By Polly Kay
30th May 2021
Over the decades we’ve been in business here at English Blinds, we’ve seen a lot of trends come and go in terms of the most popular types of window blinds. 2021 is halfway through already, and what’s hot and what’s not in the world of blinds this year is starting to come into full focus; so, what type of blinds are in style, 2021?
In terms of the respective types of blinds that our buyers are choosing in the greatest numbers in 2021 (rather than say, the hottest patterns and colours) this post will offer a comprehensive guide to what type of blinds are in style (2021 edition) and offer some insights into why.
If you just came for the pretty patterns and are now feeling a bit catfished, worry not; the most popular blinds colours and designs of 2021 is something I will talk about separately in another post.
1. The most common standalone reason for blinds purchases in 2021: home office use
2021 might as well be renamed “the year of the home office,” or the year during which you realised that having to surrender several square feet of your home to your workplace was probably not, in fact, going to be the strictly short-term measure that your employer promised it would be at the outset.
Form follows function when it comes to blinds, and so many of our customers who invested in new blinds over the last year came to us looking specifically for the best blinds for a home office.
So, what makes a blind the best blind for a home office? This depends on the challenges of the room/window itself, factoring in that “office” is a bit of a stretch for many. “Corner of the lounge,” “kitchen table in front of the patio doors” and “finally going to get my money’s worth out of that conservatory” being a more accurate description of their regular workspace for many people.
The challenges that the right blind for a home office can tackle include:
we’ve seen the most demand for from buyers tend to be blinds that tackle these challenges.
Obviously, not every blinds buyer of 2021 bought for a home office; but the type of blinds that have proven popular this year does reflect, and is greatly influenced by, the last year’s sudden growth in work from home-ing.
So! What type of blinds are in style? 2021’s favourites are listed below in popularity order.
2. Roller Blinds are the most popular blinds in 2021 (and in general)
Roller blinds. Ask the average Joe to name or think of a type of blind, and this is most people’s go-to. Roller blinds are the most popular blinds in 2021, and have been for every year we’ve been selling on the internet, which is actually longer than some of you of legal blinds-buying age (or rather, credit card-getting age) have been alive.
Roller blinds have customisation options that can tackle most blinds challenges, they come in the widest range of patterns and styles, and like for like, are the lowest cost blinds as a rule too. In 2021, roller blinds in dimout and blackout fabrics really came into their own; for bedrooms to keep the sun out, for home office Zoom-ers, and for the furloughed contingent, to keep the afternoon sun from ruining your gaming.
Graphic patterned prints, fluid, natural watercolour effects, dramatic blooms, and both neutrals and
rich, bold colours all scored well on the designs front.
3. Vertical Blinds have undergone something of a resurgence in 2021
For a blinds geek, the public’s love/hate relationship with vertical blinds over the last couple of decades is no little source of fascination.
If ever a blind type suffered from an image problem or the effect of unfair stereotyping, verticals would certainly be it. For many people “vertical blinds” means office blinds, usually very old ones with fraying, fuzzy edges and often, a distinctive nicotine-yellow hue that they did not begin life with, and which indicates that they’re possibly older than the average Galapagos tortoise.
If that descriptive resonates with you, it is probably enough to put you off verticals by association; and as such, despite their versatility, practicality, and longevity, verticals almost became extinct entirely around a decade ago.
However, thanks to a concerted effort on our part to develop a managed breeding programme and build a sustainable population of verticals in perpetuity for the future, vertical blinds are now cool, and you should buy some.
Remember when Skoda used to be the last word in getting your kid bullied at school if you dropped them off in one, but now they’re actually very well regarded and considerably easier on the eye than many higher-end makes of modern cars? This is where verticals are in blinds terms.
Over the last few years verticals have become increasingly popular within homes as opposed to offices, as people have come to appreciate their value for large and wide windows, and to filter light without blocking it.
Modern vertical blinds are well worth a second look. A refashioned contemporary headrail style, choice of finishes and colours, and suitability for tall, wide, and other “difficult” windows mean they’re neither a one-trick office pony nor fugly anymore, thank you very much.
Then, just as verticals really began to establish themselves in the wild in reasonable numbers, the pandemic happened. Home offices became a thing, and vertical blinds came full circle, once more being appreciated for their work ethic and window-obscuring-skills in a workplace setting, be that setting your home office or the corner of your lounge. See? Fascinating.
