Alternative lighting question

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by babysteps, Sep 17, 2005.

  1. babysteps

    babysteps living at 6800 feet

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    Ok, besides going solar what kinds of lighting is the cheapest alternative source? And is anything cheeper than using electric lights only when you need them. For example, are oil lamps cheaper or is there some kind of candel that will throw a lot of light and is inexpensive? My husband is not a big fan of oil lamps, he complains about the smoke (I wonder if we are not doing it right).

    We really try to get our lights turned off when not using them...but I've been wondering is anything cheaper?

    Thanks,
    babysteps
     
  2. HiouchiDump

    HiouchiDump Well-Known Member

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    If you are connected to the grid, chances are that nothing is cheaper than AC electric lights. If you use 20 watt compact fluorescents, you're paying more up front, but pennies for the electricity to run the lights.

    An oil lamp burning very cheap oil might be slightly better, but the difference is insignificant and you take on extra hassles and risks for a matter of pennies.

    If you have relatively humble lighting needs, a small solar system running DC fluorescent lights may have a cost advantage after a few decades.

    Unless you're burning high wattage incandescent bulbs, lighting is probably not a significant percentage of your electric bill.
     

  3. donsgal

    donsgal Nohoa Homestead

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    According to the book "Living without electricty and liking it", the biggest problem seems to be lighting.

    Aside from reading and doing crafts, which require a lot of light, most people can get along with candle light or oil lamps (good ones don't smoke much, really). There are little tricks you can use to make both of them brighter (reflective backgrounds, multiple wicks, etc.).

    In days gone by, most folks get up with the sun and go to bed shortly after sundown. Kind of hard to do in winter when it's dark at 5 pm! Nevertheless, you can adjust your lifestyle to accommodate doing some tasks during the day that you might otherwise do at night and getting up earlier to take advantage of the sunlight hours.

    There are also propane/gas lamps available that give off "almost" as much light as electricity.

    I think the secret is lifestyle. 150 years ago, nobody knew the difference, and they all seemed to get along just fine without it. I think with a little work, we all could too.

    donsgal
     
  4. Gary in ohio

    Gary in ohio Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I am slowly moving to compact fluorescents. While this will help, I think you will find that for most people only a small part of your electric bill is lights. If your watching your electric usage then phantom currents are you high draws. Power to the TV's, radio's, Every media device with a clock in it. GFCI boxes, turned off computers. These all draw power when you dont think they do.
     
  5. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    We run two houses and the barns etc. off one meter. We switched everythig to compact floresant lights and did save a little. I think all the bulbs only cost about $300 in one shot but they are lastign very well indeed. We used to have to change regular bulbs every couple of months but we're well into year two for most of the compact floresants! The biggest power eaters are water heaters, and driers, with your stove not far behind. If it makes heat it costs money. I will change my water heater to oil fired, we have one in another building and it's too cheap to run, and I'm thinking a propane stove and drier might be after that.
     
  6. WanderingOak

    WanderingOak Well-Known Member

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    Ditto what Ross said. Another big draw is the refrigerator. I was off the grid for a year, and we used Alladin oil lamps. They use a special mantle, and when they are set up right, they burn quite bright and don't smoke very much. They are a bit finicky at times and do need adjustment from time to time. You do not want to leave one unattended in an empty room while burning.
     
  7. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

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    Just the fan in the living room was 400 watts for lights.Now its 104 watts for 4 bulbs that are just as bright.Replaced them everywhere with CF.Plus you can get them for a buck or so when the local utility offers a program,I got the discounts at Home depot and a large grocery chain.The rebate is instant at the checkout.

    After we replaced the bulbs,we added a chest freezer.There was no increase in our overall electric usage.

    So we get free freezer power for just changing lightbulbs.Hard to beat that,and the new ones do last for many years dependably.We have 2 outdoors that run 17 watts,24/7.Had em since the late 1900s. :p

    PS,I bought a ton of em,have probably 30 in the closet,loaded up at the electric co. offset prices.

    BooBoo
     
  8. babysteps

    babysteps living at 6800 feet

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    Thanks everyone for the great advice. We have been slowly switching the bulbs in the house and I'm glad to know that it sounds like it is the best alternative for lighting while we are hooked up to the grid.

    We gave up the dryer in May and are finding ways this fall to dry indoors. The next thing to go will be any power to heat the home (heat pump and propane) we just purchaced a wood burning stove. This was a simple alternative because most of the 20 ac. is wood in varrying stages of life.

    Thanks, babysteps
     
  9. Cabin Fever

    Cabin Fever Life NRA Member since 1976 Supporter

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    No.....

    It is evident that you've never used an Aladdin oil lamp. They do not smoke like the regualr, cheap oil wick lamps.
     
  10. Mid Tn Mama

    Mid Tn Mama Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Why not get a solar lamp? You can find these at camping stores and real goods. You just set them in a window during the day so they can recharge. We have a solar flashlight. I'm planning to get some solar lamps this year.
     
  11. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

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    If you are on the grid, none of the alternatives are cheaper. And be careful about having the house too dim, it can lead to depression. Also, I've noticed a lot of homes that have dark interior walls. You need more lights in a darkly colored room than in a light colored one. So painting the walls white may make a big difference and you can turn off a few lights. Do put a small fan behind the wood stove to push the warm air out into the room. Put all the appliances on switches and turn them off when not using them. Most tvs and many other small appliances will continue to pull current when you think they are turned off. Put timers on lights in little used areas, like closets and hallways that can get left on with no one noticing. Put outside lights on a motion sensor/light sensor so they are only on when needed. If the water heater is electric, throw the breaker off and only heat what you need. Put it on a timer if you need hot water early in the morning, otherwise turn it on, give it time to heat and turn it off, then take your shower.
     
  12. Mel-

    Mel- Well-Known Member

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    I have a couple of aladdin lamps with no mantles. does anyone know where I can buy them and what type i need to buy? thanks
     
  13. WanderingOak

    WanderingOak Well-Known Member

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    If you go to www.lehmans.com and search for 'aladdin mantles' you should find what you are looking for.
     
  14. Charleen

    Charleen www.HarperHillFarm.com Supporter

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    I have to also jump in and suggest Aladdin lamps. We have 1 brand new one and have since found 2 older ones to use. Keep fuel on hand and also a couple of spare mantles.

    What we started doing was 1 night each week was "no light night". We lit the Aladdin and set it on the kitchen table. We have a wood cook stove in the kitchen so the kitchen is the heart of our home. It is enough light to read by if you're sitting at the table.
     
  15. mikell

    mikell Well-Known Member

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    We have a very large horse barn with over 60 lights and we are switching over to CF in all but 1 or 2 in each group. Sams club has 100 wattCF that use 27 watts in an 8 pack for under 15$( I think)

    mikell