The wholesale switch from incandescent light bulbs, which were discontinued for wattage above 40 watts in 2014, to the more energy-efficient compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) bulbs and light emitting diode (LED) bulbs have been evolving for years. A lot of confusion still exists, however, about these bulbs, starting with which is which. Is the long light bulb the CFL bulb and the LED the curly light bulb? Or is it the other way around — CFL is the curly light bulb and LED is the long light bulb? And that’s before we even analyze which one is more energy efficient!
In short form, here are the answers: CFL is the curly light bulb and LED is the long light bulb. And, in the CFL vs LED battle for energy efficiency, the LED light benefits make it a winner, hands down. Here’s what you need to know.
CFL vs LED Bulbs
To understand LED light benefits, it’s important to understand the difference between the two bulbs. LED light bulbs produce light when an electrical current passes through them. In CFL bulbs an electric current flows between electrodes at each end of a gas-filled tube. The reaction creates ultraviolet light and heat, which is then changed into light when it hits a phosphor coating on the bulb’s interior. This process takes anywhere from 30 seconds to 3 minutes to complete, according to ENERGY STAR®, which is why it can seem as if your CFL light takes a while to be fully lit.
CFLs use 25-35% of the energy used by incandescent bulbs, but if you really want to make the biggest environmental impact on the environment, choosing LEDs is the way to go. Residential LEDs, especially those rated by ENERGY STAR, use 75% less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent lighting. Energy.gov notes that by 2027 widespread use of LEDs could save about 348 TWh of electricity, the equivalent of annual electrical output of 44 electric power plants (1000 megawatts each). It’s also a total savings of more than $30 billion at today’s electricity prices.
Here are some other differences to keep in mind when examining CFL vs LED bulbs:
This chart shows the difference in costs between CFL vs LED bulbs:
The difference between lumens and watts
Something else consumers need to understand while analyzing CFL vs LED bulbs is the difference between lumens and watts. Consumers are used to buying light bulbs based on watts, or how much energy they consume. It didn’t matter how much light (lumens) they provided. Now, as a way to differentiate LED vs CFL bulbs, manufacturers are classifying the new energy-efficient bulbs by their lumens. You are buying your bulb based on the amount of light you want rather than the energy used by the bulb.
Admittedly, it can be confusing. Here’s the basic point to keep in mind: More lumens equals more brightness. But exactly how many lumens is equivalent to what was once, say, a 60-watt bulb? Here’s a breakdown to give you the basic new LED vs CFL light bulb math:
The reality is that while switching light bulbs from CFL to LED can seem like a small step toward energy efficiency, the result nationwide can be a win-win for everyone: potentially lower energy costs in your home and in the U.S. as a whole.
Solar landscape lighting is an excellent choice to decorate and brighten up your home garden and pathways of the night. Like other types of outdoor lighting, solar lights also have their own strengths and limitations. The advantages and disadvantages of using solar garden lights:
He uses renewable energy
Solar garden lights allow us to exploit the sun’s energy, a renewable source of energy. As the sun shines solar lamps have the energy to light up the night. This lighting system is working at its best when it receives plenty of sunlight during sunny days.
Easy to install
Solar garden lights are easier to install compared with traditional lighting because it would not require the use of child or any connector pins. You can only install it in your garden by dipping the base of each unit on the floor. You no longer have to dig in the field and set the lighting system.
Easy on the pocket to operate
Solar garden lights are lit using the sun’s energy. And the energy we receive from the sun is free. So you do not have to pay anything to keep the solar lights for illuminating the exterior of your home.
Solar lights are usually made of light emitting diodes (LED), which can last 25, 000-5000 hours. Please note that normal bulbs lasts only from 1000-2000 hours. Apparently, LED bulbs lower costs compared to traditional types of bulbs because it lasts longer and reduces the cost of replacing the light.
-You Must be selective in the choice of location
Solar lights only work in areas where there is strong sunshine. Do not expect your lighting system with solar energy to illuminate your garden if you fancy shade of a tree. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you find the most appropriate to ensure that solar lights shine at its best place.
Initial cost -Pricey
Solar LED bulbs usually cost more than regular or low voltage lights. In addition, the cost may increase if you have larger light areas.
Not Operates when the batteries are not fully charged
Solar lights require extensive solar energy to function. Therefore, not enough light bulb is emitted during cloudy or dark days.
We all want our homes to be more energy-efficient. Whether it’s because we want to do our part to keep the planet green, or because we want to see the numbers on our electricity bill come down, all of us have proper motivation for making the energy we use go as far as possible. Sometimes the solution to living in a more energy-efficient house is right under your nose, though. If you’ve been looking for ways to cut costs without sacrificing comfort, here are five suggestions you should strongly consider.
#1: Double Glazing On Your Windows
Old-fashioned windows are a major source of problems if you’re striving for energy efficiency. Single-pane windows, the sort people most commonly think of when they think of windows, allow temperature to transfer through them with relative ease. If it’s cold outside and you’re trying to keep warm, then that warmth is going to pass right through those windows. The reverse is also true, which means you need to crank your air conditioning in the summer if you want to keep your house cool.
