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Monday, January 7, 2013

Campaign Against Can Lights

I speak up for a new wedge to get existing-home owners engaged in weatherization: getting rid of attic floor can lights. Let us call the absurdity of do-gooder weatherization in free CFL bulbs and flow-restrictors on shower heads. Let some weatherization contractors and lots of licensed electricians earn some needed income with for-free, publicly or utility-funded difficult elimination of dangerously-fried ceiling light junction boxes or crudely hacked-in can lights whether air tight IC, or not. Here is a message I have sent to Conservation Services Group, my chapter of Home Builders Association, Energy Trust of Oregon, Lighting Science Group Corp., NEEA and now on to any reader:


As an installing contractor and blogger, I have been an early adopter of LED plate lights

These lights are made by Lighting Science Group Corp. as Model "Glimpse", the first consumer product offering direct wiring into a junction box. I have been working since September 2011 with Glimpse lights in 6" size, packaged by Home Depot as Commercial Electric Product T91. I have been watching and prodding, that Home Depot should also offer  4" Glimpse luminaires, available since February, 2012. Posts of my experiences are readily found in relevant internet searches. Topics include details of installation, compatible dimmers, an adventure in the availability through Home Depot, and now advocacy for alternative distribution and marketing. Happenings in availability have caused me to at last employ distribution other than Home Depot, and at last to try out the full six-member family of Glimpse lights, two sizes, three color temperatures. I am doing what I can to interest Lowe's in stocking the Glimpse family. I have appealed through the Energy Star Hotline, that brightness ratings of plate LEDs should be redefined, doubled. I have appealed to Lighting Design Lab (Jeff Robbins), in Seattle, to have the same interest I propose for CSG. I will watch for the CREE lights to be stocked now by Home Depot in lieu of Glimpse shelf space, and will use and report upon them as appropriate.

My drive is to eliminate attic floor can lights, as permitted with LED plate lights.  I believe the simplest and most satisfying saving opportunity in residential weatherization is in that one measure. Good lighting, not choked to save energy, adds much to productivity and quality of life. Here is demonstration in that belief:

Insulation Math - Phillip Norman Attic Access

Example 7: One baffled can light in every 100 sf of an "R38" attic floor. Say, cellulose twelve to fifteen inches depth. Real R38 insulation except for holes.

Typical $1 per year heat loss per can, plus excess cost of electricity. For electricity cost assume a maritime climate with $0.15 per KWH electricity cost. Consider a light that is on 4 hr per day, 1460 hr per year, Cost is $14 per year at 65 watts and $3 per year at 14 watts. Each change-out saves about $12 per year per fixture. Simple payback is in five years if total replacement cost is held at $60 per fixture. This is irreversible repair of a heat bleed, far better than putting a 23 watt CFL in the leaky can, $5 per year electricity cost, only $9 per year  saving of energy. We are looking for fullest easy, painless energy savings, not fastest payback of any investment. Lots of skilled electricians and other workers can find employment, in the permanent repair. The campaign would accelerate deployment of LEDs in general, at reduced cost.

The campaign includes global recognition that plate LED's are in a new realm of illumination efficiency. LED manufacturers somehow are restrained against true claims of achieved illumination, The 4" Glimpse is labeled as equivalent to 45 watt incandescent, when in fact they match the illumination a 100 watt bulb. A 6" Glimpse labeled as  match to 75 watts, is better than a 150 watt bulb, and never gets hot. Fixing the involved standards will be a lot of fun.

There are other things possible with insulation and sealing in many homes, with payback in less than ten years. But, many are harder and less certain of delivery. Those bleeding energy, need to start somewhere.  All should be done. Why reject the can campaign? Let it also motivate better new home construction, always with LED plate lights, allowed inexpensively by appropriate wiring provisions. For plate LED possibility, all junction boxes must be larger "deep" sizes, and must not be burdened as circuit junction boxes, carrying more wires than needed for the light operation.

Please note separate assessment of potential savings in reduced electricity consumption, and in getting rid of air leakage and missing insulation associated with can lights. The saved electricity vs a 65 watt spot bulb matters most.

The potential energy savings often are less significant than the elimination of fire hazards where a blow and go criminal does not call in an electrician before doing his deed. Better light at a tenth the cost improves national health and productivity. We might cure a few SAD sufferers, and why not for-free?

1 comment:

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