Brown outs

Singapore, 13th March 2010

In the developed world we are so used to having constant power supply at our fingertips that for many it is not easy to understand the concept of power shortage. In this part of the world (Asia) there are still many areas that struggle with power supply. This morning I read in the newspaper about the power shortage problems in the Philippines for instance. Power cuts of up to 12 hours a day are being reported due to the shortage.

Having been in the Philippines on several occasions I am familiar with the so called “brown” outs. We all know the expression “black out”, where there is simply no power, but I suspect the Philippines have to be one of the inventors of the so called “brown” outs. A “brown out” is when the power just simply drops for a while. I vividly remember, lecturing at the Quezon University when power would just suddenly drop or stop. Presenting in a room with no air-conditioning in the tropics is no joke, so I had prepared myself with a small battery driven mini fan, as the show of course must go on, overhead projection or not.

On another occasion in Indonesia we got complaints from site that lights were either not working or very weak in performance. So first port of call is the the lighting consultant! Of course we have done nothing wrong  🙂 , so the first finger points to the supplier…must be something wrong with the light fitting. But if that is not the case, the next finger points to the installation contractor … there must be some installation issue. Suspicious we finally started measuring the power supply only to find out that the power supply on site was less than 190V (instead of the 230V supposedly).

So while we take power often for granted we should take a moment to reflect on the fact that we are lucky and that power is not always that readily available elsewhere in the world. This should be a strong motivation to relentlessly strive to conserve our energy resources when we design our lighting.

13. March 2010 by Martin Klaasen
Categories: going green, lighting and the economy | 2 comments

Comments (2)

  1. Dear Mr. Klaasen,

    I liked this article as it is really relevant in India. India has a huge power shortage as well, which is aften augmented by property developers by having captive power generation, but that is not a very cost efficient option.

    India will require huge investments to cover up the power generation shortage. A thought here – if the country was to instead invest all or a part of that money in moving to efficient light sources where appropriate, then with the energy saved, we may need to invest far less for new power generation.

  2. You have a point. I cant agree more that we have to start at the source and that is with the energy consuming systems, in our case lighting. This is where we all have a task to educate our customers and practice what we preach!

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