If you want to be more efficient, try installing double glazed windows.
A double glazed window is made up of two panes of glass, with a sealed pocket of air between them. These windows reduce energy transfer, as well as noise, because it is significantly more difficult for heat or sound to penetrate all three layers. It’s like how layering your clothing keeps you warmer than a single, thick layer does. Double glazing on your windows ensures your home has more insulation, and that you’re losing less energy, than if you were just depending on a single pane of glass.
#2: Install A Programmable Thermostat
Your thermostat is the command center for your heating and cooling system. It’s what sets the pace, and decides if your furnace needs to fire up to full-blast, or shut off because your home is warm enough. And while a standard thermostat is fine, a programmable thermostat allows you to make changes that will save you energy in the long-run.
For example, say you have an 8-hour shift at work. No one is home while you’re at the office, so why would you waste energy heating your house? Instead, you program your thermostat to shut off (or at least cool down) when you leave, and then to come back on about an hour before you come home. This ensures your home is always comfortable for you, but it means there are seven hours in the day you don’t have to pay for heating, or cooling.
#3: Get Energy Star Appliances
While buying new appliances is a big cost for homeowners, the long-term savings in energy efficiency is often worth it.Energy Star appliances are the most efficient devices you can have installed in your home, and there’s often a tax break associated with them. Recycling your old refrigerator, water heater, etc. can be a fitting end for appliances that have served their purpose, but who have gotten too old to keep up with today’s demands for efficient machines.
#4: Change Your Light Bulbs
While it might seem like a small thing, a colossal amount of energy goes into our lights. So if you’re going to screw in a new bulb, ask whether you want to use a traditional bulb, or a more modern, fluorescent lamp. Because incandescent bulbs will light up a room, but they don’t last as long, and most of the energy that goes into them becomes heat instead of light. So while a curli-cue bulb might feel like a big change, it’s really just a sensible way to save money, and energy.
That, and they can last for years, instead of months.
#5: Change Your Habits
One of the major components in a home’s energy usage is us.We are the ones who decide whether or not to turn on the heat, we are the ones who opt to use the big television set instead of a smaller one, and we are the ones who leave the lights on when we walk out of a room. One of the best ways to increase your home’s efficiency is to increase your own. If you’re alone in the house, for example, try watching a movie on your laptop instead of firing up the big-screen TV. If you’re a little chilly, put on a sweater or curl up under a blanket before you turn up the heat. That can make a huge difference when you get your bill at the end of the month.
Solar outdoor lighting is a great way to showcase your green initiative and provide great lighting in all types of areas, but what do you do when they malfunction and don’t come on when expected? There are a few tips and tricks to troubleshooting solar lights that help you determine what the issue is. Here are a few of the most common issues that work for both commercial and residential solar light systems and how you can determine what the issue may be.
Sometimes your lights just don’t last as long as they once did and this is typically caused by batteries dying. With commercial solar lights, the batteries should last five to seven years if properly sized for the application. If it is coming up to that point, it is time to contact the manufacturer and get replacement batteries. Small home solar lights have batteries as well; however, these typically last a much shorter time and can easily be replaced by purchasing rechargeable batteries from your local store. Remember, batteries only have so many cycles before they just go bad and need replacing.
Another issue could be the solar panel is dirty and not producing the required power to charge the batteries fully. This is a simple fix and one of the easiest things to check. Look at the solar panel and see if it is dirty, then follow steps on cleaning the solar panel and see if that helps the system function properly. This doesn’t need to happen often, especially if your panels are at an angle and it rains often enough to keep dusk and grime from building up on the panels.
Finally, are the panels shaded by something that has grown in the way? Trees and surrounding landscaping grows over time and can cause shading on the panels, not allowing them to charge the batteries fully. Make sure there is nothing taller than the panels near the south of the system’s installation. Solar panels need direct sunlight all day and even the smallest amount of shade changes the output of the solar panels.
This could be one of two issues if the lights worked at one point; the battery as above, the lamp or a blown fuse. If the battery is what you think is the problem, replace them. If it isn’t the battery, it is more than likely the lamp. A lamp only has a certain life span and they need to be changed out every so often, just like a light bulb in your home. There are exceptions to this rule such as LED technology. Most LEDs last 15+ years; however, if you are using CFL, HPS, LPS or metal halide, they can die much sooner. Determine what type of lamp is operated by your solar lighting system and figure out if it is time to replace the lamp or not. One suggestion we would give is if it is time to change out your lamps, look into utilizing a LED fixture. Not only will they last longer, they will give you more light for the same power draw, a complete win-win.
The last thing that could be going wrong seems like the simplest thing, but it can render your system completely dead. A blown fuse will terminate all power from flowing through your system and not allow the light to come on at all; however, it is a simple replacement with a new fuse the proper size and your system will be up and running immediately. All SEPCO systems come with an extra fuse in the battery box just in case of this situation.
Now that you know the basics to troubleshooting your solar lights, you should easily be able to figure out what is wrong and how to fix it. Need additional troubleshooting help? Contact your manufacturer for additional support.
