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.

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Preventative maintenance

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Preventative maintenance

A common misconception in Home Automation is that when making a large investment in a Home Automation system, the system should be trouble free without any preventative maintenance.

When someone invests in a new luxury vehicle, they do not expect that   vehicle to continue to run without proper maintenance, some manufacturers are including a maintenance plan in the purchase price.  Electronic equipment is manufactured and placed in a Box and sent to a warehouse for storage until it is purchased, in the mean time the manufacturer continues to make updates to the equipment.

For instance when you purchase a new flat screen TV, did you know that in most cases the firmware needs to be updated to get the latest features and as new features are added new firmware is released.

If that flat screen TV is not connected to a Home Automation system the user does not notice any changes, but when it is connected to a home Automation system the changes that were made sometimes will affect the communication between devices making the system unresponsive.  The home owner will blame the Home Automation system.

There are several levels of equipment, starting from the equipment that is sold in Big Box stores such as Best Buy and then the equipment that is only sold to industry professionals. The lower level equipment is priced lower because it is designed to be obsolete and replaced within a year or two.  Most devices at this level will not communicate and will not accept firmware updates.  The higher level equipment is designed to communicate with more devices and to be kept longer because it is a part of a larger system; the manufacturer designs new features and releases updates, upgrading that older piece of equipment with the latest features.

With preventative maintenance your investment continues to have the latest and greatest features, this is not to say that the equipment will not become obsolete.

Many consumers feel that the Custom Electronic Contractors or Custom Electronic Consultants like Vsys Automation specify the higher price equipment based on price alone.  We specify this equipment keeping Design, Communications, and latest technologies in mind (keeping in Mind the Highest Value for our customers) unlike the contractor that Low Bids with equipment that will most likely be obsolete by the time the project is complete.

I have learned by trial and error that “You get what you pay for”.

jmota

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The Samsung UN55C9000

About one month ago I was at my local AVAD with a few of the other Designers from Vsys Automation in Livermore Ca putting my brain to good use at one of the many trainings that a True Integrator must attend to stay on top of the cutting edge of technology these days. When I was on my break I was able to roam the warehouse and unbox a Samsung 9000 series Television.

This beautiful piece of technology had a brushed Steele frame and the stand to match. The very first thing that I noticed was that it was incredibly thin (The LED 9000 features an Ultimate Slim Design of only 0.3 inches in depth!), so thin that one might inquire where the ports are, in an extra box somewhere? No, they are all built into this super sleek LED backlit 3D ready device.

Bring the wonder of 3D straight to your living room with groundbreaking technology from Samsung. Their new 3D TVs add a whole new depth and dimension to scenes to create a completely jaw-dropping experience. Samsung 3D Active Glasses sync up with your 3D TV to produce 3D images, allowing you to watch movies and TV with action that leaps right off the screen. Even your favorite shows can now be transformed to 3D in real time!!??!! Discover a new dimension in TV with Samsung 3D technology.

The groundbreaking touch screen remote does what no other remote can do. With the ability to enter text, as well as stream video from the TV screen to the 3” color screen on the remote, you can take your TV anywhere. A specially designed wall mount complements the TV, with a slimness to match the bezel. The Samsung LinkStick™ makes it easy to wirelessly connect to a world of online content – like Samsung Apps – right on your TV. Speaking of apps, Samsung must have up their game in the last few months, because now you can Stream videos from YouTube, movies from Blockbuster, music from Pandora and see Twitter updates. You’ll enjoy access to all this and more, right on your Samsung Television. Samsung Apps are a growing collection that connects you to your favorite digital content like video, sports, useful information, games, lifestyle and much more. Enhance your world of entertainment with up to the minute access at the touch of a button. But who buys a TV simply for a cool remote?

There are many other features that give this TV that little “something extra” you are looking for, such as Samsung’s All Share technology:
Staying connected has never been easier, thanks to Samsung’s AllShare which syncs up many of your digital devices. Now you can enjoy music, movies and photos from your PC, camera and mobile devices, right on your Samsung TV screen. Wirelessly and effortlessly. You can even connect with multiple PCs. Getting on TV has never been this easy.
Or maybe you are more concerned about the HDMI ports and how many that there are on this unit? Well, there just happens to be 4 on this model and all it takes is one cable to connect your TV to your other audio and video sources. their HDMI slot allows you to import all kinds of content without compression including pictures and videos from your digital camcorders and multimedia PCs. Now enjoying it all on a wide HD screen couldn’t be easier.

OK, so now here are a few of my personal favorite features about this display:

Connect Share

The Connect Share Technology is awesome.Connect. Share. Watch. By simply plugging your USB or HDD directly into your Samsung TV you can easily take movies, music and photos you downloaded from your PC—and watch them on the big screen with friends and family. Take photos and videos from your camera and share them with everyone instantly. With ConnectShare Movie, you really don’t need any connections to get on TV.

SRS TruSurround
Surround yourself with true cinematic sound. SRS TruSurround brings crisp, digital-quality sound to your home with advanced SRS technology. And it’s a great way to fill the room with amazing audio, without having to also fill it with speakers. It takes multi-channel encoded sources, such as Dolby Digital, and reproduces the surround effect using just two speakers. The only downside to this is if you plan on wall mounting this, you will have get new speakers, because this monitors speakers are in the base.

Clear Motion Rate
Action scenes appear smooth, crisp, and clear on Samsung HD TVs. That’s because we know that smooth motion not only depends on Hz, but on the panel, chipset, and backlight technology. All of these components work together to create a jaw-dropping picture on your Samsung HD TV.

Ultra Clear Panel
Get amazing picture quality even with reflective light. Ultra Clear Panel absorbs ambient light and virtually eliminates reflections so there are no distractions. Colors are more vibrant than ever before, blacks are deeper and contrast is enhanced. A Samsung television with Ultra Clear Panel clearly has picture quality you can be proud of.

I am completely in love with this Samsung product, but I think that I am going to wait for the price to drop into my budget. The Samsung UN55C9000 55″ 1080p 3D LED HDTV sells for $6,999.99

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