Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Short (and Personal) History of Light Bulbs

Once upon a time, light bulbs were pretty simple. You picked a wattage: 40 / 60 / 75 / 100. You picked a brand: GE or Philips or Westinghouse or something generic. There would be some tweaking around the edges (light color, minor increases in efficiency, bulb shape) but pretty much a light bulb was a light bulb. If you got fancy, there were three way bulbs 30 / 70 / 100 or 50 / 100 / 150. And there were some odd shapes and sizes for ceiling fans, chandeliers, wall sconces, etc.

I recently gathered up all the loose bulbs kicking around. I've got a small box of incandescent bulbs - dregs from a much earlier time; replacement units that never quite found their way into a socket. Many of these were installed and replaced (by CFLs or LEDs) others were spares never installed. I confess that, long after CFLs were dominant, I would opt for an incandescent bulb in a few places where I valued the "instant on" ability, dimmability, or the warmer lamp color. And I've got some clear globular lamps that were bathroom vanity lighting for many years.

I've also got a much bigger stash of CFL bulbs. These were much more finicky - I'd buy bulbs that took too long to warm up, bulbs that were slightly different colors, bulbs that were slightly smaller or larger or enclosed. Over time, I replaced most of the bulbs in my home with CFLs, and over time, most of those got swapped out for more efficient and friendlier LED bulbs - I've really enjoyed watching LED technology come into the marketplace, prices to drop, features to improve. Since the CFLs did indeed last longer than incandescent bulbs, there were a lot fewer opportunities to swap them out organically.

So now I've got a bin full of bulbs. I'm too much of a yankee to throw them out  - perhaps envisioning an end-times scenario when older technology bulbs might come in handy. Been interesting to watch this particular bit of technology shift and change over my lifetime.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Draining a Dehumidifier

Documenting my little "never want to empty that dehumudifier bucket again" project.

(A) Bought a small drain hose ($7, Loew's) which screws onto the dehumidifier drain, directing extracted water into

(B) The reservoir of the sump pump (Little Giant model VCMA-20ULT, $45 online including shipping and handling). When reservoir is sufficiently full, the pump turns on, sending water through a check-valve into

(C) 3/8" plastic tube, which I've run up the wall, into the ceiling, and down to the

(D) washing machine drain, where it empties. The pump turns off when its reservoir is empty, and the check valve keeps the water from flowing back into the pump reservoir.

The only improvements I might make are:

(1) Place a shallow plastic tray or container under the dehumidifier and sump pump in case of some sort of failure or loose fitting. Just an extra level of safety....

(2) Run the drain into a large container with a tap or faucet (like a water cooler) which I could then recycle for houseplants / grey water. Although I'd have to be sure that did not overflow.....

The pump is very quiet, I almost never catch it working, especially compared to the relatively loud dehumidifier. I also have purchased a high current receptacle timer, designed especially for motor drive appliances, to cycle the dehumidifier (on at night, off during the day) if the cycling starts to bug me.

The Model VCMA-20ULT is perhaps a bit overkill (20' Head, 1.3 Gals/min) for my application, but there was not much difference in price between this and the next size down, so I thought it best to be conservative.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

High Temperature Thermostat

One of my side jobs is doing facility support for my local yoga studio. They have some unique HVAC requirements - specifically thermostats that have higher than normal set-points.

Most commercial thermostats go up to 90°F or 94°F maximum. I was able to find one thermostat - the Jackson Systems Model T-32-P which can be programmed up to 122°F heating set-point.

It actually seems to be a very versatile device, with a ton of flexibility for many different systems:
  • Up to 3H/2C conventional and heat pump systems
  • 7 day programmable
  • Large backlit display
  • Auto or manual changeover
  • Keypad and/or setpoint lockout
  • Smart fan logic for commercial control
  • Adaptive recovery
  • Optional indoor sensor (T-32-S1 or TS-32-S2) or outdoor sensor (T-32-OTS)
  • Outdoor temperature display with optional outdoor sensor (T-32-OTS)
  • Available with integrated Modbus communications (Version 2.20)
We've got three of these installed right now - two in a large studio (forced air and baseboards, both heat only, and programmed for automatic warm up and night settings) and one in a small studio (heat / cool / forced air, no programming) and all are working great.