Top Navigation  
U.S. Flag waving
Office Hours Momday - Friday  8 am - 5 pm Pacific 1-800-835-2418
Facebook   YouTube   Twitter
 Home Page
 Current Issue
 Article Index
 Author Index
 Previous Issues

 Kindle Subscriptions
 Kindle Publications
 Back Issues
 Discount Books
 All Specials
 Classified Ad

 Web Site Ads
 Magazine Ads

 BHM Forum
 Contact Us/
 Change of Address

Forum / Chat
 Forum/Chat Info
 Lost Password
 Write For BHM

Link to BHM

Get Powered Up! Certified Energy Manager Jeff Yago answers your alternative energy questions

Wondering about a great new energy-saving device
you found on the Internet? Then CLICK HERE!

Sorry. Jeff no longer answers questions online.
This will remain as a searchable
resource for all BHM website visitors.

Archive for the ‘Compact fluorescent lights’ Category


Generator and fluorescent lighting

Friday, April 24th, 2009

Hello, Jeff,

I live in a condominium building consisting of six floors with about 8 units per floor. Since the construction of this building about 40 years ago, we have operated incandescent bulb lighting with about 800 watts per floor, as well as the outdoor lighting and an elevator.

We are now discussing the possibility of converting the incandescent bulbs to fluorescent bulbs which would reduce our energy consumption by about 2/3, thus reducing our energy bill accordingly. It is the opinion of some that our emergency generator (same age as the building) could not or would not operate properly with the conversion to fluorescent lighting. Can you advise if this assumption is correct?

I thank you for any assistance you can provide.

I think this concern goes back to the old style 4-foot 2-tube T-12 style fluorescent lamps that had magnetic ballasts, which were those long black objects inside the fixtures that would get very hot. This type fluorescent ballast “flickered” the lamp on and off 60 times per second, which produced a strobe effect and was hard on your eyes. Also, the ballasts were a form of transformer which altered the “power factor” which is a angle relationship between the voltage and current peaks. If the power factor drops due to lots of transformers on the circuit, this causes the circuit to use more current and can really screw up a lower cost generator.

Compact fluorescent lamps do not have a transformer type ballast so they produce a much smaller power factor drop. Also, the electronic ballasts in these newer fluorescent lamps are “flickering” on and off at many thousands of times per second so there is no “60 cycle” strobe effect that hurts your eyes. Combined, these two features are much easier for a generator to handle and I have installed generators as backup power for on and off grid homes that only used compact fluorescent lamps with no generator problems.

I will suggest that if you re-lamp all at the same time, be sure to document the date as we are finding that many of the most recent compact fluorescent lamps now being made in China are not lasting anywhere near the advertised life, so I would buy them all at the same time from a lighting distributor and let them know you will be monitoring performance.

Good luck,

Jeff Yago


Motion detector & compact fluorescent lamps

Sunday, January 4th, 2009


The box of a motion detector light fixture says “Do not use CFL”.

Why not?


R. Reyna

R. Reyna:

This statement does not apply to all motion detector devices, but it may apply to “cheap” models. Lower cost electrical switching devices are designed for “resistance” type loads like an incandescent bulb, which is easy to turn off and on.

Any electrical load having a transformer type load (older fluorescent lights have ballasts) produce much higher loads on the switch contacts in the motion switch when they open. Also, newer compact fluorescent lamps have replaced the ballast type transformer with an electronic ballast, which sometimes either affects, or is affected by, the electronics in the motion sensor.

More expensive devices have added switching capacity and filters.

I once had a motion sensor light overheat and melt down when connected to a modified sine wave inverter due the cheap quality of the motion switch not being able to handle the power quality. Like they say, you get what you pay for.

Good luck and buy a fire extinguisher,

Jeff Yago


LED Lighting

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008


I read the article on LED lighting in the most recent Backwoods Home magazine and I have a couple of questions for Mr. Yago:

Do these lights have mercury in them, and if so, how can these lights be disposed of properly so they do not adversley affect the environment? And, what about the radiation that these lights emit? I have read many times that the LED alarm clocks should never face directly towards one’s bed as they emit low doses of radiation. This is a real concern for me as I realize that so many of the electronic gadgets we use emit radiation and I wonder if over time we will see more cases of cancer and other illnesses due to this radiation exposure?

Thanks for a great magazine!

Lori Smith



Not to worry, there is no mercury in an Light Emitting Diode (LED) lamp, but there is mercury in Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL). The only radiation an LED lamp projects is light energy, no radioactive radiation like you are concerned with.

The older style clocks did have their glow-in-the-dark hands coated with a phosphorescent paint, and years ago they did use a very low radioactive type material. Since radiation travels in a straight line, turning these clocks away from you would be a good idea. However, much tighter regulations has forced most of these products to switch to non-radioactive and safer materials.

Perhaps you need one of those talking alarm clocks!

Jeff Yago



Copyright © 1998 - Present by Backwoods Home Magazine. All Rights Reserved.