Thursday, April 5, 2018

Insulating A Roof

Who says it is OK to foam a roof, for any odd contractor or home owner? We should fear roof rot within twenty years, unless foaming is with perfect completeness and perfect maintenance, forever, of a vapor barrier over the expanded living space. No one can offer that guarantee. A roof, foamed, rotted, is ruined. 

Instead, Raise The Roof. Look for agreement with the statement "raising a roof does better weatherization than insulating the roof ." Practically, it is less a quest to save energy if a bungalow attic has been converted to living space, and is uninhabitable especially in Summer. Claim comfortable living space, and more of it.

Raise a roofThen weatherize an ordinary attic .

As a weatherization contractor working alone, and not as manager of a crew, I have insulated a roof, only a few times. Foaming a roof is not an option, in my opinion. The task with batts is a serious one and will usually be only-wishful thinking of a home owner. As growth of weatherization activity it is not likely in one's budget.

I want to illustrate my general approach, and immediately think of this example of a nice home in the prosperous Irvington neighborhood of Portland, Oregon. The link is a Google Photos album.

This afterthought child's play room in a kneewall closet, was cozy only a few months each year. It was mostly uninsulated, drafty, intolerable in high Summer and deep Winter. Here I begin demolition of flimsy paneling. The work followed thorough insulation of the upper attic and all  other kneewall closet floors, with imperfect treatment of all challenging heat bleeds of bungalow construction. Work done in 2008 is reported here in 2018, as example of best-effort coping with difficult-to-insulate bungalow construction, vs. better practice of raising the roof as an ordinary attic over a full second floor.

My method is durable, unlike found flimsy layup of paneling with nails. And yet, it is not honest treatment of all second floor heat bleeds.

Brittle stiff paper behind the paneling removed, a surprisingly full fill of cellulose on this gable wall only, tumbles down. See that insulation blown from outside with ending any hope the exterior sheathing is air tight, failed to treat very leaky non-insulation about the rough frame of a remodel vinyl window. Insulation was almost entirely bypassed by convection and large leakage-movement of conditioned air, between buckled stiff felt paper, and the flimsy wood-panel sheathing of the knee walls and ceiling.

See that I had previously insulated the ordinary floor of the upper attic, and had air sealed and stuffed floors of knee wall closets.

I am quite displeased with my leaving of perhaps-useless paper-faced mineral wool batts upon the second floor attic walls.

See my placement of R15 kraft-faced batts with full filling against roof sheathing. In 2x4 space thinner insulation as with joke "R13" - - must not be commanded to cool  the roof. Allowed convection in foolish and ineffective deference to composition shingle warranty, ruins any insulation value. R15 was little enough, to be achieved. See that some odd roof pitches challenge the imagining of how to place batts.  Did I do right?

Know now that the kraft facing is nearly useless as an air and vapor barrier. I want both.

Apply then, Tenoarm 6-mil virgin polyethylene vapor and air barrier. Lose my shirt with the immense difficulty of setting strong GP Densarmor drywall. Accept meager payment that was larger than the customer wished. Learn that the room was nice for a family with growing-up little girl, now grown. Family moved on, out of Oregon. A heat bleed remains in the triangular wall to left in the photo above, where a difficult, expensive trapezoidal door, was not afforded although framing of the door was provided, just needing a cut through the drywall.

Might the new home owner now wish to raise the roof, for more living space, in a home where rent-out of portions is in great demand? That would be beyond my skills and interest. Just sayin'.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Motion-Sensing Outside Lights

I have had this very satisfactory lighting arrangement at the front of my house, since May, 2014. Above the house number see a Atlas Guardian Pro MLGS180 light and motion sensor that controls lights along with a SPDT wall switch inside, just below in my living room. I call single pole double throw for the switch, and bought one, wrong color and odd. An ordinary 2-way switch is what you want; same thing. The 2-way switch with the Guardian sensor, allows forced-on operation, whether or not motion is sensed, in darkness. Want a sensor with options. 

