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CFL bulbs

Post in 'The Green Room' started by RNLA, Feb 9, 2011.

  1. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    I've never been a casino gambler and never one to throw $10 bills out the car window to see how far they fly. Both ventures are about as productive, about the same as burning incandescent bulbs, and make it a $20 spot for summer light if you have a/c - pay more to light your path and pay again to make the journey cool. Always amazes me why anyone wants to throw money away every time a light switch is flipped on for an incandescent bulb - and to throw that money to BIG UTILITY on top of it.

    An equally great idea is to invent a gasoline engine for a car that only gets 8 mpg! Wouldn't the demand be great? That's about the same as inventing an incandescent bulb today and expecting anyone to buy them - 1/4 the efficiency of a CFL. 8 mpg vs 32 mpg. It's a no-brainer.

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  2. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    LED bulbs are poised for another breakthrough. There is a new technique (accidental) of imposing voids within the Gallium Nitride which helps reduce the fissures caused by the two opposing crystaline lattices of Gallium Nitride and Sapphire. Its supposed to raise the efficiency/capacity by a factor of 10x. In 5 years they will be as cheap as CFLs
  3. mayhem

    mayhem Minister of Fire

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    That would be nice. As of now they've been in the stores alomst a year and a half and they're still $30 per bulb.

    Anyone notice a sharp dropoff in the general quality of CFL's in the last couple years? I put them all over my house when I built it in 2003, some of those are still in daily use and others have failed in the last couple years...now I'm replacing a high percentage of those replacements du to them being either altogether dead, bad ballasts not igniting the tube properly (it glows very dimly) or for significant humming issues. I had to switch my two living room ceiling fans back to 4 100w incandescent bulbs recently because I could get CFLs that were quiet enough anymore.
  4. WhitePine

    WhitePine Feeling the Heat

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    Our CFL failure rate exceeds that of incandescents. All have just plain quit. I haven't noticed any dimming or humming.

    Our new house has outdoor carriage lamps that came with the new base style CFLs, two of which were bad out of the box. These don't hum or noticeably dim, even when it's cold out. We'll see how they last.
  5. mayhem

    mayhem Minister of Fire

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    Interestingly, my only remaining CFL's from construction are the 4 outdoor carriage lights. The colder it is outside, the dimmer they are at startup, but they fire reliably even in -20 temps. Those don't hum. The newer ones that I had in my living room do hum and when both ceiling fans are lit you can hear them over the tv volume...had to move back to incandescent.

    Seems likely to me that its cheap manufacturing...probably junk ballast components.
  6. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    Maybe I'm lucky, failure rate not more than 1 of 20, or 5%.
  7. WhitePine

    WhitePine Feeling the Heat

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    Bingo!

    That and importer/retailer's buyers who care only about the bottom line and not their customers.
  8. henkmeuzelaar

    henkmeuzelaar New Member

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    Sounds interesting. Could you provide a reference so I can read up on that?

    Since I believe the efficiency of the latest commercially available LED lamps to be around 25%, I don't quite see how efficiency could improve another factor 10, even when allowing for the fact that a special class of solid state light emitting diodes (namely diode lasers) have occasionally been reportred to attain efficiencies > 100 % (by withdrawing heat from the environment).

    Henk
  9. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    Here's a link: http://compoundsemiconductor.net/csc/news-details.php?id=19733011
    And another basically saying the same thing: http://www.eetimes.com/electronics-news/4212526/GaN-process-said-to-reduce-defects-by-1-000X

    It states right off the bat that for a given input of power the light output could be raise by a factor of 2. The power factor can also be raised because (forgive me for paraphrasing a subject completly over my head) there's still a lot of heat build up with LEDs, but instead of radiating from the bulb the heat buildup is behind the substrate, and that heat comes from the electrons being pushed around through the GaN and rubbing/hitting all the defects near the layers. By greatly reducing the number of these defects the LEDs can use a high wattage and not burn out. This may not be as efficient, but if I could get a true 40-70 watts from a single bulb, or a 300-1000 watt flood for say a warehouse or streetlamp/parking lot it could radically reduce my replacement costs.

    And while we're on the subject of outdoor lighting, LEDs are dimmable so a parking lot or street lamps could be dimmed depending on light requirements instead of the currently on/off ballasts lights we have now. Say maybe 10%? Then, take it even farther with the fact that those same lights can be instantly switched on/off, so you wouldn't have to keep every light on in a parking lot if there wasn't anyone driving in that section.

    This, however may not even be the most exciting application for this: http://www.eetimes.com/electronics-news/4212526/GaN-process-said-to-reduce-defects-by-1-000X

    Gallium Nitride is predicted to replace Silcone for chip making, and even MOSFETs needed for electric cars becasue they work well at high temperatures. Laptops that don't need fans, and IT closets that don't overheat July 4th weekend! LEDs' could replace lasers needed for single mode fiber-optics. Gallium Nitride maintains its power density at high frequency, so incredible radar/wireless applications are could become commercially viable with an improved manufacturing process like this. n

    Here's an out-dated article that talks about the promise of this material. Interesting to me because it highlights the need for an improved substrate, and what that could do for the big picture: http://www.semiconductor-today.com/features/SemiconductorToday - Powering up GaN MOSFETs.pdf

    The chart about 1/2 way down the page shows what engineers are up against when it comes to picking a surface to grow GaN crystals, and how dang handy it would be to be able to cope with the thermal expansion differences. Not just LEDs, but mobile devices, cell towers, wireless broadband, military radar, lots of stuff maybe happening because of accidental experiment in a lab not looking for it. I know it happens every day but still, pretty cool!
  10. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    That makes more sense. They are estimating a potential doubling of light output. One thing not discussed is how rare gallium is with an estimated 6 year supply left. Unless we mine all the flat panel tvs in 2017 for rare earth metals, this sounds like a dead end.

    http://www.asimovs.com/_issue_0806/ref.shtml
  11. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    A doublling of light output per unit of input, but also the abillity to run at much hotter temperatures so that the sam size bulb could handle a much higher wattage. Hence the 10x current LEDs.

