Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Solid Fuel Stove Review


My New Stove
Blacksmith "Anvil" Review
part 1
ADDENDUM December 2015
(5years on and the stove is still in perfect order - I am well pleased with it)

I have been preaching the gospel of stoves, along with fireplace doors, for some time as a means of increasing the nations energy efficiency. My perspective has widened a little because I have installed both a fireplace door and a new stove. Today I am making a first assessment of the new stoves performance.

My name sake, SEAI (Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland), in their great wisdom, have seen fit not to back simple methods of energy efficiency like stoves with any sort of grant aid. You know - that may be a good thing - coz they would probably just have attracted the cowboys to the scene and hyped the price of stoves.

Anyway what I am writing about is my own new stove. I replaced an old solid-fuel range in my kitchen about two months ago with a lovely little stove.

A Review of my New Stove

My stove is from Irish supplier Blacksmith Stoves (look it up) and is the "Anvil" non boiler model. It is rated at 6 Kw output or 21,000 BTU, and as having an efficiency of up to 80%.

It is cast in solid cast iron and thoughtfully designed by people who would seem to know stoves and combustion. I have seen several pretty looking stoves with badly designed technical features. To date I am well pleased with the design of this stove.

The single door closes and seals very well, with a well designed simple lock and insulated handle. The grates are good and heavy, and the ash box is very easy to lift out for emptying with the supplied handle.

I can vouch for the stoves heat output -  it is easily capable of putting out the rated 6Kw when fired up with smokeless coal. The problem, for us, is keeping the output down and steady, as the room can become like a sauna all too quickly. With some practice it is possible to get an even 2 or 3 Kw output.


The stove happily burns just about anything you put into it. We have burned peat, different woods and smokeless coal, all giving good results. The smokeless coal puts out much more heat than the other fuels, if you want to push the stoves output than this is the fuel to go for.

It has a very precise air control, once you learn how to adjust it properly - takes a little practice. The ashes are easily removed and cleaning is a breeze.

I have found smokeless formed type coals are by far the best fuel to use. With this type of coal, it is possible for the stove to burn over night for up to 10 hours, and to give a reasonable heat output all through the night. All this on a couple of shovels of smokeless fuel. In the morning, open up the air vent and add some fuel and away she goes. In fact, the stove has not gone out in two whole months!!!


We paid €400 euro for this great little stove and consider it very good value for the money. I would recommend it, in the right settings, as efficient, multi-fuel tolerant, good value, easy to adjust and to clean, and easy to get 8 hours continuous burn overnight. I have seen other similar stoves in use but I much prefer this one.


Monday, December 20, 2010

2 Giga Watt MagLev Wind Turbines


More than 3 Years on,
No MagLev Turbines!

Just over three years ago I posted articles on some proposed giant 2 Giga Watt+ maglev wind turbines. 

The idea was very appealing to me - but even without the technical knowledge to assess the viability of the proposals, I had a strong feeling that these images would not soon be translated into reality. In other words, I would not be investing any money in the projects even if I had money to invest!

To the present time, and to the best of my knowledge, the notion had still not made it off paper, and "as time goes by" I wonder if it ever will.

Writing this blog has taught me that if 10% of inventions, widely reported and touted at their inception, ever make it to the real world, it would be great odds indeed.

The development of photocells, wind generators, water generators, and batteries, so far, have not substantially changed in three years.

The odd and wacky - over-unity type devices, while still touting for investors in the media, have not materialised either.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Flashing Phenomenon of CFL Bulbs


Flashing Phenomenon 
of CFL Bulbs

I am writing this post because I have not seen too many articles or posts about an unusual feature of the latest types of quick start CFL bulbs where the bulbs flash when switched off.

What I have seen in two of my fittings are the bulbs give a small and short duration flash of light about once every 30 seconds or so - this even though the main light switch is switched off!!

The type of CFL bulb in question is the newer generation rapid start, i.e. reach full brightness quickly,  the variety is usually of a spiral shape. The flashing is not generally noticeable by day, as the light output of the flash is quite small.

The first time this phenomenon was reported to me was when I received a late night phone call from my wife who was in the UK at the time and staying at a hotel. She called to ask if there might be some danger as the main light in the hotel room was flickering at regular intervals in the dark. As I was not sure of what might have been happening, I suggested she contact the staff and request a different room, if for no other reason than that the flickering would disturb her sleep. At that time I did not know about flickering CFLs, and the dangers of faulty wiring was on my mind.

The next time I came across the problem what when we had some house guests who awoke us worried about the light in their room flickering. I had just fitted a new rapid-start spiral CFL in the main fitting. I immediately removed the bulb and re-fitted the old 100watt filament bulb curing the problem.

Since then, I noticed the problem in a hall light with a similar type of CFL fitted. This time the flickering was causing no disturbance and I knew that it posed no danger - that light still flickers away all night.

The Cause?

I think that the cause of the flashing is induction in the wiring causing a tiny leakage of current into the bulb. When that leaked current builds up in the bulbs starter circuit, it tries to ignite the bulb, but there only being a very small current present, all you get is a weak little flash. The charge and discharge cycle happens all the time and the interval depends on the capacitors in the bulb circuit. Apologies if that does not sound very scientific - it is only an educated guess.

