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  Progress in Lighting


I just got a new gadget so I decided to do some testing.


Digital light meter

Digital incident light meter

Cree retail packaging

Cree LED retail packaging

There have been several new developments in the LED lighting arena so I decided to do a comparison between my old standby the 104 watt organ tube CFL, a modern 75 watt equivalent CFL and a 100 watt equivalent Cree LED.

Here is the old standby, the 105 actual watts rated organ tube CFL (70 watt measured).

The 105 watt one that I use at my desk is the second from the right while the 200 watt CFL is what I use in my lab.

CFL sizes compared

CFL sizes compared

My test procedure is simple. Insert each lamp into a free standing socket connected to a regulated 120 volt AC source.  Allow the lamp to warm up and take a LUX light intensity reading at 1 foot.

“75 watt” CFL”


100 watt CFL

100 watt rated CFL

First we take a look at a current production spiral CFL. U Lighting of America Brand.  Spec’d at 15 watts and 0.99 PF.

Measuring CFL

Measuring CFL at 1 foot

Measuring the CFL using the LUX meter. The measured light intensity was 3440 LUX.

Organ pipe lamp

Now for the Organ Tube CFL

Same meter, same distance.  This time the intensity is a whopping 19,230 LUX.

Measuring organ tube CFL output

Measuring organ tube CFL output

LED lamp

Finally the LED lamp.  It’s output is 5810  LUX.

Measuring Cree Output


Electrical Parameters

Light output is only one of the considerations to take into account when choosing the technology.  Power consumption is a major consideration, as is power factor and heat production. Following is a table comparing the important parameters.

Lamp Intensity LUX Watts power factor Temperature LUX per watt
Organ tube CFL 19230 70 0.47 <10 deg 274.7
Standard spiral CFL 3440 13 0.95 <10 deg 264.6
Cree LED 5810 13 0.99 154 deg F 446.9

This table shows a few interesting things.  CFLs have not improved their efficacy in over 10 years.  My organ pipe lamp is around 10 years old while the standard spiral lamp was purchased for this test.  The only thing that has changed is that the power factor for the new spiral lamp is corrected to almost unity.  Power factor can be important if a lot of fixtures are on a single branch breaker.  Twice as many 0.99 PF lamps can be run on a given size breaker than can 0.50 PF.

The Cree LED looks like the clear winner.  Twice the efficacy of the CFLs.  It has the form factor of a 100 watt lamp so it’ll fit just about anywhere.

Unfortunately the fly in the ointment is the massive temperature rise.  I bought one of the LED lights to use in the bedroom with a free standing lamp that overhangs our headboard.  I reached up one night to turn off the light, hit the plastic part instead of the knob and got a pretty good burn.  Note that this lamp is operating in free air, base down – The most optimum position for cooling.  I don’t have a recessed can fixture to test the lamp in but I bet the temperature will approach 200 deg F if not more.

So I bought a second lamp just to make sure I didn’t receive an anomaly.  No, same heat.  Here is a photograph of me measuring the base temperature.

measuring Cree Temperature

Measuring the body temperature of the Cree LED

The orange tape is Kapton.  Kapton is opaque to infrared and therefore is an almost perfect emitter.  I’ve found that setting the emissivity of my infrared pyrometer to 0.95 makes the infrared reading agree with a thermocouple reading.  Please note that this is a very expensive Omega Engineering optical pyrometer and not a cheap knockoff.  It reads where the laser circle shines.

Here’s the readout

Cree Body Temperature

Temperature of the Cree LED body operating in free air.



The performance gap between LEDs and CFLs has closed enough that making a selection is not so easy.  The LED would be perfect were it not for the heat generation.  The 5000K color temperature combined with the 85% color rendering index makes this light output very pleasant, especially for reading.

The CFL has a lower color temperature, about 3500K I’d guess It is pleasant for, say, sitting around talking or enjoying a meal but to me at least, reading is more difficult.

One Last Thought

The LED lighting industry has been rife with lies, lies and more lies regarding almost all aspects of LED lighting.  Promising 50,000 or 100,000 hour lifetimes when ongoing testing at the Sign Syndicate shows significant degradation within a year, is an example.  As have been the lies regarding efficacy.  LEDs are just starting to catch up to what the industry mouthpieces were promising 10 years ago.  I’m still wary of the long life claims (Cree promises a 10 year warranty) with LEDs, especially if they are operated in environments with little ventilation.

I know from personal experience that CFLs last at least 7 years, even when fed the lousy power we have here in the mountains.  I’ve lived here for 15 years.  I installed GE brand CFLS, purchased in bulk from Sam’s shortly after I moved in.  I replaced the first one (unvented, base-up operation) at 7 years.  Its replacement is still going strong.   I’ve changed 2 our in the 8 lamp bathroom fixture.  I attribute those failures to often and rapid cycling .  I try to get everyone to turn the lights on in the morning and let them run all day.  I’ve had only moderate success.

I’m going to get some more LEDs (still high at $9 at Home Depot) and start logging some operating data but CFLs are still my go-to light source.  The one place the LED has proved invaluable has been in the shop light (trouble light).   CFLs don’t last long because of the physical abuse.  LEDs are pretty near indestructible.


Posted by neonjohn on July 28th, 2017 under Lighting, Product Reviews, Science |
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  A Visit to our Motorhome


Today I paid a visit to our motorhome where it is parked at the wrecker service.  I had no idea the damage was so severe.  Following are some photos of the damage.  The interior shots show just how shoddily stick-built RVs are constructed.

Amazing what damage a small, probably less than 1800 lb car can do when it impacts at high speed.


Front End Damage.


front end damage from another angle


Looking inside the rig through the side door.

