Archive for the ‘Tree Hugging’ Category

Philips Hue vs Philips Wake Up Light

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

Philips leads many areas of lighting, and I appreciate a business that knows to specialise and do well in their chosen area.

I have been using a Philips 3520 Wake Up Light for over a year now. I find it very gently wakes me up, especially in winter, and suits my rhythms well. I hate sudden loud alarm clocks and this solves that problem well.

I recently bought a clever Philips Hue kit to play with and compare.

Both are high efficiency LED based units with some clever tricks. This should give you some comparison information.

Philips3520 vs Hue

Dorcy LED Torch

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

Cheapest LED Bulb

Here’s a great hack. KMart is selling these torches for about $3.50 with batteries. The LED in this is fitted to a normal sized bulb fitting, meaning it can be taken out and put directly into any 2 Cell torch, AA, C or D.


It’s a very bright 10mm LED in a normal bulb fitting. No regulator circuitry.

This has to be the cheapest source of LED drop in bulbs for torches I have found. Or you could just use the torch.

Man Made Climate Change Resources

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010



Good Science

Help making choices

TED – Al Gore

Good Reading


iPhone App –


Greenpower – what exactly am I paying for?

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

It may appear obvious what you receive for your Greenpower dollar, but I quickly found it wasn’t. I buy Greenpower and recommend it, but I now have a much better understanding of what I am getting for my money.

I buy my Greenpower from Origin Energy as 100% Wind in Queensland Australia. I do this so that the electricity I use comes from a renewable carbon neutral source. The thought that occurs to me is to ask where this “green” power is sourced from and  how that relates to the photovoltaic (PV) panels on my roof.

Combining Vista Media Centre & a Virtual Windows Home Server

Thursday, December 4th, 2008

The time came to decommission the Home Server once I realised how much power it was pulling. My power meter debacle had concealed the 24/7 150w consumption, chewing into my solar feed in tariff at 44c in the daytime and my green power rate at 21c at night. This was costing me about $400/yr in power bills – it had to go.

I have toyed with various options, but the most obvious was using the other machine that was on 24/7 – the Vista Media Centre.

WD External USB HDD’s do Spin Down

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

I’ve been trying to reduce the power of my Home Server and Media Centre. Since my Power Meter debacle, I am now re-testing all the equipment and getting some rude shocks.

One of the positives out of this is that my 1TB Western Digital  My Book Essential and 300GB Western Digital My Passport Essential both spin down and save power. On USB, this is a nice feature, as many of the generic external cages don’t spin the drive down.

The WD’s spin down on XP, Vista and Windows Home Server which is based on Server 2003. The timeout appears to be independent of the OS settings.

Lies, Damn Lies and Cheap Power Meters

Monday, October 6th, 2008

PA050027I have had and used an Electus power meter for about 12mths since they became available in Australia. I figured it was just like the American Kill-a-watt. Diligently collecting and comparing devices to see what they used and how much I was wasting with standby power. Dan did an early review on DansData.

ATA reported some accuracy concerns early on, and stopped selling them. The indication was this was only minor, and at low power settings.

I recently purchased the newer Solarinverters (SI) replacement from ATA and found some VERY large discrepancies between what I had seen before. Unsure as to which one to trust, I fired up the clamp meter to validate the results. The results shocked me.

My digital home just isn’t quite there yet

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

I’ve been trying to have the whole digital home experience for a while now. I’ve reviewed Vista Media Centre, Home Server, Wireless N before, the experiences there are documented.

The impossible dream I am thinking of consists of seamless integration between:

  • Home Server
  • Media Centre
  • Extenders
  • Game Consoles
  • Digital Picture Frames
  • Media Players
  • Wireless
  • Broadband
  • VOIP vs VOIP vs VOIP
  • Desktop PC’s
  • Cloud Services
    • So lets look at the current state of play for these things.

    Brisbane Translink Go Card Charges in Pounds Sterling

    Friday, August 8th, 2008

    Sheesh – at the exchange rate – no wonder public transport is expensive! Pounds Sterling – what next – Euro’s?



    This is of course on top of what would have to the  slowest proximity readers on the planet, displays that are impossible to read, an arcane array of “beep” codes, and an “Auto Top Up” function – that doesn’t.

    Great system guys, matches your train network perfectly.

    My Cheapo Greywater Irrigation System

    Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

    Like many people concerned with water use and reducing the impact of my excessive capitalist wasteful bourgeois lifestyle I decided to put my greywater to better use. It’s easier than putting my greymatter to better use, and arguably a more valuable resource.

    Water Spike

    I had a few ideas I wanted to stick to, as well as keeping it within reason from council approval. You’ll have to read up on your own council approvals for greywater. I’m basing mine on the “I won’t tell them and they won’t care” legal principle.

    The main principles I wanted were

    Al Gore’s Latest Vid – his commitment is amazing.

    Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

    TED Talks Al Gore- New thinking on the climate crisis (video)

    I thought it was brilliant, and this inspires me to make better choices.

    T-Amp and Paradigm Atom Review

    Monday, June 16th, 2008

    I like music in my house and have a mild audiophile fetish, not as bad as some, but enough. I wanted a nice system for the main living room that would be used for background music, the loud stuff being out on the deck, or in the home theatre room. Despite being quiet, it still had to be “nice”.

    It also needed to be small an un-intrusive, and fit on some small bookshelves. This ruled out most amplifiers, as they just don’t come in small sizes.

    Every Light an Energy Saver

    Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

    I have recently renovated my Brisbane house and being an eco-geek took the opportunity to make my lighting as energy efficient as I could afford and live with. Here is what I found and some tips if you are looking at the same thing.

    A graduated scale for efficiency is here but this is heavily effected by cycle period and the fixture. You generally need more downlights than open bulbs. Some colours are more or less efficient. Frosted covers impact brightness.

    I have avoided conventional dimmers as although they are very efficient in themselves, they make a halogen or conventional light bulb even more inefficient than normal. 50% brightness still uses 80% power due to the way filament bulbs work. They also don’t work with most fluorescent lighting.

    I mostly stuck with Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL’s) and conventional Round Flouros.

    DIY Solar Hot Water

    Thursday, April 10th, 2008

     Vacuum Panel 

    I’m a bit of an eco-geek, and trying to green up my lifestyle. I figured solar hot water was one of the best places to start, and this is the story of the journey so far. I now have a running system that generally works very well and I am happy with. I wasn’t an easy road however and hopefully others can learn from my mistakes.

    There are several rebates available from both the Federal and some State governments (not Queensland). You can also sell the REC’s from certified systems. The Federal Gov rebate is currently for $1000.
    A DIY system will get none of the above.

    Smashed Solar Collectors

    Saturday, October 27th, 2007

    PA100046I ordered a vacuum tube based solar hot water collector from a company in Sydney for freight to Brisbane. I used Smartsend to get it here as they specialize in eBay type stuff, and this was an eBay type thing. Allied Pickfords delivered the tinkling box of broken glass apologetically to my door.

    The pictures below tell the story of how well couriers treat products labeled in 10 places “Glass, Fragile, This Way Up”

    Of the 15 tubes, 5 made it intact.

    Dumb SmartUPS inefficiency

    Wednesday, October 24th, 2007


    I used to love the APC Smart UPS range. Fully line interactive, they’ll work of nearly any input power and give perfect output power. They don’t cut to batteries unless there is basically no input whatsoever, so brownouts or out of frequency gensets don’t bother them in the least, or even flatten the batteries. Just what you need living on a minesite, or somewhere the power is often dodgy. I still like them for server rooms, very flexible solution, but not for home.

    I recently bought a power meter and the results were not good…..

    264W – UPS running 2 PC’s, a laptop and a few other bits.

    Bicycle Energy Efficiency vs Car

    Saturday, August 4th, 2007

    I’ve wondered about this for years. I know bicycles are fairly efficient, but I wasn’t sure how efficient the human engine was. This takes all that into account.

    It’s never a fair comparison, as much has to do with trip distance, speed, convenience etc. but it’s a fairly thorough review.

    Summary below.

    Using a bicycle, one can travel about 25 times as far on a Calorie of food than on a Calorie of gasoline (by automobile). Unfortunately, it took perhaps 15 Calories of fuel to create that Calorie of food, so the bicycle is only about 5/3 as energy-efficient per person-mile of travel if one doesn’t count the energy cost of the extra time it takes to travel by bicycle.

    Electric vs Pedal Bicycle Efficiency

    Saturday, August 4th, 2007

    It depends on where your food comes from that makes the difference here.

    Remix and Return – Nuclear Waste is no big worry

    Wednesday, August 1st, 2007

    Nuclear waste is EASY to deal with, just put it back in the hole you dug it out of!

    I’m not your normal tree hugging greenie. I think that humans are here to stay and we need to figure smart ways of living within the environment. The means we use things from it, and eat the things around us, even the cute furry things. BUT, we need to do this sustainability, so our kids can eat the cute furry things too.

    Review – Crompton CF Downlights

    Monday, June 4th, 2007


     The website is here

    These things are excellent. 15W each. AU$40 for a pack of 4 from Lighting Illusions.

    They are a reflective compact fluorescent downlight. The glass cover keeps the bugs out from between the tube elements as a bonus.

    Startup is electronic and nearly instant. Warm up time is minimal, about the same as your eyes.  

    The bulbs are 5000K colour – Daylight. It is a very white light, makes the 50W halogen downlights look dull yellow in comparison. They look far whiter than the 3800K Warm White reflective downlight I tried.