If energy needs to be saved, there are good ways to do it.
                                                               Government product regulation is not one of them

Friday, April 11, 2014

Disc Power

It should be clear by now to readers of this blog how incandescent light bulbs are popular, simple, cheap and yes, efficient, in needing few parts to produce bright light, and without supposed energy saving to society (incandescents as the "real green" bulbs).

Unsurprising, then, that people around the world are using workarounds to be able to keep using them. Dumb governments, who make pointless and unpopular laws to suit lobbying profitmakers rather than their citizens, will always find such reactions.

In Europe as in North America, one such avenue has been the use of still legal "rough service" type of bulbs, as well as currently temporarily allowed halogen types.
There are also alternative voltage and current altering ways (in bulbs or externally) that extend incandescent lifetime albeit with some brightness loss.
The various workarounds were most recently covered in the post "USA and Canada Light Bulb Ban: Now and in the Future" from earlier this year.

One innovative way was as seen recently launched in the USA by two bright entrepreneurs, Lisa Elder and Trishah Woolley, using a disc with any ordinary light bulb.
To expand a little more about the California based Power Disc venture, edited extracts from the website, powerdisc.com...

It consists of a nylon reinforced thermoset plastic disc, a solid-state rectifying diode and a foam washer with an adhesive surface. The PowerDiscTM is attached to the base of a light bulb by means of the 3M adhesive coated foam so that the center contact of the bulb is in contact with one end of the diode. When screwed into a light socket, the other end of the diode contacts the center contact of the light socket.

By converting the electricity power used by the bulb from AC to DC, the PowerDisc™ significantly reduces energy consumption up to 42% and also extends the bulb life up to 100 times therefore reducing bulb replacement costs.

In other words, 120 volts of alternating current (AC) are converted to approximately 85 volts direct current (DC).
The light bulb filaments, that actually create the light we see, will burn at a much lower temperature...The degree to which the filament is heated is directly related to the life of the bulb.

Using the formula from the General Electric Incandescent Lamps Booklet (ref. GE #TP-1100R2 5/84) we calculate the life of the bulb with the reduced voltage.... example...

[On the light output reduction issue, making comparisons:]

As it is well known in the industry, all energy efficient light bulbs will have some reduction in lumens (light output), initially up to 30% over the first couple of months. Take note of the packaging for CFL and LED bulbs, they claim they will operate at 70% efficacy - which means they know their bulbs will lose 30% in lumens. Example, the packaging states 1000 lumens but they "guarantee" that the bulb will operate at 700 lumens.

Also the "long life" incandescent and halogen bulbs which operate at 130 volts, when you use it in a 120 volt socket, there is an immediate 25% lumen loss from what is stated on the packaging. Example, the packaging states 1000 lumens but in a 120V socket it is really 750 lumens.

With the PowerDisc there is also an initial lumen loss, the difference is the bulb will maintain that lumen level for the life of the bulb- it won't get dimmer and dimmer over time until it burns out. If it is necessary to maintain similar lumen levels it is recommended to increase the wattage of the light bulb used. The lumen level of the light bulb is dependent upon the manufacturer, clear or frosted and type of light bulb being used. Also keep in mind the lumen level you have upon insertion will be the lumen level for the rest of the life of your bulb until the day it burns out, which means it does not diminish over time, whereas with CFLs and LEDs you get around a 30% lumen loss in the first couple of months, then it slowly decreases until it is very dim. This makes for safety and security issues in certain areas.

If it is important to maintain the visible light level, a higher wattage bulb should be used...but as bulb wattage increases, efficiency in the transformation of electricity to light also increases.

So to begin with the downside, there is a seeming 25-30% brightness loss which means higher electricity costs for a bulb of given brightness, compared with an ordinary simple incandescent bulb.
But... the point is of course is that as such bulbs gradually get banned (and in the USA as in Europe there is talk of controlling the availability of rough service incandescents for ordinary consumers), it allows the extended use of any such bulb without hoarding.
Also, as they say, fluorescents and LEDs dim as they are used, reducing their effective light output too.
Finally the advantage of not having to change bulbs may be useful in some locations.

Overall, good to see this innovative spirit from others who are against the ban - and doing something about it!

How Regulations are Wrongly Justified
14 points, referenced:
Includes why the overall society savings aren't there, and even if they were, why alternative policies are better, including alternative policies that target light bulbs.


Anonymous said...

The conversion to DC likely creates high voltage transients (AKA dirty electricity) and thus an unhealthy living environment. Suggest testing with a Stetzer micro-surge meter (available at stetzerelectric.com).

alan smithee said...

the microsurge comment is a crock. the diode bridge conversion actually removes any surge harmonics from the original AC waveform.

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for this post!It is really useful for me! Tell me please, is this article appropriate for all kinds of lamps, I mean is it good to LED? I have this type hardware.ch/bega but I am not sure that I can use your tips! I will be very thankful for clarifying!

Lighthouse said...

Hardly suitable for either CFLs or LEDs as they already have their own current conversion units
Quote, for LEDs
"LED chips need controlled direct current (DC) electrical power; an appropriate circuit is required to convert alternating current from the supply to the regulated low voltage direct current used by the LEDs."
For CFLs (fluorescent bulbs)
"Electronic ballasts contain a small circuit board with a bridge rectifier, a filter capacitor and usually two switching transistors. The incoming AC current is first rectified to DC, then converted to high frequency AC"

Max said...

The voltage transient claim in the earlier post is indeed a total crock.
If rectifying AC voltage with a diode caused dirty electricity or environmental harm, we would all have to throw away at least half of the electrical devices in our homes.
Just do a quick web search on "stetzerizer" and "fraud" and you'll get a pretty quick idea of what that poster was up to.

The diode for the light bulbs is a fine idea for extending bulb life. But yes, the big drawback is that the brightness is going to be significantly reduced.

Lighthouse said...

Thanks Max
The effects of dirty electricity as by an anonymous commenter seems likely of little consequence to most people but some seem sensitive to it.
A general problem with newer complex lighting is that any insidious long term effects take time to show up. Old simple incandescents may not be to everyone's taste, but they are of course well known.
As for the disc yes there is the mentioned brightness penalty but the main advantage here would be to extend bulb life without having to try and get new ones