Monday, October 2, 2017

2x4 Framing Build-Out To 2x6

Please consider virtue in the accurate and strong build-out of 2x4 to 2x6 thickness in this exterior wall section of my 1955 home in Portland, Oregon. Here is that build-out immediately upon demolition of an outside wall.

I had despised drop-ceiling headers over kitchen cabinets. Such headers are awful heat bleeds in most homes, where at exterior walls they are not accessible for insulation. Too often, none of the headers are filled with insulation. I have the opportunity to expand my kitchen 40% with modest effort where the little kitchen exited to the back yard via a concrete porch fully on-foundation. 

It was a crummy little kitchen, and held down the usefulness of the house, beyond being the last room in my house where I had not demolished interior drywall to accomplish data and power wiring improvements, plumbing replacements and tight R15 insulation.

In this one room I would accomplish R22 wall insulation in 2x6 framing.

The improvements are a lot for an individual to accomplish, and are still in progress. For now, share just the details of a 2x4 wall built out to 2x6 with innovation important to progress in existing home energy efficiency and in preservation of well-built homes of the 1950s, defending against demolition.

See my build-out to 2x6 thickness of an existing 2x4 wall. At top place an on-flat 2x4 and 1/2” plywood rip. Stitch on lengths of 5” rips of 1/2” plywood as composite beam webs. Place 2x2s true vertical and flat, leaving 1/2” thermal breaks of both the 2x framing and the webs. The 1/2” gaps behind 2x2s enable simple running of wires, without steel plates to mess up drywall flatness.
Fit 2x6 extensions of the wall bottom plate, and set screws to align the 2x2s flat and vertical. The 1 1/2" raising of nailers for drywall and baseboards, is very useful.

No! There is a better way.
Serious about this in late Summer 2017, I have reset the wall build-out to employ an upright 2x4 at the floor, for better baseboard attachment opportunity, and insulation a bit better.

I will have a much better kitchen, in a home that inspires possibilities with solidly-built homes of the 1950s. Details here are near-final. I do all work except cabinetry fabrication. Completion is expected in Winter 2018. Floor tile will follow some more plumbing and wiring, perhaps insulation. Tile will go even under cabinets and bathroom walls. Watch it all happen, here. Hold our heads up high. Do all we can as individuals to save energy and life for all upon Earth. Stop fracking madness. Stop the oil trains too, now that coal export is dead. Get rid of Trump. Listen to Michael Moore.

While exposed, the built-out framing has been a laboratory of insulation methods, sharing photos in conversation with Insulation Institute .  I start out with an exceptional exterior wall judged to be R_total = 5, U = 0.2 not counting added value of wall joists and to-be-added insulation batts. That is with less than half the conductivity and heating cost of common, cheap, non air-tight construction. 

Walls built this way are to be treasured and preserved. I'm not sure what should be done with more-ancient walls, hopelessly leaky, hollow, cobweb strewn, with structural defects and dangerous wiring, ruined of insulation value. I suspect though that salvageable homes are determinant not by age, but by investment at time of construction.

Where is the pride of any employee or contractor of the US Department Of Energy paid to support residential energy efficiency, when USDOE Home Energy Scores treat all exterior walls without some insulation stuffing, as of paper, R_total = 0.4, U = 2.5 ? This is insanity that perhaps-deliberately fuels older-home demolition regardless of solid construction. It insanely allows claim that very-huge energy savings can be achieved by a blow-and-go scammer foolishly just adding some partial insulation atop wiring, plumbing and structural messes,
 if the home is not demolished.

The subjects with Insulation Institute  have been layering of batts to kill framing thermal shorts, full batt containment to avoid air circulation, and lack of value where insulation does not fully fill available space. Where are you, NAIMA friend Charles Cottrell, still defending "R13" as the code-call for 2x4 walls?

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Review, Utilitech #0831957 LED Disk Downlight, at Lowe's Stores

Look for the red and white box, seemingly to replace discontinued Utilitech # 0752125. Find basis for this post in a captioned Google Photos album .

780 lumens, up from the 700 lumens of Utilitech #0752125, and still down from good (and missed) long-discontinued Sylvania 70732 at 900 lumens.