Anyway, we’ve shifted a lot of verticals in 2021, is the short version of this.
4. Blackout blinds remain universally popular to enable sleep; both in bedrooms and at desks
Blackout blinds are not a family or “flavour” of blinds per se; but they refer to blinds that block external light (and also, stop light from inside of the room bleeding out). Generally, though when most people think of blackouts they think of roller blinds, and this is certainly the most popular type of blackout blind overall.
Blackout blinds remain a consistent top seller in 2021 as they’re the go-to for many people’s bedrooms, nurseries, and other rooms where sleep in either the main goal or at least, a significant side game.
While blackout blinds remain most in demand for bedrooms and they’re not the best-selling home office blind option, they have also have a reasonable amount of uptake from the work-from-home crowd over the last year too.
They particularly suit people who do a lot of Zoom (and/or daytime desk-based power napping and/or worktime Netflix-ing), as they can be used to totally block external light and allow you to manage your personal image via more controllable lighting options that you can angle, switch on and off, and dim to suit.
They’re always popular in neutrals like white, grey, cream and so on, but rich, deep hues also scored well in 2021 as well.
5. Roman Blinds remain Peak Blinds Goals in 2021
Finally, Roman blinds are pretty much at the top of the pecking order when it comes to prestige window blinds; the apex predator of the blinds food chain, if you will.
Roman blinds are luxurious, stylish, and if you want them to, pretty much scream “I got money now!” or alternatively, whisper “I do not need to brag about my wealth, for I am very classy.”
Roman blind designs that are popular in 2021 include sweeping, organic lines, and petite, ditsy florals rather than the larger, bolder floral prints we saw a lot of in 2019 and earlier. People also love block prints, and exotic, nature-inspired designs for Roman blinds in 2021.
Popular Roman blind colours this year include deep, earth tones, and vitally, the integration of textures within the fabric to provide depth and intrigue; such as rustic warps and wefts, the resurgence of plush, tactile, glamorous velvets, and other materials that virtually demand to be touched (but only after you’ve washed your grubby paws, thank you).
Courtesy - Family Handyman
Use these tips for how to paint interior walls to make your painting projects go faster and smoother.
To Avoid Lap Marks, Roll the Full Height of the Wall and Keep a Wet Edge
Lap marks are those ugly stripes caused by uneven layers of paint buildup. They occur when you roll over paint that’s already partly dry. (In warm, dry conditions, latex paint can begin to stiffen in less than a minute!) With these tips learn how to paint interior walls. The key to avoiding lap marks when learning how to paint interior walls is to maintain a “wet edge,” so each stroke of your roller overlaps the previous stroke before the paint can begin to dry.
Here are some painting tips:
Mix Several Cans of Paint in a Large Bucket for a Consistent Colour
Throughout the Room Paint colour may vary slightly from one can to the next. If you have to open a new can in the middle of a wall, the difference may be noticeable. Mixing the paints together eliminates the problem. It’s best to estimate the amount of paint you’ll need and mix it in a 5-gallon bucket (a process called “boxing”). Here are some good painting tips: • When coverage is difficult to estimate, add more rather than less when learning how to paint interior walls. You can always pour the leftover back into cans. • For large jobs, use the bucket and a roller screen rather than a roller tray. It’s much faster to load your roller with the screen than to use a roller pan. • Simply dunk the roller into the paint bucket, then roll it along with the screen until it stops dripping.
Let the Paint Dry, Then Cut the Tape Loose for a Perfect Edge
Once the paint is dry, you can’t just pull the tape off the trim. Paint forms a film between the wall and the tape and removing the tape tears pieces of dried paint off the wall. So before pulling off the tape, cut it loose. Wait for the paint to completely dry, at least 24 hours, then use a sharp utility knife or box cutter knife to slice through the film. Start in an inconspicuous area to make sure the paint is hard enough to slice cleanly. If you cut the paint while it’s still gummy, you’ll make a mess. As you cut the paint, pull up the tape at a 45-degree angle.
Painting Techniques: Paint the Trim First, Then the Ceiling and Walls
Pros usually follow a certain order when learning how to paint interior walls. They paint the trim first, then the ceiling, then the walls. That’s because it’s easier (and faster) to tape off the trim than to tape off the walls. And you certainly don’t want to tape them both off. When painting the trim, you don’t have to be neat. Just concentrate on getting a smooth finish on the wood. Don’t worry if the trim paint gets onto the walls. You’ll cover it later when painting the walls. Once the trim is completely painted and dry (at least 24 hours), tape it off (using an “easy release” painter’s tape), then paint the ceiling, then the walls.
