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Thread: Energy Saving Lightbulbs!

  1. #1
    Automated Home Jr Member
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    Question Energy Saving Lightbulbs!

    I thought I'd try to find out other people's experiences with different energy saving lightbulb options with their HA systems. I've been trying to work out what type of lighting to put into different parts of my house (in need of a re-wire), and I can't seem to find out what's compatible with what. I want energy saving stuff -I'm not interested in the other types- but there are some huge gaps in my knowledge!

    For example,

    Compact Flourecesents:
    I know that almost all of these are non-dimmable. There are some which you can dim, but I can't find much info on them, nor find out whether anyone has actually tried them with X10 or Z-Wave to discover how well they work, if at all. I've also read that not all standard CFLs work even on non-dim X10 modules, or do but have a shorter lamp life. I don't know about Z-Wave yet.

    LED fittings:
    Some of these seem dimmable - but which? 230v or 12v? If 12v, then some transformers work and some don't?

    Other Options? I'm sure I'm missing lots of alternatives.

    I'm going to buy a selection of fittings and lamps and try them out this week or next - when I have I'll report back. Please feel free to post your experiences - it would be much appreciated.

    Thanks everyone
    Jack

  2. #2
    Automated Home Jr Member
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    Yes, there is a variety of choices to make here. I'm sure it's different there in the UK from here in the US as well. I do have a couple of general thoughts though.

    I think that the LED lighting will at some point become the standard once larger scale production lowers the costs. Right now, really good LED light bulbs can cost as much as $100 US but are very efficient. I'm looking forward to the prices on these to come down. I think the light has very good color and most of the bulbs will last 50,000 hours or so.

    I have played with the dimmable CFL bulbs available here in the US on UPB light switches. They work pretty well. I haven't tried it on some of the other lighting technologies though.

  3. #3
    Moderator toscal's Avatar
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    Here goes,
    We use a lot of Halogen G9 type bulbs in the house. Not the best for energy efficiency, but they do last a lot longer than normal incandescent bulbs. But have noticed that soft starting the lighting makes even the incandescent bulbs last longer, which has to be a good thing.

    Compact Fluorescents:
    The newer ones seem to be better, but some X10 lighting modules require a minimum load of 60w. And I don't know if the X10 modules without a neutral wire would work. Also they can generate noise on the powerline, especially as they get older.
    X10 appliance modules seem to be OK especially the X10-2 ones. We also supply a special fluorescent X10 module that is essentially an appliance module that responds to all lights on and has built in noise filtering.
    Other problems are that over time the CFLs loose their brightness.
    In a test by the U.S. Department of Energy of "Energy Star®" products in 2003-4, one-quarter of tested CFLs no longer met their rated output after 40% of their rated service life.
    Also using the bulb for short burst of on and off say on for only 5 to 10 minutes such as in a bathroom, can drastically shorten their life and in some cases they now last less than the old incandescent bulb they have replaced.

    See these interesting articles http://www.popularmechanics.com/home...t/4215199.html
    http://www.reuk.co.uk/Toxic-Mercury-in-CFL-Bulbs.htm


    Another problem with CFLs when using say 4 or more on the same lighting circuit. Though I've only seen this once. A friend of mine had a problem with 5 outside lights all CFLs, all on the same light switch, one blew so he replaced it and that's when the fun started. All the lights including the new one wouldn't come on, they just flickered. Eventually found out that one of the other CFL bulbs had to be replaced.
    I have my doubts about CFL's being the all new green saviour in energy efficiency, especially when you consider how you are supposed to dispose of them since they are considered toxic waste.
    How to clean up and other FAQs on CFLs http://www.energystar.gov/ia/partner...et_Mercury.pdf


    LED fittings:
    I agree with Martin, I think these are the future in lighting technology, but are quite expensive. I replaced 2 outside light bulbs with a GU10 compatible LED fitting the output is I would say equivalent to a 10 or 15W bulb. Each bulb cost 8 euros. But they only consume 1W each.
    I guess there will be the same problems that some X10 lighting modules need a minimum load of 60W. But once again appliance modules should be OK.
    Also only certain types of transformers are dimable, but then it usually states this on the transformer or the box it came in.
    Other problems sometimes when using X10 lighting modules with LED lighting. If you DIM to 0 rather than use OFF then the LED lighting may still be on, all be it very dim but enough to see in total darkness, I think this is where the 60W minimum load comes in to play, and or the current auto sensing that some older X10 modules have.
    LED lighting also has its own enviromental issues as many contain toxic chemicals to produce the light. OK these quantities are small but still there.
    Phew quite a long post.
    Last edited by toscal; 17th May 2008 at 12:09 AM.

