One Way to Effectively Use Electrical Power


This is my contribution to VoiCE blog. You can read the original article here.

Have you ever experienced how irritating it can be when the the power supply goes off? Outages are common in most cities in India, baring a few metros. And it causes the highest discomfort to the people. As a result people look to solve the problems. Possible solutions are fitting an inverter in the house (which typically lights 3-4 tube lights and 3-4 fans). Or installing a generator to support larger loads. In any case, both are costly options. But what if you could find some thing cheap, convenient, less noisy, less cumbersome to install and more environmental friendly?

There is this LED light my father brought some time back. Its size and shape is similar to a soup bowl. It is fitted with a series of small LED lights. Going by the look of it, it looks just like any other night lamp or a normal decorative lamp. But there is a peculiarity about this Chinese made bulb costing all of INR 150, that differentiates this one with the rest of lamps available in the market. It runs on both AC and DC current. When the power supply is on, it draws raw power from the circuit and throws light like any other ordinary lamp. You can put it in a self charging mode by push of just a button. In this case charges the batteries fitted inside it. When you switch the mains off or when there is a power outage, the light shifts to AC power and no draws power from the charged battery.

Interesting is it not? To explore further, I decided to disintegrate the bulb assembly and find out what was inside. The LED circuit is connected to a small switch which converts DC to AC and also provides input to a NiMH battery fitted inside. It is a rechargeable nickel metal hydroxide battery. A simple but very effective assembly. The bulb gives same illumination compared to an 11W. I decided to test how long the battery can support it when full charged. I removed it from the mains and put it on a battery mode. To my surprise, it illuminated for more than 5 hours before the light started fading. I have seen other battery powered emergency lights. But none matched the capacity of this light.

It makes me wonder, why not have in built inverters fitted with rechargeable batteries in all appliances? They will be beneficial in more than one way. One, they will reduce the power consumption since mostly the appliances will run on battery. Two, reduce the battery size and weight, we will start building better and more efficient appliances. And three, we will be saved from power outages. I have heard that Google uses battery powered servers in their data centers. It prevents the servers from going down in the unfortunate event of all power supplies getting affected. I’m sure this concept can be explored and applied on the appliance level too.

There are so many places struggling for full day’s electricity. Will this concept used in the LED bulb not be useful for them? I’m sure it will be.

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