LED Lighting Update

I’ve been quietly updating the light bulbs in the house in order to lower our electricity costs, as well as re-illuminate areas where I had let bulbs burn out over the last four years without replacement.

First up were three outdoor sconces that each received one of these 7w decorative Philips LED bulbs – 2700K color (warm), 500 lumen rated at 22 years of life. I’ll be 65 when they need replacing. Actually longer than that because there’s no way we’ll use them three hours a day. All three total will use $55 in electricity in their lifetime.

 

Next up was my art studio. I had one of these awesome looking, “flying buttress” 8w, 650 Lumen, 2700K Green Creative bulbs from my LED light bulb test article. So I rounded out the rest of the studio with five more of them. A great looking, great performing bulb.

And most gratifyingly I completed the update of the kitchen light bulbs. I had a single GE Reveal bulb from the LED light bulb test  in one of the kitchen’s non-dimming fixtures, and five other burned out ceiling cans to compliment it. Well by time I decided to pull the trigger on getting five new ones to finish off the set, Amazon.com was out of them and I couldn’t find them online. GE actually updated the model of bulb with a 2800K color. The original was 650 lumens at 2700K color. So the colors wouldn’t match with the new bulbs and it’d look wonky. I did buy six new bulbs from Lowe’s but as it turns out, the lens on them looked decidedly “pink” which was no bueno, so I returned them and forgot about it.

Now you have to understand that every time I go to a retail store, I may spend easily fifteen minutes analyzing their LED light bulb offering. Wouldn’t you know it, a random trip to Walmart yielded five bulbs that matched my original GE Reveal bulb, 650 lumens AND 2700K color. Oh happy day! So I snagged them up an installed them upon returning home.

ge-reveal-comparison

A comparison of GE Reveal bulbs. The “discontinued” bulb on the left. A newer option I tried, center and right, had a pink lens which I found to be distracting.

As for the rest of the house, the remaining BR30 size can light bulbs will be replaced with 9w 650 lumen, 2700K Philips brand bulbs which have the best overall performance and lower cost.

philips-br30-led-spotlight

Overall LED bulb costs have plummeted in the last four years. You can now get a three or four pack of 100w equivalent bulbs at any big box store for around ten dollars. There simply is no reason to get incandescent or even fluorescent bulbs anymore. LED’s are here to stay. They are low cost, last decades, and use very little energy compared to conventional bulbs. They also come in a variety of sizes and shapes. They even come in ultra warm, vintage style finishes.

I recently saw an article on Core77 about a new LED bulb that finally takes bulb design to the next level. This artful bulb by Plumen elevates the bulb from commodity item to work of art. It’s timeless design leverages the two decade lifespan of the average bulb as well. No shade required thanks to it’s incredibly good looks, and multi directional lighting solution. $170 per bulb but looks to be well worth every penny. Images are from the Plumen website

World Pangolin Day

World Pangolin Day

Today is World Pangolin Day. If you’re not sure what that means, I’ll give you an ultra brief rundown. This is a pangolin:

This is a pangolin. Super cute. Photo courtesy of http://savepangolins.org

This is a pangolin. Super cute. Photo courtesy of http://savepangolins.org

 

According to Wikipedia, a pangolin is a mammal that has large keratin scales covering its skin, and is the only known mammal with this adaptation. It is found naturally in tropical regions throughout Africa and Asia. The name pangolin comes from the Malay word pengguling, meaning “something that rolls up”. It is the most trafficked mammal in the world.

People in Southeast Asia love harvesting these little guys, often illegally, and selling all their bits , often illegally, to people in China primarily, as well as other countries. At the rate their habitat is being destroyed, and they are being killed, the pangolin will be extinct in just a few years. Which means while we’ve been able to enjoy their existence and the cool diversity they bring to our world, our kid’s world will be distinctly lacking in diversity cause they won’t have pangolins. Personally I don’t want to live in a world that doesn’t have cool animals, such as the pangolin, in it.

So to raise awareness we celebrate World Pangolin Day today!

Click here for 7 ways to celebrate World Pangolin Day today, and every day really.

And you can use these cool hashtags to raise awareness:

Please take the time to appreciate these awesome critters, and everything they offer in terms of wonder and diversity to our cool world. Think of ways that you and your family can help save these and other endangered plants and animals.

Basement Fireproof Caulking

When not trying to save the world, I’m trying to improve the comfort and performance of our house. Today I checked off a chore that had been on my list for a while.

Plumbers, electricians and HVAC installers in my opinion are nice guys but generally can be horrific when it comes to “whole system thinking”. What happens is the electrician comes in and runs wires, or the HVAC guy runs ducts. Then another trade comes in and does their thing. Well in doing their thing, they may inexplicably mess up the work of another trade and in the end you have a bunch of little issues that need to be addressed. For example, there is support blocking that was removed when air ducts went in, or random hole attempts in the foundation, or holes in air ducts where wires go through.

Just like the foam I had to replace / supplement last week, today I had to deal with some air flow issues. There is a large air duct that was created between two first floor joists. Fairly common, the HVAC team tacks up some corrugated like silver board to seal up the space between two joists and “Presto!”, instant air duct. The problem is either before or after someone ran electrical wires through the two joists. So the air duct, which works most efficiently when it’s air tight, has a bunch of holes that allow air to escape. By time the air goes from the furnace to the vent upstairs, it’s lost a lot of its “gusto” which makes the furnace work harder. In fact you want to keep wires out of the ducts altogether because they are an unnecessary obstruction to air flow.

To seal up these holes, finally, I used some fire barrier caulk. Because they’re electrical wires, you have to use fire caulk. The grey gooey stuff was easy to work with and came off of my hands easily when it was clean up time. I ended up using my finger to apply it because it was difficult to reach the holes with the caulk gun; too many pipes and wires in the way.

I even caulked up some gaps at the end of the vent for good measure.

Tip: do all this caulking during construction when you have better access, or ask your tradesmen to do it for you.

Basement

Framing is complete in the basement. So now we’re ready for inspections and then electrical. It’s really exciting to see the rooms formed and ready for the next step. I think we have around $750-$1,000 worth of materials into the project so far. My labor is free.

And I noticed my spray foam job did the trick on the exterior penetrations. I got one more can to touch up one little gap, but otherwise we should be pretty air tight in the basement now. Will see if these sealing chores impact our electric bill in the coming year.