Ask the EcoGeek: LED Lights

Dear EcoGeek
I did a survey and I have 33 recessed
bulbs in the house (120W)!  I’ve switched all my non-recessed bulbs with CFLs, but I need something for our recessed lighting. So my question is why aren’t these ultra-efficient LED lights being produced
in greater quantities (and this bringing the costs down)?

 – David

three 120 watt bulbs will keep your house competing with a small star
for both power consumption and light intensity, but I’m not here to
judge. If you’ve got the sockets, they should have high-efficiency bulbs in them.

The good news is
two-fold. First, you don’t have to wait for LED bulbs to show up at
Wal-Mart to find a high efficiency alternative because they’ve started
selling excellent recessed CFLs. I’ve actually got one shooting down on
me right now! To match a 120 watt incandescent, you should look for a
23 to 26 watt CFL.

The bad news is that
LED bulbs would likely be a better choice for you, but a good one won’t
be easy to find. LED lighting is facing a few barriers that will take
some time to overcome. First, LEDs are currently fairly expensive to
manufacture, and while their extreme long life and efficiency will
eventually pay for the extra
cost, it’s hard to get folks to cough up 30 bucks for a bulb when
they’re so used to paying 30 cents. You might be able to find a good
one somewhere like Ace Hardware or specialty stores online, but be
ready to cough up some change.

Continue Reading

The Never-Ending Light Bulb!

Ah ah aaah ah ah aahhh…*ahem*…sorry…this kind of  stuff gets me excited.

Ceravision has just announced that they have developed a lightbulb that is 50% efficient (more than twice the efficiency of CFLs) and will last…um…forever?

No, that can’t be right, but a very very long time anyhow. They say they expect their new lamp to outlast whatever device they put it in, so apparently your lamp will break before the bulb does.

The device doesn’t use any fascinating new technology, which is really good news as it can be built from parts already in mass production. It’s a new sort of metal halide lamp (a tube of gas inside a lump of a metal oxide.) When the lamp is put in the presence of a microwave emitter (just like the one in your kitchen, but much smaller) a concentrated electric field forms in the tube of gas which promptly turns into plasma. More than 50% of the energy is emitted as light, which is 2x more than ordinary metal halide lamps, and four times more than ordinary fluorescents.

The device is so long lived because there is no connection between the electricity source and the bulb itself. As long as the microwave emitter keeps emitting, and the glass tube never breaks, the device will last forever.
This new, as-yet-unnamed sort of lamp will be somewhat expensive in the beginning. And it will likely not produce the highest-quality light until it gets a good deal of tweaking. But if you were wondering what kind of point-light could possibly be better than LEDs, this is it.

No toxics, unsurpassed efficiency, extremely bright, relatively small and ultra-long lived. I’m pretty excited about this one.

Via The Economist

See also:
One Watt Light Bulbs
Quick OLED Review
EcoGeek Newsletter

Coalition Vows to Reduce Computer Electricity Use by 50%

The tech
has been on the cutting edge of green initiatives lately, with Dell,
HP, Google and others
all claiming different environmental achievements. Now, they’re banding
together to make a bigger impact: the
aforementioned companies, along with a laundry list of other top tech
firms including Intel, IBM, Microsoft, AMD, Sun Microsystems, Lenovo,
and others – are partnering with The World Wildlife Fund and
the Environmental Protection Agency to encourage efficient computer
energy use.

The Climate Savers Computing Initiative
is nothing if not ambitious in its goals. Pat Gelsinger, a senior VP at
Intel, says that they are aiming to reduce annual computer power
consumption 50% by 2010, the equivalent of taking 11 million cars off
road. Their website asks consumers and
businesses to participate, and informs them about steps they can take to reduce
their computer energy use. The group currently endorses Energy Star and the 80 Plus Program as labels to look for when
buying computer parts, and they are also planning to roll out their own Climate
Savers standards in the future.

It is great that
these companies are coming together, though I am not sure how much of an impact they
will have by only promoting going green. There are not a lot of new ideas being brought to the table
but perhaps the brand exposure will encourage consumers and businesses
to think about the environment when purchasing their next PC.

via ars

See Also
HP Gets Gold for Going Green
Google Registers

Review Roundup: Mercedes CLK63 AMG Black Series, C220 CDI, CL65 AMG And E63 AMG Wagon Put To The Test

If you’re in the market for a new CLK63 AMG Black Series, CL65 AMG, C220 CDI or E63 AMG but are still pondering whether or not you should take the plunge, you my dear readers are in luck. Each of the aforementioned models has been reviewed recently, which, as I’m sure you all know by now, means it time for another installment of our ‘Review Roundup’ segment. As with all our ‘Review Roundups,’ you can find links to each review along with tidy summaries of each immediately after the jump.

Google Switches on Solar: Generates 9,000 kW

Google has just switched on it’s gigantic solar project and, in traditional Google fashion, has an excellent web-based application tracking its progress. Anyone familiar with Google’s stats package will recognize the software used here, but it’s really cool to see the actual amount of power being generated by the panels at any given time.

And, of course, we have the obligatory "this would power 41,000 alarm clocks for one year" math going on at the bottom of the page.

