Life: after fossil fuels

 

 


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Proud Co-Founder of Transition Town High Wycombe

 

Proud Member of the Low Carbon Chilterns Cooperative

LCCC

 

Proud owner & retrofitter of Superhome 59

Superhome 59

 

This website proud host of the High Wycombe Local Food Guide

Local Food

 

Lights Inside and Out

We had to replace twenty-four Tungsten Filament Light Bulbs throughout the house. These were used in existing Spotlights and in the Recessed Ceiling Light fittings. This is in addition to four traditional pendant light fittings in most of the bedrooms. We bought with us enough 'regular' CFL's from our previous house to fit the pendant bayonet fittings plus we brought our own desk lamps which are all fitted with CFL's anyway. That was the easy part. Unfortunately the Spot Lights and Recessed fittings took specialist Spot Bulbs.

 

For these we went mail order at www.lightbulbs-direct.com. We have dealt with them before and they are a good local source (Amersham in Buckinghamshire, UK) of Megaman CFL's. You name it, they have it. Unfortunately they seemed to struggle with such a "large" order. £380 is a lot of money to spend but we look upon it as an investment as you are always guaranteed to get your money back with a CFL. After a couple of weeks nothing turned up so we contacted Lightbulbs-Direct. They had trouble getting sufficient stocks but agreed to part ship what they had. So far so good. When they received the balance of the order they shipped it a few days later. We had E:Mail notification and everything seemed fine. However, the delivery never turned up. After another two week delay we had an exchange of E:Mails with Light-Bulbs Direct in which they insisted THREE times that FedEx HAD delivered them and that we must just have lost them. Apparently FedEx had left them by our back door. As here is no accessible back door to the new property I checked the delivery address. Yes, the shipped them to our old address. So we managed to retrieve them and had profuse apologies from the Vendor.

 

In the meantime a walk around our local Focus DIY store reveals that the regular Vendors are becoming much better stocked of more 'exotic' bulbs. On the first shipment from our friends at Lightbulbs-Direct one of the new CFL's popped and broke immediately I switched the power on. Rather than getting a replacement from them I decided to try one of the DIY-store varieties. This fitted perfectly and was actually a lot smaller than the Megaman variety. However, it performed the same for a similar price. This trend will continue until the eventual banning of all Tungsten Filament bulbs, by which time the regular DIY stores should be well stocked of every fitting of CFL imaginable. This matter is changing all the time and it is no longer specialist.

 

The second lesson here is to avoid all unusual light fittings! In our case we had no option as the decisions had been made by the previous occupiers of the house. To be fair to ourselves the question of "regular" light fittings was on the check-list when we inspected properties during our house-hunting phase. So many new houses have ONLY recessed light fittings. This was totally unacceptable. The one thing we liked about this specific property was that NOT ALL lights were recessed. I imagine this purchase criteria is flying in the face of lighting 'fashion'. Our criteria was always likely to be slightly out-of-step until everyone else gets in step with us. They will, eventually. Maybe there will always be a place for unusual light fittings and recessed lights. However these will only be acceptable if you can get the bulbs to fit them and if the recessed lights are air-tight.

 

We have had to settle with the recessed ceiling lights only for the bathroom and upstairs corridor. All other rooms can be lit with desk lamps, local lighting, reading lamps and existing ceiling pendant lights. Existing positionable spot lights (pictured - left) are easily replaced by the amateur DIY enthusiast but the recessed lights might need the skills of an electrician-cum-builder as their removal will leave a large hole in the ceiling. However, our preferred option now is to actually seal in the recesses from above (on the top floor). As the attic space is to be fitted with additional joists, to support a storage area over new insulation, then there is an opportunity to build wooden box structures around each recess. This will not be possible on the lounge lights. However, these should be less of a problem as the inter-floors should be sealed anyway. If not the new Cavity Wall Insulation should help to seal this area.

 

Any light fitting can take a CFL these days. However, if you wish to save a lot of money choose your light fittings carefully.

 

Low Carbon Man

  • Some of the spotlight bulbs are expensive and used to need a little tracking down. The spots take some time to warm up.

  • It was fun finding all these bulbs via the internet. This is a quick and easy win.

