Is Your Air Conditioner Faulty Or Are Your Filters Blocked?

An example of dirty air conditioner filters covered in dust

Is Your Air Conditioner Faulty or Are Your Filters Blocked?

Here at Green Efficient Living, we receive many phone calls a week from worried customers believing that their air conditioners are faulty. However, after visiting the site to service the system and inspect the issue, we can see that the underlying cause is often dirty filters.

Air conditioner filters are not only important at maintaining your air quality and comfort, but being another crucial part of the system, they also assist in ensuring that your entire system is running as smoothly as possible. It is therefore important to make sure that you remember to inspect your filters before summer and to monitor them throughout the time your system is being used.

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An example of neglected air conditioning filters in a GEL customer’s home.

Why Is It So Important To Keep Your Filters Clean?

When air conditioner filters become blocked, they cannot only cause health issues, but they can also result in symptoms that can imitate a faulty or broken air conditioner. From experience, customers whos filters are blocked, often jump to conclusions and believe that their air conditioner is faulty. There are three main symptoms of blocked air filters that may resemble a faulty system.

1. Air Quality

The purpose of your air conditioner’s filters is basic. They filter out the dust, debris and bacteria from the air and circulate clean, high-quality air back into your home. When your filters become blocked, they cannot filter out the nasty particles as easily and they end up getting fed back into your home’s air supply. This means that the air that you are breathing is not as clean as it should be which can lead to health issues and make it difficult for allergy sufferers

2. Performance

When your filters are blocked it causes your system to overwork as it tries harder to filter out the mess of contaminants caught within it. This overworking of your system can quickly deteriorate your system’s level of performance and health.

3. Energy Efficiency

As mentioned, when your filters are blocked your system has to work harder just to achieve the same level of performance. This means that it is consuming more energy and becoming a lot more costly to run.

At Green Efficient Living, we believe that cleaning or replacing your air conditioner’s filters is one of the most important tasks is maintaining the longevity of your system’s health. Blocked filters can reduce a system’s efficiency significantly and replacing or cleaning them can lower your system’s energy consumption anywhere from 5% to 15%.

Homes that rely on their air conditioner’s regularly should clean or replace their filters every 3-5 months. If you only use it throughout the warmer months, then cleaning or replacing them at the same time that you have your pre-summer service done is a good idea.

How To Tell If Your Filters Need Replacing

Aside from calling out a technician, there are ways to tell if your system’s filters are blocked.

1. Smell

The first is that you may notice that there is a dusty smell, or dust particles coming from the vents in your unit. If this is the case, it could mean that there is a big build up of debris in your filters and it is time for a clean!

2. Higher-than-normal Energy Bills

If you’ve noticed that you haven’t been using your system any differently than normal, but your energy bills are slightly higher, this may also be a sign that your system is consuming more energy because its filters are clogged.

3. Unusual System Activity

If you are noticing that your unit is starting to play up, or it is not running as it should, don’t jump to conclusions. Follow the instructions and check your filters first. You may be surprised to find just how blocked they could be!

A general rule of thumb is if you cannot remember the last time that you cleaned or replaced your filters, then now is the time to do it!

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Another example of just how much dust can build up on your filters.

How To Care For Your Filters

Some air conditioners come with reusable, cleanable filters, whereas others may have replaceable ones. You should have received a user manual when your system was installed that outlines in detail exactly how to care for your filters.

If your unit is one with replaceable filters, this job is generally fairly easy. Filters can be bought through your installer, or through a company such as Ductair.

If your unit has reusable filters, then following the user manual will ensure that your filters get cleaned and replaced in the correct way. Generally vacuuming the dust off of them or hosing them down with warm water is the safest way to clean them. Be aware that they are fragile so take caution. Always let them dry before reinstalling them, and never use the system without reinstalling them first. Reusable filters don’t last forever though, so be sure to replace it every 2-3 years or so. When having a service performed by a technician on your system, they should be able to inform you of whether or not your filters need replacing.