Category notably not included? "This would power X number of Googleplexes for 24 hours", as that number is unfortunately still less than one.

Nevertheless…props to Google…keep up the good work.

See Also
Google Follows Yahoo Into Carbon Neutrality
Solar Powered Google
Our Newsletter

Clean Diesel Jetta by Volkswagen

Diesel-powered engines are mostly considered as emitting harmful emissions and used mostly on trucks and sports utility vehicles. Hybrid is the “in thing” when it comes to saving the environment from harmful emissions and many automakers have contributed their share of Hybrid vehicles.

However, Volkswagen didn’t follow that stereotype on diesel engines and they came up with their own clean diesel technology and incorporated it into their 2008 Jetta Diesel prototypes. Its clean diesel technology runs in the form of a 2.0L four cylinder common-rail diesel engine that meets the Tier 2 Bin 5 emissions standards of the 50 US states.

Inkjet Printers Lie Steal and Pollute

Turns out you’ve got another reason to go Office Space on your InkJet. It’s something that geeks have suspected for quite some time, printers are set to report that cartridges are out of ink far before they actually are.

EPSON (who turned out to be least evil) commissioned the study to determine how full cartridges were when they reported they were "out of ink." The results…some printers report they are "out of ink" when they’re only half empty. Worse, the firmware will continue to nag you about it and occasionally will not even allow you to print until you replace the cartridge. Kodak came in last place, wasting up to 60% of ink, while Epson faired best, wasting about 20%.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, since one can literally by a new printer for the same cost as new ink cartridges. This kind of hyper-disposable attitude is completely the opposite of what EcoGeek stands for, and I’ve got a mind to take my printer out into an empty field right now and introduce it to Mr. Louisville.

But for those of you who really do need printers, here are a few tips:

  • Avoid single cartridge printers, as the cartridges need to be replaced every time a single color runs out
  • Always recycle ink cartridges, all big stores will take them as printer companies will actually pay to get them back
  • Print in black and white as often as possible. No reason to waste expensive color ink 95% of the time
  • Never listen when your printer says it’s out of ink. It’s lying.

Via TreeHugger and Ars Technica

See also
Reusable Plastic Paper
Electronic Paper
EcoGeek Newsletter MapQuest for your Feet

MapQuest is great and all, but what if I want to get to the burning calories instead of gasoline. Well, that’s where comes in. WalkIt is mapping out cities for bicycle and pedestrian commuters so that they can find the fastest, safest and simplest routes walking routes through their city.

For every trip you map, WalkIt will tell you around how many calories you’ll burn, how long the trip will take at different walking speeds, and how many kg of carbon you’ll avoid. The interface is just as simple as mapquest, though their front page could use a bit of cleaning up.

The biggest problem though, is that only three cities have been mapped out so far, all in the UK. But if you’re a citizen of London, Birmingham or Edinburgh, consider yourself served. A representative from WalkIt has assured me that more cities are on the way, but they aren’t likely to start on the Americas any time soon.

See Also
Google Public Transit
Google Hiking Trails

Google Follows Yahoo! Into Carbon Neutrality

Just a couple of months after Yahoo! announced it’s plans to go carbon neutral, Google is laying down it’s cards as well. Google has a bit of a head start, though, as they’ve just switched on their multi-megawatt solar installation and so automatically have less carbon to offset.

On their own, carbon offsets are not capable of creating the kinds
of fundamental changes to our energy infrastructure that will be
necessary to stabilize global greenhouse gas emissions to safe levels, but we believe that offsets can offer real, measurable, and
additional emissions reductions that allow us to take full
responsibility for our footprint today.

Strikingly similar to the language from Yahoo’s announcement really. Google will obviously focus on decreasing emissions through efficiency and renewable energy first. And then they will fund projects that decrease greenhouse gas emissions.

One project Google will fund, for example, is a methane capture facility at Mexican and Brazilian farms. As Methane is a much more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2, it’s an easy target for global warming offsets. Google has set it’s neutrality date for early 2008.

Via Reuters

First Look At What’s Being Called The SLC, Mercedes’ New High-Powered Coupe

I’m taking this all with a grain of salt, but according to the fine gentlemen over at Winding Road, pictured before you is a test mule for Mercedes forthcoming Audi R8-slayer, dubbed the SLC. If the rumors are to be believed, the SLC (which will be built by the German company HWA) is set to be powered by AMG’s 6.2-Liter V8, and will be based on the next-generation SL platform. As a result, a front-engine design is expected along with a non-retractable carbon fiber roof.

NHTSA Awards Mercedes Safety Expert Dr. Rodolfo Schoneburg The U.S. Government Award For Safety Engineering Excellence

In awards news, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently awarded head of Mercedes’ passenger car safety development Dr. Rodolfo Schoneburg with the ‘U.S. Government Award for Safety Engineering Excellence.’ The award, which is bestowed every two years on the occasion of the Technical Conference on the Enhanced Safety of Vehicles (ESV), was presented by the U.S. governement in recognition of the outstanding contribution Rodolfo has made to the field of automotive safety