Compact fluorescent

The future of lighting?

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The move away from the ‘good old’ tungsten bulb is now almost complete. Some people have stock piled them in cupboards as they don’t like the much more efficient and longer lasting alternatives – compact fluorescents and LED’s. but generally there does now seem to ba an acceptance that the move away from old style bulbs is the way to go (unless of course you read the Daily Mail!).

It appear now however that there is a new kid on the block – the plastic bulb. Sounds strange I will admit, and it is currently at a very early stage. But according to the inventors ( in the US) it gives a much nicer light. So what is it exactly?

The new light source is called field-induced polymer electroluminescent (Fipel) technology. It is made from three layers of white-emitting polymer that contain a small volume of nanomaterials that glow when electric current is passed through them. 

The inventor of the device is Dr David Carroll, professor of physics at Wake Forest University in North Carolina. He says the new plastic lighting source can be made into any shape, and it produces a better quality of light than compact fluorescent bulbs which have become very popular in recent years.

And the first versions should be available next year!


Low energy lighting – a second chance?

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these can save you lots.......

The low energy light bulb (or compact fluorescent to be more accurate) has been given pretty rough treatment by the public since it became available a few years ago. Yes, it is fair to say that the early versions were fairly poor in terms of warm up times, so the early poor press was probably deserved. They are however much better now and provide good levels of instant light. They are also one of the cheapest and easiest ways to reduce energy use in the home and make a much bigger impact on energy-saving than most people realise – I highlighted this in an earlier blog.

Unfortunately the press (the Daily Mail in particular) have done such an effective hatchet job on them that they will probably never make the level of contribution that they should in the domestic market. However there is now a ‘young pretender’ on the block – LED lighting. In reality it has been around for some time and we have become used to great little torches and the like using this technology. But now it is beginning to break into the domestic and commercial market as costs start to fall – and its energy usage is equally low.

And now to help move this forward the European Commission has launched a green paper and public consultation on the future of LED-based lighting. Part of the reason behind this is that the European Union completes its phasing out of traditional light bulb sales in September 2012, and in the next few years about eight billion incandescent lamps in European homes, offices and streets will need to be replaced by more energy-efficient lighting solutions (unless Daily Mail readers get their way!).

These include LED and organic LED (or OLED) lighting technologies, also known as solid state lighting (SSL). It is predicted that faster LED deployment will help reduce energy use from lighting by 20 per cent by 2020, but there are market challenges;

  • High purchase prices – compared to traditional sources
  • Lack of familiarity among potential users – a real ‘catch 22’
  • A lack of common standards

The key questions from the consultation include;

What would help to overcome existing barriers and accelerate LED deployment in Europe?
How can it be ensured that LED products on the European market are good quality, safe and meet consumer expectations?
How can co-operation be reinforced between the lighting sector and architects, lighting designers, electrical installers and the construction and building sectors?
How can the EU best support entrepreneurship and competitiveness in the lighting sector?

The consultation runs until 29 February 2012 and can be found  here.

Apparently we have too many gadgets!

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This is the decade of the gadget – everyone has become caught up in the need for them – it may be a smart phone, games console or something in the kitchen or garden. What is clear is that despite energy-conscious home owners religiously switching appliances off at the plug, insulating their houses and turning off lights in empty rooms, our obsession with gadgets means energy bills and emissions are still rising according to a report from the Energy Saving Trust.

Not energy-efficient

The upshot of this is that If we do not cool our love affair with gadgets and appliances such as smartphones, tablet PCs and electric toothbrushes we are likely to fall short of 2020 targets to cut domestic electricity emissions by 34%.

Despite progress by manufacturers in improving appliance efficiency, a desire for energy-guzzling products such as extra-large fridges and flat screen televisions is pushing up home electricity bills and making carbon targets increasingly unlikely to be achieved.

The purchase decision on gadgets appears to be separated from normal reality, you wouldn’t buy a car without taking into consideration how fuel-efficient it was but people will buy electrical products without thinking about how much it is going to cost to run them. As energy prices continue to rise they are eating up more of our money. People need to be more educated about what these gadgets cost.

The biggest offenders? Big plasma TVs, 600-litre fridge freezers, wireless routers that remain on all day, tumble dryers and 50W halogen spotlights.

Progress has been made. Lighting and fridges – traditionally the most energy-consuming products in the home – are becoming more efficient, while the phasing out of incandescent light bulbs has brought down the overall contribution of lighting, and is expected to lead to further reductions by 2020.

The number of domestic gadgets and appliances in the average UK household increased by three and a half times between 1990 and 2009, according to the report, and overall energy consumption from consumer electronic goods rose by more than 600% between 1970 and 2009.

The new report finds that despite householders’ efforts to switch to energy-efficient products, we are actually consuming more energy than five years ago, with almost a third of all the UK’s carbon emissions coming from the home.

So, be aware that those lovely gadgets that you have or want may not be as friendly to you as you think!

Low energy bulbs – public enemy No.1?

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Americas new enemy?

Everyone will be aware of low energy bulbs – or compact fluorescents (CFL’s) as they are more correctly described. There appears to be no middle ground, you either love them or hate them! The Daily Mail has had rather a lot to do with the ‘hate campaign’ in the UK, as usual they have used some rather dodgy journalism to support the ‘good old’ tungsten bulb! However, even they have been eclipsed by events in the USA this week!

A Republican campaign to “defend America against a sweeping assault on personal freedom” – or energy-saving lightbulbs as they are more commonly known – was defeated on Tuesday night.

This was an attempt by the conservative Tea Party movement to repeal the 2007 law promoting more efficient lighting standards, apparently it was “an assault on personal freedom”. The law required more efficient bulbs to be in use by 2012 – and would have caused the ‘good old 100 watt’ bulb to disapear.

The vote in the House of Representatives failed to get the two-thirds majority required under the special rules invoked by Republicans to try to fast track the legislation. It did get a 233-193 majority in the house, however, and Joe Barton the Texan Republican behind the measure said he would try again – by any means possible!

According to the Republicans the 2007 measure, which was signed into law by George Bush, is an outright attack on their civil liberties, and even an affront to the inventor of the tungsten bulb Thomas Edison! In their view, the move to encourage the adoption of  CFL’s was yet another example of government overreach by Barack Obama.

Come on America – get a grip – it’s only a bulb, and it will save you money in the long-term and help save the planet! Oh, hang on I forgot, that,s not a top priority for the US is it?