The blog

Roger Hunt is an award winning writer and blogger specialising in sustainability, old houses, housebuilding and traditional and modern building materials. He is the co-author of Old House Handbook and the companion volume Old House Eco Handbook.

Energy saving LEDs

Energy saving LEDs

The quality of light has fascinated me since my days at drama school. I trained in technical theatre and saw how changes to the colour and intensity of light can be used to dramatic effect on stage.

Lighting has come a long way since then and, in the home, we’ve moved on from the basic incandescent lightbulb or lamp. First we embraced halogen lamps for their sharp, crisp light. Then we became disheartened with low energy compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). By and large CFLs haven’t done the cause of energy efficient lighting much good. The early versions in particular took a lot of time to come to full brightness and, even then, the quality of light wasn’t necessarily great.

Now we have LEDs and, unlike CFLs, they’re likely to become the light source of choice. LEDs (light emitting diodes) use a very small amount of energy to pack a lot of punch and, potentially, they last for a long time. That said, they haven’t always had a good press. Poor quality of light, lamp failures and high prices have not endeared them to everyone.

That’s changing. The LED market is constantly and quickly advancing and the price of the lamps is rapidly dropping. I was reminded of this when I tried the new GU10 LED NxtGen LITE from SimplyLED. For those with technical minds, it consumes 5 watts of electricity, provides 320 useful lumens, is available in warm white (3000k) and comes with an energy rating of A+.

The real proof of any lamp’s capability is when you turn it on. This lamp is designed to be an exact replacement for 50w halogen lamps – something of a holy grail in low energy lighting circles. Once fitted in the downlighters of my office it certainly proved its worth. It’s the quality of the light that counts and, with this lamp, it isn’t bad. It maybe lacks what I can only describe as the ‘sharpness’ of a halogen lamp but the light is pleasantly bright and it’s the first low energy lamp where I haven’t felt compelled to turn on my 50w halogen desk lamp when working.

This brings me to an important point; mentioning watts is dangerous when comparing lamps. Watts only tell us how much power a lamp consumes, not how much light it generates.

Usefully, updated EU Energy Related Product (ErP) legislation introduced in September – which the NexGen LITE meets – has standardised the minimum quality of directional (spotlight) LED lamps. This makes it easier to compare equivalent light output against halogen. For example, for a GU10 LED to be the equivalent of a 50w 240-volt halogen, it needs to offer at least 300 useful lumens. Don’t get caught out though, if you’re replacing a 12-volt MR16 50w halogen with an LED MR16 it should have a useful lumens rating of 540.

This may sound unnecessarily complicated but, in the future, we won’t be comparing LEDs with the lamps of the past. Instead, LEDs will be ubiquitous and we’ll simply be enjoying the high quality, low energy light that they can offer.

post in association with SimplyLED

 

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SPAB Working Party

For the last 25 years conservation experts and volunteer heritage enthusiasts have come together to join the annual Working Party run by the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB). I went along to join them and created a video about the Working Party at Sullington Manor Farm near Storrington, West Sussex. They were working…

Listed building allure

Listed building allure

Every year, many of the estimated 450,000 listed buildings in the UK change hands on the property market. In England and Wales these properties are designated Grade I, Grade II* or Grade II having being deemed to be of historical, cultural or architectural interest. All buildings built before 1700

Environmental Pocketbook

Environmental Pocketbook

If you’re going to invest in just one book on sustainable, low carbon building I’d strongly suggest that you make it The Environmental Design Pocketbook. Now in its second edition, this useful volume by Sofie Pelsmakers should be essential reading for architects, designers, developers, planners, students, clients and anyone else involved in the construction and operation of buildings….