 

Solar Powered Security Lights - 2008

In October 2008, with the Autumn nights drawing in, we decided to invest in security lights. The new HQ does have a light by the front door, with a CFL inside, but we kept forgetting to switch it on and off. The cul-de-sac we live in has no street lights (good thing!) but it meant we would struggle finding the lock with our keys in the dark. As we would prefer NOT to leave a light on unnecessarily then passive infrared (PIR) seemed the way to go. We had positioned these all around our old property and they were very effective in providing us with light just when and where we needed it (when approaching the property from the outside). The only downside was that the PIR switches won't work with CFL's. I have yet to find a PIR that can be used with compact fluorescent lamps. It is assumed that the switches in the standard PIR's are not rated for the high spike voltage required to get the CFL to arc properly. We did experiment with inserting a CFL into a PIR-controlled security light (against the manufacturer's advice) but it didn't work. We loath tungsten filament bulbs so were happy to have the chance to be rid of them with the advent of solar-powered security lights. (Pictured left & right is the mounted standard version.)

 

These appeared on the market a couple of years ago and there is very little choice. They are expensive. If you shopped around online or at DIY stores you could probably pick up the tungsten filament PIR controlled security light for £10 to £20. The basic solar powered PIR controlled lamps start at around £25 with the "pro" model costing at least £90 but the obvious advantage is that they need no mains electricity. So we decided to splash out on a couple to see if they were any good. We bought two models:

 

  • SolarMate High Power Secure Professional Solar Security Light

  • SolarMate Standard Solar Security Light

 

We fitted the "high power" model to the front of the property (see pictures below) and the standard model inside the garage (see pictures above). Attaching inside the garage obviously meant we had to drill a hole through the wall to allow the small solar panel outside. This proved relatively easy although the manufacturer had put a very wide fitting on the electrical socket in order to weather-proof it. This was too wide for the hole so we cut it off. Even so we had to make the hole a larger than we would have liked. Ironically this was not an issue for the "high power" version that used a simple plug going straight into the main body of the device.

 

The decision to mount a light inside the garage was based upon the fact that this would be more convenient for us when entering the house via the garage. There is a mains-powered light inside the garage already but the PIR would save fumbling for the light switch with a bag full of shopping. It also helped that the light would switch itself off after you drove off to work in the morning. (On a number of occasions I had got in the car only to realise I had forgotten to switch off the garage light. Very frustrating!)

 

The "standard" model used a pack of standard rechargeable AA Batteries so if they wear out they are easily replaced. The "Pro" uses a sealed pack with no clue as to how you replace when they fail. The light source is very large LED's. There are three in the standard light and an array of 45 in the "high power" version. Each device comes with a separate solar panel that is easily mounted alongside the light itself. (Or in our case outside on the other side of the wall!) A cable links the light to its solar panel. During the day the solar panel charges the batteries and at night it operates as a regular movement-activated security light. Well, that is the idea!

 

The high power device (pictured mounted left & right) came in white plastic but it was not well made. It was flimsy plastic with loose items inside that would knock around inside the casing. The solar panels looked badly constructed and the online retailer (Solar Kits Direct) had obviously opened and repacked them at some point. We couldn't complain about their customer service on online store which were both very efficient. However we had little faith that these products might actually work as we were convinced that something must be broken. However, we gave them a go. Of the two; the standard light is the most rugged. However both seemed engineered in plastic whereas we might have preferred something less pretty and utilitarian in metal. The standard model even comes with a warning that it might not be totally weatherproof! This suggests that the makers are relying upon their novelty value more than their practicality. However it is a nice thought to know you'll have some security light if there was a power cut. Plus it certainly saves on wiring or getting an electrician in.

 

The property actually already had two external security lights (front & back) but neither worked. We figured that the bulbs had blown long ago. They were also mounted so high up under the eaves of the house that we couldn't reach them for maintenance anyway. One day we'll obtain a long ladder and finally remove them. We might suggest the manufacturers of these SolarMate products supply a longer cable between light and solar panel. It would have been nice to be able to mount the light on the north side of your house and then run the cable to the solar panel bolted to the south side of your house. This was not possible. The 'high power' light you see here is on the north side of the property with the solar panel pointing to where the sun rises in the morning.