If you are experiencing issues with your air conditioner, try taking a look at your filters before calling out a technicians. If you aren’t confident with this task, Green Efficient Living service technicians are always more than happy to help! We have a dedicated service team on the road each day, so no mater what issue you are experiencing, we can help. Call today on (08) 8297 3422.

Glare – Annoying or Harmful?

Glare from a street lamp

We spend many hours in the home or office, surrounded by unnatural lighting that causes issues many people are unaware of. Glare is one of these issues that seems to be considered more of an annoyance than a health issue. But glare can cause many serious issues if not dealt with correctly. In this blog, we discuss just what glare is, how it can affect your health more than you think, and how to eliminate it.

What Is Glare?

Glare is defined by the International Commission on Illumination (CIE) as ‘visual conditions in which there is excessive contrast or inappropriate distribution of light sources that disturbs the observer of limits the ability to distinguish details and objects’. The Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) describes it more simply as too much light and ‘an excessive contrast in which the range of luminance in the field of view is too great’. Whatever the definition is, while you may think that a small amount of glare is simply just annoying, it may be doing more damage to your health than you think.

Glare from a street lamp
Glare from a street lamp. Photographer: Bob Parks

Why Is Glare Bad?

Glare can cause many health issues, ranging from being a minor annoyance that causes some discomfort and squinting, to serious eye strain, impaired vision, decreased safety, visual and bodily discomfort, injury to your eyes and a decrease in your overall health. It is also one of the leading causes of eye strain, less-than-optimal vision, and serious eye damage.

Think about how many times you have sat there and seen a flicker of light reflecting off of the table in a room. You squint your eyes to reduce its effect, or your turn your body away so that you cannot see it. While this may seem annoying, the squinting and straining of your eyes can cause serious headaches and vision impairment, and the position of your body may cause muscle strain and discomfort.

This minor annoyance has now presented itself with serious outcomes if left untreated.

Why Does Glare Occur?

Glare occurs where a ‘source of unshielded light is brighter than the average field’ or when there is a stark contrast between a bright light and the average light of an area. To explain this further, a street lamp may not cause glare at dusk, but that same lamp may cause glare in pitch black darkness. This is because the contrast between the light from the lamp and the surrounding area is greater at night than it is at dusk.

The most common reasons why glare occurs around the home or office are computer screens, sunlight, and incorrectly shielded light and poor lighting design. The proper precautions must, therefore, be taken in order to eliminate glare and provide a healthy and productive environment. Good lighting design must be considered to diffuse the light in the room evenly to reduce the luminance or contrast. The luminance must be balanced and uniform within a room to reduce or eliminate glare and make your working or living space entirely comfortable.

Glare from a reflection
Glare caused by the harsh direct lighting onto the table and the glass from the staircase.

How Can Glare Be Eliminated?

Thankfully, there are many ways to control glare so that your days can continue with little annoyance and ensuring that the light is uniform throughout the room is the best way of making this happen. To do this:

  • Install blinds that allow light to filter through softly, but remove the harshness of direct sunlight.
  • Install dimmers that allow you to adjust your lighting accordingly. This makes it easier to control your lighting as the daylight changes throughout the day.
  • Make sure that your lighting is indirectly situated. It may help to have a professional from GEL assist you with this. Having light directed upwards so that it can bounce off the ceilings and walls rather than direct light that is situated downwards is important in dispersing light evenly.
  • Try to position your computer screen away from a window and so there is no light reflecting off of the screen. Computers emit a lot of glare so it can help to have a soft light source from behind. Sit a lamp with an LED light, behind your screen to soften the contrast and reduce the glare.
  • Move shiny surfaces, such as glossy tables, away from direct sunlight that can cause harsh reflections. Choosing surfaces with a matte finish will also assist in reducing the glare even further.
  • Keep your wall colours soft so that when the light hits them, there is very little contrast and reflection.

If you are designing your lighting for your home or office, or if you are experiencing lighting issues, call Green Efficient Living today on (08) 8297 3422 or click here.

 

 

 

 

Are You Getting Tingles From Your Taps?