Here are the package contents, a pretty flat-faced light with lighting can attachment options, and with misunderstanding that it might be usable upon a ceiling junction box.

It is hard to photograph a white object against a white ceiling. Here the light is over a dark table, standing on can-light mounting springs. The 7.5" rim OD is over-kill for most light cans. There is enough rim expanse that mold imperfections are troubling.

A bit of diligence at Utilitech/ Lowe's stores should have determined that this light is useful only upon light cans. This is about as snug as it can be with a ceiling junction box, not nearly able to clip itself in upon the box adapter assembly.

This is the appearance upon removal of the plastic rim. A needless obscuring lens 1.2 mm thickness sits on top of a three-piece stack.

At middle of the sandwich is the 2.8 mm thickness magic trick, acrylic machined identically on top and bottom faces, that effectively turns light.

A white paper circle 0.2 mm thickness  obscures any visibility of the diode assembly.

The diode assembly is hard-wired to a plastic backing and power converter housing. 

Observe the sandwich of lens pieces, and a seemingly pretty set of diodes taped to the heat sink.

Before moving on to testing-by-comparison, note foolish spring design in the useless junction box adapter. Spring engagement is possible in a very narrow band of adapter distance from the ceiling surface. Presence of the junction box adapter proves Utilitech/ Lowe's error in communication with marketers in China.

The product listing at  is only deceptive in not claiming usefulness on a ceiling junction box. The claim is still on the box, and inside upon instructions. Read the scanned instructions as a pdf, here . See instruction error in photos, for example, here:

Don't be deceived by the web site instruction:

Dual flush mount installation using recessed can or junction box

Customer support at Utilitech accused my misunderstanding. Don't I know how to do a dual flush mount? Do you understand what that might mean?

Look for 3000°K color and full-power brightness confirmation, on my comparison test stand. Utilitech #0831957 is at stage left. Sylvania 70732 v1 is at stage right. It does not look like the Utilitech is less bright by 780/900. I think the Utilitech has slightly lower color temperature.

Look again for 3000°K color and full-power brightness, in a second setup of my comparison test stand.  Utilitech #0831957 is at stage left. 850 lumens 6" Glimpse of 2016 is at stage right. Here I see confirmation of Utilitech 780  lumens.

Where this is a lineup of "85 watt" edge-powered LED downlights ,
bring in  observations of 6" Conturrent by Amerisus .

Amerisus lights are the best, but they are strung as direct current (with the very many advantages in that) and are not of interest to "consumers."

Glare numbers for Utilitech #0831957 are unimpressive, poorer than with Cooper, where I can see edge diodes, and don't like it. Yet, I don't see glare in this Utilitech light.

Now throw a really-big monkey wrench at Utilitech #0831957, even for the easy and possible can light retrofits.
Look at that not-cooled diode at the photo right side. This light will suffer early death. I will return it to Lowe's as defective. I will not trust any as having believable quality.

A 6" Conturrent has very obvious high quality in diode strip placement.
Cooper SLD4, year 2016.
More discussion follows, for the Cooper SLD6, year 2016.

Bragged-of Cooper "Rambus Technology," with nine diodes in clusters of three, is not better. Please see more of a 2016 survey of "Improved LED Downlights at Home Depot, " as a captioned photo album.

At 10/12/2017, look for customer reviews at . Find it not credible, that there are yet no customer reviews. Find typically an inventory of only seven of these lights in a store. Find evidently a clearance-to-suckers price of $19.98. Find that a similar 4" can version mentioned in-store, has never been on-offer. Believe Lowe's must have no heart in this, even if unaware of product design error.

My one-star review of the Utilitech #0831957 was put in the trash, as I expected. That's OK if I am too harsh. Maybe two stars, or three, with observations here if they would fit? Would that pass? I was not allowed to talk with any responsible person at Utilitech or Lowe's.

Find a Lowe's $11.98 clearance price on remaining crummy Utilitech #0752125 . I just bought a bunch for cheap attic lighting, not suitable elsewhere, with the cheap too-bright diodes.

