite good); they have a soft white tone, which makes it perfect to read before sleeping, and it’s enough light even to get to the drawers to get socks and company.

Not sure if LED technology improved this much while I was in the hospital, but at least I have to say that the LED lightbulbs are becoming quite interesting even for ceiling lamps. Who knows, maybe in a few years we’d be all saying “fluorescent lights? bah you’re not green enough!” ;)

Mirror lights

When you feel depressed for your personal situation, there are many things you can do to stand up again and don’t think about it. Myself, what makes me feel better most of the time is bricolage. Just making a new hole for a frame, or recabling a power plug, or changing the disposition of my room. Today, it was changing the ceiling light in my bathroom.

Let’s skip over the fact that my neighbour had a new ceiling light at home, and just focus on why I wanted to change mine: the previous one was quite small and a fluorescent light wouldn’t fit, and the bathroom was the last room in the house with an incandescent bulb. Well beside a couple of desk lamps that are never turned on.

I’m not sure if it’s a testosterone thing or whatever, but punching holes on the ceiling with a 18V battery drill is something that makes me feel powerful. Am I a freak? Probably.

Anyway what I want to hear others’ opinions about is about the lights of the mirror: right now it has two E14 screws, with just one 15W incandescent bulb in it, I used it mostly while shaving (as the 75W incandescent light on the ceiling wasn’t good enough) or when I didn’t need much lighting and this was a nice power saving. Now, the fluorescent light takes 20W, so I’ll probably just turn that one on, as it has better performances when compared to the amount of light, and it shouldn’t be much of an issue while shaving.

Even if the need for the mirror light is now quite reduced, it doesn’t mean I’ll never have to use it. Sometimes you need some more near lightsource to look for instance at a broken nail. It bugs me to have to use a 15W bulb for so little light. First I thought to replace the lights with some kind of halogen bulb, but even if those have way better performances, they still consume quite a bit. I don’t need so much light, I just need to reduce the power consumption.

Then an idea was in my mind: I have a sort of flashlight in a three-in-one tool (screwdriver and spirit level are the other two tools); the light tool uses a LED, supplied by a button battery, and has quite some autonomy. This convinced me that the best thing for my mirror lights would be a LED-based light system.

Now, do you think there are already kits to set up LED lights on a mirror closet? Are there LED-based bulbs that just need a socket and a controller? Are those 220V supplied, or should I decide for something battery-based? Any pointer and suggestion is very welcome.

Lithium batteries and disposable electronic.

Some days ago I blogged about my addiction to rechargeable batteries since that I tried to spend some more time to improve my routine with them. First I started using the 2-in-1 feature of my TV’s remote: this way I can use two AAA batteries to control both TV and DVD player, rather than having four of them for two remotes; in the pretty rare case that I need the DVD reader remote, I can just put one of the extra pairs into it and be done with it.

Today I started wondering about another class of batteris, the button-sized ones, as used in watches and most modern electronic devices and mini-devices. Although most of them are low-grade Zinc-Carbon batteries, a lot of CR20* batteries are found nowadays on consumer electronics, and those are mostly Lithium-based batteries.

The most common type of these batteries is probably the CR2032 size, used in almost every modern desktop motherboard (laptops often use CR2016 instead) to keep providing energy to the Real-Time Clock while the PC is powered off and to keep powered the “CMOS” non-volatile BIOS memory. It’s a 3V Lithium-based battery, lasting between 2 and 10 years, depending on power off times (and with power off I mean the PSU not receiving power, as the standby mode of modern ATX systems keeps the motherboard powered on in a 5V low-consume state); when it comes to a certain friend of mine, it takes about one year to consume, don’t ask me why.

I have a little drawer full of these batteries, as I usually take them off the motherboards that I need to trash, or when I help disposing of older computers.

What I’m wondering now is.. are those batteries rechargeable? Nowadays those batteries start appearing in everything, even the two Apple Remotes I have (one for the MacBook Pro, one for the AppleTV) use those. I wouldn’t be surprised if they started appearing in TVs and DVDs controllers: I see their price dropping year by year: some years ago they were sold at L. 18.000 (about €9 if we use the current conversion ration, but considering the time passed, it’s more like €18 of today), while I can easily find them nowadays at €4 or €2 if I take a 50-reel.

