Thursday, November 27, 2008

LED lamps v/s Tungsten


New Type
Multi-LED Lamp

This is the LED in question photo taken from the dealers site.

I have just this morning received a new type of 2 watt LED lamp from a Hong Kong EBay link as follows: DEALER The goods were actually sent from LinLin House (pin9999tw) in Taiwan R.O.C. I am not sure of the connection or how it works, suffice it to say delivery was fast and the lamps are good.

Firstly, in reviewing these lamps, let me say I am well impressed. These MR16 12 volt lamps use only 2 watts of power but give a VERY respectable light output. The bulb consists of 48 little LED lights crammed into the plastic cased fitting. This type of LED fitting previously was just terrible, they gave a bluish light and very poor output. The light from the older type was just plain depressing.

20 Watt Halogen light-pool on left, and 2 Watt LED on right
The 2 Watt LED gave a very good account of itself!

The quality of light from this new lamp is quite acceptable as you can see in the above photo. The lamp is nominally "warm white", but in fact, it is a very warm - warm white. The very warm white would not suit in business situations but gives a comforting warmth in domestic use.

The amount of light output is about 80% that of a 20 watt halogen lamp - a respectable performance by any standard. These lamps come in both spotlight and wide angle. They also come in 12 volt MR16 fitting and in GU10 220volt. But there is better to follow.

Here is the really good bit!

Here is the really good bit, there LED bulbs can be purchased for under €6 six Euro each, including shipping!!!! At that price they represent a bargain and will pay back, many times over, in saved electricity and long life expectancy.


Friday, November 21, 2008

Oil Price Drops 66%


The Big Drop

Who ever thought that oil would ever drop back below $50 a barrel again? Right now it is trading at $48 a barrel. Heating oil, Kerosene, which takes its lead price from Rotterdam Kero, is lagging a long way back but is now selling at a slightly more reasonable €580 per 1000 litre fill. With all this major price dropping, I am wondering what will happen to the price of wood pellets?

Solid fuel prices rose sharply piggy-backing on the price of oil. Will these now follow oil downward again?

Right now it makes no economic sense to invest thousands of Euro in a wood pellet system and end up paying well above the odds for your fuel.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Nano-Stuff for Solar Cells


New Nano-Stuff for Solar Cells!!

Researchers at the Rensselaer Institute NY have discovered a new anti reflective coating. Eh - is that a WOW or what??

So what – I hear the chorus from the great unwashed. Well my friends, if this stuff does what it says on the tin, it can absorb up to 96% of sunlight.

Wow ain't that just dandy – you say!! So what then? Well – the problem with solar cells is that the blighters do not take in half enough of the sunlight that shines on them. They are also VERY fussy about the angle of the light. In other words, they have to exactly face the angle of the sunlight to be efficient. Now that is a bastard to arrange, as the sun has the habit of moving all over the darn sky. So real bright guys and boffins have made these gizmos that move about and keep the solar cells pointing towards the light. The trouble with that is the gizmos are VERY expensive and also quite troublesome.

Now this new nano-whats-it stuff when painted, sprayed or whatever, onto the surface of a solar cell can – we hope – if it does what it says on the tin - allow the PV solar cell to absorb most of the sunlight, and not only that, it can take in the sunlight from almost any angle!! Now that is an impressive claim.

Lets get a few cans of this stuff and paint our PV cell –shall we?

I wish the boffins well in developing this new nano-stuff and I hope it can do what they say it can do.

We will wait and see!!


Sunday, November 09, 2008

Fuel Efficiency


Fuel Efficiency

There is, IMHO, an over emphasis by SEI and other environmental agencies on achieving a reduction of the carbon footprint through the promotion of biomass, geo-thermal and other new systems.

Not that I disagree in any way with the fact that this HAS to be done. However, being realistic, most of the heating systems in use are either Oil-fired or Solid Fuel, and most people are not going to spend €7000+ any time soon, and put up with the hassle and disruption of installing completely new and somewhat unproven systems.

With oil trading currently down at $61 a barrel, the price of household central heating oil should now be trading again at 2005 prices and that means approximately €590 per 1000 litres.

So why am I talking about oil prices again do you ask? Well, my thinking was sparked off by contemplating what is the best value for money for existing heating systems in this world-wide recession we find ourselves stuck in.

I have already dealt with an idea that could save 50% or more on fuel for open fires in my posts on "Fireplace Doors".

If oil stays low in price, and if you happen to have a condensing oil boiler, you will be getting excellent value for money, perhaps the best value considering capital outlay and fuel cost.

Firebird Ballymakeera

I recently was invited to visit the Firebird boiler plant in Ballymakeera Co Cork. Firebird is a very successful boilermaker and currently makes a range of oil-fired boilers and a range of high efficiency back-boilers for open fires. The company supplies the UK, France etc. and has a major profile in the boiler market. Firebird employ 185 people and have a very full order book.

Firebird's back boiler is one of the most efficient designs on the market. I own one myself. What I like about it, apart from the high efficiency, is the ease of cleaning.

The place is a beautiful part of southern Ireland, the premises are unassuming and the staff are friendly and relaxed.

I was met by Jim O’Riordan, the Research and Development guy at Firebird, who gave me a tour of the facility. I was quite amazed and very impressed to discover such a highly sophisticated robotic manufacturing facility housed in rather unimpressive sheds.