Prime and Texture Wall Patches To Avoid a Blotchy Finish
Freshly painted walls often look blotchy. The colour is uniform, but the sheen isn’t consistent. This usually occurs over the holes and cracks you patched with a filler or drywall compound. The porous fillers absorb the paint, dulling the surface (a problem called “flashing”). When light hits these dull spots, they stick out like a sore thumb. The smooth patch also stands out in contrast to the slightly bumpy texture of the rest of the wall. A quick coat of primer is all it takes to eliminate flashing and texture differences. Primer seals the patch so paint won’t sink in and look dull. To match texture, prime with a roller, feathering out the edges. Choose a nap thickness to match the surrounding wall texture (a 3/8-in. nap roller for smooth walls; 1/2-in. for textured).
Clean Dirty Surfaces So the Paint Can Form a Strong Bond
If you paint over dirty, oily surfaces, the paint will easily chip or peel off. So to prepare before painting, clean grimy areas with a deglosser or heavy-duty cleaner intended for prepaint cleaning. They work well to clean painted, varnished or enameled surfaces to improve the adhesion of the new paint. They’re ideal for cleaning greasy or oily areas like kitchen and bathroom walls and removing hand marks around light switches and doorknobs. Wipe on the cleaner in a circular motion using a lint-free cloth or abrasive pad. Start at the bottom and work up. After the surface is clean, fill in any nicks and holes, then sand them smooth before painting. Be sure to wear rubber gloves and eye protection.
Roll Paint Along the Edges for Consistent Texture
Corners and areas next to trim that are painted only with a brush have a noticeably different texture than the surrounding paint. To ensure the finished texture will be consistent in these areas, brush on the paint, then immediately roll it out before the paint dries. Use a 3-in. roller with a nap that’s the same thickness as the roller used for the rest of the wall. Roll as close as you can without bumping the opposite wall or slopping paint onto the trim. Finish brushing on the paint and rolling it out in one area before moving on to the next section.
Use Cotton Drop Cloths Rather Than Plastic
Spills and spatters happen, regardless of how careful you are. It’s a lot easier to prepare for them than to wipe them out of your carpeting or off your wood floor later. All it takes is canvas drop cloths in your work area. The thick canvas stays in place, so you don’t need to tape it, and you can use it to cover any surface. Plastic drop cloths are slippery to walk on or set a ladder on and don’t stay in place. Even worse, paint spills on plastic stay wet, and they can end up on your shoes and get tracked through the house. Canvas is slippery on hard floors, so rosin paper is better over vinyl, tile and hardwood. Tape the sheets together and to the floor to provide a nonslip surface. But even with canvas or rosin-paper drop cloths, large spills still need to get wiped up right away or they’ll seep through. Clean spills with paper towels or cloth rags. Likewise, if you splatter paint on any other surface, wipe it up immediately.
Feather Out Paint Where You Can’t Keep a Wet Edge
You can’t cover large areas like ceilings, extra-tall walls or stairwells in single, continuous strokes, so the best way to minimize lap marks on these areas is to feather out the paint along the edges that you can’t keep wet. The thinner, feathered coat of paint will avoid the buildup that causes the lap mark. To paint a large section without leaving lap marks, roll the nearly dry roller in different directions along the dry edge, feathering out the paint as you go. After completing the entire length of the wall or ceiling, move to the next section and paint over the feathered edges. For the second coat, apply the paint in the opposite direction. This crisscrossing paint application sharply reduces (if not eliminates) lap marks.
Sand Trim Between Coats for an Ultra-Smooth Finish
One coat of paint usually won’t hide the underlying colour and sheen on trim. And if you don’t sand the surface smooth between coats, the finish may have a grainy texture. For a smooth finish, sand the trim before applying each coat of paint. Sand the trim with a fine-grit sanding sponge. Sponges get into crevices where sandpaper can’t go and let you apply even pressure. Then apply the first coat of paint, let it dry at least 24 hours, lightly sand it again for a completely smooth surface, and apply the second coat. After each sanding, vacuum the trim, then wipe it down with a tack cloth to remove the dust.
