Sunday, July 22, 2012

Converting from Halogen to LED landscape lighting

I was doing some calculations and discovered that my two banks of halogen landscape lighting was over 300 watts.  They average about 7 hours an evening (6 hours in the Summer and 8 hours in the Winter), so at 12c a kilowatt hour, that is over $90 a year in electricity just to power my outdoor lighting.

I have a total of fifteen 20watt halogen bulbs, and prices are just now getting to the point that LED is becoming viable.  Lowe's has replacement LED MR16 bulbs for about $20 and that is just still too high for a decent payback interval.

Doing some research on Amazon, I found some 3 watt MR16 LED lighting for $3.55 each.  Not bad, since the halogen bulbs retail for over $7 at Lowe's.  A quick calculation showed a payback time in under four months, which not only includes savings on electricity, but reduced replacement costs from halogens that don't last as long as LED.  The halogens seem to last a couple years or more, but the LEDs may last for 10+ (only time will tell on that one.)

You can do your own ROI (return on investment) calculations at this website

So I ordered up the replacements, and installed them today.  Swapping them out only takes about sixty seconds each to remove the glass cover, remove the halogen, slip in the LED into the bayonet fitting, and replace the glass covers.  Couldn't be easier, and the savings will be $180 a year in total savings on electricity and replacement costs.  Or, as the federal government would say to drive home the point: "$1800 in savings over the next ten years."

The LED is on the left, and the old halogen bulb on the right.

Drilling holes in granite... easy!

I needed a 2" hole in the back of our kitchen office area where the computer lives... Problem is, it's a jumble of wires, power cords,  USB cables, power-strips, LAN cables, DSL modem and Wi-fi router.  A real-eye sore.
So the wife wants me to fix it.  Solution?  Get the gear below the desk-top, and run the few cords through a 2" hole to below.  Second problem:  How to get the hole drilled.  Hire a Pro?  $100.  On second thought, maybe run through the wall?  The backsplash is slate tiles.  So back to drilling a hole.
I go to YouTube and lots of videos on how to do it.  Just buy the right diamond-encrusted hole saw and use lots of water while going REALLY slow.

I bought this 2" (50mm) hole saw off of Amazon (CLICK HERE) for just a few dollars, and it came in a week or so, wrapped in a nice re-usable ziploc sealed bag to protect the diamond dust cutting edge.

I read that one can make a small encircling rim to hold water around the targeted hole using plumber's putty... worked like a charm.

The trick is to mark the area with a grease pencil or small dab of white paint to show you where to start.  You begin by tipping the bit and starting just a small edge to get a bite, and as it starts to dig in, you slowly tip the hole drill to vertical to start the downward plunge.  The tip-start ensures the bit doesn't walk around, causing all kinds of mayhem and unwanted gouges and scratches.

It took about 20 minutes to slowly go through the 1" granite, with frequent stopping to cool my cordless drill.  The bit actually stayed cool to the touch with the little pond of water it was dipped in to drill.

Since the bit is only about an inch deep, it didn't make it through before bottoming out.  No worries, as I knew I was maybe 1 or 2mm from completely the hole.  I mopped up the residual water and just gave the center of the hole a moderate tap with a large hammer and just knocked the core out the bottom.  Cracked out pretty cleanly with maybe just a small lip...but that's on the bottom of the desk and won't be seen.

The finished product is fantastic, and after a quick clean up of the granite slurry and overspray, I was finished.

The shelf below the desk was made from 3/4" birch plywood, and stained, and installed using countersunk drywall screws (short).  The shelf is 10" deep and 24" wide, and dropped 8" from the bottom of the sliding desk drawer.

Super easy, after all, and not out of the realm of any DIY'er.  Good luck!


Sunday, July 1, 2012

GE Profile Artica refrigerator ice dispenser freezes

The problem is the flapper door does not close, allowing moist air in and slowly freezes shut.  Needs a new solenoid:

Will have to order one of these to see if this fix works!

EDIT: Oct 2012:  I actually just disassmbled the entire ice chute from the inside of the freezer door.  Just a couple screws and some plastic tab catches.  There was a TON of ice under the area, and I was able to remove the ice block en masse , reassemble, and all is working great without a new mechanism.  Sweet DIY!

LED landscape lights... $$$ saver!

Replacing all my 20watt halogen landscape bulbs with 3 watt LED versions. 48 watts total vs. 320 watts. Should save me $2200+ over the next 20 years in electricity and halogen replacement bulb costs. Cha-ching!  I've been waiting for the prices to come down from $20+., and now they are down to $3 - $5 online, with good reviews. Worth the wait. The online cost saving calcluator is here:

Here's an online LED bulbs savings you can see the payback time for replacing your incandescent or halogen bulbs with LED's...