Newsletter Archive

E-News Issue #27

2 December 1999

Dear Friends,

Well it's already December - so it is time to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year. Thank you for all your support.

24V - 20W Dichroics

After several months of absence, they are in stock again. They are of the same white box brand as the 35W - 24V Dichroics. All our other halogen bulbs are the well known German made Osram brand.

Christmas Stock

For those presents, we have good stocks of Dolphin Torches, Crystal Beam Torches, LED Night Lights and 12V Blenders.

Mini Inverters

As advised in our last newsletter we decided to discontinue the mini inverter which we were recommending for small televisions. After considering a number of options we decided to go for the substantially bigger Cherokee Inverter. We trust it will not have any trouble starting a 34cm television. In fact it ran a 51cm TV. The micro inverter is only recommended for charging small battery packs and lap top computers.

Fridge Star Ratings

The Star rating is Australian Standard AS 2575.2-1989. It assumes an ambient temp of 32C and 3C inside the fridge, with several door openings per day. Under the Stars, there is a figure of kWh/year; divide by 365 for daily usage.

3 stars = less than 5.6 to 7.0 Wh/l/day
4 stars = less than 4.1 to 5.5 Wh/l/day
5 stars = less than 2.6 to 4.0 Wh/l/day
6 stars = less than 2.5 Wh/litre/day

In this area we find fridges use 20 - 30% less than their Star rating, but in a tropical climate you might have to add 20-30%! Jim Patkins from the Canberra area has also been monitoring his fridge and freezer. The inside house ambient temperature is 16 - 24C year round. His Westinghouse Freezermate 416 litre (10 years old) used 710Wh per day over a week. It has 4 - 5 stars. His Phillips Max 310 litre upright freezer (10 years older) uses 1650Wh per day.

Bread makers

Jim Patkins Panasonic bread maker uses about 300Wh per load. His Kleenmaid dishwasher uses a whopping 2kWh per load! Stephen Hart and Chris offered some more feedback about bread makers.

I currently have a Breville BB400 bread maker. It works perfectly on both my previous mod. square wave inverter (Selectronics Silver Series 600) and my new sine wave inverter (SEA Boxer 1500). On the SS600 it was slightly noisy, as you would expect from any induction motor. On the sine wave it performs just like on the mains. This is a fairly expensive machine ($279 at Target stores) but has more features than any other machine, including 30 minute power failure memory protection. It also has the lowest power consumption at only 425W. My only complaint of this machine is that it is quite noisy when kneading. The pan fits fairly loosely in the machine, and the kneading paddle fits loosely on the shaft, so it tends to rattle and clang a bit. I went through several other machines before getting this unit. (Thanks to Myers stores for their flexible returns policy). Details as follows:

Sunbeam BM100:
Not tried on inverter. During the heating cycles the 600W element is switched on and off several times per second as the chamber approaches the cut off temperature. You can hear the relay "fluttering" inside. My understanding is this is no way to treat a relay, and I doubt an inverter would appreciate it. I phoned the service department who said to return it to their service agent, they thought it didn't sound right, but when I took it to the service department, they said it was normal. I got two more under warranty but they did the same. Returned for refund...

Breville BB350:
Worked ok on mod. sq. wave inverter (ss600) though quite noisy, more so than the BB400. This model proved quite unreliable. I had three replacements under warranty, they all died mid-cycle after a couple of weeks each. (On the mains, not on inverter) My sister had one of these too, which lasted about four months, the warranty replacement has lasted three months so far...

Panasonic SD250:
This machine was streets ahead on quality, it was quiet but was completely useless on the mod. sq. wave inverter. It wouldn't even soon as it was plugged in you could hear a relay clicking on and off about once a second. No other signs of life. I didn't own the sine wave inverter at the time so didn't try it on that.

Question: If the sine wave inverter is really sine wave, how could the Panasonic work on the mains and not on a sinewave inverter? Can this be a problem for other appliances?

Washing Machines

Stephen and Chris also have some washing machine experience:

I have an oldish Fisher and Paykel "Gentle Annie" washing machine. It has electronic controls like a Smart Drive, but with a separate motor and belt drive. (unlike Smart drive). The motor is electronically commutated. It uses between 100 and 250W when washing. (Varies greatly depending on load size). It uses 500 to 650W when spinning which isn't great, but there is absolutely no surge when starting. It spins really fast, like the Smart Drive. The best news is that it works perfectly on a mod. sq. wave inverter. (SS600) as well as a sine wave inverter. (I have been told that Smart Drive machines hate mod. sq. wave inverters). It is about 10 years old, so tracking down a second hand one shouldn't be too difficult. Mine cost $30 because it leaked. The leak turned out to be a $25 rubber hose. Bargain!! The latest versions of the Fisher and Paykel Smart Drive machines have a "water saver" option. The deep rinse is deleted and extra spray rinses are substituted. This should help those with limited water supply. The water use is still somewhat more than most front loaders, but the power use is much less than any other machine. The option is only on the "Excellence" series - the most expensive versions.


Our last article is about a water powered exhaust fan for your shower by Callum Morrison.

Imagine a bathroom where no steam escaped from the shower cubicle to grow mould, the mirror never fogged up, the window did not need to be open and the noisy ineffective electric fan was replaced by a quiet fan powered by the shower water.
The "enviro fan" takes some of the pressure out of the shower water before it reaches the shower head to spin a ventilation fan for the bathroom. Not only does it replace the need for an electric fan but it can safely go where no electric bathroom fan has ever safely gone before.
Electric fans must be located at least 1.5m from showers for safety reasons.