Fire in old buildings

Fire in old buildings

The devastating fire at the Grade I listed, 18th century National Trust mansion at Clandon Park, Surrey, once again highlights the need to do everything we can to protect old buildings. Whatever the size of the building, there are simple measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of fire, ensure early warning of a…

Adapting old buildings

Adapting old buildings

The need for fresh air and light in buildings is something I’m often talking and writing about because it’s central to creating a good home, but the theme is nothing new. I was reminded of this when I recently visited the King Edward VII Estate, near Midhurst, West Sussex. Here, the former sanatorium is being…

Building lime knowledge

Building lime knowledge

Lime, in the form of mortars, renders, plasters and paints, is a key component of old buildings and essential to their repair – or at least it should be. Today lime-based materials are also emerging into the mainstream and being used within low carbon construction systems, employed in everything from homes to superstores. All this…

Drain problems

Drain problems

A blocked drain is not a pleasant thing to wake up to. What’s worse is the realisation that it’s something that can generally be avoided by doing what I’m always talking about: maintenance. The drainage system is easily forgotten because much of it is hidden away underground but, as with any element of a building, it…

Building remembrance

Building remembrance

Visiting Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, the poppy installation at the Tower of London, reminded me that the built environment frequently plays an important part in both remembrance and memory. Each of the 888,246 ceramic poppies that flood the moat of the Tower depicts a death in the British forces in the First…

Materials testing

Materials testing

New techniques and materials aimed at producing low carbon solutions mean this is an exciting time to be involved with new build and retrofit. There are dangers though, in the rush to innovate there may be failures along the way so it’s vital that there’s scrupulously testing and monitoring at all stages. This is why…

Hidden London

Hidden London

Impending development often means there is a chance to step back in time because archaeological investigation may be undertaken as part of the work. This is especially true in London where layers of history have been laid down by successive generations as the city has evolved. Visiting Barratt London’s Landmark Place site close to the…

SPAB Working Party

For the last 25 years conservation experts and volunteer heritage enthusiasts have come together to join the annual Working Party run by the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB). I went along to join them and created a video about the Working Party at Sullington Manor Farm near Storrington, West Sussex. They were working…

Listed building allure

Listed building allure

Every year, many of the estimated 450,000 listed buildings in the UK change hands on the property market. In England and Wales these properties are designated Grade I, Grade II* or Grade II having being deemed to be of historical, cultural or architectural interest. All buildings built before 1700 Tweet

Environmental Pocketbook

Environmental Pocketbook

If you’re going to invest in just one book on sustainable, low carbon building I’d strongly suggest that you make it The Environmental Design Pocketbook. Now in its second edition, this useful volume by Sofie Pelsmakers should be essential reading for architects, designers, developers, planners, students, clients and anyone else involved in the construction and operation of buildings….

Fire in old buildings

Fire in old buildings

The devastating fire at the Grade I listed, 18th century National Trust mansion at Clandon Park, Surrey, once again highlights the need to do everything we can to protect old buildings. Whatever the size of the building, there are simple measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of fire, ensure early warning of a…

Adapting old buildings

Adapting old buildings

The need for fresh air and light in buildings is something I’m often talking and writing about because it’s central to creating a good home, but the theme is nothing new. I was reminded of this when I recently visited the King Edward VII Estate, near Midhurst, West Sussex. Here, the former sanatorium is being…

Building lime knowledge

Building lime knowledge

Lime, in the form of mortars, renders, plasters and paints, is a key component of old buildings and essential to their repair – or at least it should be. Today lime-based materials are also emerging into the mainstream and being used within low carbon construction systems, employed in everything from homes to superstores. All this…

Drain problems

Drain problems

A blocked drain is not a pleasant thing to wake up to. What’s worse is the realisation that it’s something that can generally be avoided by doing what I’m always talking about: maintenance. The drainage system is easily forgotten because much of it is hidden away underground but, as with any element of a building, it…

Building remembrance

Building remembrance

Visiting Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, the poppy installation at the Tower of London, reminded me that the built environment frequently plays an important part in both remembrance and memory. Each of the 888,246 ceramic poppies that flood the moat of the Tower depicts a death in the British forces in the First…

Renovation tale – Part 1

Renovation tale – Part 1

This is the tale of my first major renovation project some years ago… On the table is the surveyor’s report; yellow Post-it notes stick from its pages in such profusion that they no longer have any relevance. Phrases like “needs attention”, “must be thoroughly overhauled” and “a fair amount of dampness” are highlighted by marker… Continue Reading