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LED Lighting from the UK

We are big proponents of LED lighting, as spot lighting a task area with a low wattage device makes much more sense than filling unused areas with a high wattage bulb. We use LED lights ourselves, and are proud to showcase the following from our friends in the UK. – Steve Spence

AVR Lighting have pioneered traditional track lighting systems by introducing clearly intense, ultra efficient LED track lighting products that connect directly to 240v mains track systems such as global track. By offering an easy to install, long lasting solution we have led the way with a range of low energy track lights that deliver powerful yet defining light output.

Here are the benefits of using commercial grade led track lights such as an AVR LED track light system:

Low energy usage – Up to 80% energy saving compared to traditional track lights. This can be as little as 4.8W for a 50W halogen replacement to just 28.8W for a CDM70 replacement.

Intensely Powerful – Using Cree MCE LED’s has enabled us to deliver outstanding intensity whilst being ultra efficient.

Defining – Proven LEDs like Cree MCE’s offer beautiful defining effect that brings objects to life. There is also a variety of source colour temperatures available. These include warm (3K), soft (3.5K), neutral (4k) & cool (5K). These temperatures can also be split further offering warmer/cooler temperatures if needed.

Thermal – LED’s are much cooler than traditional lighting products therefore offering less heat. It is common myth that LED’s offer no heat. This is not the case as LED’s can get very hot and are very delicate. Therefore there is a need for thermal management systems that take away the heat from the LED’s and direct it to the heat sync (body of the fitting) which is often made from aluminium.

Life Expectancy – Proven LED track lighting systems that use quality LEDs combined with excellent thermal management will last upto 70,000 hours with minimal drop in light quality.

Instant – LED track lighting products offer instant illumination without the need to warm up.

AVR LED track lights are extremely robust as they are manufactured in the heart of the UK at our Leicestershire lighting manufacturing facilities. We design, develop and deliver quality commercial grade track lighting products that last upto 70,000 hours. All our products include a three year warranty. AVR use only the best components such as Cree MCE diodes, Italian optics & AVR thermal heat sinking & drive systems. Even the best components require expertise. AVR has the experience and knowledge to design & assemble revolutionary products that deliver cutting edge performance every time.

AVR are currently looking for trade partners who share our passion and vision of delivering an LED track light to every major store globally. AVR products are already supporting many leading retailers within the UK by delivering diamond standard illumination whilst saving up to 80% in energy savings compared to traditional track lights.

AVR systems are the perfect fit for commercial & industrial applications. Our LED track products are both aesthetically & visually pleasing to the eye, which offers a refreshing outlook. AVR lights are contemporary in design, bringing us to forefront not just in technical ability but in how the physical product is perceived.

AVR have started a revolution and will now be pushing to introduce many innovative LED products over the course of 2010/2011.

For more information feel free to visit our led track lights lighting page.


Solar Trackers

tracker1The sun is at it’s highest intensity at solar noon, and we want our panels aimed directly at the sun at that time, which is called solar south (not magnetic south). We give tips on finding this at Now, there is sun earlier and later in the day, but it’s at a lower intensity. In many applications, it’s not worth the expense to tip the panels to get this lower intensity sun, even though it could boost your collection by 20% or more. In most cases, it’s less expensive to get another panel or two. Tracking systems can run $2000 or more, when that same money could buy 400 watts of solar, or more. Home made DIY trackers have been experimented with over the years. Duane Johnson at has a LED based system for keeping the array pointed at the sun. We found a very interesting method of a single axis tracker using a antenna rotor and a timer at This one has merit, as it’s inexpensive, and simple to build.


Standing Seam Metal Roof with Solar Panels

A metal roof with built-in solar panels is the most energy efficient and longest lasting solar roofing solution. A metal roof will usually last in excess of 50 years, and solar PV panels usually last 30+ years with minimal loss of efficiency or or electric power production. The combination of the two creates a one-time green roofing investment that will pay for itself over time, and then it will produce free electricity. Such a smart combination eliminates the chance of roof leaks, since there are no roof penetrations, and gives a homeowner piece of mind and confidence in their green metal roof.