THE NUMBERS OF THE PHOTO'S MATCH THE NUMBERS IN THE ARTICLE:
March 4, 2021 Courtesy Arktura
Creating an aesthetically pleasing ceiling is an essential factor in completing your commercial building design. The ceiling is a palette on which you can get creative and think outside the box, and an innovative ceiling design can serve to pull all of the other design elements together. Beautiful ceiling designs can also be a practical way to control noise, direct traffic, create illumination and complete the overall aesthetic of your design.
Commercial Ceiling Design Ideas
1. Influence Memory with an Innovative Mix of Lighting and Ceiling Design
“Calgary Telus Convention Centre” Calgary, Canada, Sarah Ward Interiors Inc. Lighting by Arktura, to set the mood and create a truly unique and memorable experience featuring Atmosphera® Analog 3D by Arktura. The fins that comprise Atmosphera® Analog 3D’s design are available in powder-coated steel for a smooth flat finish, or you can choose Soft Sound® material to enhance the acoustic comfort of the space. Both choices come in a variety of colours to further customize your design.
2. Add Angular Aesthetics to a Common Area
“Confidential Office Space Reception Lounge”, Gensler, DPR Construction, ©Gensler – Ryan Gobuty (Photographer), Featuring SoundAngle® by Arktura. Using the SoundAngle® ceiling system adds dimensionality and high- performance sound attenuation through the use of Soft Sound® acoustical material.
There are countless ways to combine these V-shaped baffles that are available in 6- and 12-inch depths. Because they can be seamlessly tiled or broken out, you can find the best way to adapt to your existing structural elements.
3. Use Dimension That Spans the Room
“Oregon Convention Center” Portland, Oregon, LMN Architects – SEA, Western Partitions Inc. – OR, ©Sally Painter (Photographer), Featuring: SoftGrid® Round by Arktura. The SoftGrid® Round ceiling modules can be layered at varying heights to create depth and dimension while also enhancing acoustic comfort. Made with Soft Sound® material, these baffles are customizable and can span the entire ceiling or focus over a smaller area for targeted acoustic performance.
4. Create a Seamless Labyrinth
“Office Lounge” Featuring: SoftGrid® Orbit by Arktura. SoftGrid® Orbit’s unique honeycomb design evokes the look of a ceiling labyrinth with gridded modules creating a unifying continuous visual flow across a space. The Soft Sound® material helps to control noise in large open spaces where daily noise could disrupt business and productivity.
5. Keep Them Guessing With a Web
“Constellis” Lorton, VA, DBI – DC, Anning-Johnson Company – DC, VA, MD, ©Matthew Borkoski (Photographer), Featuring: SoftGrid® Switch by Arktura. Keep people guessing with SoftGrid® Switch acoustic ceiling modules. The seemingly random pattern adds excitement and spontaneity to your commercial ceiling design. Seamless connections between each section mean that you can cover as much space as you need in order to provide acoustic support to areas both large and small.
6. Settle a Conference Table Under an Ocean of Possibilities
“Confidential Client Conference Room” San Francisco, CA, Gensler – SF, Creative Ceilings & Drywall Inc., ©Jason O ́Rear (Photographer), Featuring: SoftGrid® Wave by Arktura. The wave pattern created by SoftGrid® Wave recreates the look of smooth whitecaps crashing through the room, adding an edge that livens up the ceiling design. Unexpected and exciting, these acoustic ceiling modules are made with our Soft Sound® material that increases acoustic performance in any space.
7. Use Playful Minimalism to Control Sound
“Office Kitchen” Featuring: SoundBar® by Arktura. SoundBar® acoustical baffle and lighting system creates a visual soundscape with an assortment of lengths, widths and depths. They are available in a wide range of colors and wood textures that can be mixed to create your own unique environment. Integrated lighting in Up or Down configurations comes with power integrated into the suspension cables, to simplify installation and hide wiring, making the ceiling design clean and uncluttered.
8. Focus Attention by Manipulating Integrated Lighting
“Lecture Hall” Featuring: Vapor® Frequency by Arktura. The pattern of Vapor® Frequency torsion spring panels paired with integrated InLine lighting bars directs attention forward towards the front of the room. Adding Soft Sound® backers reduces noise and adds another dimension with a variety of colors to choose from.