Artwork of a man holding live electrical cables

Note: NEVER ignore an electric shock or tingles from anywhere in your home, whether it is from a tap, a pipe or an appliance. It may be a warning sign that there is something more serious going on with your home’s electricity supply and here at Green Efficient Living, we take electrical safety extremely seriously.

Recently a fault in the earthing system outside a Perth home, caused a young girl to suffer a life-threatening electric shock from touching a garden tap. Have you ever experienced a small electric shock or tingle whilst touching a tap in your home?

Getting an electric shock from anywhere in your home should never be ignored – without attention, it may become dangerous! It is generally a warning sign that your electricity is not flowing through your home as it should be, and there may be a few reasons why.

WHY DO WE EXPERIENCE ELECTRICAL SHOCKS OR TINGLES WITHIN THE HOME?

A bad earth connection or a poor neutral wire/neutral bond are the most common reasons why people experience electric shocks. For electricity to flow within your home to a light or to an appliance, a complete path (circuit) must be provided for it to return to the electricity supply. The active wire carries the electricity from the electricity supply, while the neutral wire returns the electricity to the electricity supply – so there are always at least two wires to each appliance. Many appliances these days have a green-yellow wire (earth wire) connected to it, in which the other end is connected to an earth stake. A current will always take the path of least resistance so if your earth connection is good then the current will flow freely down this path instead of flowing through you. An earth connection using an electrical earth stake is essential for the effective operation of safety switches.  

If you have received an electric shock when you have touched a tap, it may be because an active wire from an appliance is touching a metal pipe somewhere in your home and there is now electricity flowing through that pipe. If your earth wire is connected correctly, it should trip your safety switch or circuit breaker and remove any safety issues before you touch your tap. A fault in the earth connection means that the safety switch or circuit breaker cannot be activated and the pipe now becomes live. When you touch the tap, and your feet are on the ground, you complete the circuit, so electricity can flow through you and you experience the electric shock.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/household-bills/10920520/The-devices-quietly-running-up-your-energy-bills.html
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/household-bills/

I’VE BEEN SHOCKED! NOW WHAT?

Before jumping to any conclusions, there are some questions that you can ask yourself. Do you experience the sensation the whole time your hand is on the tap, or do you just get a small shock when you first touch it? Do you get a shock when the water is running, or only when it is not running? Does it happen in just one area of your home or from multiple locations throughout your home? Have your neighbours experienced the same thing?

Firstly you need to distinguish whether it is simply a static shock, or something more serious. Static shocks are experienced very suddenly and are of very short duration and once the shock is experienced, the item can then generally be safely touched without experiencing it again. Static electricity is an electrical charge trapped on the surface of an object. The charge will remain there until the object is touched and the electricity can escape to an object with a weaker electrical charge. However, while static shocks may not seem as serious as other types of electrical shocks, they are still a sign that your earth connection is not as it should be.

If the shock is a lot worse than a static shock, then the situation is quite serious. If you are left feeling burnt or are experiencing pain in that area, have experienced the shock more than once, are experiencing it multiple areas of your home, or are experiencing other electrical phenomena such as flickering lights or the sound of electricity zapping, then call your electrician immediately!

It may seem unimportant, but it is worth speaking to your neighbours. If they seem to be experiencing the same issues, then it may be a faulty transformer or connection outside of your home and the appropriate company will need to be called immediately. Generally, this is the emergency number that can be found on the bottom of your electricity bill.

http://news.warwickshire.gov.uk/blog/2012/09/25/be-a-bright-spark-during-electrical-fire-safety-week/
http://news.warwickshire.gov.uk/blog/2012/09/25/be-a-bright-spark-during-electrical-fire-safety-week/

There are many things to remember when it comes to experiencing shocks within your home.

FIRSTLY

The first is that it should never be ignored! As mentioned, it can often be a sign that there is something wrong with your electrical circuit within your home, and it needs to be fixed immediately before the situation worsens!

SECONDLY

The second is remembering what to do in the event that somebody becomes electrocuted. Call 000 first and NEVER touch them while there is still live power running through the home. Always check for danger to yourself, and switch off the power before touching them. Once the power has been shut down, remove the patient from the electrical supply without directly touching them – instead use a non-conductive, dry material such as a wooden broom handle.

