JetWay JNC9C-550-LF and PicoPSU-90 problems


I got a Jetway JNC9C-550-LF mini-ITX mobile Atom board from Newegg to run, and the plan was to run it off a Pico-PSU 90W [amzn] power supply for maximum efficiency.  But I could not get the darned thing to boot on that power supply.  It worked ok on a 250W ATX ps, though.  I had originally gotten an 80W picoPSU, and that failed to boot, so I RMA’d it.  The folks at mini-box were very nice and helpful, but the 90W behaved exactly the same way.  I was stumped.  As a long shot, I asked Jetway tech support about it, and was rather astounded to get this reply:

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Where are the Hyper-Watters?

A while ago – maybe around when the Prius first appeared? – there was a lot of talk about the hypermilers.  You know, the folks who would coast down the hill to their garage and draft 6″ off 18-wheelers in an effort to eke out the very best possible mpg in their car?  I know it is a cultural phenomenon, because it has a Wikipedia entry!  There are also YouTube videos, Wired articles, and Instructables.  Clearly, this has caught people’s fancy – probably because paying for gas sucks, especially now.  Saving energy and money – in your car – has become just a little bit cool.

So where are the hyperwatters, the folks who eke every bit of utility out of every watt-hour?  Where are the forums, the Wired articles, the … words of the year for the electrical efficiency freaks?

Even if the word isn’t in our language yet, I’m pretty sure you may be a hyperwatter if you:
(Note: some Amazon product links follow)

So – are you out there?  Are you with me?  Have you gone to any extremes to shave that last kWh off your bill?  Will it take electricity at $1/kWh for “hyperwatter” to become the 2014 word of the year?

Affordable WiFi thermostat!


Update: This same thermostat is now available at Amazon [amzn] under the Homewerks brand for about the same price as Home Depot; take away tax and add free shipping and the price is comparable. They also have a fancier version [amzn] with a dot-matrix display and a few more features.  Read on for the original post…

I had posted another blog entry about these things almost a year ago – I had found the Radio Thermostat Company of America website, and their wifi-enabled thermostats looked like just the thing to add to my home energy monitoring setup.  However, they seemed woefully unavailable…

Then they started popping up rebranded, from Intwine EnergyOurhomespaces, Enphase … but in at least some of these cases it was a “we’ll sell you back your data for a monthly fee” arrangement – no thanks!

The helpful commenters on the earlier blog post alerted me to the fact that they are now in stock at the RTCOA website store, and also  available at Home Depot – $99 each place.  Further, there is an iPhone app to control it – no monthly fee involved.  I’ve asked on the RTCOA forum if there is an API to talk directly to the devices; I’d rather not be beholden to some 3rd party to get data in/out of the thing.  I may have to get one; these look pretty darned cool.

p.s. the cheaper 3M-30 and 3M-22 thermostats at Home Depot also have the U-Snap sockets for the wifi module, but so far that does not seem to be available separately.

LED lighting economics


I broke down and tried a couple LED bulbs in my house.  We have track lighting in the kitchen with PAR20 bulbs, usually the 50W halogen type.

The Home Depot recently started carrying some decent LED lighting, manufactured by Lighting Science Group right here in the US.  They have a PAR20 form factor for about $25, which does seem awfully steep for a bulb.  (Lowe’s has a version from Sylvania for about the same price).

(edit: the price is $20 as of Sept 2011 – Eric)

But if you look at the long-term economics of it, it makes a lot of sense, even at $25.

I pay $0.10/kWh for my electricty.  These bulbs are 8W, and they replace my 50W bulbs, for a net savings of 42W.  They’re rated for 50,000 hours (5 year warranty) so (42W x 50,000hrs x $0.10/kWh / 1000W/kW) is a savings of $210 over the life of the bulb, if it really lasts that long.  On top of that, a “long life” $8 halogen bulb lasts 4,000 hours, so I’d need to  replace that halogen bulb 12 times, at $8 a pop for another $96, so this is $71 more than the material cost of the LED bulb.

Anyway, end of the day – even at $25/bulb if they perform as advertised, they’ll save $281 each over the old halogens.  If I replace all 6, at a cost of $150, I’d save over $1600 over the life of the bulbs!

Sounds great right?  But 50,000 hours is a lot.  At 3 hours a day every day, that’s over 40 years.  :)  Still, the break-even comes much sooner than that – assuming rates are steady, 4 years saves about $18, 1 avoided bulb change saves $8, so I’d say break-even in 4 years.

Now, as for the quality; they are a little more focused than the old halogen floods, and they are definitely a whiter color; 3000K is smack between “Warm White” and “Bright White” on the lighting facts label, but it looks pretty white to me, to the point where I’m not sure I like it, unfortunately.  Sylvania claims to have similar bulbs at 2700K which is yellower, but I can’t find those for sale anywhere.

Apparently Home Depot will also be selling a version of the Philips bulb submitted for the L-prize, which is supposed to be a true 60W replacement and a nice warm white… for $40-$50!  The long-term economics will still be a win, but that’s some sticker shock for sure.  Of course, this is how CFLs started out a couple decades ago, too.