9. Define Separate Spaces With Thin Panels
“Exact Sciences Innovation One” Madison, Wisconsin, Potter Lawson – Madison, Central Ceiling Systems, Inc., ©2020 Mike Rebholz (Photographer), Featuring: Vapor® Cumula by Arktura
Where a large area has multiple functions, it can be difficult to define and separate spaces. But Vapor® Cumula’s ethereal pattern with integrated lighting backer can be used to easily define spaces and create separation between areas. A Soft Sound® acoustic backer can also be included to reduce ambient noise and create acoustic comfort.
10. Create a Juxtaposed Design
“Airport Exit” Featuring: ParticleTM Ion by Arktura
ParticleTM Ion’s intricate micro-perforation pattern diffused over large panels blends small details with large scale. Integrated lighting and non-woven acoustic fabric backers will make this innovative ceiling design a standout feature in your space.
This system is also compatible with Arktura’s Vertika® wall channel and conventional torsion spring grid systems which allows for effortless installation across both walls and ceilings.
11. Direct Traffic by Creating a Path to Follow
“1201 W Lake Lobby” Chicago, Illinois, Eastlake Studio – CH, DBM Service, Inc., ©Steve Hall, Hall + Merrick (Photographer), Featuring: Vapor® Cora by Arktura
This modern take on a classic diamond pattern can be used to direct traffic through a space. Solid forms are scattered throughout the Vapor®
Cora diamond pattern, lending itself well to integrated backlighting that is just enough to enhance the design. The aluminum torsion spring panel system can alternatively be paired with Soft Sound® acoustic backers to add acoustic comfort instead.
An Innovative Ceiling Design for 2021
We are all hoping that 2021 brings fewer surprises than 2020; however, you can still create a pleasant surprise with an innovative ceiling design by utilizing the variety of panels offered by Arktura. Don’t forget, all of our panel products work just as well on walls as they do on ceilings. With the help of our expert team, you can integrate an incredible acoustic panel centrepiece into your design.
There are many factors to consider when choosing a security system for your home, from installation to monitoring and more. Read our guide below to find out all you need to know.
If you want peace of mind that your home is protected when you’re out of town or asleep at night, you should consider investing in a home security system. These systems can help you rest easy with features like 24/7 professional monitoring, emergency service alerts, and more. Some even add convenience to your everyday life with smart home automation.
There are many home security systems on the market, but they can differ in terms of contract requirements, installation methods, cost, available equipment, and more.
Common Home Security Equipment
While every home security provider offers unique packages and specialized equipment, there are many types of equipment that they all share. We’ve compiled a list of must-have home security basics below.
Control panel: This is the core of your security system, connecting all of your security devices and
allowing you to arm and disarm your system, control your smart devices, and more.
Door and window sensors: These devices alert you when someone opens a door or a window.
Motion detectors: These motion sensors detect movement inside the home within a set radius.
Security cameras: Many providers offer both indoor and outdoor security cameras that can share live footage from inside of your home or outside of your door. Some even have two-way talk enabled so that you can deter intruders or speak to guests on your doorstep.
Doorbell camera: This camera records people arriving at your doorstep and will send you push notifications when they arrive. Some doorbell cameras let you interact with people at your door using two-way talk.
Glass break sensor: This device detects shattered glass and sounds a high-decibel siren to alert you
to an intruder.
Smoke detectors: These can detect smoke and alert you to a fire inside your home.
Carbon monoxide detector: This detects CO inside your home.
Flood/leak sensors: These devices detect excess water in your home to help you avoid flood damages and costly repairs.
Temperature sensors: These sensors monitor your home for extreme temperature changes, from malfunctioning HVAC units to freezing pipes.
Panic buttons/pendants: Designed for seniors who live alone and people with medical conditions, the panic button/pendant dispatches emergency services when it’s pressed.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Home Security System
Unfortunately, choosing the best alarm system for your home isn’t as simple as going with the first option or choosing the cheapest package. From method of installation to equipment, there are many factors to consider when choosing a home security system.
Professional vs DIY Installation
Some providers will offer you the choice between professional or DIY installation, while others won’t
give you an option. There are pros and cons to each type of installation.
Professional installation is typically performed by experienced security experts who can walk you
through the process and install equipment in locations that maximize protection. However,
professional installation means you have to work around someone else’s schedule, let them into
your home, and typically pay for the installation cost.