Find the full Electric Shock procedure from St Johns Ambulance here.

If you are concerned about any electrical faults within your home, or feel as though you would like an electrical assessment, please don’t hesitate to call Green Efficient Living on (08) 8297 3422. We will do a thorough examination of your home to ensure that you and your family are safe.

 

Solar Shading – What Is It and How Do You Deal With It?

Up-close image of a residential solar installation being partially shaded by trees

What Is Solar Shading and How Can You Deal With It?

We all know by know that solar panels produce electricity from the sunlight. So it makes sense that when there is shade cast upon them, they produce less electricity. It would seem fairly obvious that the power output produced by the panels is reduced proportionally to the amount of area that is shaded – this isn’t true.

Most domestic solar systems include anywhere between 5-30 panels, and most of the time these panels are connected in a ‘string’. Smaller systems may only have one string while larger scale systems may have more. We find it easiest to explain a string of panels as a string of Christmas lights. Electricity flows from one bulb to the next, lighting up the entire string of lights. However, when one bulb blows, the whole string of lights fails. This is the same for a solar system connected in strong. Even if a small amount of shade falls on just one cell in the panel, the output of the whole string of panels is reduced for as long as the shadow remains. Instead, it is because when one panel fails, it begins to become an energy consumer, rather than an energy generator. The shaded panel begins to draw power from the other panels, who in turn are not producing their optimum or maximum output.

There are many different factors that can result in solar panel shading. Shade from overgrown vegetation (trees and plants), cloud cover, dirt, bird feces, etc. all cause an effect on overall power production. During the design and layout stage of having your solar system installed, your installer should have taken a look at your roof from above, using technology, and be taking into account many factors such as optimal sun direction. They should be designing your system to sit in a location where it is not shadowed for half of the day, e.g. behind a chimney or a tree.

Fortunately, while there aren’t many ways to completely eliminate solar shading, there are ways to manage it.

https://www.civicsolar.com/support/installer/articles/string-layout-shade-mitigation
https://www.civicsolar.com/support/installer/articles/string-layout-shade-mitigation

How To Manage Solar Shading

1. Regular cleaning of your panels

Cleaning your panels every three or so months ensures that they stay free of any on-surface shading that may occur. Running a hose from the top of your roof, directly down to wash away leaf litter and debris that can get caught on top of your panels. Using a squeegee or cloth to gently clean the more tough dirt and grime is fine, but scourers and high-pressure water cleaners are not.

2. Be aware of vegetation

Be aware of overgrown plants and trees that may cast a shadow on your panels. Make a point observing this every three months or so, to ensure that your panels remain in maximum sunlight for as long as they can. Also, remember to observe this at all times of the day, to see how they are affected as the sun moves.

3. Micro Inverters

Microinverters are just as the name suggests, however, they are much smaller and designed to sit underneath each individual panel. They perform the same function as a string inverter, however, they accept the output of that panel only, rather than a series of panels collectively. This maximises your total production output because if one panel fails, the others are not compromised.

They are slightly more expensive upfront, but as time goes on, the product price is dropping. Microinverters allow for an expansion of your system, so there are no restrictions when it comes to your system’s future and they are often labeled as the safer choice due to the minimised voltage running through them.

4. DC Optimisers

DC Optimisers are similar to microinverters in that they are also located on each individual panel. However, DC Optimisers, or power optimisers, are used in systems where a string inverter is involved. These DC Optimisers work with the string inverter to enable the maximum production from each panel individually, despite the fact that the panels are connected in a string. When a panel becomes shaded and its power output differs from the unshaded panels, the optimisers correct ‘mismatch’ of energy production between each panel by allowing it to function at its Maximum Power Point (MPP), and then converting that energy to the optimum voltage and current for the string inverter.

https://singingvegan.com/solar-power-best-worst-customer-service/
https://singingvegan.com/solar-power-best-worst-customer-service/

All of these factors should be looked at by your solar installer and they should be informing you of the best choice for your situation and requirements. Green Efficient Living solar installers use a number of programs to look at all of the factors required to provide you with a system that will work best for you.

