Sunday, July 30, 2017

Worthless lighting

I'm pretty sure by now you've read about my comments on LED lighting many times over. I'm just not very impressed by any of it. It's low powered, dim and short lived. I gather some have better experiences but mine is that incandescent is brighter and lasts longer. Anyway, I do have some LED lanterns and they're pretty bright to look at but the light they shed is worthless. Even combined it's pretty poor. So, the other day I noticed something called a Broadbeam LED lantern. It looked like an interesting technological development but I was not impressed at all by the light level. In my opinion anything less than the equivalent of a 100W bulb is fumbling around in the dark. Here's a nice table of lumens versus watts that I pinched off another website.

Lumens to watts table

light bulb
 / LED
375 lm25 W6.23 W
600 lm40 W10 W
900 lm60 W15 W
1125 lm75 W18.75 W
1500 lm100 W25 W
2250 lm150 W37.5 W
3000 lm200 W50 W
Notice how it's only at 1500 lumens that the light produced is acceptable. Now think back on those terrible LED contraptions sold in the stores that proudly claim to be 150 lumens. People only buy the trash because it looks cute and they don't have a clue what lumens are. Worse still, the manufacturer might grade their contraptions in Lux or Candela.

I couldn't find any useful Lux or Candela conversion tables. I found plenty rather daunting looking mathematical formulae designed to do the conversions though. It looks on the surface that 1 Lux is 10 Lumens. 1 Candela is the power emitted by a single candle flame and one Candela is 4 lumens so a minimum acceptable LED lighting contraption would have to be no less than.
  • 1500 lumens
  • 100W incandescent
  • 25W fluorescent 
  • 150 Lux
  • 375 Candela
That's quite a lot to remember! The acid test though is could you comfortably sit and read a book or magazine by the light of your LED contraption? While dim lighting might be acceptable for grabbing clothes and putting them on or for using the bathroom, showering, cooking etc there are plenty occasions when it's not acceptable. Two examples might be reading a novel and putting on make-up. 

In practical terms, I find the current lot of LED lanterns in what I call the affordable range of $10 to $15 to be pretty poor. I have several. I made the mistake of buying a $30 lantern thinking it would be better. It's certainly easier on the eyes as the LED is shielded but the handle snapped off fairly quickly. While it's possible to buy more expensive lanterns, my experience indicates price is not an indication of quality. It makes me laugh to hear people saying they go to some expensive place to buy

their stuff because everything in Walmart is made in China. I bet they don't realise the stuff they pay 100% more for in Nordstrom is most likely also made in China. It doesn't take much to change a made in label. To do it honestly, all that needs be done is to remove one screw and replace it. Hey presto! The item is now assembled in America and can carry a Made in America label.

Yesterday I didn't blog. What I did was to switch out the bad 10AH battery for one of my 7AH batteries. After initially throwing a fault on my charge controller, it settled down and was running for 7 minutes or so between charges.  That just doesn't seem like very long to be honest. Still, it was good to have the ventilation running again. I also spent an hour or so building a mount for one of my smaller CPU fans in order to mount it on the wall as a circulation fan. I'd intended to mount it in the bedroom but the mount was too wide for the beam I'd intended to secure it to. Thus I need to seek out more of my aluminum scrap to make an extender and to build a mount for the second CPU circulation fan. I took no photos yesterday, hence no blog entry.

The first thing I got on with today was looking at my charge controller. It seems the eBay battery (could be a battery from Radio Shacks going out of business sale) is again flagging a fault. As the charge level had reached the trigger voltage but had not triggered, I lowered the trigger to 12.8v. I have a feeling I have a few rather regrettable batteries. I decided I was going to burn through the regrettable batteries before I use my Harbor Freight battery. That shouldn't take many days!  I could have a faulty controller though I doubt it since it does seem to work or I could have a faulty wire under the bus though since it is carefully covered in cable shroud I'd doubt that. Given that all my other wiring installed in the same sprout at the same time works, I'd doubt the wiring as a problem. That leads inevitably to the conclusion it must be the battery. Anyway I switched over to my other 7AH battery to see what that does.

The next order of business was to look at my LED lantern. This was made by GE and claims 350 lumens. Which planet GE was on when they recorded the lumens is unknown though I'm pretty sure it wasn't Planet Earth and that in whatever parallel universe it was, the laws of physics must have been very different. It's the most pleasant of my lanterns to use as the light source is properly shielded. For some unknown reason the switch has three settings: Dim, is that faintly glowing thing my lantern and off. They could and should have missed out on the intermediate brightness setting as it's utterly worthless. I think it's there to conserve battery power but honestly I can conserve battery power far better by putting the batteries in my pocket. I can only assume the ultra dim setting is some GE engineer having a laugh at the customers expense.

Anyway, the handle broke off my GE lantern within a couple of months of buying it. That really irked me because I threw $30 at that thing. Today I used a spare brass loop from when I installed bolts on my drawers and bolted it to the top of the lantern. Next I put a leftover mini carabiner through the loop to hang my lantern from a ceiling loop. That worked brilliantly. I am definitely a genius!
Following that, I looked at my circulation fan idea. The basic idea is fine. Where I decided to make a change was that instead of mounting it to the beams, mounting it to the ceiling makes more sense. The wires can run down the beams and be connected at the top with spade connectors. Eventually I'll wire those to my charge controller though this might not be until winter. There's a lot going to be done in winter.