I have learned that you would need to consider this CFL flashing business in your choice of bulbs and in your choice of locations. A bedroom is about the last place you want one of these bulbs. The older slow start CFLs - the ones that take a while to brighten up - I have found - not to flash.

So my advice - choose your CFL bulb carefully and choose the place you install it with this flashing thing in mind!


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Down like a LED Balloon


An  Update on my domestic LEDs

I have, in recent months, been trying out some of the latest low-priced offering in LED replacement bulbs from China etc. Typical of this type of bulb is the GU10 bulb shown above. It is a 4 by 1 watt LED elements mounted very neatly in an aluminium heatsink, and incorporating a power converter circuit in the stem.

Above, laid out, are the "guts" of the GU10 LED, from the left is the stem or base into which is stuffed the power regulator circuit. The red and black leads are the low voltage to the LED elements mounted in the aluminium heatsink.

I have found that the light output and the colour of the light from this type of bulb has improved a good deal over earlier examples. For a 4 watt power consumption, I estimate the light output to be roughly that of a 20 -25 watt halogen lamp.

The Problems?

The lamp you see above is the first dud of 12 GU10 and MR16 LED lamps I recently purchased. It worked just fine for about 3 months and then one day it just was there - belly up.

What was immediately obvious on examination was that the LED elements had become detached from the aluminium heatsink. Whatever compound or glue that was used to secure the LED units onto the metal plate had failed. The immediate result would have been overheating and failure of the delicate LED units.

I am hoping that this is not a trend with this generation of LED bulbs and perhaps this is a one-off failure. As I already stated, the level of light output, and the colour of the light both were very satisfactory.

Chinese with CAUTION

But again, I must strike a note of CAUTION on buying Chinese LED bulbs. China had not as yet got a proper standards system in operation, so products can range from excellent to complete rubbish and even dangerous, and there is no universal official testing and marking system to warn the buyer. Neither does there appear to be any system to follow-up and punish any bad and dangerous products. 

Hopefully when China gets a standards system they will not see fit to punish offenders with an 11 year jail sentence!! I wonder does the Chinese authoritarian government realise just how foolish they look to 90% of the world?

So no Nobel prize to China, or "Confucius award"  (more like a "Confuse-us Award") for its control of manufacturing standards and safety - it is simply a case of "buyer beware"


Monday, December 06, 2010

Ireland's Financial Problems - a comment


A Comment 
Ireland's Financial Problems

Some comments - I publish as comments - some are above the bar and deserve a better hearing. So it is with this comment from "Mo". Why do I think this? Well I guess because I believe very much as he does, that the age of wastefulness and endless expansion is at an end.

Mo has left a new comment on your post "Ireland's Financial Problems":

I sense that we're all on that same train. The only difference is that Ireland is a few cars ahead of many others.

The prosperity we have enjoyed will probably be viewed as an anomaly in human history. Our lifestyle and economy's dependence on cheap energy and perpetual growth will likely find the precipice (assuming we haven't already) and the landing looks like it'll be a hard one.

I doubt it will be long before sustainable lifestyles will no longer be a choice - it will be a matter of survival.


Sunday, December 05, 2010

Apologies for Off-Subject Posts


Apologies to Regular Readers

I owe an apology to my regular readers for so many off-subject posts recently.  I have just felt so frustrated, depressed, and immensely angry about the gross mis-management of our beautiful Ireland, that I have had to use my blog as a safety valve and let off some steam.

Those that have cost the Irish people so much, are the ones who, through their own designs, are most insulated from the fall-out of their actions.

So many Irish people are in a position where they cannot pay their electricity bills and have to suffer the darkness and cold, as well as the humiliation. That they should also have to suffer seeing government ministers retire on a salary of €315,000 a year is sickening and a disgrace to the Irish spirit.

This is not our finest hour.


Ministerial Stampede Irish Politics


 Stampede of Irish Gov. Ministers for Retirement
a painting by Shame-us O'Con-man


Saturday, December 04, 2010

Shocking Fuel Poverty in Ireland


Shocking Levels 
of Fuel Poverty 
in Ireland

In the Island of Saints and Scholars, (used to be what Ireland was called - but nowadays it sounds hollow and very inappropriate), 2,500 homes a month are disconnected from their gas and electricity.

This is, quite frankly, a shocking level and represents a very large human tragedy being played out.
If that disconnection figure were to repeat itself over the full year, the yearly figure would represent 2% of all dwellings in the country.

Small Mercies

Various appeals have been made to the energy companies and as a result, ESB, Bord Gáis and Airtricity have announced that they are suspending disconnections during the bad weather and also during the Christmas holiday period.

St Vincent de Paul,  the main charity helping the ordinary population, reported having distributed as much as €5.800,000 to allay energy poverty.

I find these figures far more shocking than the IMF and EU bail out news. All the more sickening when one hears that a retiring government minister is to get €315,000 a year.