To speak to one of our solar professionals today, call (08) 8297 3422 or fill out a request form on our contact page.

Why Do We Choose Enphase Energy?

Image of technicians phone showing a solar monitoring system

Enphase

 

Green Efficient Living made it very clear at the inception of our company that we would only align ourselves with businesses who project the same values as us. These values focus on providing our customers with high quality and reliable products, impeccable customer service, a dedication to innovation and being strong advocates for reducing environmental impact.

This is why Green Efficient Living promote and install Enphase Energy products for our solar installations. Enphase is a company dedicated to pushing the boundaries of solar technology and are passionate about developing new technologies that make energy ‘more intelligent, more connected and cost effective’.

Enphase Microinverter
Enphase continually design and update their products to provide their customers with the very best.

They design and manufacture products for solar generation, energy storage and web-based monitoring and are currently the market leader in microinverter manufacturing and distribution. The company was founded in 2006 and since then has grown to become a global leader in solar energy technology. In 2008, they introduced the world’s first microinverter system and just three years later they hit the milestone of having shipped one million micro inverters worldwide.

Eight years on and they have begun operating in 21 countries across the globe, opened their own research and development facility in New Zealand (March 2016), and have shipped over 15 million microinverters worldwide. During this time, they have won awards such as ’14th Fastest Growing Company (2013)’, ‘Technology Pioneer (2013)’, and ‘#1 Residential Inverter Supplier’.

But it isn’t just their size or expertise that makes them the industry leader and Green Efficient Living‘s choice. It’s their dedication to providing the very best products and services for their customers. Their web-based monitoring software, MyEnlighten, allows for complete connection and communication between your solar PV system and your home via an app on your phone or tablet. It lets you track your energy production in real time and monitor your system’s health through a status indicator. It also allows your solar installer to monitor and track your system’s production to make sure that everything is running as it should be.

Enphase Energy MyEnlighten
MyEnlighten allows your solar installer to view your energy production.

Enphase also has an Australian head office, which can give you peace of mind knowing that if something was to go wrong, or if you have any questions as all, we can easily get in touch with somebody local and get you an answer straight away.

They have a passion for providing an alternative energy resource that reduces our environmental impact and are driven by a sense of responsibility towards our planet and communities. Their systems have already helped to offset almost 6 trillion pounds of carbon dioxide worldwide…yes, 6 TRILLION! And that number is continuously growing.

Consistent and rigorous quality testing means that their products are at a consistently high level and are reliable in all conditions and climates. All Enphase products undergo one million ‘power-on’ hours of accelerated, long-term reliability testing prior to their release. Our confidence their products extends far beyond our business, as we have installed them in our own homes as well! This way, our customers can be assured that their products and systems are there to last.

Green Efficient Living always have our customers in the forefront of our minds with every decision that we make, so it is imperative to us that we work with companies who see the same value in that. This is why we use Enphase microinverters.

If you are considering having a solar PV system installed, or to see the MyEnlighten app working in real time, come into our office and let us discuss how using Enphase micro inverters can work for you. Alternatively, you can contact us here!

Questions To Ask Before Buying An Air Conditioner

Return Air Grilles above a Kitchen

What Questions To Ask When Buying An Air Conditioner

These days, air conditioners come in many sizes and with many different upgrades and new developments. There are also different companies and installers out there who can sometimes offer vastly different quotes for the same system. So how can you be sure that you are being quoted the best system for you? It’s important to always ask questions of your installer before approving any work. Here are just a small list of questions to ask your installer when buying an air conditioner, to ensure that you are getting the best system for your home and lifestyle.

1. What type of air conditioner do I need?

There are a number of reasons why one type of air conditioner may be better suited to your home than another. What type of climate do you live in? For example, evaporative air conditioners work brilliantly in drier climates, but not as effectively in tropical, humid climates. Are you looking for a system that will cool one room only? If so, maybe a high wall split is best, or possibly an air conditioner with zoning capabilities. It is important to discuss all of your needs and desires with your installer to ensure that you are getting the most accurate system for your situation and location. Make sure that you are prepared with all of the information before you meet with them.