 

Would they ever pay for themselves? A difficult thing to judge. Yes, they will save mains electricity and you may save some money on the wiring. As they run LED's they also are far more efficient than either Tungsten filament or CFL's. However they have a slightly higher embodied energy because the photovoltaic panel. You may also have to replace the batteries every three years so they are not entirely maintenance free. You will never be able to replace the LED's so we guess they practically last forever. We think that, like most photovoltaic powered devices, the payback is probably poor and there are better ways of spending your money if you wish to reduce you Carbon Footprint. However, if you need external lights and extra security then we would recommend this kind of solution - if they work and if they are reliable. This remained to be seen when mounted for the trial in Oct 2008..... See update below.

 

***UPDATE: 29th April 2009*** The "Standard" model is still working well but has a major flaw - since it has no lux meter it comes on at all hours of the day. This quickly wears the battery down in high traffic areas meaning it won't work at night when you need it most! Hopefully this flaw will be redeemed at some future point. The light is not very bright so use it in confined spaces. Otherwise we are impressed with this product - you just have to locate it carefully. Since we mounted it in a garage then we can't vouch for its weather proofing. This model is now available in some Garden Centres.

 

The "High Power" model was a big disappointment as it was clearly not weatherproof. The flimsy construction allowed the LED panel to rattle loosely inside whilst the water just flooded in. The power connecter became corroded and the switch jammed. It did work when first installed but soon stopped. This was assumed to be because the battery was flat. After a while it was removed from the wall and dried out. The unit can be weatherproofed with mastic but it still didn't work in our bench tests. It did come on during cleaning but this suggests that something is broken. It looks as if batteries, PIR, LED's and PV panel all work but the wiring has come loose inside or is corroded. It can probably be fixed if taken apart. For the high price of this unit we can't recommend it for use outside.

 

The experience with both these models suggests that they are nothing more than toys with limited use. The next phase for us will be to try mains-powered units for security lighting. We have purchased two for a trial and will let you know how we get on. In the meantime we have spoken to MegaMan who now assure us that all their products marked with the "Ingenium" stamp have a special chip in them making them compatible with standard PIR units. If you purchase these you should be able to use CFL's in your existing PIR Security lights.

 

***UPDATE: 15th September 2009*** The "Standard" model has ceased to work. It seemed to jam in the 'on' position until the batteries went flat. It has now been removed from the wall and theholes filled up. It makes way for shelving in the garage. A better use of space. The components of the unit were cleaned up and donated to the local techno-heads in the Transition Town movement. I am sure they will turn all those LED's and Photvoltaic Panels into some fun gadget for their next Energy Group show.

 

To repreat the earlier conclusions: these two specific items are of such poor quality as to be useless and a waste of money. We suggest that you save your money and buy 'conventional' mains-powered units. Then get a proper professional Photovoltaic Panel mounted on your roof feeding your Mains Supply via an Inverter. This is the only "solar powered" security light we can now recommend. Of course - if you have had better luck with other brands and models let us know via our Contacts page. The batteries will always be the weak point of these small systems. Even if the electronics survived (LED's and Photovoltaics should last 25 or 30 years) the batteries will need replacing every couple of years.

 

Low Carbon Man

  • These things are rubbish and a waste of money.

  • These things are a great idea - if they worked and were reliable.

 

Mains Powered Security Lights with CFL's - 2008

  • "Azure" CFL Low Energy Wall Light with PIR and Plug. £99 including P&P + VAT from www.lighting-direct.co.uk Unit 4, Colne Way Court, Colne Way, Watford, Hertfordshire, WD24 7NE, United Kingdom

  • Low Energy Security PIR Floodlight. £18.21 (includes VAT) + £4.95 shipping from www.liteworksuk.co.uk Steel City Lighting Ltd, Lancelot Works, Prospect Road, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S2 3EN, United Kingdom

  • Polperro 4 sided Lantern with PIR purchased from B&Q (www.diy.com) for £16.98

 

Intro

 

Until the winter of 2008 it seemed impossible to find an PIR ("Passive Infrared") security light that would take an energy saving ("CFL") lightbulb. Sure the mounts are the same so you can screw one in but you'll find it won't work. A casual glance at the instructions will tell you NOT to even try to fit a CFL to such devices. We know - we tried and it didn't work. We could find absolutely no information on the internet about compatibility of CFL's and PIR switches. There is no explanation as to why they won't work or how to resolve it. However, not being one to take "no" for an answer we endeavoured. We scoured the internet and high street lighting stores to see what we could find. After quite a hunt we tracked down the "Azure" product from Lighting Direct and the Low Energy Security Floodlight from Lite Works (Steel City Lighting). Later, when we found a problem with the Azure unit leading us to buy a third system from UK retailer 'B&Q'.

