I had written before on those fluorescent curly Q bulbs that were the next end-all-be-all to saving the planet. We talked about the fact that they contain mercury and, if something goes wrong, there might be a fire.
LED bulbs seemed much more promising.
Well, not so fast. First off, there is the issue of different types of LED bulbs for circuits with dimmers vs. without. How many ‘users’ of these things truly understand the difference and, how many care?
To that end, all LED bulbs entering the US market should be designed to work in either situation.
I feel a little like Ralph Nader when I mention this fact, as it seems obvious but, they should at the very least be clearly labeled.
The last batch of ‘dimmable’ LED bulbs I purchased clearly was marked ‘dimmable’ on the box, but no place on the bulb itself did it distinguish itself as dimmable.
My next nit to pick is quality control.
Out of six regular LED non-dimmable bulbs, I had a 50% failure rate.
The bulbs would either flicker or just not work.
My curiosity got the best of me.
If you notice those two blobs of solder, they are situated by the plus and the minus terminals for the LEDs. That blob of solder in the middle does not belong. In my business, we call that a solder bridge. This is incredibly shoddy work, and while the bridge is not zero ohms, it is close enough to render the bulb useless.
I have not opened the other two failed bulbs but, I can guess what I might find.
Are these a fire hazard?
I would like to believe that because these circuits are housed in plastic-coated aluminized housing that a circuit breaker might blow before the thing catches on fire.
The companies that create and sell these things need to tighten up quality control and, all of them should be made to fit into either a dimmable socket or a regular socket.
Since Underwriters Laboratories turned into a for-profit company, one must wonder who is watching out for the American public. Someone should be testing this stuff independently of company sponsors. Currently, the FTC takes complaints and tips but, to my knowledge, does zero pro-active research on something as basic as substandard or hazardous products.
While I loath bloated government, there is a need for an Underwriters Laboratories to test, check the quality, and so forth of products imported into this country.
Are they safe?
Is there lead paint?
Are they going to catch on fire?
Are they labeled correctly?
If I take the time to open the other two failed products, what will I find?
I would think that the Chinese companies would be overly careful of this type of quality. Just possibly, they know they are the only game ‘in town’ and that people will just accept the lack of value for the dollar and lower their expectations.
Maybe the Chinese should offer repair kits for their poorly constructed bulbs so those of us with the skills and know-how can fix them.
Is it worth it? Knowing these bulbs should last years, would it be worth your time to ‘fix them?’
Stay safe until we meet again.
If there is nothing new, maybe I will tell you all how to make Banana Bread.
As an electronics guy, when something fails I like to figure out what failed and then why.
When lights fail, well they just fail!
Not so much with the CFL or LED variety.
Today I want to examine this bulb, an LED bulb that did not last the advertised amount of time by any stretch of the imagination.
The first thing to notice that there was some sort of out-gassing during its use which adhered to the inside of the plastic dome and actually etched the plastic in such a way that it is no longer translucent but rather opaque even after I cleaned it with 409.
The reason I pulled it apart is that it became dim.
After disassembling it, I found that the electrolytic capacitor had become un-soldered on one of its legs.
Re-soldering it and re-assembling it, the bulb became bright again for about a minute until it flickered and quit.
Removing and testing the capacitors they were both in tolerance and I suspect OK.
Checking the LED’s one by one, I found one that was dead. As I tested each with a DVM the good LEDS would slightly illuminate. 98% of these when biased correctly would illuminate properly. One of them was much dimmer than the rest, and one of them would not light at all.
If I were of the mind to, I could replace the dead LED and the dim LED and I would guess I would obtain more hours of life out of the collective bunch of LED’s
LED lights being in series to me says that when one fails, the light is dead and trashed. Much like that lousy string of Christmas lights that are a real bugger to keep going.
Does it make financial sense to “repair” light bulbs?
Will dead LED bulbs fill the garbage dumps with the same frequency of regular light bulbs or CFL bulbs?
The good news about LED bulbs is that there is no lead in the solder as it is Tin.
I would be interested in knowing what actually out-gassed from the light during its use?
What actually pitted or etched the plastic?
Looking closely you will see what looks like flux, that suggest that there is heat generated with use.
I am thinking about holding on to this bulb and when another like it fails, making one out of two, just because. Is my time worth more than this, of course it is! Does this interest me enough to prove a point? Yes.
