Retrofitting Lighting to Save Energy May Cost You Complaints

In the early 1980’s I worked for an Electrical Contractor, the economy was down in the Dump and everyone was trying to cut cost any way they could.

We were hired by a company that did energy surveys and worked with the client to get rebates from various funds.  We removed many nice fixtures and replaced them with cheap fluorescent fixtures that were recommended by this energy saving consultant.  The client was getting what was promised to them, a lower monthly bill, what they were giving up would become evident.  The exterior of a restaurant went from having a nice warm glow to a bluish fluorescent glow, the interior went from an atmosphere that had dim subtle lighting that was inviting to stay a while and enjoy, became a commercial environment with the ballast Hum and lighting that makes all our make-up look, made Up. An environment that you can’t wait to leave, and may not return.

After a while and after many complaints the Business owners migrated to dimmable fixtures and Dimmers and they realized that by using dimmers on as many lights that they can they have the option to set the scene and enhance the Moods of their customers and save money at the same time.

We are back in the early 1980’s; we are once again listening to Energy saving consultants that enter all the data into a form and out comes the design.  The design say’s to remove all incandescent lamps and replace them with CFL’s and replace the dimmer with a switch.  The design states that the incandescent uses 150 watts of power and a CFL only uses 27 watts of power, no brainier right?

The design does not tell the client that the 150 watt incandescent uses 75 watts if dimmed half way and that, dimming lights creates relaxing and comfortable moods and customers may return just because of the relaxing and comfortable moods.

I was recently offered a lighting retrofit project that had all those similar items from back in the 80’s except now there is a different line item that needs to be done.  The scope called for all T12 ballast and lamps to be replaced with T8 Ballast and lamps (This is good) and it also called for all T12 ballast and lamps to be recycled due to the hazardous metals inside them (This is Bad).

To recycle a ballast you purchase a 5 gallon bucket that is sent to you empty and you fill it with as many ballast as you can, did I mention that the price of the Pre-paid 5 gallon Ballast recycling bucket is $105 American dollars, so, you will be playing Tetris with those ballast. So for those of you that believe, that, this is a reasonable cost, the ballast is a magnetic transformer that is composed of several thousand yards of fine copper wire coated with a fine layer of insulating varnish to keep it from shorting out, then all this is enclosed in a sheet metal enclosure. So when recycled you end up with metal from the case and copper from the windings, and you know that copper is a valued commodity that is why people are stealing copper wire from anywhere they find it.

To recycle a T12 fluorescent lamp you purchase a prepaid box that holds about 60 T12 lamps for the small cost of $107 dollars, now what is in this T12 lamp that demands so much to recycle?

Well there is glass, there is aluminum, there is mercury, and coiled tungsten, all these ingredients are resold by the recycler. Now most recyclers are funded by State or Federal grants that derive their money from the Tax payer, so let me paint this circle of life, you purchase a fluorescent lamp and you get charged a recycle fee, you use the lamp, the lamp’s life ends, you pay to recycle (again) and when you do your taxes a bit goes to a grant to recycle that lamp.

This time around this facility only needs to recycle the T12 lamps and ballast, but next time that it gets re-lamped they will need to recycle the T8 lamps and all the CFL’s that replaced the incandescent lamps this time around.

The point that I would like to make is that it is smart to Dim, dimming saves energy, save lamp life, saves relationships, and most of all saves the environment, although you can dim some fluorescent fixtures the effect is not the same and the cost is high.  Use Halogen lamps controlled by a dimmer like Lutron’s Maestro or go to a Radio RA2 system, or better yet pamper yourself with a Lutron HomeWorks System.


Alternative Control devices for your integrated home

Having an integrated home and or building has  many advantages and can be very luxurious and convenient , but often times there are  certain applications where a bulky touchpanel is taking valuable wall space or  has to be located in a very inconvenient space making it more of a hassle than a convenience.   Other times it just makes more sense to have a in wall solution and a hand-held remote for mobility. Now there are many proprietary hand-held  touchpanels and Remotes to do this, but here are a few alternative deices that can control your automation system at a fraction of the price (Yeah, there’s an app for that).