Why go with a metal roof, instead of asphalt shingles:

Why would you want to install PV solar panels with a metal roof, instead of installing it on the existing asphalt shingle roof? The answer is very simple; asphalt shingles last an average of 15 years, while your solar panels should last at least 30 years. That means that even if you install your solar panels over a brand new asphalt shingles roof, you will have to remove the whole solar system in 15 years, replace the roof, and then put the solar panels back onto the roof. With the installation costs of a solar PV system being about $2 per watt, and an average solar system size of 3 KW, you will have to pay an extra $6000 (in today’s dollars, before any inflation is calculated) to reinstall your solar panels, and another $1500-2000 to
remove the panels, so that the roof can be replaced. With today’s average solar system price of $9-11 including solar panels, inverter, all wiring, rack-mounting system, permits, installation, etc.), the removal and re-installation price amounts to about 25% of the total solar system cost.

A properly installed standing seam metal roof will easily outlast any asphalt shingles roof by 3 time or more, and it will also outlast a warranty period on any solar panels. When your solar panels get old, and start producing less electricity than what they were designed for, you will have an option to either keep the old solar panels or install the new ones (as a side-note – average efficiency loss of a solar panel is 0.5% per year or 10% over a 20 year warranty period). All your infrastructure will already be in place, and you can simply swap the old solar panels for the new ones. You may also have to swap the charge controller / inverter. In 20 or 30 years, as technology progresses, the efficiency of solar panels and inverters will be much higher, and the cost per watt will be considerably lower. At the same time you will still have your metal roof, performing at 100% efficiency – being leak free and beautiful, that is.

Installing solar panels on a standing seam metal roof

Solar panels can be attached to a standing seam metal roof in two different ways. One is to use a thin film Solar PV panel laminated inside the pan of a standing seam metal roof – a so called solar metal roofing concept, when solar panels are integrated with the roofing material. The limitations of solar metal roofing include lower efficiency (per sq. foot or sq. meter) of the solar PV laminates. Therefore you would need double the roof area to get the same number of kW of a solar system. Also the size limitation of each solar PV laminate (18 feet long panels) make it impossible to install them on roofs with a roof run of less than 18.5 feet.

A better way to install solar panels onto a metal roof is to use S-5 clips or mounting brackets, specially designed to add adequate strength and support of rack-mounting systems installed on standing seam metal roofs. S-5 clops are made of cast aluminum blocks, with stainless steel tightening screws. S-5 clips are attached to the ribs or locks of a standing seam panel, and provide great pullout ratio, meeting and exceeding Miami-Dade county building code requirements for wind uplift.

Image of Solar Metal Roofing s-5 clamp

S-5 Solar Panel mounting clamps allow for a quick and inexpensive installation of the solar rack-mounting system. Solar panels can be attached directly to the clamps, or to horizontal / vertical rails. The overall cost of such solar racking system is reduced from about $1 per watt, to about 50 cents per watt, or less. Also, you do not have to worry about any roof leaks, as there are no roof penetrations, and all mounting hardware is attached to the ribs of the metal roof panels.

You can also get a double tax credit for your solar roofing installation – Your first tax credit would be a 30% tax credit for solar panels, and and another one – up to $1500 cool roof tax credit. An average cost of metal roofing materials will exceed $5000 per roof, so you will be able to get a full 30% cool roof tax credit. With today’s metal roofing prices for steel standing seam ranging from $15000-20000, a $1500 tax credit will save you about 7-10% off your lifetime metal roof.


Best Clothes Drying Rack?

Part 3 of our non-electric laundry series.

A friend of ours has one of these Clothes Drying Racks, and swears by it. I believe it’s a good addition to our non electric laundry series. Check it out and tell us what you think:


Senate Bill 150., Safe Food?

This is very very very very important, even if you do not live on a farm or even raise a tomato plant.