Robotic Welding Machines

The R&D department has some new and very exciting designs in the pipeline which, until they are ready for production, they would prefer not to make public. I was shown some of these designs and I am impressed. I will honour their wishes and not comment further. Let me just say these guys are not sitting on their hands, and I have asked to have my name on the list of customers for one of the upcoming developments.

Condensing Oil Boilers

Firebird makes one of the most efficient “condensing” oil boilers on the market. These boilers have a number of unique features. The layout of the flue ways being one.

Firebird has a downward flow in their boiler. The boiler uses stainless steel extensively. It uses a unique design heat-exchanger unit welded by robots!!. The factory robotic welding unit for the stainless steel condenser units is really a “star wars” looking set-up.

The latest Firebird condenser boiler can produce an efficiency of very close to 100% in ideal lab conditions. In an ideally installed and tuned domestic situation, the figure could be expected to go to the mid nineties. This sort of efficiency is a great saving on fuel costs and if you had an elderly boiler it would pay you to install a modern condenser as you could save up to 20%. Two, max three years and you have the cost of the boiler back in fuel savings.

Combi all-in-one box Firebird Boiler

Watch this space for news on Firebird's new developments, for sure I will be reporting on them as soon as they are released.


Thursday, November 06, 2008

LED versus Halogen footnote


LED v/s Halogen

The dealer I purchased the 5 watt LED MR16 from, LinLin House, has revised their advertising blurb after I made a complaint that it was misleading. It no longer appears to claim that their 5watt LED can match a 50 watt halogen.

The 5watt LED element as taken through
the lens of the lamp

I was interested in what type of LED element this lamp contained. I was dis-inclined to open the unit because I might not get it back together again and that would be a waste of a perfectly good $25 worth of a lamp. So if you are curious, you will have to knacker your own lamp to find out!!

I had a go at photographing the LED element through the lens of the lamp. As you can see in the above photo, the LED element is made up of 3 rows of dots. There would appear to be a dead pixel in the centre, but this may be by design.

LED replacement lamps are certainly improving in the quality and quantity of light output, and the price is dropping almost monthly. When they reach twice the current output of light, and sell at half the current cost, they will then be a very viable alternative. In the meantime, I would consider them an expensive curiosity and would not be fitting out my house with them just yet.


Sunday, November 02, 2008

LED versus Halogen


Part 2 of
LED v/s Halogen

Which do you think are the LEDs and which are the halogen bulbs?

I promised that I would come back to the question of LED (light emitting diodes) lamps, and that I would test a 5watt MR16 type LED against halogen MR16. This post represents my initial findings.

I bought a 5 watt led on EBay from a dealer called LinLin House Taiwan. The EBay page and transaction history are here:

The advert claims that to offer a uniquely bright LED with a Cree element. The advert would appear to say that this 5 watt LED is as bright as a 50 watt halogen lamp. However, if you read the advert more carefully, with the eye of a lawyer, you will find that it is cunningly worded to avoid using any direct and clear description of the light output.

The wording of the above advert on EBay says:

In the piece near the photo:
"The brightness of our LED MR16 is double of other providers, and one 4.2 watt LED MR16 is able to replace one 50 watt halogen lamp - with similar light-out brightness as the above photo."

(Oh yes! indeed it can replace a 50 watt halogen - but it can only give just one quarter of the light.)

Further down it repeats the following:

"Many people are asking if the LED lights are bright enough to replace the traditional lights, especially for the 4.2W LED MR-16 whose power consumption is only 1/12 of traditional 50W halogen lamp. As soon as our 4.2W/2800K MR-16, which is dazzlingless design, were installed for the office lighting (as following photo) in Taipei, it is proved that our new 4.2W MR-16 is not only 2 times brighter that other LED MR-16 providers but also able to replace the traditional 50W halogen lamp to save 12 times energy."

Misleading Advert.

If the advertising authorities in the EU were to legislate on the above advert, I have no doubt whatsoever that the verdict would be that it be withdrawn.

Bottom line is that the advert is totally misleading, because the LED lamp in question is no-where remotely close to the light output of a 50 watt halogen. In fact, it doesn't even fully match the output of a 20 watt halogen lamp.

The photo below was taken by placing a white photo-mounting board about two feet from the lamps, and the shot taken from a distance of 5 feet from the board.

Pool of light on white photo-mounting board
On the left is the 5 watt LED on the right a 20 Watt Halogen
Which do you think has a brighter output?

Above is a photograph of the pools of light from the 5 watt LED on the left and a 20 watt halogen bulb on the right. You would not need to be a rocket scientist to figure that the 20 watt halogen is giving more light. The 5 watt LED comes close to the light output of a 20 watt halogen but certainly does not exceed it.

5 Watt LED does not match a 20 watt halogen.

The LED on the left above is claimed in the advertising to MATCH the light of a 50 watt halogen bulb. I say that it cannot match the light of even a 20 watt bulb. Unless I happen to have been sold a faulty LED, the advertising is totally misleading. I am contacting EBay and making a complaint on the basis of misleading advertising, and I am asking that the description is fully corrected or the seller removed.

The above photo is taken looking directly into the light of two LED MR16 type lamps, and two 20 watt halogen lamps. Not the way to tell the comparative brightness, but it gives an idea of the colour and light scatter. From the left it reads:

5 watt LED
20 watt Halogen
20 watt Halogen
3 watt LED

LEDs still have a way to go

LED lamps still have a way to go yet. A 5 watt LED can reasonably replace a 20 watt halogen bulb for light output. The colour is fairly good and the light output is maybe 10% less than the halogen. But with the cost of the LED you might think twice about the value.