Low Energy Security PIR Floodlight from Lite Works

 

The Floodlight unit was destined to fit above a garage door to light a driveway. Once the fine spring 2009 weather arrived we put it up. The unit is a bit of a cheat as it is a completely unmodified PIR security floodlight. The supplier simply throws in a special CFL (that fits the Unit) in addition to the original bulb. There is no reference to it in the instructions. It is of an unknown brand - not Megaman and not "Ingenium". Installation was very simple. We simply drilled a hole in the wall and threaded the power cable through. From there we threaded it back to a 13amp three pin UK wall socket where we wired in a 13amp plug. Then the unit was wired in. We popped in the CFL and tested it. It seemed to work so we screwed on the face plate and left it. However, it didn't then work. A couple of days later we spent some time diagnosing the problem. It turns out that the CFL is TOO BIG for the floodlight case because when you screw on the faceplate it presses down on the CFL and dislodges it to break the electrical connection.

 

After trial and error we screwed on the faceplate as far as we could dare to go then used mastic to seal the unit against the weather. A bit of an unhappy compromise but, hopefully, the CFL should last a good few years so we won't have to take it apart in a hurry. Fingers-crossed.

 

Note: the Halogen retrofit CFL, included with the kit, came under the Brand Name "Landlite". It is a 24W unit entitled "F118-24W 4000K" Compact Fluorescent Lamp 118mm/R7s. It has the claimed lifetime of 8+ regular halogen bulbs or 8000 hours. The 24w light output is claimed to be equal to 300w from a halogen equivalent. This CFL is obviously a lot cooler running at only 75degreesC whereas the Halogen reaches a dangerous 140degreesC. The packaging claims the safety limit for touching something is 85degreesC.

 

Polperro 4 sided Lantern from B&Q

 

As revealed above - a conversation with a Megaman salesman suggested that their new "Ingenium" range are compatible with PIR's. Again, there is no published information to be found on the web to back up this claim. We decided to test it. As we could not install the Azure unit we checked online for standard PIR Lanterns that we could pick up at an out-of-town DIY store. We checked with UK retailer "B&Q" (www.diy.com) and, much to our surprise, found that they advertised a "Waldwick Energy Saving Auto Lantern" online for £29.98 (as of May 2009). So we headed down to our local B&Q but could not find the item on the shelves. So, instead, we looked at a 'regular' PIR Lantern and picked up the B&Q "Polperro 4 sided Lantern with PIR" for £16.98 (as of May 2009). We carefully read both the outside of the box and the instruction leaflet before purchase. The box said the unit could use a CFL. The instruction leaflet was very clear that you must NOT use a CFL. Strange! We decided to buy it anyway and see what happened.

 

After opening the packaging (back home) we noticed that the technical data sticker on the unit did confirm that a CFL could be fitted. We assumed that this was a recent technical change to the unit but this change had not been reflected in the Instructions. Within a few days we had the unit mounted on the wall outside the front door as a straight swap for an older style lantern that had no PIR and was operated by an internal light switch. (We actually removed what was a double light switch and swapped in a single switch thus hard-wiring the new PIR unit. This was to prevent householders from accidentally switching the PIR unit off.) The lantern had only one obvious flaw in its design - there was almost no space at the rear of the unit to coil up the excess wiring. Since the mounting bolts are low down on the unit then it cannot be made to sit flush with the wall. Instead the 'springy' & stiff wiring forces the top away from the wall. To resolve this we got out the trusty mastic gun again and liberally sealed in the resulting gap to make the unit weather proof.

