2021Jan01

Keeping up with the latest energy efficient lighting options is one of those dreams I have that must be tempered with the reality of costs and not replacing something that is working just because there is something new to replace it with.

Therefore, you don't see much on the website regarding lighting. If you check out the Sustainable Living (2008 to 2015) archived PDF you will see that replaced the incandescent and halogen bulbs inside the house with CFLs (which was pretty costly and selection was minimal at that time). Now that LEDs are the norm, it is very easy for me to replace any of those CFLs as they burn out; but replacing a bulb here and there doesn't seem exciting enough to update the website each time. Even though it is a pretty exciting thing for me, LOL. Especially when the lighting companies finally got around to creating LED replacements for 3-way bulbs which is what the majority of my lamps use.

Step Light (Oct 2020)

Some (unknown number) years ago, I did manage to find some lights for our south porch steps at Costco. It was one of those WOO HOO point-of-purchase things.

I don't have the box so I can't tell you anything about these LED lights except that they are solar powered and have a light sensor so they come on at dusk.

The cell is on top of each light and it stays pretty clean so they get recharged daily.

Generally, they stay lit for about six (6) hours and that is if it has been a bright, sunny day. On cloudy days, they stay lit for shorter periods.

They are extremely helpful and the only down side is that they stick out from the riser so you have to avoid them when moving things up and down the steps.

LED Shop Lights (Oct 2020)

Also several years ago, I came across LED Shop Lights at Costco. They were a bit pricey for me when I first saw them, but I kept an eye on them and, sure enough, they went on sale! I bought the limit that time and we replaced the flourescent tube lights in the upstairs of the garage (you know the kind you see in office buildings with the ballasts that are forever failing so they blink intermittently and cause the tubes to burn out individually, AGH). We were so happy with new LED shop lights that we made another trip and the hubby bought the limit and installed that batch in the ground floor of the garage. It's a big garage, so there are eight (8) of these lights on each level and our electricity usage dropped nicely after installing them.

Whenever I see someone looking at them at Costco, I tell them how great they are and how happy we are to have changed ours out.

FEIT Electric 4-foot Linkable LED Shop Light (from the Costco website): This 4ft. Linkable LED Shop Light with chain includes integrated LED tubes and requires no lamps to replace. Perfect for hanging or flush mount installation. Ideal use in garages, basements, game rooms, utility rooms, workshops, cabinets, closets and attics. Easy plug-in fixture, no humming, ultra-light weight design. Includes 2 hanging chains with V-hooks, 2 screw hooks, 1 pull chain extension, 3 mounting screws, 3 wall anchors, 1 cable tie and installation manual. It can last for up to 50,000 hours or 46 years (based on normal household use of 3 hours per day).

Features:

  • Instant On To Full Brightness
  • Integrated LED Tubes
  • No Bulbs to Replace
  • Linkable
  • Mercury Free
  • Includes Hanging Chain
  • Pull Chain Switch
  • 4 Feet Long
  • Fully Assembled
  • Durable Design
  • 5ft. Plug-In Cord
  • Durable Smooth Edge Housing
  • UL/CUL Listed  
  • Energy Star®
Specifications
  • Brand: Feit Electric
  • Feit Model # SHOP/840/LED/2
  • Actual wattage: 42W
  • Color Temp: 4000K
  • Lumens: 4000
  • Lumen Efficiency (LPW): 95
  • Input Line Voltage: 120
  • Dimensions: 48” L x 5.25” W x 1.95”H
  • Life Hours: 50,000
*   Life is based on 3 hrs/day

** Estimated Yearly Energy Cost is based on 3 hrs/day, 11¢/kWh. Cost depends on rate and use.

This year we've been able to dramatically improve our exerior lighting...

Exterior Flood Lights (Oct 2020)

When we first bought the house in 2008, we replaced the energy-hog flood lights with CFL flood lights. At that time, we had to put up with the amount of time it took for the CFLs to get to full brightness (translation: SLOW) because there simply wasn't another option in an energy efficient flood light. (We did try a couple of the motion sensor LED flood lights over the years, but when you have lots of critters travelling in the sensor area, it gets pretty tiring to be awakened by a bright light because an oppossum trotted by. So we abandoned that idea.)