Here is my Atlas Guardian Pro MLGS180W with effective simple mounting upon a luminaire ceiling mount selected from a bin of  Portland reclaimed parts store Hippo Hardware. I had to enlarge the post hole with a file. The still photo missed the periodic, pretty red blink warning of motion sensed. The black slider switch on sensor bottom face has on-hold choices of 10 minutes, 5 minutes 1 minute and TEST. A  sensitivity control RANGE, matters, and a medium setting works best for me.

Please know, Atlas has discontinued this product. Why, I want to know. And, I must now find an equivalent product for mention here.

I am served by Pacific Northwest electrical wholesaler, Platt . Find that my Atlas MLGS180W is still available at Platt, for hefty $50.83. A competing product with same features or better is this:
Desa SL-5316-WH 500W DualBrite Sensor , $21.78.
What has happened? The Atlas product was imported from China, not somehow made more expensively or better. Was it killed by too-aggressive mark-up?

At the Platt website, I am surprised to find this statement of very excellent Customer Service hours:
Call For Availability
4a-midnight (pst) 7 Days
Platt has excellent brick and mortar service of the USA western states, and aspires by excellence, to online sales and service, nationwide. A knowledgeable, nice, real person in Beaverton, Oregon headquarters answers, quickly.

Enlarge my May 2014 notes to self,  for clues how wiring might serve your particular needs.

Know that anyone may choose motion sensor control of outdoor luminaires of any kind. Do math now to gauge the involved savings. Say an old bullhorn fixture has two 12-watt BR40 bulbs operating 24/7, at 11 cents per KWH. Operating cost is 24*365*24*$0.11/1000 = $23 per year. Left on always, the operating cost of a light is about $1 per watt, per year. My two separated LED lights add up to the same wattage and small unit operating cost. My lights operate less than a half hour each day, with daily cost then reduced to nil, by a factor of fifty. Being the cause of lights coming on, greatly adds to deterrence of an intruder, and that is more important than my savings.

Controlling a security light to come on only when needed is a painless way to add an increment of energy responsibility and independence. Say an electrician buys this business opportunity with an efficient package costing $100. Accepting, you will achieve simple payback in four or five years. The savings really are much more than this. Consider the present value of savings well beyond repayment, vs. installed cost. Say you value $20 per year savings  now, out ten or twenty years. Correctly compute the present value of those savings using Perpetuity Math . Out five years the savings have a present value near the $100 installed cost. Out ten years, present value of savings is $280. Out twenty years, present value of savings is $880. Where but with energy conservation can secure investments get such large returns?

Please don't diss a $20 per year savings opportunity as too little to matter. Control many of your indoor and outdoor lights, as painless means of adding to your savings Present Value in a pot of gold stashed somewhere.

I have never tolerated this foolishness. Bug-eyes. Illuminating - - what?

So, I'm not saving money. I just have a better life. I don't have to find entry in darkness, to then maybe turn on porch and driveway silly sconce decorations.

Overhead lights are ideal upon a porch, where the need is handling of keys and objects, foot-fall safety and more, within and about a door. Any sconce light is wasteful decor wrongly aimed for your task. I believe my want of wall mounting only of sensing controls is shared by others. I will fill out this post with further learning about this mounting challenge.

mount plate for lighting control motion sensor 
WattStopper CX-100 Occupancy Sensor, Ceiling/Wall, 2000 Sq. Ft., 24V i

WattStopper CX-100 Occupancy Sensor

Nice, but $82.99 at Westside Wholesale. Perhaps not including a mounting plate, in less-expensive offerings.

At the 19th page of tabbing through Google images, I find this:
Motion Sensor LED Light for Door Lock - No More Fumbling in the Dark!

At page 21, for $29.99:
Aityvert Solar Motion Sensor Light Outdoor, 12 LED 150Lumen Super Bright Wireless Waterproof Security Wall Light with Sensor Actived Auto On/Off for

End of results at page 22. Nothing better found.

Persist in a search for commercially-available mounting plates for lighting control motion sensors.
lighting motion sensor mounting plate 
Find writeups in parallel with this blog post:
Family Handyman: Installing a Remote Motion Detector for Lighting 
Motion sensor
This RAB sensor is available at about $50, and is not loved in reviews. It is not waterproof and floods. Aiming is not evident. There is no sensitivity or time-on control. It does prettily cover an octagon box.

