Thoughts from LightFair 2011 - pt. 1

I just got back from LightFair 2011 in Philadelphia and it was pretty eye-opening (yes, that's my attempt at a bad pun).  The event consisted of a massive exhibition hall, key note speakers, and many different classes.  I learned a ton, but below are some of the take aways that readers of Mapawatt Blog may be interested in.

Lighting Science and Android@Home

The Lighting Science exhibit definitely won for best outfits (beach style button-ups) but I was there to see their display of Android@Home.  From this article on Google's plans to bring Android everywhere:

The company teamed up with LED company Lighting Science Group to develop an open source wireless protocol that can be used to roll out inexpensive hardware for mesh networking.

Lighting Science wants to bring the first networking-enabled LED light bulbs to the market by the end of the year, and consumers will be able to control these LEDs with their Android devices, thanks to a hub that helps to interconnect Wi-Fi devices with the new networking protocol.

And as the article points out, it isn't exactly a new idea to control your home from a smart device; in fact, I wrote about it in our post Control your lights with the iPhone (which mentions the Z-Wave protocol). But what will make the Android solution unique is that it will be fully open to developers creating apps to help homeowners use android connected devices in their home.  Just imagine if it had the impact on home energy conservation that the iPod had on listening to music.

And once Google ties in its efforts in home energy conservation (like with the PowerMeter) with the ability to control appliances (with Android@Home), we may be seeing a fundamental shift in how people use and control energy at home!

Honeywell Wind Turbine and Earthtronics

It has been almost 2 years since I first wrote about the Honeywell Wind Turbine, but I finally got to see it in person.  It was released for sale last month.  While I knew it was six feet in diameter, I was still surprised by its size.  There is a lot of talk about how this turbine can start generating power in speeds lower than what other turbines can, and it's true, but the power is a very tiny amount.  This article that appeared on Jetson Green has some good comments addressing that fact.  I think it's a cool product, but I need to do more analysis on the power production figures to see if it makes sense for homeowners to consider a wind turbine, or if solar is still the better option.

I took the photo below of the turbine with a man standing next to it to give you an idea of scale.  The man was about 6'4" and the turbine was standing on a platform that may have been a foot high.  They had a fan blowing on it to show it turning:

Lutron Solar Shades

Lutron had a nice lighting exhibit, but what I thought was really cool was their Hyperion solar shades that can automatically adjust themselves.  You can check out the Mapawatt post on Solar Shades here. From the Lutron website:

Hyperion is an automated shading system that adjusts Sivoia® QS shades throughout the day based on the sun’s position. The shades reduce glare and solar heat gain in the space, creating a comfortable and productive work or learning environment. Hyperion maximizes the amount of available daylight entering a space, enhancing the energy saving potential of daylight harvesting lighting systems, and can also reduce energy costs associated with HVAC systems.

The information they had in their exhibit said the solar shades could reduce the cooling load by 10-30% in an office space!

More product information and my final thoughts in part 2!


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I have been pretty interested in wind power for a year or so and the Honeywell unit has some very compelling features. But it is EXPENSIVE (around $6500 not including installation), so even after incentives it will be costly. Your site will need an AVERAGE of at LEAST 12MPH wind to make this unit come close to a realistic return on investment. What this means in the real world is that you need to live somewhere where the wind is usually blowing hard enough to be annoying almost all the time! That eliminates most urban/suburban homes right off the bat. Then it needs to be at least 30ft ABOVE the nearest obstructions withing 200ft. to get good wind. This is just conventional wind wisdom, poor siting will put the turbine in turbulent wind that reduces efficiency. So the hype that it will perform well on a rooftop is a gross exaggeration. I put up a weather station 10ft above my roof and studied my wind resource for a year and found my average wind to be around 5MPG - not good enough! So it's a better investment for me to add more solar panels to my array at $800-$1000 per panel - including micro-inverter. Caveat emptor!
ckmapawatt's picture
Amen Guy! I just don't think these things will be practical for most residential applications.
I was disapointed myself with alot of it: I was un impressed with the Chinese offerings, I saw plenty of snow cone styled A lamps, and LED par lamps with designs and materials from 5 years ago. HeliPad lighting?, plastic lamp changers?, very little OLEDs products. Alot of the products lacked when really vigorously/ carefully evaluated- and people manning the boothes who couldn't speak to queries about drive current or chips used - it made me think alot of the exhibitors were borderline concerns, many won't be around in 4 yrs/an equal number were not germaine to me - induction lighting, LED tape or Tubes etc. I don't know if you were looking for opinions on the seminars but the 2 I went to were not a good value for the cost. I did like the Philips and Traxxon exhibits and I really liked Philly as a location. - But it lacked industry leader attendance I was hoping for- and I was disapointed by the unwillingness of attendees to put down their smart phones and speak face to face to colleagues and counterparts!
ckmapawatt's picture
Dennis, I think those are all excellent observations.

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