While LED bulbs will save you cost in operation, will that cost be offset by the cost and reliability of the bulb? Even though there is a warranty on these bulbs as well as CFL bulbs, do you know anyone that puts a date on them when installed and then keeps up with the sales slip in case they don’t last the warranty? I don’t think that you can prove much, and it would really be up to the benevolence of the store where you purchased them from to replace your product..
Big corporations really suck when they go the extra mile forcing one to buy expensive stuff.
Under the guise of “saving the planet” we have lost it!
First off let me just rant a little about the planet. The Earth has been around 4.5 billion years. Man has been around for about 6 million of those years but, we only have we been a “threat” to the planet the last 150 years or so.
When I say threat, not really. One lucky strike from a meteor and we are done! Toast,the next life form to take hold will hopefully be more evolved than some of our peers who think money is the answer to everything no matter who they screw!
Industrialization is claimed to be the largest threat to the planet along with the ever increasing population. I agree that millions of people all creating waste emissions from gasses to solids, probably are not doing the earth any good but, do you really for just one minute think that one Volcano, or large fire does not do as much if not more damage to the eco-system than man?
There is a super volcano that is due to erupt any moment in Yellow stone park. When that bad boy goes off it will be a life changer!
Then tell me about coal power plants or Gas guzzling SUv’s.
Yes, we are burning fossil fuels “dinosaurs” to heat and cool our homes and to drive our gas burning vehicles to and from the job and what have you.
If you really want to solve global warming first you really need to get truthful with the numbers, and facts, as what has been published thus far is to push a “carbon credit agenda” to make the rich richer and in the end is simply another tax!
Now, back to bulbs.
Edison through trial and error “brute force” came up with an incandescent light bulb.
The typical light in your home burns 60 watts of electricity.
It took me a few minutes to do the math for you, so here it is in a spreadsheet.
You can do any further multiplication you like, as in how many of these bulbs do you have and how long do you really leave them on.
The 100 and the 60 are representing incandescent “old school” bulbs.
The 12 is representing a CFL bulb and the 3 watt is representing the LED variety.
Basing the cost per kilowatt hour at 8.5 cents, this is what it would look like to run one bulb for a year never turning it off.
So, if you want to save the earth…or money, lets look at how and where you would put what kind of bulb.
I also think that we were pushed into using them by congress via some backroom dealwith GE or some other maker of these things through the good folks at AVE K,you know lobbyist. Like republicans or not, this was a GW Bush thing and I think it smells.
CFL or any fluorescent bulb must stay on for a minimum of 15 minutes or you shorten the life of the bulb. That means, don’t put them in places that you turn the light on for a few moments and then off again. CFL or fluorescent tubes should go into places that you energize them, and then leave them on for hours, like a kitchen, family room or porch light.
This bulb died because the capacitor died. If you look at it you will see that it has bubbled up on the top. Checking the capacitor it is non functional.
GE must have purchased a plethora of bad capacitors from China!
If you look at the actual glass you will notice that there is no black around the base, this bulb died way too young…
LED bulbs don’t just quit “usually” unlike an incandescent of fluorescent. They grow dim over time as they age and one day you will notice that it is not very bright, and replace it. I like them in bathrooms and closets, desk lights and lights in areas where I don’t want a lot of heat generated.
The average cost of a CFL or LED bulb however is much higher than its incandescent counterpart.
While they have come down in price, they are still no where as inexpensive as an incandescent.
A box of 4 or even 6 on sale, was around $1. The CFL is around $2 each but that is now. When they first came out they were about $4 each. As other manufacturers entered into the arena the price came down.
The same is true of LED bulbs. These bulbs can get downright pricey!
As far as function goes we have the incandescent with fewest complications. A filament across the two electrodes sealed into a vacuum. Apply the right voltage and suitable current that the filament will light and there will be light, and heat!
Fluorescent is much more complex in that there is two filaments and high voltage applied which ionizes the gas inside. This gas reacts to the phosphorescent coating inside the bulb making light, And oh yes, they have mercury in them.
The CFL takes in 110 or 220 depending upon your location and converts it into the voltages and currents needed to start the process as well as maintain the process while voltage is applied. If you look inside the base of a CFL bulb you will see a host of associated circuitry to accomplish this task.
