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Old 15th February 2006, 01:54 PM   #1
KT is offline KT  United States
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Default Solutions for saving enerygy, money, and the world

Recently I've been thinking about how wasteful a lot of our choices in audio are.

For example, my two SE 300B amps burn so much electricity I'm scared to think about everything that's sacrificed for the utility company to bring that power to me.

This was brought home to me even more strongly when I received my latest electricity bill from the utility company. Either ConEd read the meters incorrectly for the past 2 months, or the amount of power I've been using is a lot more than I suspect. Shocking how much the bill was.

So the idea of setting up an environmentally and fiscally sensible system once again crossed my mind.

Actually, several recent developments make a system like this feasible, IMO. Firstly, the recently popular class-D technology promises vastly improved efficiency (up to somewhere in the 90%'s I think). Secondly, the advent of TVC transformer volume controls promise good sound with no active circuitry.

I imagine a very sensible system could be built around one of the class-D amps, like the Sonic Impact, 41Hz, or Charlize, and a TVC volume control like the S&B TX102 transformers, the diyhifisupply amorphous trannies, or the Dan Slagle units.

Actually, up until I received my bill, I had been using a system very close to this. Instead of a TVC, however, I was using a tubed preamp. This was being fed with a Scott Nixon TubeDac+.

The problem with this setup is that I often listen to music as I'm falling asleep so the system will often end up staying on all night. Not such a big deal for the class-D Charlize amp, but the tubed preamp and tubed dac does waste a lot of energy while I'm sleeping. This may have been contributing to my enormous bill.

So I switched this out for a JVC ESL-1sl digital receiver for the moment, just to see if this would reduce energy usage. The salient feature of the ESL-1sl is its sleep timer, which allows it to shut itself off after a predetermined amount of time. It also uses the more efficient digital technology, though I don't know if the JVC implementation is as efficient as the smaller class-D amps. I also replaced the TubeDac+ with a non-tubed diyParadise Monica II dac, which uses far less power.

I'll see if this improves things somewhat.

It may be a good time to mention how I'm powering the Charlize and the Monica II: I've been using self-monitoring SLA batteries, which have been working brilliantly for these lower-powered units. The batteries, themselves, are actually designed as jumpstarters for cars, but they have a circuit in them that monitors the batteries and self-charges them when needed. Just by noticing the charging light and occasionally checking on the battery status, I'm pleasantly surprised at how little energy the Charlize and Monica II use. The battery is always topped out and I've only seen the charge light come on for 4 minutes at the most - usually only two minutes at a time - before the battery is fully charged again. And the charging happens very seldomly.

With a battery setup like this, I would think that a properly implemented solar panel array could charge up these batteries and totally remove the dac and amp from the power grid all together. That means a system set up with a CD transport, Monica II (or Scott Nixon DacKit) dac on solar-charged batteries, TVC volume control, class-d amp on solar-charged batteries would only have the transport drawing power from the electrical grid. In the case that the dac needs a buffer between it and the TVC, only the transport and the buffer would be plugged into the grid. That seems pretty sensible to me.

So this is where I throw out the challenge to all of you who are technically saavy and concerned about this: to think about, and even design, something (like solar arrays, windmills, etc.) on a personal scale that will help to cut down on waste, save money, and save the environment and the world.

Best,
KT
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Old 16th February 2006, 04:27 PM   #2
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Just how much power does an SE300B amp burn?




Mark
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Old 16th February 2006, 04:57 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally posted by setmenu
Just how much power does an SE300B amp burn?
I don't see how it can take THAT much, it's only 9W per channel - so assuming only 10% efficiency, it would only take 180W.

A quick check of the valve spec shows absolute maximum ratings of 450V and 100mA, which is 45W, plus 6W for the heater, so 102W maximum dissipated in the valves (although the maximum plate dissipation is actually 40W).

So I suspect something else is more likely responsible for the high bills?.

He's not just bought a Plasma or LCD TV has he?, these consume a LOT more power than conventional TV's, Plasma more so than LCD.
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Old 17th February 2006, 05:50 AM   #4
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Solar panels for recharging the battery powered amps and preamps would be a great way to go,I think.
The only drawback is that commercialy made solar panels are $pendy,currently around $5 per watt,in the US.
You can find raw cells,that are "chipped seconds" for around $1 a watt,and they perform just as well as "full" cells,for much less money.
You'll need to assemble them into panels yourself though.