The issue is that if these aren’t rechargeable, their environmental impact might be higher than the rechargeable AAA batteries I use now. Of course, on the other hand, these batteries are supposed to last quite longer than usual batteries, so you might end up using less of them on the same timeframe, reducing the impact. If they are rechargeable, instead, I’d gladly start recharging them and start using them more :)

It is quite interesting to know whether they are, on the long run, cheaper and more environment-friendly than alkaline batteries, or even or rechargeable batteries: they are supposedly quite more reliable on long times. In those cases, it would be nice to have an “adapter” that fills in AA– or AAA-sized compartments.

And for the record, these are some places where you most likely will find lithium or other button-sized batteries, even if for some people this is unexpected: PC motherboards, laptops, digital cameras and camcorders (for the non-volatile memory and RTC), microwaves with alarm clocks, Apple Remote devices, DVD/HDD recorders, modern pure-digital (LCD or Plasma) TVs, old cartridges for cartridge-based game systems (Sega Master System, Sega Mega Drive, Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64, as well as portables like GameBoy up to GameBoy Advance – Nintendo DS use flash-based game cards), car HiFi, personal audio players, light-based gadgets…

Now you see why I’m interested in reusing as much as possible this resource, too.

Environment- and Wallet-friendly

As I think I said previously in one of the many posts related to the active PFC power supply units, I’m not really one of the greenest person on the world. I’m quite pragmatic, I’ll try not to increment waste, but I don’t usually actively try to reduce use. I know, I should care more and be more active on this, but I just can’t get enough time to care about so many things on my day.

There are, though, some things I care about because they are both good for the environment and help saving money, like the active PFC units, who both reduce the power waste, and makes it cheaper to keep a box running by improving its performance (and adding to this the fact that almost all active PFC units are rated 110~250, they are usually more suitable for places like here, where the voltage is actually floating between 195 and 240).

One other thing that is both environmental savvy and good for your wallet is the usage of fluorescent lights, which consumes a lot less than the old-style incandescent lights, and by now, the lights themselves are quite cheap too! I have changed all the lights in my house already, but two (one because I need to change the whole light support, the other because, well, the bulb support is broken and the higher weight of fluorescent lights stops it from making contact, plus for some silly reason if I leave it without a bulb, the other light connected to the same line starts blinking — problem with the electric return).

Then there are the water pressurisers, which I installed on every water outlet in my house, they increase the pressure the water flows, so they not only reduce the water usage, but increasing the pressure makes it way easier to clean stuff like toothbrushes and shaving razors; they also work as raw filters if the water is full of mineral residuals (like here) as most of the time the biggest grains will get stuck instead of coming out. This actually is half a problem as you need to clean the pressurisers regularly, at least once a month here, or the water flow will be easily cut in half.

But there is again another useful thing that is often ignored: the use of rechargeable batteries. In today’s world, there are a lot of devices that use AA or AAA batteries, and I know a lot of people who regularly buy tons of batteries to run them. This is especially critical here during Christmas and Easter, as my mother loves all that silly gadgets that move, make sound or light. Lately I’ve been buying NiMh rechargeable batteries to avoid this.

I started using them for my cordless keyboard (well, the same was true for the mouse, but those were provided initially by Logitech, while the keyboard was supposed to be used with alkaline batteries), but nowadays I have those in all the remotes, in the nail-grinding tool, in the book lights and in the wireless headphones. It’s way easier to just swap them with the charged backup pair when I hear the headphones growing softer.

As with many other choices, there is an initial “high” investment, as they do cost quite more than normal alkaline batteries, but then you easily get to cover their cost when you start recharging them after the first few uses (the average recharge count is about 500). It’s a nice thing to avoid polluting with tons and tons of alkaline batteries, and nowadays there are batteries with high enough mAh to last at least as long as alakine batteries even in high-drain use cases like book lights (at least for AA batteries, whose alkaline counterpart declared average is 2850 mAh: there are AA rechargeable batteries reaching 2800, and even if the cost is even higher, I’ve seen at least a model declaring 3000 mAh).