2. What size air conditioner do I need?

As explained in our previous blog (here), the right size air conditioner is dependent on a lot of factors. For example, are you looking to cool your whole home or just a few rooms? is your home open plan living? How many windows does your home have? It is important that your installer asks all of these questions before they offer you an exact system. Ensuring that your installer has made a trip to your home, or has a copy of your housing plan so that they can do a load calculation and offer you the correct size for your space. This will ensure that you are being quoted the best unit based on power, efficiency and cooling capacity.

Home Air Conditioner
An example of a plan drawn up by Green Efficient Living. We use exact measurements of your home to ensure that the system is the correct one for you.

3. What new features or technological additions do I require?

These days, air conditioners can be tailored to meet your exact requirements and desires thanks to modern technology. So make sure that you consider which extras you may want or need to personalise your system. Do you require a remote control for ease of use, or are you okay walking to the touchpad on the wall each time? Are you after zoning so you can only cool specific rooms at certain times? Maybe you are looking to have a system that can be controlled from an app on your phone? If you aren’t sure of all of the additions that can come with a system these days, be sure to ask your installer. Let them know which features you may need and work from there. Be aware that most of the time, technological additions can add to the price of the system.

4. What is my budget?

The best thing to do is have an idea of how much you are able to spend. This will let your installer know what type of system they can offer you and what optional extras may be available. Always get more than one quote to get an average idea of how much you should be spending.

5. What is the energy rating of the system?

These days, air conditioning systems should chew through your energy bills. In fact, your installer SHOULD be designing you a system that will be the most cost effective and energy efficient for you to run. This will ensure that your unit lasts longer and save your money in the long run.

 

e3-energy-rating-label-star-rating-heating-cooling-air-conditioner
The star rating for air conditioners is determined differently to other appliances. For air conditioners, the measure of energy efficiency is the Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) for cooling and the Coefficient of Performance (COP) for heating.

 

6. Who will be doing the installation? Does the company use contractors to install their work?

This is an important question to ask because it lets you know how many companies you will be dealing with and the integrity of those companies. The company that you purchase the system through may use contractors to install it, rather than employing their own technicians to carry out the installation themselves. This addition of an extra party can result in many issues such as unnecessary added costs, communication breakdown, hassle, warranty issues and unexpected poor quality of work and service.

7. If they do use contractors, are the installers qualified to handle warranty repairs and/or servicing?

Green Efficient Living employ all of their own technicians that are all certified installers (Cert. III). This means that they are all fully qualified to handle all installations, warranty repairs and servicing systems of all sizes. Many companies use Cert. II qualified installers that are not qualified to handle all warranty repairs and servicing and can only work on systems under 18kW. For the reliability and quality of your home or business’s system and to ensure that all warranties remain valid, it pays to ask how qualified your installers are.

8. Does the company also provide maintenance services?

It is important to know whether the company who installs your air conditioner also provides servicing and maintenance services. This will ensure that should any warranty issues occur further down the line, that the company servicing your system is familiar with it and has records of it. Green Efficient Living provides comprehensive service and maintenance services to all of our clients and we make that we keep them updated when their next service is due.

9. What is the total cost?

This may seem like an obvious one, but be aware that sometimes the quote that you are being provided may not include all charges. Does the quote include labour and installation charges, delivery fees, etc? Make sure that they provide every cost openly and honestly and in writing so that you aren’t surprised when you receive the invoice.

10. What documentation will I be receiving?

Before the installation date, you should receive a detailed quote and contract. After the system has been installed, you should receive all manufacturers and installers warranty information, detailed maintenance information and compliance certificates. Before purchasing a system, always do research on each company and obtain multiple quotes. It may take a little longer, but the system that you end up with will be far more reliable.

If you are after a new installation, or the service or upgrade of your current one, call Green Efficient Living today on (08) 8297 3422.

Surge Protectors – Do You Have Them?