There is lots of info on solar/wind/hydro power on the web.
I have a small 12V solar setup myself.A 10W panel and a couple car batteries.It has been running my modem,cellphone charger,small area lights,fans,etc. for a few years now- 24/7. And it's essentialy "free energy" (well,atleast after the solar panels/wind/hydro genny. have paid for themselves.)

Check out
www.fieldlines.com
www.otherpower.com
alt.solar.photovoltaic
alt.energy.homepower
And,of course,Google.

And some cheap raw cells:
http://www.siliconsolar.com/shop/cat...att-p-106.html
There was also a person or two selling cells on Ebay for really cheap.
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Old 17th February 2006, 08:05 AM   #5
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Old 17th February 2006, 12:48 PM   #6
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All culture comes from waste. The money blown to support non-industrially productive artists is money that could have made/bought a tractor for use by some poor schlub trying to scratch a living out of a rocky field in some god-forsaken third world country. Without the ability to choose to waste money on art, architecture, gasoline, and etc., where would we all be? We'd be a bunch of commies!

High end audio, too, is all about waste and pretentiousness. You want people to design high end audio stuff with a mind towards reducing waste? That's like saying you want a Ferrari or Hummer that gets 100 miles per gallon of fuel.

Waste is what makes high end audio high end. It wouldn't be high end without it. Look at amplifier boxes. To be high end it has to have a 1/2" thick (minimum) aluminum front panel. It has to consume 1kW on standby. It has to weigh 300 lbs. Put that high end amp into a sheet metal box, reduce the size of the power transformer and heatsinks, scale back the standby power, and what have you got? You've got any amp that you can buy at Circuit City.

The folks who can afford high end audio are the same who drive "high-performance" vehicles and live in 10,000 sq ft houses. They are entitled to consume more resources than others do by virtue of their financial ability to do so. If they weren't good people, living the right way, they wouldn't have all that wealth, right?

Look at it this way: high end audio is helping to usher in the era of alternative energy by more rapidly increasing the scarcity of cheap sources so that nontraditional sources become cost-competitive with them. In a few years you will be able to pat yourself on the back because your penchant for high end audio helped spur the development of fuel cells, solar, wind, tidal, and geothermal power.

Now doesn't that make you feel better? It does me...

I_F
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Old 18th February 2006, 01:34 AM   #7
KT is offline KT  United States
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Quote:
Originally posted by I_Forgot
All culture comes from waste. The money blown to support non-industrially productive artists is money that could have made/bought a tractor for use by some poor schlub trying to scratch a living out of a rocky field in some god-forsaken third world country. Without the ability to choose to waste money on art, architecture, gasoline, and etc., where would we all be? We'd be a bunch of commies!
I don't believe culture comes from waste. Culture comes from common values. What we call "art" is a reaffirmation and expression of those common values. For example, when early hominids gathered shells and stones, they were creating "art", but this art was the glue that helped their culture to form and bond. It was a survival strategy unique to hominids. Perhaps these shells could have been used as something else, so could be called waste. But the function the shells served was important to the formation of early hominid society and culture, far more so than the impact on their environment, so was not waste.

But in the United States today common values and culture does not mean one prescribed by the government, a la communism. Rather, it's expressed in many different ways. One (sub)culture, for example, might be your church group: a group bonded by a common religious belief and a common geography. Another, for example, might be a Linux programming group. Another may be a group of gothic kids, who wear black and listen to a certain kind of music. Many varied subcultures that express themselves in many different ways (through clothes, music, reading canon, beliefs, etc). But these cultures do not necessarily need to create their bonds in wasteful ways. For example, a book club interested in Shakespeare does not need much more than the books to read and a venue in which to meet.

As for audio, there are many different subcultures, as well. There are tube enthusiasts, solid-state "muscle amp" enthusiasts, ESL speaker enthusiasts, horn speaker enthusiasts, diy enthusiasts, etc. The choice to view audio gear as status objects is one way to approach the hobby. The choice to pursue a value-based, high performance-to-cost ratio approach is another choice. All are personal choices which we are all free to make in this country.


Quote:
High end audio, too, is all about waste and pretentiousness. You want people to design high end audio stuff with a mind towards reducing waste? That's like saying you want a Ferrari or Hummer that gets 100 miles per gallon of fuel.

Waste is what makes high end audio high end. It wouldn't be high end without it....
I would argue that "High end audio," as I think you're describing it is all about attaining status. There may be pretentiousness involved in that, sure. There may be waste involved, sure. But waste is not endemic to attaining high status. What is it that the "high end" subculture looks for in its hi-fi? Good sound that brings pleasure to the listener and his friends and family? Fine craftsmanship and nice materials? Unique design that pleases the eye? These things can be had without being unnecessarily wasteful.

