John Bullock Lighting Design
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LEDs - now this is getting interesting: the sequel!


I started to hear a few murmurs about how electricity meters might work, and whether they really measure the current that results from equipment having a low power factor - and so recording higher energy consumption. Yesterday, I finally gathered myself together and spoke to someone who Knows About This Stuff - thank you David at Rayleigh Instruments in Essex.

It turns out that the typical electricity meter measures kWh - that's Watts as in the useful energy that makes things work; but they don't measure the baggage that comes along with some electrical components, so end users are NOT penalised for using LEDs with a low power factor.

Who pays? After all, a 5W LED with a 0.5 PF still 'consumes' 10W of energy. The answer is, of course, that we all pay. That 'shadow' cost of 5W losses is borne by the system as a whole and the utility companies spread that cost around to all of us through tariff structures.

On the one hand, we have LED users wiping their brows and saying 'phew - we got away with that one' while energy losses are carried system-wide. Maybe it doesn't matter so much at the moment, but there are LED manufacturers out there who reckon that LEDs will become the sole provider of illumination in years to come, so maybe this is an issue we could resolve now, while the techology is still in development.

Oh: another by-the-way: this ain't just LEDs. This applies to compact fluorescent lamps as well.

It really is time that the lighting industry be 'encouraged' to bring to market only those products with a Power Factor of 0.9.  That would be a Good Thing.


RIBA CPD in 2015

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