 

Another minor problem was the excessive sensitivity of the dwell time dial. It goes from 5 seconds to 12 minutes in the space of a few millimeters. It takes quite a bit of fiddling to try and get a reasonable dwell of around 40 seconds. Our ham-fisted attempts seem to oscillate between 10 seconds and 2 minutes! It was time consuming having to test the dwell each time. Note that there is a light-level meter on the underside of the unit that switches it off during the day. The unit comes fitted with a self-adhesive label over this sensor so you can test the PIR. Do not forget to remove it when you have finished testing. This is a nice thought but the instructions are a little vague about the location of this sensor and it is easy to over look it. We nearly did.

 

These niggles to one-side, the unit does appear to work. We just screwed in a standard CFL (we had spare) and it worked fine. You don't need a Megaman Ingenium CFL. So the PIR unit itself has been adapted for use with CFL's. Hats off to B&Q for supplying this to the UK market. A casual glance at www.diy.com shows that B&Q now supply a vast range of such PIR units with CFL bulbs. Oddly enough they charge a £15/unit premium if the bulb is pre-installed. The diy.com website does NOT tell you that the CFL's now appear to work with their standard units. This may be a simple reflection of the fact that these are new on the market. However you could be cynical and suspect that B&Q are milking their competitive edge. Well, if they invested the money then good luck to them but remember that you do not need to spend £30. The £17 units also work fine with a bog-standard CFL. So the B&Q range now looks ready for the days when old tungsten filament bulbs will be outlawed. If you have an older light fitting then try the Megaman Ingenium. We have not had the opportunity yet.

 

"Azure" CFL Low Energy Wall Light with PIR and Plug from Lighting Direct

 

The Azure product was very expensive. It is a modern bulkhead wall light design but we had intended to use it to replace a lantern-style light outside a front door. It didn't look appropriate. Things got worse when we opened the box and found the instructions told us to get a qualified electrician to fit it. Why? On the underside of the light fitting is a 13amp three pin UK power socket. At first we believed this was a novel way of powering the light. When we opened the instruction sheet it told us to provide two separately wired power sources to the unit. Since the intended installation was to replace an existing light fitting in an area where we could not route another power cord this stopped the project right there. The unit sat on the bench for several months whilst we wondered what to do with it.

 

After a lot of head scratching it suddenly dawned on us that the 13amp 3 pin UK socket on the underside was not (as we first thought) a power input. It was actually a power output. It wasn't what we really needed. However, as it came mail-order we were not keen to try and return it. So we thought hard about what to do before concluding that we could mount it to the front of the property between the new garage light and the front door light described here. We could drill a couple of holes through the garage wall and to supply the independent power sources via the RCD demanded by the instruction sheet.

 

The installation went reasonably smoothly but we hit a snag when we used an old Flymo lawnmower cable to power the external socket. Since it was a bright red/orange colour and designed to be used on an external appliance (it had a moulded on 13amp plug) then we assumed it would be perfect. However after fitting everything together we found, to our utter surprise, that the cable was only twin core. It had no earth. So we had to wire the earth together with the earth from the power cable for the lighting circuit. Not perfect but we plugged both circuits into an RCD so it is fully protected - even if the pro electrician might shudder at the thought. The ultimate irony is that when we tried to plug an actual Flymo into the new external socket, under the light fitting, it wouldn't fit because of the long 'tail' on the moulded-on plug clashed with the lighting unit casing. The makers had fitted the socket the wrong way around.

 

The light itself does work. The sensitivity and dwell time only appear to have "on" and "off" modes operated by a complicated set of DIP switches mounted INSIDE the casing. This is patent rubbish. Who would design such a fitting this way? Clearly such a unit requires a variable adjustment system via the external casing. Every other unit on the market manages this so why not the Azure? It comes with two CFL bulbs with plug-in pin mounts. They are slow to light up from cold. They initially flicker like old fashioned fluorescent tubes. It isn't clear if this will be an issue in practice. The light will be useful if you intend upon working in that area but passing traffic will have been and gone before it supplies useful light. In our opinion the Azure unit is over-priced, flawed and next to useless. Considering that fact that you can get something far cheaper and simpler from B&Q (as detailed above) then we wouldn't recommend this to anyone. If you wish for an external power socket for your home then simply pop down to Wickes and buy a DIY system with RCD dedicated to the purpose.