    It doesn't take much, only one gallium atom is present to every ten thousand or so atoms in the crystal structure. About a gram of gallium to every KG of sapphire/silicone so if the cost were to skyrocket for the raw material it wouln't impact the product cost that much. in the same way nuke power fuel's contribution to the overall cost of the electricity produced is relatively small, so even a large fuel price escalation will have relatively little effect. There are shuttered mines around the world that will open once the price is right and take back some of the 97% of market share China's "enjoying" right now. It might be counter productive to dig for it but I don't think the scarcity of the metal will be the limiting factor.

    Also, all these rare earth metals are simply left-overs, not the real meat and potatos of mining. If Gallium was worth more than $7/gram they could find a way of getting more than 10% of the available element when processing.
  12. RNLA

    RNLA Minister of Fire

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    How much tungsten do we have. Why can't we just have an ordinary bulb? Why make this so complicated, why make a change to products that are rare? All in the name of energy savings. If it is not broken why fix it? Just a few questions I have. After all things being considered is the change worth the effort? Where is the break even point in terms of money for research and development, and cost for the consumer? We all know it is already costly to use the CFLs & LEDs....
  13. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    Why not breed a faster horse? Its complicated, but don't worry. We're going to have robots to do the hard stuff.
  14. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Breeding?! :gulp:
  15. RNLA

    RNLA Minister of Fire

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    Breeding robots? :bug:
  16. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Exactly! Calling Dr Asimov!
  17. seige101

    seige101 Minister of Fire

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    By that logic lets go back to computer systems that were bigger than current houses and the average low end cell phone was many hundreds of times more powerful. Not to mention the energy saving too! Heck lets get rid of cars and go back to horse and buggy! Thought that might be cheaper than the current gas situation, wait you might be on to something here...
  18. henkmeuzelaar

    henkmeuzelaar New Member

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    I tried to figure out what you were trying to say here. Is it possible you were just having a Charley Sheen moment, of sorts? ;)

    Henk

    PS: thanks for the detailed references earlier on.
  19. henkmeuzelaar

    henkmeuzelaar New Member

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    As mentioned before, the new standards due to be phased-in in 2012 do not explicitly condemn or promote any particular lamp technology, but simply raise the minimum allowable efficiency 30% or so above that of current incandescent lamps.

    Apparently, several light bulb manufacturers have already reported success in developing incandescent light bulbs that meet the new standards.....

    Henk
  20. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    Henry Ford was asked if he was ever going to start taking the public's opinion into consideration in designing and painting cars. He reportedly answered "If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses" There are some great things about horses, but imagine every car and truck on the road having 4 hoofs and dumping all over the place. Yeah, I'm all set.

    We ourselves really don't have to worry about making the next "faster horses" because there will be no people on the assembly lines of tomorrow. It will all be robots.
  21. henkmeuzelaar

    henkmeuzelaar New Member

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    That's a neat story; I like it.

    With regards to the robots, I am always deeply impressed how far Isaac Asimov was able to look ahead when he started writing his classic robot stories sometime during the fifties. In particular the trilogy "Caves of Steel" and "the Naked Sun" (forgot the 3rd title) in which he predicted the virtual reality environments in which we all gradually appear to have started living. So, yeah, just a few short years from now, carefully programmed robots may well be able to design and build a "faster horse".

    The zillion dollar question, of course, is: can robots eventually learn how to to "think outside the box as well" or will they forever be condemned to keep interpolating and extrapolating using existing human data points? Until then, mankind still needs its Da Vincis, Edisons, Fords, etc. to keep the human race from stalling and/or backsliding.

    Unless, of course, we all decide that the fate of mankind backsliding is preferable over the consequences of abdicating our dominant place in terrestrial evolution to machines with positronic brains (one of a handful of Asimov's predictions that doesn't appear to have become reality yet but may no longer sound totally crazy once we have mastered the realm of quantum computing). :)

    Henk
  22. RNLA

    RNLA Minister of Fire

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    I don't want to go back to horse-n-buggy. I like the internal combustion engine too much. The sounds that some make are music to my ears. I just wonder what some advances in technology are really worth if they are using materials that are so rare that they make the finished product very expensive for the consumer? Where does one draw the line? If it were easy to see clearly the advantages and cost savings, with no harmful side effects like mercury, then I might be convinced.
  23. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    If you plug in your lights, odds are you're using coal for electricity. A CFL uses 1/4 the electricity at the source. If we took every spent CFL bulb and ground them up, then launched the dust into the atmosphere to circle the globe we'd still come out way ahead.
  24. RNLA

    RNLA Minister of Fire

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    Actually, in our area we are greatly supplied by hydroelectric or turbines motivated by water. There are even groups doing experiments with tidal current, and wave action motivated turbines. These use an up-n-down motion rather than round-n-round. So I may be one of the few coastal freaks here but that is where our juice comes from...
  25. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    That's great to have options. Our options here in NH are nuclear, Canadian hydro power, and importing fossil fuels. I'd love to see some viable wind projects but hate to see full trees chipped for electricity when I could burn them in my stove. Maybe thin-film solar, maybe off-shore tidal, but until there's change in $/KWh we're stuck with coal. I love my CFL bulbs. I'm careful with them and mine do go back to recycling but in all honesty they last a long time.

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