Monday, November 7, 2011

New LED Energy Saving Lamp

The darkness... Tell me about it. Today was even darker than yesterday.

An unbelievably tiny 390Wh generated by my whole solar array in the whole "day". The "sunset" at 4.35pm was eclipsed by "nuclear winter" at about 3.30 today, blacking out the Sun so much that the street lights came on early!

Lucky then that I've got a new LED lamp that consumes only 5W of energy.

It's about as bright as a 8W CFL lamp (or a 40W tungsten lamp) but starts up immediately at full brightness, lasts maybe 4x longer and doesn't hum annoyingly in the plastic Ikea uplighter on my dining table.

It's a Civilight GLS 5W type and has a wide even light, a frosted dome, and pleasant mid-warm-cool colour; not too blue and not too red white light.

A bit dimmer than the 11W CFL it replaced, but I'd wanted a lower light, as it's over the TV.

At just under half the power consumption of the old CFL lamp, it will also extend the PV battery life... A jolly good thing in these dark days.

Best of all, my mate in the trade gave it to me for helping him out at some eco fairs over the last few weeks. He's on a evangelical crusade to get people to use LED lights instead of mercury containing CFLs.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Lummy, It's Dark!

As Victor Meldrew would say, "I don't beeleeve it!".

It's been so dark the last two days... I mean properly night time dark at mid-day.

839Wh generated yesterday.
Only a measly 712Wh today!

From a 2.5kWp PV array!!!

I've not had to turn the inverter off since maybe February, but today the battery bank crashed to just 26% and everything had to go back on the mains and the inverter was off - at lunchtime.  Not even the night... Lunchtime!

My base load on PV is pretty high though.  I put a clamp-on Current Cost meter (kindly donated by a friend) on the inverter output and all the network gear and DECT phones and bits and bobs around the house add up to about 80W continuous.  Quite surprising really that the battery can run all of that for a couple of days.  But the inverter has an idle power of 35W all on its lonesome, so that bumps the total DC load up to about 105W.  That's 2.5kWh per day.  And with only 1.55kWh charged in the last two days, and only 3.37kWh charged in the previous two days, it was just a question of time before the battery reached the end of its tether.

Didn't help the BBC 24 hour weather forecast being completely wrong for two days in a row, so I used too much battery power on Thursday and Friday on the promise of "sunny intervals" for Saturday and Sunday.

If things don't brighten up tomorrow, I may even have to break out the mains powered battery charger from the loft.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Charles Hendry & Me Brill Idea

I met with Charles Hendry (the Minister of State for the Department of Energy) at an eco fair in Forest Row (East Sussex) today.

He was delivering his bombshell - a snap FIT reduction for PV generation, arguing the point in a presentation that the FIT had to be reduced as demand has far outstripped cash supply (from the green tax levy on energy companies). If they did not shut the door hard, they would have had such a rush before April 2012 that the entire budget for the next 3 years for FITs would have been allocated by next April.
Here he is, on the left, being verbally beaten up by an angry audience of commercial solar installers (one farmer had just canned a 40kW install, as it could not be done before the Dec12th FIT deadline) and assorted solar traders (notably Jeremy Leggett, founder of Solar Century, on the right).  The dude in the middle was refereeing the bout.

They were all upset that they could not peddle a guaranteed 10-12% index linked and government backed investment opportunity (they're not selling PV, y'know - judging by the advertising copy that usually reads "MAKE FREE MONEY FOR 25 YEARS!!!").

After the debate officially ended, I talked briefly to the minister about alternatives. I suggested that the government should "do it's bit" in enabling me to "do my bit" by making all energy saving and generating equipment and services zero VAT rated. It's odd that my utility bills attract only 5% VAT but the LED lights I buy to save energy attract 20% VAT.

It's also odd that the more energy I use, the cheaper it gets. The first 900 kWhs are are 24p for me and then it drops to 10.5p. Should be the other way round, if we want to curb excessive use, no? It would also mean that the units I save first with my PV generated ones are the more expensive ones.

I also suggested the government extend the "invest as you earn" (IAYE) scheme that already exists (for buying bicycles to work and pension contributions, for example) to other eco products and services (say PV or ASHP or a new A rated boiler or windows or insulation...).

These IAYE investments are deducted by your employer through the PAYE model from your salary prior to income tax is calculated, making the buying of a bike or a pension (or PV or ASHP, etc) income tax free.

You don't get the cash. You get a voucher to buy the prescribed product or service. That way people can't scam the system to dodge tax and blow it on something else.

Think how much more you could invest in saving your skin (eco investment is about saving yourself) if you didn't have to pay 10-40% income tax and another 5-20% VAT for the pleasure.

Charles rubbed his chin and said "That's an intriguing idea...". He'll probably file it under "cranky ideas that reduce government revenue..." and black Mercedes "G cars" will be parked outside my house from now on.  [sigh].