WikiHow: How To Install an Outdoor Motion Sensor Light 
Find no wiring and product detail, and suggestion only, of a sensor that looks like this.
Image titled Install an Outdoor Motion Sensor Light Step 14

Here at last are two commercially available mounting plates for an octagon lighting junction box, on trial purchase from Platt, for exhibition in this post. A motion sensor obviously could engage the threaded center of either. I find them too ugly for prominence on my front porch, and would not push them on customers. I will return them in their unopened packaging. 
Hubbell-Raco 5193-6 1/2" Outlet, 4" Diameter, Weatherproof Cover , $8.95
Mulberry Metal 30367 Weatherproof Cover, 4" Round, (1) 1/2" Hub, Aluminum , $3.57

See here the nature of wires to be connected. This assembly was taken down from a closet ceiling, sandwiched between a RACO 175 junction box, and an LED Disk downlight. Operation by sensed motion was unavoidably freaky, and I packed this away with vengeance. For closet light control, use a door switch, Functional Devices Inc., CLC-106 . The FDI switch is better than Betterswitch BS 210 .

Three 14 ga stranded wires with twist connectors, can not be contained in a pan junction box. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Review, GM Lighting S4 4" LED Disk Downlight, Driver On Board, Sold At Amazon

Don't go here!

GM Lighting - 4" Round LED Surface Mount 3000K 90 CRI Fixture White 

This looked to me, like Glimpse and Nicor DLS10, a reversion to junction box mating with screws revealed under a pretty access ring. I should have known better, where it is described as "driverless", then some cheap stamped-pan thing. 

As a dutiful reporter, I did show respect for yet another Amazon offering of a seemingly pretty LED disk downlight. The Amazon asked price is $24.95. I got a tempting better deal at Bees Lighting , $19.80 and free shipping. I should now be grateful and uncritical.

This is not offered with hardware to clip into a can light.

See the many slots that will be unprotected against intrusion of light-seeking-always bugs, to die in a pile of litter upon a loosely-attached obscuring lens. An informed installer might tape over the screw keyways. The large openings of lens keyways CAN NOT BE BLOCKED. Seal the junction box air tight, as I do, or don't install such cheap lights.

Keyways for box screws are at small 2 3/4" pitch.  Boxes with the small screw pitch are the most likely to be badly installed, with large visibility of spilled light.

Take this side by side comparison as confirmation of GM S4 claimed brightness and color temperature.

If glare numbers were required in advertising  and on packaging, the mindless degradation since Sylvania 70732 v1,  might have been avoided.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Review, Commercial Electric 74203 and 74207 Color Changing Edge Lights Almost Surface-Mount

There is big change in LED downlight offerings at Home Depot. A new two-member family of very promising ultra-thin LED edge lights offers easy mounting anywhere. First review the big brother of the family:
Commercial Electric 74207 (the identifier in the bar code) 

5/6 in./J-Box 12-Watt Dimmable White Integrated LED Round Flat Panel Ceiling Flushmount Light with Color Changing CCT  

Let us not encourage a naming as "Color Changing." I dispute any virtue in user control of the illuminating color temperature, achieved by phosphor coating of diodes.

Find an identifying number in the bar code at bottom of box. Find a box that is compact and fully recyclable. Commercial Electric (17801), product ID 74207. Unboxing, find preset of mounting as retrofit of an A-type bulb in a can light. Simply detach the plug at the quick-connect  and free the harp springs by compressing to remove nylon ties. You know the rest of the simple mounting that will probably air seal a decrepit can.

I am interested in the mounting upon a junction box, and pry off the mounting bracket to detach the harp springs. Look closer at the color temperature selector switch that you will not want to leave in the SWITCH position. In the default SWITCH position, the color is initially perhaps 2800°K, not the box-claimed 3000°K.

On my comparison stand with Nicor DLS10, 3000°K, 750 lumens at left, and CE 74027 at right. See about-equal brightness confirming the box claim of 800 lumens output.

Cycle the wall switch, to BW, Bright White, claimed to be 4000°K.