 

Conclusion

 

All three units tried were not without their flaws. However, in the space of a year the market has turned around from offering almost no choice to offering a wide range of options via a well known retailer in the UK. There should be no need to hunt down what you need on the internet as we had to. This is good news for Post-Carbon Living. We can recommend the B&Q units as being functional, simple and decorative. We probably should not recommend the floodlight option because the bulbs don't fit it. Hopefully this will change but you have been warned. The final option - the "Azure" - is not really a runner due to its unnecessarily high cost and confusing instructions. They do not even intend it for the DIY market.

 

It has been a very useful experience. We look forward to the day when any CFL can be plugged into any light fitting and just work without the need for detective work or experimentation. The consumer deserves better.

 

Low Carbon Man

  • They aren't terribley bright.

  • These boys really work and are now much easier to buy than they used to be a few years ago.

 

Mains-powered Security Lights using LEDs - 2013

Superhome 59 external security lightingBy 2013 the CFL security lights we had tried were getting troublesome. The "Azure" unit had packed up working some years before and the over-garage light suddenly ceased to work in November. After getting on a ladder and offering it some percussive maintenance it would flicker on and off indicating that there was a circuitry problem within the sealed PIR unit. This was not repairable so I decided to replace the entire unit. I removed the Azure at the same time and went online to replace both with LED units. After a short hunt I singled out a PIR operated mains-powered LED bulkhead fitting for £45 from TLC Direct, and a 20W LED floodlight with PIR from BeamLED online for £39. Both arrived quite quickly. I was surprised by the bulkhead unit as it was about one-quarter the size of the one it relaced. The Azure had a built-in external socket and two CFLs which explained why it was so large. Fitting both new units gave us a few headaches. The over-garage light was troublesome because of wiring....

20W Biard LED FloodlightThe unit had shipped with about six inches of cable sticking out of it. Highly unusual. I assumed I could just remove it and wire it directly in to the existing mains-cable. However, upon opening the unit I found that the cable had been crimped on and there was no screw-mounting blocks. So I was resigned to using external mounting blocks to join existing wiring to new. This meant the joint would be exposed to the elements. An obvious weak point for a device intended for outdoor use in northern Europe! So we persevered with plenty of black electrician's insulation tape. I taped the joints to a high point on the rear of the unit so that water would not run down-hill and soak into them. After mounting I fired it up and was delighted to find it all working. It comes with a Lux meter, PIR sensitivity dial and PIR lights-on duration dial. Excellent.

Bulkhead LED security lightNext up was the bulkhead LED. Being on the ground floor this was a bit less fiddley to fit. The original Azure unit had two mains cables to power the lights and external socket. I removed one of them as it was now surplus to requirements. I simply cut it off where it entered the wall both inside and out. I removed excess cabling inside and tidied up the mess with a spot of white paint. The unit's baseplate is plastic and a bit flimsy. When screwed onto the wall it distorted making the fitting of the main housing very difficult. It would not completely clip on. However it was also secured by a screw on the underside so this was not a big problem. This unit is quite impressive with a few clever features we liked. It worked first time and after a bit of fiddling you can adjust the Lux meter and timer to get the effect you want.

Conclusions: how things have changed since 2008! Only a few years ago we really struggled to find a single CFL security light. Now the market is nearly saturated by LED equivalents. They still sell at a premium but they last so much longer and use so much less power that LEDs are increasingley becoming the de facto standard for all outdoor lighting. We have had ours mounted on Superhome 59 for a week and they appear to be working fine. Time will only tell if they are as fragile as the units they replaced.

Kitchen Lights - New replacement CFL's & LED's - 2009

The pictures (top) showed the original kitchen spotlights. These came up for replacement when the kitchen was replaced. The original unit had been fitted with three 15w CFL lamps making 45w in total. We shopped around for a better alternative and finally settled upon a six-spotlight unit from John Lewis (UK Household Goods Retailer) where it retailed for £48 (pictured left). This gave us the most number of options. Almost all spotlight units now use the GU10 Halogen bulbs and it is hard to find alternatives as they seem to be very popular.

 

You can buy both LED and CFL alternatives to the Halogen bulbs but there are a number of drawbacks. CFL's are between 16 and 25mm longer making them less attractive. The CFL versions retail from between £5 and £15 each.

