LED Light Bulbs: They’re Not Just for Christmas Anymore

November 30, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Energy Conservation, Lighting 

The past few evenings, as I’ve been out running errands after dark, I’ve been taking in the ever-increasing number of holiday light displays, and realizing how many people have ditched regular incandescent-bulb Christmas lights in favor of LEDs. When you think about it, aside from things like mini flashlights and those stick-on puck lights for closets and cabinets, Christmas lights have probably been the most significant class of LED technology to sweep through our energy-efficient culture. As a matter of fact, with many manufacturers retiring from the incandescent Christmas light biz in order to embrace holiday LEDs, it’s getting tough to find anything else on the market, at least where exterior decorating is concerned.

But as it turns out, LEDs are no longer relegated to the specialty realm. Most of us have gotten accustomed to CFLs (or compact fluorescent lamps) being the dominant force in the energy-efficient lightbulb world, but move over, fluorescents: the Infinity™ Ultra LED lightbulb has come to town.

Ultra LED bulbs by Infinity LED™ are shaped like traditional incandescent bulbs, but instead of housing a light-producing filament, they glow by way of 88 tiny, evenly-distributed LEDs. Just screw them into any lamp base or light fixture, and you’ll get light output that’s equivalent to a 60-watt bulb.

Now, if you’re wondering why I’m telling you about a bulb that looks and performs like the same old kind you have at home, just take a look at the stats. LEDs have a lifespan of up to 35,000 hours (if you do the math, that’s just shy of 4 years), and they consume up to 93% less electricity than traditional incandescent bulbs! Is it me, or did your eyebrows just raise in interest? I know that mine did.

Because different people like different types of light, these LED bulbs come in two temperatures (which are essentially light tones) to fit your taste. There’s Cool White, which is very bright and good for environments in which you want to stay awake and alert (think offices and other work areas), and Warm White (my personal favorite), which is perfect for home use, in living rooms, bedrooms, and other spaces where warm glows and coziness should rule.

see the magic for yourself

Timex 7 Day Electronic Timer: Save Energy Costs and Make Your House Look Lived-In When You’re Away

November 17, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Electrical, Energy Conservation 

I’ve always liked the idea of timers because they can be set to switch things on or off when I might not remember, or even be around, to take care of things myself. But ever since the first time I saw Home Alone (21 years ago!!!), I haven’t been a huge believer in the Timer’s ability to keep away robbers and other bad people when one is out of town. Remember that scene where Harry and Marv (the “Wet Bandits”) sit in their decoy plumbing van in the McAllisters’ neighborhood, running down a list of known-to-be-vacationing people whose homes they’d cased? They knew (down to the minute) when each house would burst from complete darkness into blazing light, as if there were people in every single room, all throwing light switches at the exact same second.

Now, you and I know that coincidences like that just don’t happen. Harry and Marv knew it too, and they were a couple of pretty dim bulbs, if you know what I mean (and yes, I do realize that they were in fact actors pretending to be moronic bad guys). I’m just saying… there’s nothing natural about an entire house being illuminated in a single split second, and if that was obvious enough to write into a major motion picture for children back in 1990, why on Earth, in 2011, would people still be using such an easy-to-see-through “fake out” to protect their homes?

On that count, I don’t know, but on the other hand, I do know that I just met a new timer that’s helping to change my tune about timers as theft deterrents. The Timex® 7 Day Progammable Electronic Timer may be small enough to plug into a wall outlet, but it can really multitask.

In addition to the convenience and energy-saving factors that all timers share, the Timex 7 Day Programmable Timer also has the ability to pull off up to 140 programmed switching actions per week, and even features (get ready for it) a random function that mixes up the times that it switches lights, TVs and other appliances on and off, so that from outside your home it looks like business as usual inside – even if you’re nowhere near the premises.