Cycle the wall switch again to bring up setting DL, Daylight, claimed to be 5000°K. 

Daylight? We all know sunlight does not shift perceived color of a beige wall, to blue.

In fact blue illumination is in absence of daylight. This photo is found among "color temperature" discussion at Wikipedia. A cream-colored house is blue and purple at sunrise.

Here is a spectrum of sunlight correlated color temperature from Wikipedia . The Wikipedia discussion states: Daylight has a spectrum similar to that of a black body with a correlated color temperature of 6500 K (D65 viewing standard) or 5500 K (daylight-balanced photographic film standard).

Blue colors are thousands of degrees Kelvin, above that of luminaires called 5000K. Something is wrong in our marketing of LED color achievement with painted-on phosphors.

See the test stand setup with 74027 at SW, Soft White setting.

74027 box mounting is simple and secure.

Get curious now, how "color changing" works. The white rim of the luminaire is resilient plastic, easily deformed to successively release keys that retain the metal pan.

One of the keys has easily-separated gluing to the pan and between the rim and the obscuring lens. Leave the rim/ lens bond alone.

Drop out the lens and backing paper to reveal three conductors between the diode strip and the converter block.

At full power in SW setting, find light of diodes with an orange phosphor coating.

In the BW setting, all diodes are powered, and light that will be projected through the obscuring lens, seems a natural color.

In the DL setting, only the diodes with a white phosphor coating, are powered.

I hoped to find the luminaire desirable, in the BW setting. I do not. There is unacceptable bluing of illuminated objects. I imagine virtue in display of multiple color temperatures to better represent natural sunlight. Perhaps many soft colors will be the emerging best design. The two colors equally blended here are of too extreme a range.

See remarkably small lens luminance. There are many wonderful things about this 

Here is Commercial Electric 74207 among Nicor DLS10 lights upon a kitchen ceiling. The 74207 color temperature setting is BW, Bright White. It is too blue, to my eyes and to sensitivity of my iPhone 6S camera. The DLS10 are pretty jewels especially with some dimming. The 74207 is harsh, and I must reject them, making returns at Home Depot.

I persist in supportive curiosity about the new Home Depot offerings of surface-mount ultra-thin LED edge lights.. I want to buy and try the 500 lumens little brother of 74207 . Not in my store. Nor sold online.

There is this, too, not really on offer. 
Commercial Electric 4/5/6 in./J-Box 12-Watt Dimmable White Integrated LED Energy Star Recessed Trim Disk Light with Color Changing CCT 

I have dutifully purchase the little brother of the new Home Depot edge light family, called 74203 in the bar code. Despite awful reception of all "color changing" luminaires, at March 2018 it is  prominently on store shelves among 4" can light luminaires.

Out of the box, 74203 is ready only for setting in a cylindrical 4" can light. I won't bother to remove the spring clips, sticking this onto my illumination comparison stand.

Original 4" Glimpse 3000°K 500 lumens at left. 74203 at right, at full power, first setting SW, delivered in SWITCH position. 4" Glimpse, 3000°K, correctly illuminates wall color.

Original 4" Glimpse at left. 74203 at right, at full power, second setting BW, delivered in SWITCH position. 4" Glimpse, 3000°K, correctly illuminates wall color, but my eyes and my Canon Digital Rebel now find yuck in Glimpse color.

Original 4" Glimpse at left, 74203 at right, at full power, third setting DL, delivered in SWITCH position. 4" Glimpse, 3000°K, correctly illuminates wall color, but my eyes and my Canon Digital Rebel find yuck in Glimpse color. The 74203 color illumination is GLOOMY.

Look from further back at comparison in the DL setting. Everything is wrong.

The 74203 does not fully dim. Here at about 20%, see very gloomy night lighting.

Now give another three-star review at, disliking push of "color changing" as virtue.

Done, and with regret. This small and efficient light will be superior to many other luminaires that might replace dead bulbs in 4" can lights, especially as architectural lighting or security lighting upon home soffits. For this and with many installation virtues, this deserves at least four stars, and I will find means to fix my review. I do wish to make a strong vote against the blue diodes and luminaire switch setting confusion.