Working Safety Switch

Think about how many electrical appliances you have in your home that are almost permanently plugged into an outlet in your wall. Your home entertainment system, such as your stereo and television; your lighting; computer; phone charger; kitchen appliances, the list is endless. Did you know that in less than seconds these appliances can be destroyed if they aren’t protected when a power surge strikes? Did you even know that you could protect them? Surge Protection Devices/Surge Protectors (SPDs) are relatively cheap and easy to have installed, and they can save you a lot of money in the long run.

What is a power spike/surge?

Power spikes or power surges are increases in your home’s electrical current and occur when the voltage is boosted and suddenly increases. A power spike is a short increase in voltage, acting over a small amount of time and generally causes minimal damage. A power surge, however, is a much larger influx that lasts longer and can be much more detrimental.

The most common cause of power spikes/surges are impacts on the electrical grid near your home or office, such as downed power lines or transformers. When this happens the large amount of electricity that has suddenly been disrupted needs somewhere to go, and is therefore thrust into the power lines on the street and into your home or office.

While your devices may not want to accept this influx of energy, the current is so powerful that they have no choice. If your devices are not protected at this time, the increase of energy can be too much for your appliances and they can be destroyed. This can end up being a safety hazard and a large expense on your behalf.

Lightning storms are also a cause of power surges, however during this time you should not rely solely on your surge protectors. With the influx during this time being so large, the only guaranteed way to protect your appliances during a lightning storm is to unplug them from the wall directly.

How do surge protectors help?

There are a number of methods that surge protectors use to protect your appliances. No matter what method they use though, the general idea is the same. All surge protectors keep the voltage levels flowing to your appliances below the safety threshold.

The most common method of doing this is by absorbing a large portion of the over-voltage and diverting the rest back to earth. This way your appliances only receive the same amount of energy that they always have.

It is important to understand that not all surge protectors are the same. There are different classes of surge protectors to defend your appliances from different forms of current impulses.

Class 1

These surge protectors are suitable in high risk areas that have a high probability of direct lightning strikes and are to be used in conjunction with lightning rods. They employ the ‘spark gap’ method and are perfect for buildings that require a larger amount of protection. Buildings such as petrol stations, hospitals, banks, tc should all have a class 1 SPD installed.

Class 2

This is the most common and inexpensive form of power surge defence. These surge protectors can prevent the spread of over-voltage in the electrical installations and protect the equipment connected to it, such as home appliances and power tools. This is the one that home owners should be looking to have installed as a first line of defence against power surges that occur through downed power lines or transformers in the street. Just like class 1 SPDs, these are also installed in the main switchboard in your home.

Class 3

Class 3 surge protectors have a low discharge capacity and therefore must be installed as an addition to a class 2 SPD. They are to be installed at the terminal, as close as possible to the appliance being protected.

Hager Surge Protectors
Examples of surge protectors that may be used in your home.

The Fine Print

Always ensure that when having surge protectors installed that you always read the fine print. Some companies will offer warranties on your appliances if they are damaged whilst connected to their surge protectors. However, these warranties aren’t always applicable and may be voided for many reasons.

The Bottom Line

To summarise, a Class 1 SPD is to be used at the origin of the installation, a Class 2 SPD is to be installed at the switchboard, and a Class 3 SPD is to be used near the terminal equipment.

The bottom line is that purchasing a Surge Protection Device is never a bad idea. If your home doesn’t have one, the damage that can be caused to your appliances and yourself can be extensive. Home and business owners should be putting every practice into place to ensure that their appliances and buildings are protected from excessive currents and further damage.

For more information, or to have a Surge Protection Device installed, call Green Efficient Living today on (08) 8297 3422.

Is Your Air Conditioner Size Right?

Return Air Grilles above a Kitchen

The Importance Of Having A Correctly Sized Air Conditioning System

Adelaide can suffer through scorching hot summers and freezing cold winters, so it pays to have the perfect heating and cooling system in your home. When it comes to purchasing an air conditioning system, there are many things that need to be taken into consideration. One of the most important ones is the size of the system itself. You may feel as though it is wise to save a few pennies and choose the undersized system, or maybe you have been told that ‘bigger is better’? If any of these circumstances seem the same to you, then it may be wise to read on.