IOS Devices-The iPod touch, The iPhone, & The iPad:

Android Devices-Android phones and Tablets:

This is only a small fraction of possible mobile devices, but I am confident when I say that everyone reading this owns at least one of these devices and probably thought about purchasing one of the others. These are all fantastic devices, some of things that they can do are simply amazing. Think about it. I can watch netflix, email, check my facebook account, play music, take photos, check sports scores, make a phone call, get directions, and post this article to my blog. You use this device everyday in your life to do all the things listed above and many more. why wouldn’t you want to have it control your home?
Some of these devices are obviously too small to control everything, well that’s not entirely true, but I’ll tell you like I tell everyone else, just because you can drive with your feet that doesn’t make it a good idea. Smaller phones and such would best be suited to control a few things at most like a few lighting scenes, arming and disarming alarm systems while entering or leaving the building.
The tablets have more real estate for more control of multi-room solutions and even entire systems depending on size of project and devices.The point is that there are options for everyone, and most of us are already carrying around one with them at all times. Lets put it to good use.
There are also manufacturers embracing this idea so much that they are designing docking stations (In-Wall and on-Wall)  and hard button solutions to accommodate your wants and needs.

So whether you are trying to save wall space, some money in the budget, or just put your electronics to good use, there are new options for to consider.


James Loudspeaker’s “Spot 3″

Last Friday the Vsys Automation crew and myself of course, were lucky enough to witness a new Design/Prototype in development at the James Loudspeaker facility in Beautiful Napa CA. James Loudspeaker is working together with No.8 Lighting to develop what the engineers at James Loudspeaker are calling code name “Spot 3″.


Spot 3 is 3″ driver built into one of No.8′s lighting fixtures, that just happens to be an LED fixture. The LED technology was developed by “XIADO” and it has the equivalent of a 75W incandescent bulb. When asking the engineers on the challenges in making this 3″ speaker and LED light fixture in one, other than the obvious, they said one of the more difficult features was being able to rotate and swivel the light and being able to change the light in the field. BTW it looks like they have got that figured out on their first design, but only time will tell. Now I have only seen and heard the prototype, but for a 3″ driver and light combo it looks and sounds amazing! Did I mention that currently (When I was there) the Spot 3 was only being driven by 15W super sexy and sleek prototype amplifier/control unit with built in BlueTooth. I say currently because Michael J. Park, Chief Technology Officer plans on upping that to about 50-75W.


I must say that at first glance of the Spot 3, I thought that I was starring at Tony Stark’s “Arc Reactor“, the amazing audio produced proved otherwise. I also could not believe when I entered the room, the amount of brilliant bass, that it was emanating from this tiny wonder, hands on with the prototype and prints also proved me wrong.


One of my favorite things about this Speaker/Light is the connection is so easy it is impossible to reverse polarity! You may be asking yourself, How is this possible? Currently to connect this speaker to its counterpart, it is a simple RJ11 connector, but most likely is going to change to a RJ45 Ethernet connection for doubling up on wires.

More info on this when it is available, but expect to see the Spot 3 and it’s amp/controller at the end of the year from your local James Loudspeaker dealer, our visit them on their website here.


Code Name Jaberwocky

In the deep dark secluded areas in Vsys HQ, Where no one dares to venture because terrible and great experiments are being done. This is where I have been spending my days and sometimes nights working on “Project Jaberwocky.”

Here are some photos of project Jaberwocky. More on this later.


Lutron Hailed as Most Used Brand by Top 100 Custom Electronics Industry Integrators

Lutron Hailed as Most Used Brand
by Top 100 Custom Electronics Industry Integrators
Coopersburg, PA (June 23, 2009) –– Lighting control manufacturer Lutron Electronics was ranked as the most used brand in the Lighting Control and Shade Control categories in a recent survey by CE Pro magazine, a publication targeting the custom installation community.

The top 100 custom product integrators were featured in the May 2009 issue of the magazine. The most used brand analysis was compiled using the data provided by the top 100 integrators.

Of the 100 integrators profiled:

69% prefer Lutron as their lighting control supplier and
64% prefer Lutron as their shade control supplier
Lutron has been a part of the custom installation community since the early 1990s when its HomeWorks® total home lighting control system debuted with rave reviews and created the category of whole-home lighting control. Since then, the company has gone on to introduce several new lighting control solutions, including Sivoia QED™, an automated shade and drapery system.

About EH Publishing
EH Publishing is an integrated media company, producing market leading publications, event and e-media for the technology and construction industries.

About Lutron Electronics (
Lutron Electronics Co., Inc., headquartered in Coopersburg, Pennsylvania, designs and manufactures lighting controls and automated window treatments for residential and commercial applications. Lutron products save energy and make light bulbs last longer, making them an eco-friendly addition to the home and office.

Originally posted at


Enable your Home to make decisions, so You Don’t have to!