Please write your senator and tell them to PLEASE not pass this bill.
Posted above is the text to Senate Bill 150.

My canary in a coal mine is to oppose anything that Monsanto and Cargill are for.. as they are usually always 99.99999% FOR anything that I am AGAINST. Monsanto guys are the one who wrote the law and then got a senator to sponsor it.

British Columbia did something like this a few years ago due to one of the ‘congress people’ lost her child due to some kind of tainted (STOREBOUGHT PROCESSED) food. What it did was kill farmgate sales (although we just did it where we were anyway) and after a few years, they revoked alot of the legislature on it. It also helped put many farms, CSA’s and ranchers out of business.

The new section 418 Hazard Analysis and Risk-based Preventive Controls applies a requirement to all businesses required to register under the 2002 Bioterrorism Act. This will ensure that farmers markets are endangered. This also puts CSA (community supported agriculture) in danger.

Interstingly, there is no reference to GMO Foods in this legislation. “Food safety” as referenced in S. 510 is concerned with controlling foodborne pathogens. The bill states food producers will have to register with the FDA, pay a $500.00 fee, submit to on-site inspections, and implement a complex “Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) System. What’s the cut-off point? Is it acreage? Yield? Average income per acre of the previous year? Is it determined by crop? This sounds an awful lot like NAIS (The brainchild of Monsanto and crew regardling livestock) which is also not dead and just currently under the radar. Here is my rant about that:

This bill also goes further than just an apple out of hand. Us seed producers, especially seed exchanges and organizations that seek to preserve heirloom seeds will be affected. Did you know that the USA government imposed that Iraq farmers can no longer save seed? At all. This will kill Seedy Saturdays and also put small vegetable seed growers and maybe even larger ones out of business.

Sen. Richard Durbin [D-IL] is the one who sponsored this bill and these are the newest amendments.

In short.. this bill:

* It would remove the right to clean, store and thus own seed in the US, putting control of seeds in the hands of Monsanto and other multinationals, threatening not just US security, but we are working our way to famine.

* Includes NAIS (see above), an animal traceability program that threatens all small farmers and ranchers raising animals. The UN is participating through the WHO, FAO, WTO, and World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) in allowing mass slaughter of even heritage breeds of animals and without proof of disease.
Biodiversity in farm animals is being wiped out to substitute genetically modified animals on which corporations hold patents.

* Threatens all safe and organic food and health itself, while mandating GM food, GM animals, pesticides, hormones, irradiation of food, etc.

* It extends the policy Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points (HACCP) – to all food, thus threatening to do to all local food production and farming what HACCP did to meat production put it in corporate hands and probably worsen food safety.
This bill S. 150 is very much like the C-6 bill in Canada. Bill C6 allows inspectors to enter and cross private property without a warrant, and it releases them from liability for damages they may cause. Bill C6 has a schedule of listed products that can be added to by the minister without going to parliament for approval. This could be used to restrict the health freedoms of Canadians by limiting access to health supplements and organic products. I am not sure how it stands currently, but I do watch the bills on each side of the border pertaining to agriculture.

Basically the plan is that they are voting in the bill and ‘addressing all the details later”.

Here is how to contact your senator.

In the last year ONLY 6,000 people died from ANY food related issues and the majority of that was processed foods, whereas 100,000 ppl died from drugs which were OK’s by the FDA in the same amount of time.



Changing Water Usage Habits

TEAGUE Give Water from TEAGUE on Vimeo.

For more info on building this tracker, see


Grinding grain, and non electric clothes dryer

UPS arrived today with two packages (an ordeal in itself as our “address” doesn’t appear on their records). One is a new hand cranked grain mill from Lehman’s, the other two new drying racks from Best Drying Rack. I will be doing a video on both this weekend. A new podcast will be posted as well.


Rainy Days at Green-Trust

Fortunately we are getting rain today. I say fortunately, becuase it means our existing well is getting recharged. It does mean we are taking a break from drilling the new well. We have been running into issues as our sandy soil is filled with glacial till, which causes the drill to move back and forth as it hits these small round rocks, and we end up with a uneven drill hole. Solid rock would be easier to drill through.