Find a new Lowe's offering of Cooper SLD6 at hefty price $40.67. Where Amazon has a $34 price , Lowe's is now out of the service of good residential LED downlighting opportunity. No maiknstream marketer is in this business. Do you care? If you do, please join in making noise with US Department of Energy eggheads responsible for continued push of mercury pollution in CFL bulbs, and very poor efficiency of LED point-source bulbs for mindless continued use in light bulb fixtures. The LED opportunity is to save more than 90% of energy otherwise expended in incandescent lighting, while enjoying better safety and productivity in our lives.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

My Energy Use Histories As Carbon Impact

I will continue to update my energy usage histories, to see that major accomplishments in 2012, are sustained. This time follow through to track my carbon footprint, then needing to further process data to get annual totals. Here is monthly data now through September 2017. My savings are sustained.

Now look at my natural gas usage as a component of my carbon footprint. I think to do this upon self-assessment , at site , not asking much of me, and rating me at 22 tons CO2 emission per year. I last considered my carbon footprint in a blog post dated October 29, 2009, adding it up to about 20,000 pounds, 10 tons, using a now-censored EPA Emissions Calculator .
I am not at 20 tons. This calculator does not inspire energy conservation. Sorry, new friend retired engineer, who brought this to my attention. 

We need a renewed inspiring calculator. We need an end to hijacking of EPA by polluters/ monsters.

How does my home weatherization measure up in "carbon" significance, for natural gas heating and clothes drying. ? Here is a current chart for natural gas usage, totals for years ending June 30th:

Annual totals are a better display of weatherization achievements. Reduction of natural gas usage by more than half is evident, and is sustained. Say my current annual usage of natural gas is 140 therms.

There are 0.00548 metric tonnes of CO2 per 1 therm of natural gas . (Source: U.S. Department of Energy)

Multiply therms by 0.00548, to compute tons, result now about 0.8 tons, and about double that before 2012. I reduce my carbon footprint by less than 10% in conserving natural gas heat, but it does matter, and is painless.

US avg.: In 2014, 67.2 million households used natural gas. Collectively, they used 5.1 billion cubic feet of natural gas annually, or 730.84 CCF (approximately 748.38 therms) per household or 283.27 CCF (approximately 290.07 therms) per person per household using natural gas. (Source: Energy Information Agency, US Census Bureau.)

My 300 therms per year, reduced by half, is consistent with these census numbers.

Look too at my electricity usage up-to-date at end-September 2017, for "carbon" significance.

It seems that $30 per month at peak each year is what I expect to pay for electricity, based on long history. I regained control of my expenses in 2012, now at $30 per month average, after doubling of the cost of electricity. It is good that there is not cheap hydro power for us along the lower Columbia River, after all.

The simpler picture in yearly totals has its own story to tell, that 2012 conservation, persists. If current electricity consumption is 3000 KWH per year, that converts to carbon equivalent at 1.5 lb CO2 per KWH, 3000 KWH is 4500 pounds, 2.25 tons. This is nearly three times my footprint for natural gas for room heat and that thrown away in clothes drying. This is not welcome news. I want more justified pride in weatherization than in getting rid of an electric clothes dryer and eliminating all incandescent lighting. I am saving about $300 per year of natural gas, and $300 per year of electricity, by my responsible behavior, but the electricity conservation matters much more as carbon and impact on the Earth. These insights are not intuitive. Are you glad that I have shared them? Will someone please learn things with me, and talk with me via post comments? Or if errors are evident, please offer correction.

Please share the spreadsheet for electricity usage, now working best in free Open Office. (I'm giving up on Excel.) I learned a lot in adding the yearly totals and making the charts nicer. Here is the file:
Electricity Usage, Phillip Norman . 

If anyone has the means, please join me or lead, in asking electric utilities to save and offer the simple set of monthly data to each customer, retaining without limit as history:
Reading date, Delta KWH, Billing Amount, Elapsed Days, Year (of years ending June 30th.) 

Likewise on a campaign with natural gas utilities. In time I will convert my natural gas usage data to Open Office and clean up those charts too, then shared.

Where billing data unavoidably reveals utility disincentives to save, with large base rates that distort inferred cents per KWH and dollars per therm, I see no justification or benefit in concealment.