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Total Retrofit? Probably Not. Single Room Automation? Now We’re Talkin’!

February 23, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Category: Lighting

A complete retrofit of an existing home to incorporate smart technologies for energy management and home automation can sometimes be overwhelming to Bay Area homeowners, both in terms of cost and complexity. Because the energy and time savings from utilizing such systems can be significant, it is worth looking at lower cost solutions.

One option is to use single room automation. Unlike systems that are installed throughout a home using structured wiring and data cables, single room systems can often be installed into existing Bay Area homes without tearing out walls to run additional wiring. While they are sometimes limited in functionality, many of these systems can be expanded later.

An example of an effective single room automation solution is lighting control. Many lighting control systems offer automatic timing devices to adjust lighting based on user settings. Some of the more modern systems, however, are more automated and use sensor inputs to control lighting in a single room.

Room lighting comes in two forms – natural light and artificial light. Natural light “harvesting” is a term used to describe the use of daylight to augment artificial room lighting during daytime hours. Some companies, like Lutron, now make small systems that combine dimmer switches with automatic window shades. Other companies, like HAI, make systems that are modular and can start in one room and expand to additional rooms.

These systems can be combined with sensor technologies to increase flexibility. Daylight sensors can be used to determine light levels and automatically lower the level of artificial lighting in the room by adjusting the dimmer switchers. This system also works with a motion sensor to determine the presence or absence of people in the room, and can raise or lower light levels accordingly. The new dimmer switches are compatible with dimmable LED or fluorescent lighting.

Single room solutions make sense in a number of cases: for small, open concept Bay Area homes where one large central area is the location of the majority of activity in the home; classrooms, studios, or exhibit rooms with high levels of natural light; and, larger, older homes that may be inherently energy inefficient, but are difficult to automate with a whole-house system. The bottom line is that with new products on the market, there is a solution that can increase energy efficiency in lighting in a convenient, automated way, even for those on a tight budget. Discuss some of these options with your Bay Area electrician, who can help you determine if these technologies are within the realm of possibility for your home.

Can’t Find Just the Right Lamp? Make Your Own!

January 24, 2012 at 9:42 pm | Category: Lighting

If you can’t find just the right lamp to suit you or add interest to your Bay Area home, consider making one. You can use almost anything for the base-a stack of old books, old crockery, a bottle, an old bobbin, even a stack of baseballs. The only criterion is that you have to be able to drill a hole through it. Here’s how to do it:

Materials and Tools:

decorative object to be used as the base
drill with a 3/8-inch bit
block of wood (stained and finished to desired color)
four wooden button caps for lamp base
wood glue
threaded lamp rod with nut and bolt
lamp kit, including lamp cord, socket and harp
hacksaw
screwdriver
file
utility knife or wire strippers
lampshade

Steps:

1. Drill a hole through the center of the item you’re using as a base. It may be necessary to mount the item on a block of wood to create a sturdy base, in which case you’ll need to drill a hole in the block of wood as well.

2. Stain or paint the wooden button caps to match your base. Glue the button caps to the bottom of the base. This will raise the base and allow a lamp cord to pass under it.

3. Using a hacksaw, cut the lamp rod to the desired length and file off any rough edges. Thread the lamp rod through the bottom of the decorative object and wooden base. Use a washer and nut to secure the rod from the underside of the base.

4. To make the lamp cord easier to thread through the rod, place masking tape around the end or the cord. Then thread the lamp cord through the lamp rod from the bottom of the base until you have about 5 inches of cord sticking out of the top of the rod.

5. Thread the socket components onto the lamp cord in this order: the lock nut, the neck, the harp holder and the socket cap. Be sure to screw the socket cap onto the rod securely; this is what holds all the other parts in place.

6. Pull about 2 inches’ worth of the lamp-cord wire apart. Use a utility knife or wire strippers to strip off ½-inch of insulation from each wire, being careful not to cut the wire.

7. To prevent the wires from being pulled back through the lamp rod, tie an underwriter’s knot by making a loop with each end of the wire. Hold the end of one loop in front of the joined cord and the other loop behind the joined cord. Pass each end through the loop formed by the opposite wire and tighten the knot. To be sure the knot is secure, pull on the plug end of the lamp cord.

8. Attach the wires to the socket. To make sure there are no frayed ends, twist the strands of the exposed wire in a clockwise direction. The neutral wire, which is usually ribbed, is connected to the silver terminal. The hot wire is connected to the brass terminal. Bend the wire around the screw in the same direction that the screw will be turned and tighten.

9. Tuck the wires down and fit the socket cap in place. When the socket cap clicks, you’ll know the connection is secure.

10. Add the harp and a lampshade.

Now you have a lamp for your Bay Area home!  Remember, for more involved electrical wiring or lighting solutions, you should always call your Bay Area electrician.

Article Source:  http://www.hgtv.com/decorating/homemade-lamp/index.html

If you are looking for professional lighting instillation in the San Francisco area, then please call us today at 800-944-2252 or complete our online request form.

If you are looking for a professional electrician in the San Francisco area, then please call us today at 800-944-2252 or complete our online request form.