"As an Environmental Health Officer for South Gippsland Shire Council, I regularly see alternative solutions to practical problems being proposed by residents, small food businesses and industries. Much of my work involves identifying potential hazards to the environment and public health then assessing and sometimes suggesting solutions. The situations range from food safety risks in food premises through to waste water discharges into storm water drains."

"On the rare occasion I cleaned the bathroom at home, I had often thought there must have been a better way to arrange things. When I heard about the "enviro fan" this presented an opportunity to finally enclose the shower cubicle and ventilate it through the wall. It was a chance to use some of my skills as an Environmental Health Officer in our home on a challenging after hours project of my own."

"Most people never get the opportunity to harness their own energy from water. The "enviro fan" is a simple project people can experience even if they live in the city. There appear to be some small but practical environmental and health benefits of using this device."

Less electricity is used than by powering a distant electric fan. Energy is also conserved in a number of subtle ways. The fan turns on and off automatically and can not be left on or off by mistake. The bathroom is warmer because the window does not need to be open and less cold air is drawn into the house and the bathroom by a less powerful but well placed fan. There is less need for heating in the bathroom and less hot water is used to stay warm.

On the morning I tested air temperatures it was zero degrees Celsius outside, 12 degrees in the bathroom and 25 degrees in the shower cubicle. I hang my towel next to the cubicle door and dry myself in the shower cubicle. Stepping out dry into 12 degrees is quite comfortable compared to the sometimes blast freezer conditions associated with facing an open window while dripping wet!

Other benefits include:- Moist air is efficiently contained and discharged directly out of the bathroom from the shower cubicle. The moist air can be kept from fogging the mirror, dampening towels and supporting the growth of mould on the walls and ceiling.

"When cleaning the shower cubicle it is important not to use strong cleaning agents in the confined space and only clean the cubicle with the shower door kept open. Hopefully now most of our bathroom cleaning will be confined to the shower cubicle."

"The trial has worked well and I will soon replace the temporary plastic, cardboard and masking tape with proper bathroom materials. The fan is very quiet even though it is just above the head of the shower. We are lucky to have very high water pressure but future versions are likely to further reduce the need for high water mains pressure and also allow the use of low flow shower heads. It is very important to follow the manufacturers instructions and guidelines."

"I think all up this innovation makes for a more pleasant shower and a better start to the day."

The airflow rates drawn by the envirofan are relatively low and so the same principles may work over showers with curtains.

We have relatively high water pressure and the fan was still spinning at 7 litres per minute and stopped at 6 litres per minute. This is why the envirofan is not recommended to be installed on water conserving shower heads. Before buying the envirofan I suggest taking a bucket and your watch (waterproof into the shower). See how full the bucket gets in one minute. Ask the water authority what water pressure you have locally then take some readings off the manufacturers chart. The manufacturer suggested at least 12 litres per minute is needed to ventilate a bathroom and have performance rivalling an electric fan. By enclosing the shower the fan does not have to ventilate such a large space, it is closer to the steam and does not have to work as hard or use as much water. Even a water conserving shower head may drive the fan effectively if it only has to ventilate a shower cubicle.

This raises the question of why it is necessary to ventilate showers at all?

My guess is that they would become too steamy, air may become stale and air with a very high moisture content would escape the moment you stepped out. I naturally try to minimise my water usage and sometimes the fan stops with no real negative effects. Turning up the cold during the final minutes of the shower spins the fan, cools the body back to room temperatures, dispels steam and clears the warm water from the pipes.

I guess the risk presented by Legionella bacteria growing in shower pipes and roses is unlikely to be changed by the fan. In the rare event you are ever told by a doctor or health authority to sanitise your shower head because of vulnerability caused by a weakness in your immune system then extend this precaution to sanitising your envirofan. It is easily disconnected and flushed with sanitiser.
Legionellosis is another good reason to give up smoking.


Thanks to all of you for your comments and contributions. Keep them coming! It helps to make my job easier and I think it helps to make our newsletter more interesting with some real life stories.

This newsletter is a bit longer than most, but that will compensate for the newsletter you won't receive in January due to the holidays.

Newsletter # 28 will come out in early February. Talk to you then.

This is the last newsletter to go out using the WebPromote Engage ISP. We will change over to another similar type of service in the New Year. If you don't receive your next e-newsletter by 15 Feb 2000, please contact us and we'll check out the new system to source any gremlins!

Once again, have a good Christmas!!

Cheers from Dave and all the RPC crew.

Dave Lambert (Director)

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We install solar systems in Northern NSW and Southern QLD.

Gold Coast (from Coolangatta to Southport), Nerang and Hinterland (Beaudesert) and out West (Warwick, Stanthorpe, Killarney)

Northern NSW (Tweed Heads to Iluka, including Evans Head, Byron Bay and Ballina); the Far North Coast Hinterland (Yamba via Lismore to Murwillumbah) and out West (Casino to Tenterfield, including Drake and Tabulam, as well as Woodenbong and Bonalbo)

We also have sales agents in
Grafton:contact Andy Wilkinson directly on 0409 508 144, and
Tenterfield:contact Diamond J Legend directly on 0425 769 444.