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A front view of the recalled night light.

LED Night Lights Recalled Due to Fire Hazards

American Tack & Hardware Co. (AmerTac) recently announced the recall of around 227,000 LED Night Lights due to a fire and burn hazard. An electrical short circuit in the night light can cause it to overheat and smolder or melt, posing fire and burn hazards.

So far the company has received 25 reports of night lights smoking, burning, melting and charring. Fortunately no injuries have been reported.

There are three types of AmerTrac night lights being recalled. Go to the CPSC recall page for name and model number.

Consumers who own one of the recalled lights should stop using them immediately, remove them from the wall sockets and contact AmerTrac for a full refund.

Which bulb will dominate the market now that incandescent has been shown the door?

Are LEDs to Dominate the Lighting Market?

Embedded in a recent routine news release by LED manufacturer Lemnis Lighting was this little gem worth sharing: "A recent U.S. Department of Energy forecast predicts that LEDs will represent 76 percent of the general illumination market by 2030, but Lemnis predicts 80 market penetration by 2020 due to significant price drops…and further innovations in LED technology."

First of all, raise your hand if this is the first time you've heard the phrase "general illumination market." That's what we thought.

Just as we're all getting comfortable swapping our incandescent bulbs for CFLs, we're told that LEDs are the future and to get on board. So which is it going to be?

It's hard to dispute an authority like the DOE, although making predictions as far out as 2030 seems to be ignoring the possibility (likelihood, really) that an even newer technology will supplant both CFLs and LEDs and become the forerunner. Heck, we may even see more than one new technology take its turn at the top by 2020.

There's no denying that one sees more LEDs on the shelves these days, and at decreasing prices. The press release cited above is, as explained, from Lemnis Lighting, who was announcing three new lines of its Pharox LED replacement bulbs. The lowest priced bulb of the bunch -- a 200 lumen LED -- retails for about $4.95.

It seems like a lot to spend on a bulb, but remember these things last much, much longer than the $.25 incandescent bulbs that are going bye-bye.

Have you switched out the bulbs in your home? Have you incorporated LEDs into your life?

Floor lamps recalled due to shock hazard.

Lamps Recalled Due to Shock Hazard

More than 5,000 Overarching Floor Lamps by West Elm were recalled due to a shock hazard. The lamps are susceptible to a short circuit in the wiring, which poses a shock hazard to owners.

So far there have been 39 reports of short circuits in the lamps, including three reports of minor shock, one report of a minor burn to a person's finger and two reports of minor property damage.

Consumers who own one of the recalled lamps should unplug it immediately and return it to West Elm for a full store credit.

Go to the CPSC recall page for more information on the floor lamp recall.

These lamps pose a shock hazard.

Over 40,000 Lamps Recalled Due to Shock Hazard

Big Lots recently announced the recall of almost 45,000 "Five-Light Floor Lamps" due to a shock hazard. The wiring for the lamp's light sockets can become exposed, posing a risk of electric shock to consumers. Additionally, use of a standard 40-watt can generate excessive heat, which can melt the double plastic shades over the bulbs.

Although there have been four reports of melting shade lamps, there have not yet been any reports of injuries.

Consumers who own a recalled lamp should stop using them immediately and return them to a Big Lots for a full refund.

Coming home to a warm home or one without power?

Time to Buy a Generator?

The winter storm that slammed the East Coast left 3 million without power and caused at least 9 deaths, according to the New York Times.

Many will be without power for days, leaving those who were unprepared without heat, hot water and a way to keep refrigerated food from going bad.

It may be overreacting to suggest that this is just a taste of things to come this winter, but now might be the time to invest in an emergency backup power unit.

The portable generator option is suitable for those shopping on a budget, while the permanent solution will better power a home with numerous electricity needs/wants, including the amenities as well as the necessities.

This article will help dispel any misgivings about backup power and should encourage those who are on the fence to take the step to better protect the home in the event of an outage.

What a tangled web we weave...

San Diego's Blackout Blues

My sister-in-law in San Diego sent me a message late last week after I tried getting in touch with her:

"Hey! We're in the middle of a rolling black out! The power is out in all of SD!…It's been 100 degrees for three days straight…Killed the power…"

The blackout lasted from Thursday afternoon to Friday morning and affected 1.4 million San Diego Gas & Electric customers.

The cause of the blackout was apparently traced back to a substation outage that caused a transmission line to shut off and trigger a cascade of blackouts that hit San Diego and also spread to parts of Arizona and Mexico.

More ammunition for the Smart Grid advocates, I'd say. One of the most important advantages of the Smart Grid is the elimination of these kinds of cascading blackouts. A Smart Grid would not only be "self-healing" but it could better isolate an outage, limiting the number of customers without power. San Diego's blackout, then, would have been avoided as the outage -- which originated in Yuma -- would have been isolated to Yuma.

Perhaps the building of the Smart Grid could be this country's New New Deal: An investment in an aging infrastructure that would position our country as leaders in energy efficiency. It would create jobs, cut down on greenhouse gases, increase national security. What's not to like?

Wind energy stored as hydrogen is a key component in McPhy's micro-grid solution.

The Micro-Grid

We are Renovate Your World are unabashed supporters of the Smart Grid. (Which, at times, feels the same as saying we are fans of terra forming and a three-party system.) Fewer and shorter blackouts. Green energy. Smart meters and smart appliances that work for you to save on energy bills. What's not to like?

Two of the bigger challenges facing those charged with making the Smart Grid dream a reality include the distributing of harnessed energy over distances and the storage of renewable energy. While theirs may not be The Answer, the micro-grid designed by McPhy Energy for the University of Nottingham intrigued me. Described as a "mid-term storage of renewable energy," the micro-grid solution stores solar, wind and ground-source heat pump energy as solid hydrogen to cover the homes during peak periods, after sundown and during low- or no-wind stretches of time.

The solution will be used in Nottingham University's Creative Energy Homes project, considered by those involved to be the "first in the world to investigate the use of solid hydrogen as a mid-term solution for energy autonomy on a residential micro-grid scale."

I love the concept. I wonder if this kind of solution is feasible (affordable) on a wider scale. I am curious to know how many homes such a system can support.

Read more about MyCphy's solid hydrogen storage solution here.

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