 

The LED's are smaller - much the same size as the Halogens. However they have one drawback they share with CFL's - they don't give out anything lke the same light power as the Halogens they replace. This was the reason for getting a six lamp spotlight unit. We need to replace two of the spotlight units so we bough two of the six lamp units from John Lewis. We then went online to www.lightbulbs-direct.com to buy six 5w LED's and six 7w CFL's - all in GU10 mount. The LED lamps are shown above-right whilst the CFL's are shown left. The CFL's were £10.50 each whilst the LED's were a wapping great £24.30 each. With VAT this cost £240 for the package. Very VERY expensive.

 

However the LED performance is astonishing. They come on instantly and the light is just as good as Halogens if not as bright. Six lamps for only 30w! The CFL's are very slow to warm up but still only total 42w. Both units came in under the 45w target and both give a better light spread. Superior but very costly.

 

From www.wattlite.co.uk we purchased two "LED Triangle Kits" at £34 each. These were to replace the four original units which had been fitted with Halogens. Unfortunately it was not possible to simply replace the inset unit as you have to get the triangle surround and the transformer to drive it. The inset light itself is hard-wired into the power-cable. Similar units can be obtained from Wickes (UK DIY Retailer) but they are £39 for a pack of three - better value for money but we only needed four units in total so we would have wasted two units.

 

We had some fun and games trying to fit the units as we had to replace the wiring which was already threaded behind the kitchen cabinets. After some head scratching we figured that we could tie a piece of string to the existing cable before threading it through to the cupboard underside by extracting the existing Halogen lamps. The transformers themselves were easy to wire as the connections were similar to that required for the original Halogen Units. The LED cabling was threaded from the bottom of the cabinets, to the top, by simply pulling on the string (since tied onto the replacement LED cabling). After some pulling and tugging everything came together. Unfortunately the first LED we connected simply burnt out after four minutes operation.

 

We queried the wattlite web site but they had no return address. So we E:Mailed them asking what we should do. They immediately sent us replacement units and requested that we did no bother to send the original units back. When we received the replacements we noted that they now came with a different transformer (with a different rating). So it looks as if they may have been the source of the problem. After everything was connected up everything worked without further problems.

 

Conclusion

This has been our first major investigation into LED's. We are impresed but they are so very expensive and do not give off the light of Halogens. It is still too much of a dogmatic choice. If you are will to stump up the money then you save money in the long run as they have an exceptionally long lifetime. And they use very little power.

CFLs replaced by LEDs - Project: Spring 2013

LED lighting technology has come on leaps and bounds in the last few years and the price is crashing down. We are subscribed to regular electronic newsletters keeping us informed as new bulbs become available. We were prompted in April 2013 by news that R63 spotlights had become available. So we started with an initial experimental batch of three R63s and six R80s (from two different manufacturers). All of these fitted our fittings and worked fine. So we went on to replace a further eleven of the R63s around the house as well as six pendant and desk-lamp bulbs. We also finally got around to tackling the halogens in the cooker extractor fan hood. We popped one out (it hasn't worked in years) and found it to be a small 12v unit with two pins 2mm apart (G4). A quick search online revealed LED replacements at 3w that would be equivalent of the 20w halogens.

The only bulbs we cannot yet replace are those CFLs that are the equivalent lumens of an old 100w lightbulb. These are just becoming available on EBay but we will wait for a minstream retailer to offer these before purchase. The new LEDs at this end of the range look clunky and heavy. We want to use them in three angle-poise lamps are concerned that they would be too heavy. We also need one for a ceiling pendant where weight is not a problem. We only need four of these LED bulbs to completely replace all the CFLs in the house. The only luminescent bulb left will be in the oven.

This project has cost us £420. Payback will be poor because we are replacing CFLs so these are more for technology-demonstration purposes. They also give better light instantly on (no lag, no warm up) so their qaulity is better than CFLs. They seem brighter. They also have a long life which means they will pay themsleves back eventually. Three of the R80s have a delayed switch-on whereas the other three do not. They are from different manufacturers so it pays to shop around.
Low Carbon Man
  • Very, very expensive.

  • These give off a brilliant low energy light with no warm up time at all.

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