I also really like the super compact design – at 2¾ x 2¾ x 1½ inches, it takes up hardly any room, and has its LCD display and programming buttons right on top for easy access. You can even slip a few backup batteries into it for extra protection in the event that your power goes out (the backup power won’t provide energy to devices, but will prevent you from losing your saved timer settings). I guess the best things really do come in small packages.

check this thing out

Rotating Surge Protector: The Portable (and Super Affordable) Way to Free Up Outlets and Guard Against Power Surges

If you were to hit the road with your laptop, would you want it to be any less protected against power surges than it is when it’s at home? No way! But are you about to pick up that brick of a surge-suppressing PDU that’s under your desk and toss it into your luggage for safe computer plug-ins on the go? Not a chance.

At least I wouldn’t. Call me reckless, but as much as I’d like to know that my laptop isn’t going to be fried by a random power surge while it’s plugged into an unprotected wall outlet in a hotel or conference room, there’s no way I would reasonably tote along a surge suppressor just in case. I’m not going to sacrifice luggage space that I’d much rather spend on an extra pair of shoes or just-in-case jacket, and besides, what would the TSA think?

But I just came across a cool little traveling gadget accessory that’s made me change my tune about carrying on a surge protector. 360 Electrical has come up with a mini rotating surge protector that plugs right into any wall outlet (it’s about the size of a nightlight) to provide you with a single safe receptacle for, say, that roving laptop of yours.

Sounds like a great big “problem solved” to me. It takes up practically no room in a purse, suitcase or laptop bag, plugs in wherever you need it, and (get ready for the wow factor) it rotates.

Hmmm… a spinning, single-outlet surge protector. If you’re having a “what the heck?” moment here, let me explain. Ever noticed how a lot of the electronics that are important enough to plug into a surge suppressor also happen to have big fat adapters that tend to encroach on adjacent outlets, even when they’re not actually using them? Well, the same thing can happen if you plug those chunky adapter into wall outlets, and that can be a problem if you want full use of both receptacles.

That’s where the rotation feature comes into play. When you need to use that second wall outlet, just turn the 360 rotating surge protector until it (and whatever is plugged into it) is completely out of the way, and then enjoy your newly freed-up receptacle. Pardon the expression, but way to kill two birds with one stone.

check this thing out

GreenSurge Smart Surge Protector: Looking Out for the Environment… and Your Wallet

While I really enjoy trimming down my electric bill and having at least some piece of mind that my TV, computer and other gadgets aren’t going to get fried during some freak power surge, truth be told, I don’t have the spare time (or inclination) to go beyond a certain point in accomplishing either one of those things.

Are the printer and DVD player still continuing to draw power even when I’m asleep at night? They most certainly are, but you won’t find me unplugging anything that’s not being actively used before I shuffle off to bed. And likewise, I don’t ever want to see any of my precious electronics fried to a crisp during a thunder storm, but I’m not about to personally unplug each and every one at the first sign of a rain cloud.

Call me lazy, but I’d rather leave those jobs up to a very smart, green-minded and protective surge protector like the GreenSurge™ from 360 Electrical®. Designed to deliver the usual overvoltage protection while also going to bat for your budget, the GreenSurge features a unique combination of outlets that work together to intuitively cut power to devices that aren’t in use, which can save you some big money over time.

Here’s how it works: the GreenSurge Smart Surge Protector is made up of Master, Power Save, and Always-On outlets. You’d plug a main device, like a computer or TV, into the Master Outlet. The Power Save outlets would then be used to power peripherals (or secondary devices attached to the main device) like DVD/Bluray players, gaming systems, printers and scanners. Always-On outlets are for other non-peripheral devices that are always in use and need constant power flow.

As long as the main device (the one using the Master outlet) is on and running, the peripherals have all the power they need. But when the master device is turned off, that shutdown is detected by the GreenSurge, which then cuts power to the now-unused peripherals that are plugged into the Power Save outlets, preventing them from silently drawing (and wasting) power as they sit there doing nothing. As a result, you save energy and money without having to do a thing. If you ask me, that’s just smart… almost as smart as this surge suppressor.

check this thing out