We had a great deal of a maintenance to do on the exterior of the house in 2020 which is shown on a separate page (click here to go there). Since the crew were having to replace the soffits where the flood lights are located, we decided they might as well change the flood lights while they had the ladders up. There are two (2) bulbs per fixture and there are four (4) fixtures on the house (one on or near each corner). The price of these has come down dramatically since we first looked into changing to LEDs and we were happy to be able to find them at $13.00 each (8@$13=$104+tax).

This is the light we chose.

1400 Lumen 5000K PAR38 (from the website: feit.com)

Enjoy all the benefits of advanced LED energy-saving technology with the Feit Electric PAR38DM/1400/950CA 120W dimmable Enhance® LED Light Bulb. This bulb meets CEC Title 24 light bulb standards, produces 5000K daylight light and will replace a 120-watt equivalent incandescent bulb. Enhance® LEDs make colors appear vibrant as they really are. It produces a light output of 1400 lumens, uses 15.5 watts of electricity and up to 87% less energy than a standard incandescent light bulb. Get instant on to full brightness with relatively cool running performance. Feit Electric indoor / outdoor waterproof PAR38 bulbs have an average life of 25,000 hours / 22.8 years. Choose an Energy Star® approved light that shows colors true and natural. A dependable choice for general purpose recessed and outdoor security lighting residential or commercial applications.

Specifications:

  • Life: 22.8 years / 25,000 hours
  • Volts: 120V
  • Energy Used: 15.5 Watts
  • Lumens: 1400
  • Base: Medium (E26)
  • Beam Spread: 40
  • Color Temperature: 5000
  • Equivalent: 120
  • Life Hours: 25,000
  • Life Year: 22.8
  • MOL: 5"H x 4.75"D
  • Estimated Yearly Energy Cost: 1.87
  • Region: US

Exterior North Porch Lighting (Oct 2020)

If you have been following the replacement of the North Porch (click here to go there), you know that when we replaced the ceiling we decided to NOT replace the old light fixture centered in the ceiling of the porch, but go with an LED rope around the perimeter.

In preparation for this, we purchased two (2) holiday light packages on sale after New Year's Day. They were 30 feet long each. I knew that LED rope lights could be cut and spliced together, but LO AND BEHOLD, these LED lights were NOT that type. Ah shucks! To make matters worse, I had intended to use Command strip rope light hooks to hang them (instead of the clips that came with) and so I purchased enough to do the job... but the Command strips won't stick to the newly painted trim boards. DOUBLE SHUCKS. (This is a family friendly website, by the way. ;)

So I was given the opportunity to learn WAY more than I would like to know about LED rope lighting. I am very grateful to have evenutally found AQ Lighting. Easy to navigate site... lots of information... videos for us dummies... competitive prices... I'd give them 5 out 5 stars (and no, I don't get paid for any of this).

Once we decided to buy different rope lighting, we thought we should include strands that run down each post to get enough light. So, I purchased enough of the "T" and "L" connectors in addition to end caps to accomplish this.

I also decided to get the 150 foot spool which would leave us with plenty left over to put other places if we so chose.

It came with a two (2) foot plug/converter in white. You can see that in the photo at left.

And it turns out that you can only cut it at the 30 inch segment indicated by the manufacturer.

The hubby unspooled the rope and we discovered that it would be very difficult to put the strands down each post.

BUT, in the process of doing that perimeter measurement to figure out where to cut, we were pleased to find that the light was REALLY bright and we didn't really need to cut after all.

I chose the daylight clear light, by the way.

Here you see the hubby installing the rope light AFTER he determined exactly how much we needed and cut it to length and installed the end cap.

He used the screw in clips that came with the holiday rope lights since both rope lights are 1/2 inch.

At left is a close up of that clip. It has a single screw to keep it in place.

The hubby discovered the easiest way to put the rope into the clip was to roll it into the clip (if that sounds confusing, think of turning the rope toward you as you put it up against the opening and then rolling it away from you as you push it into the opening); somehow that created less friction than just pushing it up into the opening.

The clip looks smaller than the rope and so it really grabs it once the rope is inside. And because you use a clip each 12 inches, the weight of the rope held by each clip is slight.