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Colour Temperature – Warm White vs Cool White

Image displaying colour temperature

Have you ever changed a blown lightbulb and noticed that its replacement does not match the colour of light that it gives off? What once was a nice warm glow has now become a harsh white light and all of the sudden the room no longer has the same ambience and feeling. Or when your white lit, modern kitchen now has a yellow tone that doesn’t accurately highlight the area! It’s because there is a whole colour spectrum of lighting based on colour temperature.

It’s understanding this temperature that makes it easier to choose a light that will give off the look and feel that you want in your room. But why is it that some bulbs glow a bright white, while others emit a warm orange?

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Light Pollution – What Is It and How Can You Help?

Light pollution

Have you ever noticed how when you are away from heavily populated areas that the night sky is filled with stars? So why is it that you can’t see the same stars when you are in the city? The answer is light pollution! Thats right, light is considered a pollutant!

Light pollution is the obtrusive, excessive and unnecessary use of light used for advertising, security, street lighting, etc. that becomes misdirected and filters out towards the sky. This misdirection is due to poorly designed lighting installations and can be an issue for more than one reason. There are three different types of light pollution that occur as a result of poorly designed lighting:

Glare Light

Glare is caused when the excessive brightness of a light causes light scattering in the eye and reduces the contrast of what the eye can see. This reduced contrast can make it extremely difficult to distinguish scenes and settings and can be extremely hazardous when driving.

Glare light towards the eyes can cause temporary blindness and constant exposure to glare can have longer effects on the health of your eyes and it can worsen with age.

Light Trespass

Light trespass is the unwanted light entering a property where it is not needed, for example, street lights entering through a bedroom window at night. Not only can unwanted light be annoying while you are trying to sleep, but having a disrupted sleep can also be damaging on your health.

Skyglow

Skyglow is when the overflow of many sources of lighting brightens the sky over inhabited areas. In other words, when there are too many bright lights outdoors in one area, it can illuminate the night sky. This form of light pollution is of greatest concern to astronomers who study the night sky. The brighter the skyglow, the lighter the night sky and therefore the less celestial objects can be seen and studied.

The Effects Of Light Pollution in South Australia
The Density Of Light In South Australia

Why is light pollution bad?

First and foremost, light pollution is a large form of energy wastage. Lighting that emits too much light or is focused when and where it is not needed (i.e. upwards towards the sky) can have large economic consequences, as the wasted energy that is used to produce this light can contribute heavily to greenhouse gases and unnecessary expenditure.

Light pollution can also have environmental consequences and can be detrimental for both flora and wildlife that inhabit the areas.  All living  creatures rely on the steady rise and fall of the sun to regulate body patterns and quality of life. Their natural migratory and breeding patterns can be affected along with their ability to interact with one another.

As the rhythm of life is dependent and coordinated by the natural rise and fall of the sun, disrupting the pattern can severely impact the ecological behaviour.

The health of humans can also be affected by light pollution for almost the same reason. When we are exposed to larger amounts of light when we shouldn’t be, such as at night when we are trying to sleep our melatonin levels are suppressed. This can lead to many different issues such as sleep disorders, lowered immunity levels and increased levels of anxiety.

The Effects of Light Pollution
An Example Of How Light Pollution Affects Visibility Of The Sky At Night

What can be done?

While it is understood that there are necessary reasons that areas need to be lit up during the night, such as for safety on the streets and the ability to see in the dark, there are ways that it can be reduced around the home.

  • The most obvious way to curb your contribution to light pollution around the home is to switch off lights when they are not needed. Do not light up your front and backyard when they are not in use. This will also save you a large amount of money on your energy bills!
  • Have a motion sensor installed to switch your outdoor lights on and off when appropriate.
  • Replace your high-energy bulbs with much more energy efficient LED ones to reduce the carbon emissions that are being discharged.
  • Properly shield outdoor lights to focus the light where needed and avoid any misdirection.
  • Use dimmers where possible to control the amount of light that is being released.
Properly Shielded Lights Can Correctly Control The Direction Of Light
Properly Shielded Lights Can Reduce Light Pollution