As I've already said, I'm getting ready to retitle the bus as a motorhome. I took the photos a few days ago and sent them to Walmart for printing. I saw absolutely no point whatsoever in paying more than the minimum so I ordered in store pickup a week from now. That brought 20 prints down to $2 and change after tax. It's already going to cost $15 in retitling fees!

Today marks a change in my blogging habits. A few days ago while shopping, I spied a Bluetooth keyboard that was both Android and iOS compatible. Now that's what I call useful. It means I am now no longer subject to the vagaries of Apple or Google spelling correction. Let's face it, spelling corrector are horrible. It takes far longer to proof read after a spelling corrector has messed everything up than to write the article in the first place. I can honestly say that I am loving using a real keyboard once more.
Online, I'd found a 10 inch window screen that looked useful. The only place that was listed as having it was Bed Bath and Beyond. I have a soft spot for Bed Bath and Beyond even though it is expensive and the stench from the chemical "scents" brings on a migraine. Anyway, they turned out not to have it unless I ordered - which I could have done from home. Thus I called in at Home Depot and they didn't have one either. Finally I called in at Lowes (hiss, spit) where I found it and not only did I find it there but it was half the price Bed Bath and Beyond wanted. Now that's not really much of a surprise. A lot of those stores can be expensive. Five dollars seeming about right, I bought one and it works well. It'll stop most mosquitoes from flying in but there's enough of a gap around the top and bottom for ants to crawl in. Needless to say I have to wedge the window to ensure as tight. Seal as possible. It is, after all, a school bus!

While I was out I also found some door alarms that I thought would go splendidly on the back and side doors. My bus is old enough that it does not have door alarms nor a student alarm. Back then if a student opened the door and fell out, it was his own darned fault. These days, if a student gets up, opens the door and falls out, it's apparently, somehow, the driver's fault. That rule comes from the same planet GE on which measures lumens.

Not feeling particularly like leaping around to find my remaining aluminum strip which is quite likely in an abandoned trailer being used as storage, I worked on my sole circulation fan. Attaching it to a cross beam on my wall was easy. There, it'll circulate air. How far it'll circulate air, I don't know. I'll only be able to tell that if I employ a smoke machine and the last time I looked at smoke machines, they were very expensive and there didn't seem to be any economical canned alternative.
While installing my fan, I found that the plumbers glue I'd bought will secure the wires very nicely in lace against the wall. All I have to do is to wipe the glue down the side that needs to be glued, hold it in place and it'll just stay there. That's very welcome. Indeed I had a test wire running to that fan for a few minutes and I could definitely feel air moving in the galley. It was more gentle the further I got from the fan but it was moving and that is going to make an absolutely massive difference.

Again, while I was out, I found in one of the dollar stores, a pair of door alarms for a dollar. I'd already mentioned those and I tried them. They're quite unmistakable! Right now I have a problem because in order to work properly the sensor and the magnet need to be close to each other. The way my doors are constructed, I need to put some kind of step to build one up to the level of the other. That's doable. I just have to think about what I'm going to use - maybe some of the cut off rubber from when I installed my front mud flap since the rubber is still lying on the ground where I left it some months ago.

I noticed a problem with my latest charge controller. It seems to want to keep using the battery until it gets down to 11.3v. I cannot raise that figure any higher. I can go as low as 9v but 11.3 seems to be the maximum. It looks like that will kill a battery dead. My old charge controller keeps on indicating faults with batteries. I am beginning to get a bit concerned about that. This is one reason I'm not connecting my brand new battery yet. I purposely bought universal battery chargers that will charge LIon as well as lead-acid but I'm beginning to wonder whether I should instead have gone for several lead-acid chargers instead. I have one that arrived with the mount broken off but I'm thinking that perhaps I should invest in more and just replace my fancy universal charge controllers.

I tweaked the settings on my charge controller for the fan to cut in at 13v and cut out at 11.9v. It charges remarkably quickly up to 13v and the fan runs for less than a minute before cutting out. Im thus wondering whether it is indeed a faulty charge controller. It wasn't expensive but it is annoying! I don't think I paid more than $10 each for my controllers.

We're back to the yes, it was made in China - but then so is everything else issue again. I'm wishing heartily that I could put extra cabling in underneath the bus right now but what with the insects that's impossible unless I pony up, buy a rechargeable drill and drive to the top of a mountain where it'll be cold enough to send all the critters into early hibernation and do the work there. Sadly, South Carolina is flat. At 8mpg I really don't feel like driving too far - even at $2.30 a gallon.

I suppose the solution is going to be something like heading to Harbor Freight and ponying up $25 for one of their smaller charge controllers. Having looked at their website, their $80 charge controller looks identical to my $10 controller. It's probably the same thing just rebadged! If I'd known this solar stuff was going to be such a nightmare, I'd have just left it with two CPU fans powered directly by solar panels and not had such an interesting time running wires under the bus nor such a headache with flaky charge controllers and flaky batteries. Maybe after a year, my one charge controller is just worn out?

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