While everything else about replacing our front (north) porch has been a trial (translation: nightmare), the lighting has turned out to be SPOT ON perfect.

The last segment matched up to the first segment perfectly. You can see it in the photo at left on the right edge of the image.

We were able to find brown electric tape to wrap the plug/converter and make it blend in to the trim color.

The hubby had installed the electrical outlet before the painters arrived and we were so happy that they camoflaged the box.

A couple of pictures of the finished product.

At left is the porch ceiling before dark so you can see the features in addition to the light.

The rope is attached along the outside edge trim of the ceiling.

This photo is a little bit later and you can start to see the reflection of the light in the polyurethane finish of the ceiling... practically doubling the amount of brightness.

We came back out after it was fully dark to see just how well the rope light illuminates the porch.

We are very happy to see that there is little light pollution but that the light extends to show the tread of the stairs all the way around.

We won't be needing any step lights here.

This last image is the hubby standing in front of the door but facing the house. The photo is taken from inside the house with the door closed and through the screen.

Plenty of light to identify someone without having to open the door.

We are pleased with the results AND the energy efficiency of this project. According to the website, the power draw for this specific rope light is 0.8 watts per foot which creates a light output of 80 lumens per foot. When you multiply the length of the rope (52.5 feet) by 80 you get 4200 lumens which equates to 42 watts.

We have a meter to measure the wattage used at a specific outlet and the meter read: 32.2 watts.


Exterior South Porch Lighting (Dec 2020)

We have been frustrated about the south porch lighting since we moved to this house. Originally, directly next to the door which we use 99% of the time, there was a motion sensor light. Even with a sliding screen we fought a constant battle with bugs coming in because they were drawn to that light. (Not to mention the annoyance of having that light come on suddenly and for apparently no reason.)

Eventually, we gave up trying to use that light and instead we just left on the light over the kitchen sink (window at the far end of the porch) in the evenings. That was enough light to see by and get us into the house. I also added heavy curtains on the OUTSIDE of the patio doors to reduce the light coming out from the living room where we tend to spend our evenings watching TV.

Once we replaced the patio doors (another 2020 project, click here to go there), I added a temporary screen curtain (which worked pretty well). Since winter is upon us and the bugs SHOULD all be dormant, I have removed the screen curtain and we have not put the heavy curtains back up... yet.

Having purchased plenty of LED rope light for the north porch which translates to "LOTS left over" (LOL), we decided to do the same style perimeter lighting on the south porch.

full led lights south porch

The hubby knew exactly what we needed for this application. We purchased another electrical plug kit and additional clips for the rope light itself.

There were a couple of electrical issues to address to make this application work.

  • We wanted to use the dimming capability of the led lights and that required the switch to be changed/rewired.
  • The switch was hardwired to the light (which is great) but because there was nowhere to plug in the rope light, the hubby had to replace the box for the light with a box for an outlet.

We ended the run at the east edge of the fireplace instead of at the starting point and this was for a few reasons... 1) the hubby was not able to screw in the clips along the shoulder stone of the fireplace and 2) there was a cut point at that location.

We decided the fireplace shoulder didn't need to be lit just to make it appear to be a continuous loop.

 

east led south porch lights

These three images are to show you the application a little better.

Like the north porch, the clips are attached to the horizontal plane of the ceiling and inside the drip edge of the fascia board along exterior side. The exception being at the east and west ends where there are no fascia boards and it is simply attached to the bottom of the end joists.

The top image is from the patio door looking east.

west led south porch lights

The middle image is from in front of the glider (seen in the top image) looking west.

patio door led south porch lights

The bottom image is a close up of the application around the patio door.

You can see that we opted to run the rope light out a bit from the doors along what was originally the edge of the old porch ceiling.

close up plug So far, we have left the plug white. The electrical box is gray and I'm thinking about covering the plug with gray electric tape to camouflage it a bit (like we did on the north side with brown electric tape).

Being able to adjust the brightness of the rope light is GREAT. In fact, I wish we could do the same to the north porch, but alas, that would mean losing the original outlet because it is hardwired to the switch by the front door. We use that outlet quite a bit. Ah well, it is what it is.




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