LED Bulbs are less complex in that they use minimal components to convert the voltages into the needed voltages to run the LED’s.
There is not much heat and the circuitry is not complex. LED bulbs should really be less expensive than CFL and I look for that to be the case as time marches on. Currently you are still paying for the novelty much like the early adopters of flat screen TV’s.
Pay attention to these bulbs when you buy them as they must be set up for “dimmable” circuits if you intend to use them in a legacy lighting system that had incandescent lighting in it.
It has been said that necessity is the mother of invention. Having been down that road so many times in my life, I would have to say that is one of the truest statements ever said.
The problem with this is that the system is rigged against you (the inventor.)
Back during the days of VCR’s I was one of those that went to school to learn how they worked, and how to repair them. Back in the day they were $1,200 for the cheapest, and it went up from there.
End of tape sensors back in the early day were accomplished with visible light. Tape makers would have some clear leader spliced on to the tape so when light was visible the machine would know to stop, “whatever function it was doing.”
Later in the years infrared light was used instead of visible, which made troubleshooting much more difficult. As the light was 950nm instead of the 850nm currently used in night vision cameras, there was not even the slight red glow.
I devised a portable infrared detector. When the test button was pushed with the sensor in the path of the infrared light a green LED would illuminate thus telling me that the emitter was not the issue. If no light was visible a red LED would illuminate thus telling me to check the voltages on the emitter “which was a job” and if present, replace the emitter, which was also a job as it was soldered in unlike the bulb which was plugged in.
This was also handy for testing remote controls as they too were using, and still do use 950nm infrared LED’s so you would get a pulsing green LED if the batteries and or remote was functioning.
In short, this was the “cat’s ass” and it was my invention.
So, now that it was built I needed to downsize it into a more portable device, like a pen.
I started the process of downsizing the electronics and was trying to figure out how to get a “housing” created for it when a family member came to visit who is “was” handy and knew certain things that I did not.
Long story short I called it the B.I.R.D. Battery operated Infrared Detector.
Before my “family member came for a visit” I wrote a letter to Sencor, which was a test instrument maker in the day. I did not divulge anything of my idea other than I had one and a working prototype that I would like to discuss with them.
The response went something like this:
Dear Mr. Taylor,
I work in the mail room and it is my job to look for and intercept letters like this and send them back to the sender.
We hire the brightest and best here at Sencor and therefor do not need input from the public as we have the best. If it is a new device that is needed, our engineers will think of it and create it and we will market it. If we don’t create it, it is not needed. “Damn what hubris!”
Thank you for your time, good day!
It was about this time my “family member came” and I shared my frustration with him. He was very interested and sympathetic. Looked over my invention as well as the schematics etc. and told me he knew some folks and would get back with me.
Of course you know the rest of the story without me typing it but….
Two months to the date of his visit in the back of one of my electronic magazines that I took, was the BIRD complete in a pen enclosure with my wording verbatim!
This family member came into copious amounts of money, and never spoke to me about the invention. Because I could not prove what happened, I did nothing but learned, never share any more inventions with even family as when money is concerned; blood means nothing.
Some of my ideas over the years were too grandiose for me to create a prototype of, and some are as simple as the following:
I am a technician by trade, but an engineer at heart. While working at many companies in my life, I have re-engineered their inventions. Many of those modifications have been incorporated into their products making them better. Working for them however; you get your paycheck, and maybe a pat on the back, and maybe a $200 American ExpressCheck thank you check! Don’t spend it all at one place….
Dyson Vacuums’ is another company that I contacted because their product lacks in certain design areas, and I really thought that they could benefit from my ideas. I am a nice guy, had they treated me with any respect I might have given them the damned ideas.
I wrote them a letter regarding some ideas I had for their product and not unlike the letter from Sencor, they too were rather insulting with their response. They too hire the brightest and best and they certainly don’t need the input from someone who actually bought one and uses it! Yes, they were about that truculent.
While I will not give the ideas for free, if at all, I would tell them that they should have their engineers and or technicians actually use their vacuums, and pay attention to all of the ways that it works. I don’t mean throw some dust on the floor and suck it up, they all do that, actually take the damned thing home and use it! I think I know the secret to why their product “sucks so well,” It starts with management…
The simple fact is that I have several ideas which some I can create myself, and some like the BIRD, I need others to add to the collective, to make it the best.