The sun—that power plant in the sky—bathes Earth in ample energy to fulfill all the world’s power needs many times over. It doesn’t give off carbon dioxide emissions. It won’t run out. And it’s free.
So how on Earth can people turn this bounty of sunbeams into useful electricity?
The sun’s light (and all light) contains energy. Usually, when light hits an object the energy turns into heat, like the warmth you feel while sitting in the sun. But when light hits certain materials the energy turns into an electrical current instead, which we can then harness for power.
Old-school solar technology uses large crystals made out of silicon, which produces an electrical current when struck by light. Silicon can do this because the electrons in the crystal get up and move when exposed to light instead of just jiggling in place to make heat. The silicon turns a good portion of light energy into electricity, but it is expensive because big crystals are hard to grow.
Newer materials use smaller, cheaper crystals, such as copper-indium-gallium-selenide, that can be shaped into flexible films. This “thin-film” solar technology, however, is not as good as silicon at turning light into electricity.
Right now, solar energy only accounts for a tiny portion of the U.S.’s total electricity generation, because it is more expensive than alternatives like cheap but highly polluting coal. Solar power is about five times as expensive as what people pay for the current that comes out of the outlets.
In order to have a hope of replacing fossil fuels, scientists need to develop materials that can be easily mass-produced and convert enough sunlight to electricity to be worth the investment.
What is a solar cell?
A solar cell is a device people can make that takes the energy of sunlight and converts it into electricity.
How does a solar cell turn sunlight into electricity?
In a crystal, the bonds between silicon atoms are made of electrons that are shared between all of the atoms of the crystal. The light gets absorbed, and one of the electrons that’s in one of the bonds gets excited up to a higher energy level and can move around more freely than when it was bound. That electron can then move around the crystal freely, and we can get a current.
Imagine that you have a ledge, like a shelf on the wall, and you take a ball and you throw it up on that ledge. That’s like promoting an electron to a higher energy level, and it can’t fall down. A photon packet of light energy comes in, and it bumps up the electron onto the ledge [representing the higher energy level] and it stays there until we can come and collect the energy by using the electricity.
What’s the biggest difference between how a plant captures light energy and how we do it with solar cells?
We wish we could do what plants do because plants absorb the light, and they use that electron to change a chemical bond inside the plant to actually make fuel.
Could you do artificial photosynthesis and emulate a plant?
We would love to be able to make a solar cell that instead of making electricity makes fuel. That would be a very big advance. It’s a very active topic right now among researchers, but it’s hard to predict when we will be able to use it.
One of the reasons we like to plant trees is because they take the CO2 out of the air. If we could do that [with a solar cell], then we could actually deal with global warming problems even more directly because we’d be pulling the CO2 out of the air to make our fuel.
How good are current solar cells at capturing light energy?
So we can talk about the power efficiency. The power efficiency of a typical crystalline silicon cell is in the 22 to 23 percent [range, meaning they convert as much as 23 percent of the light striking them into electricity]. The ones that you typically might be able to afford to put on your rooftop are lower than that, somewhere between 15 and 18 percent. The most efficient, like the ones that go on satellites, might have power efficiencies approaching 50 percent.
The power efficiency is one measure, but the other thing that we’re very concerned about is the cost of making them and the scale of production.
The silicon technology doesn’t scale up too well because it’s expensive to make. We need to invent some new technology, which may not be as efficient, but you need to be able to make millions of acres of stuff if you want to get a lot of energy.
Outdoor solar lights use solar cells, which convert sunlight into electricity, and are easy to install and virtually maintenance free. | Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/ndejan
Outdoor solar lights are easy to install and virtually maintenance free. Best of all, using them won’t increase your electric bill. Popular home uses for outdoor solar lighting include pathway light sets, wall-mounted lamps, freestanding lamp posts, and security lights.
Outdoor solar lighting systems use solar cells, which convert sunlight into electricity. The electricity is stored in batteries for use at night. Manufacturers most commonly use nickel cadmium, sealed lead acid, and lead acid batteries.
Outdoor solar lighting systems work well in most areas of the United States. However, it is important to consider geographic and site-specific variables when choosing a product. A solar lighting system will work well only as long as the solar cells receive the manufacturer’s recommended hours of sunlight.
The “nightly run time” listings on most outdoor solar lighting systems are based on specific sunlight conditions. Outdoor solar lights located in places that receive less sunlight than the solar cells need will operate for fewer hours per night than expected. Nightly run times may also vary depending on how clear the sky is on any given day. Operating times in the winter months may vary as much as 30%–50% unless the solar lighting system has been sized specifically for winter operation. If the solar cells are shaded by landscape features (such as trees and buildings), battery charging and performance will also be affected. Watch for bird droppings, too. Insufficient battery charging will not only affect performance, it also may reduce the life of the battery.
Some solar lighting systems are self-contained units: You only need to place the lights in a sunny location. Others have the lights separate from a solar cell panel, in which case only the panel needs to be placed in a sunny location. Units vary in size from small, glowing pathway markers to pole-mounted patio and high-beam security lights.
Before you buy an outdoor solar lighting system, check with the manufacturer to see if replacement bulbs or batteries are available. Some units do not provide replacement options.
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