Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Do you install solar?
A. No. I leave that to specialty companies. Usually we just provide them with a heavy gauge electrical panel and some input circuit breakers.

Q. You say that 8 out of 10 suicides take place in rooms with central light fixtures. Where did you get that statistic?
A. I made it up.

Q. What is the difference between "good" and "cheap" low voltage light bulbs (MR-16's)?
A. The MR in MR-16 stands for multi-reflector; the actually "reflector" is made of very thin layers (transparent, if you look) of metal that are spaced apart to reflect a certain wavelength of light. This is a very precise process and an easy place to cut corners. It is most obvious in the light coming out of the back of the bulb. In the cheap lamps (bulbs) it looks pink and if you look carefully, the light coming out the front looks greenish.
Also in cheap lamps the reflector layers peel off, the filament that produces the light is not centered correctly, the light is yellowish and on and on.
Good lamps cost more.

Q. What is your problem with dimmers?
A. Dimmers (unlike true "rheostats", a term some people use for dimmers) electronically "chop" pieces out of the waveform of power that runs to the light bulb. Even when they are all the way "on" they still chop a little "notch" out of the front of the wave. This results in less power to the light bulb, which the dimmer manufacturers say you can't notice. It's true you can't notice the difference in POWER (human eyes are terrible absolute power meters) but the loss in power means a lowering of COLOR temperature so the light looks redder or yellower. If you are using the light to illuminate art work you will lose your "blues", the blue and green end of the color spectrum.
If it's romance you want then fine.

Q. What is your problem with compact fluorescents (CFL's)?
A. Their color rendering sucks. It is bad to start and then drifts. Don't believe me; take a picture under CFL's. Also their lifetimes are based on burning in a controlled situation and seldom reflect real-life installations.
Of course they have mercury in them and, in their base, a bunch of electronics that get thrown out with the glass part, all toxic. (The mercury is why the oft quoted cleanup cost of $1000 for a dropped CFL is not a joke.) With a fluorescent TUBE the electronics are housed in a separate device, the ballast, and (usually) last for many tube changes.
CFL's are great for attics, crawlspaces and utility rooms (if these places are warm). That is, until LED's get cheaper.

Q. CFL's save energy. Why don't you care about that?
A. I wouldn't put it that way. "Wasted" energy is heat. Here in Colorado we heat our houses most of the year. The heat just heats our houses like an electric heater. There are lots of uses for, and kinds of, electric heat: electric baseboard heaters, toe-kick heaters, under-tile heaters, portable heaters. Only with incandescent light bulbs you also get light! Central heating heats the whole house; you usually have light bulbs on just where you are using them so you are not wasting energy heating empty rooms. People with zoned boilers should ignore this line of thinking.
If you are air-conditioning THEN you are wasting energy pumping the wasted energy out of your house. But you air-condition in the summer when it is light longer outside and you don't need as much artificial light anyway.