The problems with inventing are many and they start with “protecting your idea.” You can see that if a family member that you trust will screw you and then pretend that they don’t know you when the money comes in, what would others do?
A couple of years ago I wrote Apple because they needed to re-design their app so one could re-design the app layout on your phone through the Itunes app on your computer. I wrote them a nice long letter telling them what I needed, why, how it would benefit their customers and ask them to do it. Three months to the date it was done. Do you think I even got a thank you from them? Some employee at apple I am certain read the letter and said, wow, what a great idea and submitted it from him or herself.
I needed it done so it was the most expedient way to get it done. I have written them since on this blog with ideas because let’s face it, they hire the brightest and best and don’t need you or I telling them anything….. Did I mention that I actually met Steve Jobs years ago when I was working on NEXT computers, I wonder if he was British at heart?
Now, let’s revisit the BIRD and let’s say, I wanted to protect the idea.
You go downtown wherever and find a patent attorney, have them sign a non-disclosure so you can talk with him or her and then basically tell them what you are up to.
They either listen intently or they pretend to listen waiting to see if you can fork over a check to retain them. Back when I first checked on this for an idea I had for a security device for all of the world’s airports and government buildings, this is the way it went down.
“I will need a check for $10,000 to start the process.” For any country that you want it protected in other than the US; that is another $3,000. For arguments sake that is 196 countries. So for another $588,000 we stand a pretty good chance of protecting your idea but, we have to catch them stealing your idea and then we have to take them to court and with luck before they saturate the place with a knock off of your idea, maybe we can get the courts to get an injunction and stop them from creating any more widgets (in that country) while they drag it through the courts for years all the while selling the widgets that they have already created or are having created in other countries that you have not caught them doing so yet. You might be able to do your own patent search these days but I would suspect that the attorney will have to do it officially via some flunky intern and charge you as if they personally did it.
Now, maybe you have some appreciation why I have been known to give ideas away, just to get the damned thing out there as the world needs it. I have actually tweeted ideas to the whole Effing world just to get the thing done!
Much like the artist that creates a masterpiece does not get the accolades or the dollars that it is worth, I think the same is true of the inventors. Someone somewhere at some time in the future may benefit from it, but not you, so the question that has to be asked, why?
Farnsworth was screwed by RCA on the Television / video camera and while he had an ok life, RCA got the patent and profited through licensing such inventions. Tesla was a genius but had no business acumen; he too was screwed by the greedy bastards of the world including Edison, and died poor and somewhat nuts!
I hesitate to even mention the vultures that want you to buy their easy patent guide. The simple facts are that a lot of inventions go nowhere. Some might end up on those late night commercials with “but wait” as the tag line but, some people just need to be told the truth. The folks that will take your money to “help you” are in business to “take your money.” Much like the companies that are in business for those that want to write a book. No publisher will touch them “because they suck, or are too much of a risk, or an unknown,” so people spend thousands to self-publish! Some actually promote their books through enough different outlets to break even; but not really. They have failed to include their time and efforts into selling the 500 copies that they had to buy in the first place. The simple facts are inventors, artist and authors are seldom objective when it comes to their project. Much like a mother with the ugliest hair covered baby you ever saw.. She will think how great the baby looks, and the husband and family will cringe and say oh yes, that is the best looking one around. (PS one of the few times it is OK to lie, not only OK but advised! another is “does this dress make me look fat!? Oh Hell No! )
Am I telling you all this to quash your dreams? Hell no! I am telling you this to give you the reader, a dose of reality,the naked truth!
Guess what, this is at no charge!
If you truly want to write there are some great books at Barns and Nobles that walk you through the process. Bottom line, start with short stories and submit them to magazines. After you get paid your $500 per story, and get published a dozen times or so; on your cover page of your manuscript you simply say published in …….
If you get that far by all means purchase the book and follow all of the guidelines including how the manuscript should look. Different publishers have different ideas of how the manuscript should look and how it should be submitted so do your research and edit edit edit…..
Does that guarantee you will get published, shit no. What it does; if the person who opens your manuscript sees “published in and the format looks acceptable…. they might read more than the cover page. Much like writing a good resume or CV, you got about 15 seconds to grab their attention and that includes the time it takes to get it out of the envelope!