I did get the new Outback MX-60 MPPT Charge Controller installed this morning, as well as 550 watts of PV, connected serialy for a 100vdc input. The MPPT controller matches this to our 12vdc battery bank.

The MX60 also features Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT), which seeks out the maximum power available from a solar array and uses it to recharge the batteries. Without this feature, the solar array does not operate at the ideal operating voltage and can only recharge at the level of the battery voltage itself. The MX60 “sweeps” the array’s operating voltage at user-determined sweep intervals to track the Maximum Power Point (MPP) of the PV array.

I also set up two web based ip camera systems for a friend to keep track of deer and security at his camp in the woods while in Florida for the winter.

The rest of the day is dedicated to lectures and assignments in my online Bachelors (Network Management) program from Westwood College.


Calculating fuel consumption

Calculating fuel consumption on a diesel is a bit more difficult than on a gas engine, as a diesel pumps more fuel than it needs, and it returns the excess to the tank. One solution is a Floscan Meter. This unit has two sensors, one in the feed, and one in the return, and does a comparison of the two for readout on the gauge.

We hope to obtain one of these units for the VeggieGen so that we can start tracking fuel consumption for various electrical loads.

The other part to this process would be tracking the electrical loads. This requires a 3 phase power monitor to track voltage and amps for each leg of the load. One very nice unit is the Shark 100 Series Power and Energy Meter. It can be used to monitor Volts, Amps, Watts, Watt-Hours, Power Factor and more.

Ideally we would like to monitor both the fuel and the electrical sensors by computer, and output a nice graph on our webste.


Performance tracking of alternative fuels

The folks at Brevard BioDiesel installed a Linear-Logic “ScanGauge” in their 2004 TDI Jetta to try and help gather additional mileage data for future biodiesel reports.

The ScanGauge scans the built-in car computer to gather and report various engine and fuel data, along with a trip computer function.

The following readouts seemed to function with the Jetta TDI engine: Fuel Economy (MPG), Fuel Rate (GPH), Battery Voltage (Volts), Water/Coolant Temp (degrees), Intake Air Temp (degrees), Engine Speed (RPM), Manifold Pressure (PSI), Engine Load (%), Throttle Position (%). The following readouts were not supported on the 2004 TDI: Ignition Timing, Open/Closed Loop, Fuel Pressure.

Read more at Brevard Biodiesel’s website.

The ScanGauge is compatible with most OBD2 equipped gasoline and diesel vehicles using a variety of fuels.

Hi Steve,

I have been using a ScanGauge for several months. Many of us that report in at own ScanGauges or Vag-coms. It has performed well. I talked with the guy that runs the business– seems very helpful, willing to keep his customers updated as the product improves.

The ScanGauge can be useful in understanding how driving habits affect mileage, or comparing car modifications, like opening a car window for example.

The MPG readout is really a nice feature, and works well at ordinary conditions. I find the best way to understand the mpg output is to put the readout on trip/summary. Then, reset when you start looking at a new situation. The gauge averages the mpgs from that point until you hit the reset button again. When the true mileage gets over about 70 mpg, the ScanGauge isn’t able to get a reliable reading, it reads too high. I think that’s not a fault of the ScanGauge, just hard to get reliable readings from the OBD port. Also, you need to calibrate carefully for your usual driving conditions. If you make a big change in speed or change to city driving, the calibration needs to be adjusted.

I have run numerous tests in which I compare fuel economy under controlled conditions. A ten-minute average reading (ScanGauge set at Trip /Current) gives reliable MPG numbers if you are sure there is no grade or wind. Otherwise, make two measurements in opposite directions. Frankly, I think there is always enough grade and wind, so make two measurements.


1. Measured effects of tire pressure changes
2. Open windows versus closed
3. AC on versus off

You can find reports of this stuff at

Ernie Rogers

VW Beetle wins fuel economy prize: 76 mpg