One step further, that I’m unable to make right now, would be to recharge them with solar panels. It shouldn’t be difficult, after all you just need to invert the polarity; I haven’t seen any specific hardware for this available, if someone knows of some, I’d be glad to know. After all during summer there is a tremendous amount of sun here, I might as well make good use of it. Having it recharge my Nintendo DS and the cellphones would also be nice ;)

Really, if I could put a solar panel just under the window of my room, during summer it could easily take care of recharging my stuff, considering it’s in direct sunlight between 14:00 and 21:00 for three/four months an year. And if there is nothing to charge, it could just be an extra fan that tries to take off the heat from me…

Oh well.

Environment… no, not getenv()!

I’m in bed with a bad flu, so rather than an usual blog post.. taking up from Planet Debian

  1. Copy the list below to your own journal and Bold the actions you are already taking Underline the actions you plan to start taking Italicize the actions that don’t apply to you
  2. Add one (or more) suggested action(s) of your own
  3. Leave a comment there, so that she can track the meme to your journal, and copy your suggested action(s) back to her master list.
  • Replace standard incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs – they also have a better light IMHO
  • Choose energy efficient appliances – always do, when it’s me to buy the appliances of course..
  • Wash clothes in cold(er) water
  • Turn the thermostat of your hot water tank down to 50°C (125°F) – we have a firewood boiler, can’t go over that temperature or it breaks
  • Install a programmable thermostat (or turn the heat down over night and when you’re out of the house) – again, firewood boiler, means that if we’re sleeping or we’re not at home, it has to be turned off
  • Register with the Canadian Marketing Association’s Do Not Contact Service to reduce the amount of junk mail delivered to your house. – If there was something like this here… I can only try to limit the agreement to use my address with services.
  • Eat less meat (particularly feedlot beef) – I only eat ham, and cutlet, and both quite rarely
  • Walk, bike, carpool or take public transit as often as possible – if I had public transports… I don’t go around in car alone though, I don’t have a driving license anyway
  • Make sure you know what can be recycled in your area, and try to recycle as much household waste as possible – There aren’t many recycling facilities where I live, but it should change soon…
  • Compost using an outdoor compost bin or an indoor vermicomposter – compost in the garden, it’s quite useful
  • Clean or replace filters on your furnace and air conditioner
  • Buy local, organic or fair trade food where possible
  • Reduce air travel – I’m scared of planes, so…
  • Wrap your water heater in an insulation blanket
  • Use a clothesline instead of a dryer whenever possible – no dryer here, to begin with, it’s not cost-effective either
  • Plant a tree – we have a garden, plenty of trees
  • Buy fresh foods instead of frozen (Frozen food uses 10 times more energy to produce) – would like to, it’s difficult as we don’t have fresh food shops around here
  • Keep your car tuned up and your tires inflated to their optimal pressure
  • Use biodegradable dishwashing liquid, laundry soap powder, etc.
  • Drink tap water (filtered if necessary) rather than buying bottled water – Should really filter it, but I’m not really sure if I would trust the filters they sell here..
  • Turn the tap off while brushing your teeth
  • Unplug seldom-used appliances and chargers for phones, cameras, etc., when you’re not using them – I do it already for stuff that is easily reachable, I’m trying to add switches where the plugs are difficult to reach, compatibly with the power cabling
  • Plug air leaks and drafts around doors and windows with weatherstripping
  • Switch from disposable to reusable products: food and beverage containers, cups, plates, writing pens, razors, diapers, towels, shopping bags, etc. – I’m a fountain pen lover, does this say enough?
  • Consider garage sales, Freecycle, eBay, or borrowing from friends/family before buying a new tool or appliance
  • Try to buy stuff with smart packaging, recycled paper instead of polystyrene, cardboard rather than plastic – Apple, albeit still using polystyrene, at least does not have the huge and wasteful packaging I’ve seen from other manufacturers; unfortunately most of the stuff you buy in Italy has very stupid packaging :(