Dinette Damage

Where the dinette used to be


More left side damage


detail showing the shoddy construction methods used


A view from front to back


more damage from where the dinette was supposed to be


What was visible when I opened the side door

right rear corner

Right rear corner damage

storage compartment

showing the damage to the rear storage compartment and right rear corner

Posted by neonjohn on July 14th, 2017 under RV/Camping |
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  That was fast


I meant for this post to signify my return to blogging.  Last April 7 I got married to the most wonderful lady alive, someone I met on  We decided to buy a motor home and start traveling a bit.  During the first week of June I found the almost perfect rig.

Our new Motorhome

Our new Motorhome

Right side

Right Side


I found it in Atlanta on Craig’s List.  A rush trip down to inspect the rig ensued.  It was almost perfect even though it was a ’95 model.  The price was right so I bought it on the spot.

The front tires were dry-rotted but I hoped that I could get it home if I drove slowly.  No such luck.  At the rest area on I-75 north of Atlanta, a tread separated.  Several hours and about $500 later I had new tires on both front wheels.  We spent the night in the rest area and drove home uneventfully the next day.

Since then I’ve spent a few thousand bux bringing it up to modern standards.  $1000 for new tires.  About $300 for a modern 4 stage battery charger and converter.  A few hundred for LED lighting.  Etc.

Monday July 3rd

We had a doctor’s appointment in Cleveland so we decided to take the rig to Cleveland, see the doc, stock up on food and then head off somewhere for a few days.

We headed out of Tellico on a winding country road known as Mecca Pike.  We were following a huge, dual steer axle mobile crane.  At least 50 ton capacity and probably more.  He was mortally flying, taking left hand turns on the inside and scraping the shoulders on others.  We’d catch him on steep hills but he’d jet away until the next hill.

We were in an uphil left hand turn and he was exiting the turn in the left lane.  Suddenly a little red car lept sideways into our lane, fishtailing wildly.    She finally lost it and  slid sideways into us.  BAM – a Head On Collision.

Praise the Lord for good seatbelts and no air bombs.  The impact knocked us sideways and pointed us down an embankment. After the first impact, I still had my hands on the wheel.  Old racing experience kicked in and I steered with the slide while the rig went down an estimated 10 ft embankment.  It slammed hard into ground at the bottom but it stayed upright.

I was not injured at all, except for some tightness in my lower back.  Deb, whose side bore the brunt of the impact, was smacked pretty hard by the shoulder belt.  She now has a nice bruise across her chest and possibly a broken rib.


Our little rig where it came to rest

The little red car didn’t fare so well.

red car

little red car with air bombs exploded.

As you can see, air bombs came out from all over.  The driver was quite beaten up by the air bombs.  This graphically shows why I’ll never own a car with an air bomb.

The woman looked and acted like an alleged meth-head.  The Tennessee Highway Patrol whisked her off to the hospital for a blood test.  We don’t yet have the police report so I don’t know the results but the THP trooper told me she was being charged for the accident.  We feel strongly that the crane driver should be charged.

In an act of closing the barn door after all the horses are gone, I ordered a dash cam last night from Amazon.  I’d already been thinking about one.  Shame on me for not acting sooner.

So now starts the fight with the insurance companies.  Not what I’d hoped to be doing right now.

Our poor little RV is now sitting in the wrecker’s storage yard waiting on the insurance adjusters and on us to go get our personal stuff.  If it’ll quit raining for a day…



Posted by neonjohn on July 6th, 2017 under RV/Camping, Tellico |
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  A Sadly Glorious Day


Today is a very happy but sad day for me.  Joyous because today is the day we true Southerners celebrate Robert E. Lee’s birthday.  Sad because this year this is the day my Father died in 2004.  Two great military men and two men of unquestioned integrity.

Robert E Lee

Robert E. Lee

Of course the history of Robert E. Lee is widely known.  A great yankee general who chose to side with his beloved state of Virginia rather than support the War of Northern Aggression.   Despite few supplies and double-crossing foreign “allies”, he almost single handedly led the South to victory.  Almost.  One can only imagine what the world would be like had the South won.  We certainly would not have the massive, invasive, all-encompassing government we have today which meddles in every aspect of our lives.

Dad in Tellico

Dad fishing in Tellico Plains, TN in 1948

Less well known is my father’s history.  Desiring a military career from a very early age, he sneaked into the Army at 15 and went on to distinguish himself by making the rank of Major in 7 years.

On D-Day he hit the beach at Utah.  Surviving the landing, he fought with his 30th Infantry Division known as “Old Hickory”.

Camp Blanding 2004

Dad at Camp Blanding, in 2004.

He fought his way to the battle of St Lo where, during an heroic mission behind enemy lines, he was grievously wounded by a german artillery shell.  He laid between the French hedgerows for 2 days before being rescued and spend 3 more days on the beach before being evacuated to a hospital ship.

By the time he arrived at the ship, gangrene had set in and he was triaged to die.  And he would have, had a certain nurse not thought he was too cute to die and slipped him the then-invaluable penicillin.

Multiple surgeries and 2.5 years in a body cast later, he had nothing but scar tissue for a hip and one leg 3″ shorter than the other.

He was nominated for the Metal of Honor but his nomination was lost when a company HQ was destroyed by german bombing.  As it was, he earned a silver star for Galantry.

About 2000, I started to try to get him his Medal, putting together evidence from still-living comrades.  But he made me stop, telling me that this country had already rewarded him enough.

Of course, the greatest things he did was to father my brother, Dr Eben DeArmond, Jr and myself!  Those were certainly his proudest achievements.

So on this special day, here a tip of the hat to both of you.  Dad, I hope you and Robert are having fun telling war stories and have found the peace you both deserve.

Your loving son,



Posted by neonjohn on January 18th, 2016 under Cool Stuff, Current Events, Personal |