Or is it the weight of the amp, where heavier is better? Is it having insanely more power than the system would realistically need, and having bragging rights about having the hottest running amp? Is it about having the thickest faceplate? If these requirements are the priorities, then one has to question if the values these resources are supporting are worth cost to our world, and if it is, indeed, too wasteful. Then one has to decide whether to buy in to or out of this view.

As for wanting people to design high end audio gear with a mind towards reducing waste? What I proposed doesn't lobby anyone to design audio gear toward this end. It simply proposes creating an audio system built around currently existing gear which happen to sound good: small class-d amps like the Charlize or 41Hz, non-active TVC volume control units, and low powered non-OS dacs, like the Monica II or Scott Nixon DacKit. The only invention that I called for was for the solar panel or windmill system for charging the batteries. And in my view, this isn't a Ferarri. No way. Rather, it's like a very efficient hybrid car but with great performance. This isn't the choice for everyone, but the performance should be good enough that I'm sure a lot of folks would be more than happy with it, and at a very favorable energy impact, too. No, not everyone can or wants to drive a Ferarri (though they are very cool cars, for sure ).


Quote:
The folks who can afford high end audio are the same who drive "high-performance" vehicles and live in 10,000 sq ft houses. They are entitled to consume more resources than others do by virtue of their financial ability to do so. If they weren't good people, living the right way, they wouldn't have all that wealth, right?
Sure, folks with wealth are "enabled" to consume more by virtue of their financial ability to do so. In fact, anyone is "entitled" to use what resources they require within the legal limits so long they have the ability to pay for it. But that's just the economy of it. Why be wasteful just because you can? What kind of person is that?

As for your assertion that wealthy people live the right way, one of my best friends is a millionaire, and she and her husband are two of the most decent people I could ever hope to know. But I also know a lot of wealthy folks who are petty, trite, mean-spirited, selfish, and not worth knowing at all. I also know a lot of good folks and terrible folks who earn average incomes.

The ONLY thing I can say about wealthy folks with 100% certainty is this: either they are very good at making money, they are very close to someone who is good at making money, or they've been blessed with a unexpected (or expected) windfall of money. Wealth is no predictor of a person's "goodness" or badness whatsoever, in my experience.


Quote:
Look at it this way: high end audio is helping to usher in the era of alternative energy by more rapidly increasing the scarcity of cheap sources so that nontraditional sources become cost-competitive with them. In a few years you will be able to pat yourself on the back because your penchant for high end audio helped spur the development of fuel cells, solar, wind, tidal, and geothermal power.

Now doesn't that make you feel better? It does me...

I_F
There are consequences to the depletion of traditional resources beyond their simple disappearance: poisoned water, ozone holes, melting polar caps, disappearance of animal species.... I'm no environmentalist or activist, but it should be clear to anyone who can reason that throwing our ecosystem so severely out of balance cannot be good in the near or far future. No, it doesn't make me feel better, not in the least.

Best,
KT
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Old 18th February 2006, 11:28 AM   #8
KT is offline KT  United States
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DigitalJunkie,

Thanks for the solar panel information. Should be interesting research!

Best,
KT
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Old 23rd February 2006, 04:16 PM   #9
KT is offline KT  United States
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Here's a couple of battery charging systems from the siliconesolar site, all ready to go.

http://tinyurl.com/e9wgp

http://tinyurl.com/e85ar

And with integrated battery:

http://tinyurl.com/qskuo

http://tinyurl.com/nuwcv

I'll probably try out one of these for my small system.

Best,
KT
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Old 23rd February 2006, 11:52 PM   #10
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I'm probably 1/4 commie. There are certain limitations that must be imposed because "the market" or whatever you want to call it doesn't always look ahead as much as they should.

If you put some solar panels on the top of every new house and used them to feed the grid, you'd be generating a crapload of power. I think people are tending more to this as time goes on. Switching power supplies are pushing out linear supplies EVERYWHERE. Switching methods of high order efficiency are popping up everywhere. The proliferation of cheap portable electronics that must run forever on tiny batteries is pushing electronics to the bleeding edge of power consumption.

People are finally starting to realize that power doesn't just appear out of no where and soon it will be gone. The question is whether they'll be pushed far enough to avoid big problems.
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