Press Release

VinoSystems LLC

Specializing in Home Intelligence

For Immediate Release

Affordable Home Control

Prodigy™ by Crestron, the most respected and trusted name in home automation, is control without compromise. Installed in more homes worldwide then all other brands combined, Crestron is the global standard in luxury homes. Backed by Crestron quality, expertise and support, Prodigy provides the power and scalability you’d expect at a price you can afford. Now every house can be a Crestron home with Prodigy.
Prodigy offers you affordable, simplified control of your home and entertainment from any room in your house or any place on the planet*. Keep all your music, movies, lights, thermostats and security at your fingertips where ever you are and wherever you go. You are always in touch and in control with Prodigy. Make your home the perfect sanctuary where you can escape everyday stress. Just a simple tap of your finger brings you serenity, comfort, convenience and pleasure. Prodigy does all the thinking so you don’t have to.
Starter Package includes control of your television, Blu-ray/DVD player, surround sound receiver, six lighting zones and thermostat. Entire system controlled with 1 LCD Handheld Remote and iPhone/iPod Touch**. Starter packages are expandable for full functionality.
Starter Packages are available now installed and programmed starting at $3,750.00. Offer ends October 1, 2009.

*high speed internet required
** iPhone/iPod Touch not included


Is Automation Luxury or Convenience?

It is 7 am, the lights in your bedroom slowly turn on, the Lutron QED shades open letting in natural light and your favorite music begins to play over your Totem Tribe Series speakers.
You get up and walk into the bathroom, the lights turn on, the shower begins and the towel warmer turns on. After your shower you go to a Crestron touchpanel and check your stocks, traffic alerts or consult the weather channel to decide what to wear. In the nook as you are having breakfast you go to your Crestron touchpanel and catch the morning news, you hear your dog Woofy outside barking, from any of your Crestron touchpanel you can select security and now you can scan through your surveillance cameras.
You take off to work and as you are driving out the driveway you reach up to your HomeWorks car visor control and press Away , your house goes into Away mode: All lights turn off, selected power outlets turn off, your Climate control goes into a setback mode and your Alarm is activated!
While you are away the afternoon sun is beating on your windows, hardwood floor, leather furniture, and most important your art work. Your Intelligent home closes your shades therefore avoiding damage to your belongings.
When the home senses rain, the windows and sky lights close to avoid any damage, the irrigation controls gets interrupted to save water.
While at work you receive an email, it’s from your home, the garbage man attempted to use his gate code on the front door, a picture of the garbage man with a time stamp is attached to the email. Open an internet browser and log into your home, view the cameras, check your lights, and climate control for peace of Mind.
When you arrive in the evening you reach up to your car visor and press Home, a path of lighting welcomes you to the home, your garage opens, your favorite music begins to play and your climate control is back to comfort. All this was accomplished with a push of a button.
As you walk around your premises motion sensors activate lighting but if you would like to choose a special scenes or would like to listen to music you reach into your pocket and take out your I phone, push an Icon and presto you have full access to your control system. Multiple remotes are a thing of the past; any Smart phone can be used to talk to your home
Goodnight – As you enter your bedroom you simply press the “Goodnight” button and while your bedroom lights remain on as you prepare for bed, the house has automatically begun to shut down ready for your peaceful sleep or for you to read in bed.
You no longer have to check the lights around the house to make sure everything has been turned off. Your intelligent home has taken care of things for you.
Panic Button – When you hear a “Bump in the night” you immediately press the Panic Button located on either side of your bed and your Intelligent Home automatically turns on external lights and selected lighting in your home, turn on your TV and select security now you can view your entire exterior without leaving the safety of your bedroom.
We are VinoSystems and We Connect physical to Digital


Illumination Software Green Features

green_bulb1Illumination Software New Green Features

Recently released HomeWorks Illumination Software version 1.401 Beta includes three new software features that make automated lighting control an even greener solution.

A Green Button allows many different zones to change their actions to something that uses less energy. Dimmable zones are trimmed by a percentage instead of dimmed to a level. For example, you would trim the lights by 10% and make the fade 10 minutes. This long fade assures that the light level change is not abrupt – most homeowners will not know the light level has changed. For all the details on the Green Button, please email

Vacation Mode Trim is another easy way that you can save energy with HomeWorks. ‘Trimming’ refers to being able to set a light level back (lower) by a fixed percentage – say trim back by 25%. In standard vacation mode playback, lights are played back at their exact light levels, day or night. With Vacation Mode Trim, you do two things – 1) Trim back the light levels during vacation mode playback, and 2) only play back the lights at night. By trimming the lights back, and doing it only at night, you save energy and still make the home appear as though it is inhabited. To learn more about Vacation Mode Trim, including a software implementation example, please email