These are the days of hi-tech everything, from solar-powered satellites to your kitchen faucet. These are also the days of high energy demand and costs, and an age when it has become palpably clear how our energy usage affects our local, national, and global climate. In response there has been a movement among manufacturers to combine hi-tech with eco-friendly, and a big part of that movement is electronic sensors.
Nowadays your fixtures and appliances are smart enough to control themselves. Your house lights are able to recognize when you're home. And your sprinkler system can learn exactly when to kick on the water. Electronic sensors are not only controlling the action and efficiency of many of our home systems, they are also making our busy lives a little easier and keeping our wallets a little heavier.
Following are some of the home systems, from lighting to landscaping, that can benefit from the addition of an electronic sensor:
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Lighting. Home occupancy sensors can save you the trouble of fumbling around in the dark for a light switch as well as save the valuable energy and money involved in leaving a light on when you leave the home. This goes for motion sensor lights on the front porch as well as interior lights in the entryway. Especially popular in bathrooms, electronic motion sensors can be programmed to turn on when they detect movement and turn off after a set time in which no motion is detected.
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Heaters. Electronic thermostats are really catching on, in part because heating and cooling are the number one sappers of energy in the modern home. Electronic or digital thermostats can be programmed to turn off when you are not home (say, 9-5) and can have the home back to a comfortable level upon your arrival. Meanwhile you live with the comfort that your air conditioning wasn't on the whole time you were at work. Most models allow you to set daily and seasonal changes in the system, as well as vacations and other getaways. Programmable thermostats are regarded as one of the best ways to conserve energy in the home; to the point that some utilities are even paying or offering rebates for their installation.
Sprinklers. It happens all the time, a home's sprinkler system (even one on a timer) will kick on in the middle of a thunderstorm, wasting energy and water. We just can't be home all the time to manually control our irrigation systems and maximize water and energy efficiency. Electronic sprinkler sensors can detect changes in humidity, sunlight, and rainfall to shut off or turn on whenever necessary. Photo credit: drcorneilus ...read full post →
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Thinner. Smarter. More Efficient. These are a few adjectives that represent the future of home electronics, and home improvement as well. The undeniable reality is that homeowners do not want to sell (or buy) homes at present. Instead they are opting for upgrades and home improvement projects that serve at least one of two purposes: to increase the value of their home when the market rebounds, and to make living there more comfortable in the meantime.
Electronics -- with their growing intelligence, affordability, and home integration potential -- are expected to make up a sizable portion of home expenditures over the next few years. The Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association (CEDIA) sees several reasons for continued growth of home electronics.
Going Green has become both environmentally and economically contagious. Here in the digital age we use more power-sucking devices than ever; meanwhile energy prices are rising and the environment is struggling. Therefore manufacturers of everything from dishwashers to DVD players are cutting down on size and energy consumption. Homeowners understand that paying a bit more now for a green product will save money over the life of that product; now electronics manufacturers do, too.
The CEDIA report also points to solar photovoltaic (PV) systems as a substantial piece of the electronics pie. The growing affordability of solar electric systems is motivating homeowners to take this green and energy independent route. Not only that, but PV systems greatly increase home value. ...read full post →
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You have a brand new home theater system with high-def sound, the only problem is you want it to be heard and not seen. To fix that dilemma, here are some of the ways to avoid the clutter and cables of a high-def sound system.
Invest in a wireless home theater system. Sony introduced the BRAVIA Theater System in 2008. This home entertainment unit comes with five surround sound speakers and is compatible with Blu-ray disc players and Playstation 3 consoles. The unique sound system provides quality high-def audio, despite being roughly the size of a golf ball. Or you could buy a set of wireless speakers and hook them up to the flat screen. They can be installed up high near the ceiling or left to stand alone.
If the system is already in place and you just want to hide the wiring, flatwire is adhesive tape that sticks to ceilings and walls. This tape is specifically designed to hide speaker wires. It works best to attach the wiring and then paint the tape and wires to match the walls. ...read full post →
Invented in 1831, the doorbell has become a mainstay in the modern home, even rendering the age-old door knocker largely obsolete. Yet despite widespread implementation, the doorbell remains an ironically unsung hero to home alert mechanisms. In fact, most people go years, even decades, without giving their doorbell a second thought.
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While that fact is on one hand a testament to the simplicity and longevity of the wired doorbell, it is also evidence that many homeowners are missing out on the doorbell designs of the 21st Century. I have disconnected, connected, wired, and rewired a few doorbells over the years and can attest to their archaic nature and overall size -- many dwarfing the modern stereo speakers in the next room.
Even if the doorbell is far from a lot of minds, it is a top priority for doorbell designers and manufacturers who are working to reinvent the doorbell for the modern home. Gone is the need for wires -- wireless doorbells use radio waves to send signals to a receiver -- and you can even purchase plug-in models these days.
Regardless of wires or sockets, every doorbell is a system consisting of two pieces: the chime, which mounts somewhere on the interior of the home, and the actual doorbell, which mounts on the exterior at roughly doorknob height. With those two components as a base, today's manufacturers have gone far in re-envisioning the doorbell for the new millennium. Following are 12 examples of how that is being done: ...read full post →
February 24th, 2009 in Electrical
Could you live unplugged?
Do we really need a refrigerator, or is it up there with television sets, ipods, and stereos?
How did our ancestors survive through centuries without that contraption called the fridge? They canned, dried, and pickled. They stored items in the root cellar or in the basement where it’s cooler.
There is a green movement against refrigerators. According to this movement, refrigerators are an unacceptable drain on energy. Supporters are giving up their ice boxes and the lifestyle that goes with them. Most say that once the withdrawal symptoms vanish, they adapt easily to their new fridge-free lifestyle. And they sure don’t miss the constant humming their fridge used to make.
The fridge-free idea has generated interest in Western Europe to the point where scientists at Oxford University in England rejuvenated the “Einstein refrigerator,” a pressurized gas refrigerator that runs without using electricity.
Misconceptions to Going Fridge-Free
A common myth is that refrigerators use up more energy than any other appliance in the home, other than those used for heating and cooling. People are surprised to find that this isn’t the case. Marty O’Gorman, vice president of Frigidaire, said an 18-cubic foot Energy Star-rated Frigidaire refrigerator uses about 380 kilowatt-hours a year, which is less than a standard clothes dryer, and costs a homeowner $40, or about 11 cents per day. He goes on to say that downsizing to a dorm sized fridge – Frigidaire’s smallest minifridge, from a standard model, would result in only about $6 in energy savings over a year.
The founder of Energy Efficiency Experts, Pascale Maslin, said people may focus undue attention on the refrigerator’s energy consumption simply because they often hear, incorrectly, that it uses more energy than any other appliance. This Washington-based company conducts energy audits on homes and other buildings.
...read full post →