  4. #4
    Automated Home Jr Member
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    Thanks.

    The biggest problem I have with CFLs is the quality of light output - no matter what anyone says the quality isn't there.

    *Edit: I just read the popular mechanics article you linked toscal - very interesting - though they judging quality of light on colour temperature alone. It's all very well the lamps giving a warm colour temperature similar to incandecent, but that doesn't mean they contain all the bits of the spectrum within that? That's surely why they feel slightly clinical?*

    I've got a couple of the 'daylight' ones too but the light still feels a little 'thin'. They work well alongside real daylight to boost the work areas in the room I'm during the day though.

    I still use CFLs because I want to be energy saving, and I know they're getting better, but I would like to find something better soon.

    Toscal - have you tried dimming your LEDs? (I suppose not needed for 15w of light...).

    Do they make LEDs bright enough to replace incandecents? Are they full spectrum or to they still have a blueish look to them?


    Thanks everyone
    Last edited by toast0r; 17th May 2008 at 08:05 PM. Reason: Updating a paragraph

  5. #5
    Automated Home Jr Member nickgale's Avatar
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    Default Dimming LED's

    Most LED's can be dimmed but not using a standard dimmer. LED's can be dimmed using pulse width modulation, i.e. a constant voltage switched on and off at high frequency, decrease the 'on' periods and the LED will appear dimmer. Controlling them this way is very expensive and well out side the realms of X10. Osram and others make a dimming power supply for 1W 350ma LEDs, this needs a constant mains voltage and a 1-10v control to dim. You therefore need a relay (to switch on and off) and a 1-10v signal (to dim). Dynalite, CBus and several KNX manufacturers certainly have 1-10v modules in their range. Basically they work like a 1-10v dimming fluorescent ballast.

    There are also some LED power supplies that have a push button interface to turn on / off and dim.

    CFL's - colour temperature is only part of it, colour rendition is the other! the Ri on a CFL is much lower than a TH lamp that's why they don't look as good. I had lunch in a pub that had just been recently refurbished, lit entirely with CFL's, it was the most dull and depressing pub I've been in and I won't be going back. The Ri of an LED is also not great but getting better.

    Cheers

    Nick

  6. #6
    Automated Home Legend Karam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by toast0r View Post
    Compact Flourecesents:
    I know that almost all of these are non-dimmable. There are some which you can dim, but I can't find much info on them, nor find out whether anyone has actually tried them with X10 or Z-Wave to discover how well they work, if at all. I've also read that not all standard CFLs work even on non-dim X10 modules, or do but have a shorter lamp life. I don't know about Z-Wave yet.

    Jack
    We tested some Digiflux dimmable CFLs from Varilight late last year and our findings were that they worked ok within a range, but had a non linearity at the lower end - in other words you could only go down to certain dim level beyond which there was a sharp cut off and similarly when going the other way. So there is a base level which you cannot dim below. Interestingly when we were checking performance using some off the shelf dimmers we found that quite a few dimmers actually had this characteristic anyway - even with incandescents. Funny what you notice when you start looking carefully .

    So what this means in practice is that if you are just interested in maintaining set levels of lighting at various intensities it should be ok, but if you want to have a smooth turn on/off characteristic right from/to 0% or want to maintain really low levels of lighting then you may notice the bottom end 'bump'. I hasten to add that our tests were not exhaustive so I'm happy to be corrected if someone else found different.

    (BTW we were aware that these dimmers were 20W, so where necessary 2 or more were used to satisfy the typically 40-60W minimum rating of non IDRATEK dimmers)

    Karam
    IDRATEK LTD

  7. #7
    Moderator toscal's Avatar
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    How would dimming of CFL's effect their lifespan.

  8. #8
    Automated Home Jr Member nickgale's Avatar
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    The advice given on T5 fluorescent tubes is not to dim them within the first 100 hours of use.

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