DIY installation means you won’t benefit from professional expertise, but luckily many DIY systems
come pre-programmed so that all you have to do is set them up. Many DIY security systems also
offer peel-and-stick adhesive equipment, meaning you won’t have to worry about drilling holes in
When it comes to the cost of a home security system, there are several categories to consider: equipment cost, installation cost, activation fees, and monitoring costs--as well as any hidden fees.
The cost of equipment will vary widely from provider to provider and from package to package. Keep
in mind that the cheapest package doesn’t always have the best value. You should balance your budget with your priorities to find the best fit. Some providers charge an activation fee in addition to the upfront equipment cost, but not all do.
If you choose a professionally installed system, prepare to budget to cover the fee. Some providers offer professional monitoring services while others only operate with DIY monitoring. In general, providers offer several levels of protection with monthly monitoring plans--beginning with a starter kit and ending with a more advanced alternative.
Always be sure to read the fine print, especially when it comes to costs you might not have considered like cancellation reinstallation fees.
Some home security systems require you to sign long-term contracts that can be up to a three-year
commitment. Others offer short-term contracts or don’t require one at all. This can be a plus if you
plan on moving or if you don’t want a long-term commitment.
One key consideration is whether you want to do DIY monitoring or professional monitoring. Some
providers offer both, letting you pick the one that suits your specific needs.
Professional monitoring provides round-the-clock protection from experts who are alerted as soon
as an alarm is triggered. The experts can investigate the issue and contact emergency services if needed. Professional monitoring comes with a monthly fee.
Monitoring your system yourself means no professional monitoring fees, but it also requires you to be responsible for notifying the authorities when needed. With DIY monitoring, you will still receive alerts and notifications if your alarm is triggered.
Smart Home Integration
Certain home security systems can be integrated with third-party smart home devices like the Nest thermostat, Kwikset smart lock, Philips Hue smart light, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and more.
Home automation can add convenience as well as save you money. Home automation lets you customize controls to fit your routine. For example, you can set your thermostat to adjust automatically each morning when you leave for work.
Type of Equipment
Some providers allow you to lease your equipment while some only let you purchase it. Other providers will give you the choice between the two. A key factor to consider is whether or not your equipment is wired. A wireless system is a good choice if you plan to move or have pets or small children who might accidentally interfere with the equipment.
Type of Connection
If you choose professional monitoring, you’ll need a connection to the centre. There are three connection options: landline, broadband, and cellular.
With a landline, the provider uses the home’s landline connection to notify the monitoring centre of an alert. Connecting to a landline is the least expensive option but also the easiest to tamper with. If someone cuts the line, you no longer have a connection to the monitoring centre.
If you have high-speed internet, you can use a broadband connection to communicate with the monitoring centre. Unfortunately, your connection is lost if the power goes out. Some providers offer backup batteries to make sure that your system stays functional even if the Wi-Fi cuts out.
Cellular monitoring operates with a built-in chip that sends alerts to the monitoring centre using the same signal your phone uses to make calls and send texts. It’s a reliable method because it can’t be tampered with and the signal is unlikely to cut out. However, a cellular connection is usually the most expensive option.
Courtesy of Generator Source
Generators are useful appliances that supply electrical power during a power outage and prevent the discontinuity of daily activities or disruption of business operations. Generators are available in different electrical and physical configurations for use in different applications. In the following sections, we will look at how a generator function, the main components of a generator, and how a generator operates as a secondary source of electrical power in residential and industrial applications.
How does a generator work?
An electric generator is a device that converts mechanical energy obtained from an external source into electrical energy as the output.
It is important to understand that a generator does not actually ‘create’ electrical energy. Instead, it uses the mechanical energy supplied to it to force the movement of electric charges present in the
wire of its windings through an external electric circuit. This flow of electric charges constitutes the output electric current supplied by the generator. This mechanism can be understood by considering the generator to be analogous to a water pump, which causes the flow of water but does not actually ‘create’ the water flowing through it.
The modern-day generator works on the principle of electromagnetic induction discovered by Michael Faraday in 1831-32. Faraday discovered that the above flow of electric charges could be induced by moving an electrical conductor, such as a wire that contains electric charges, in a magnetic field. This movement creates a voltage difference between the two ends of the wire or electrical conductor, which in turn causes the electric charges to flow, thus generating electric current.
Main components of a generator
The main components of an electric generator can be broadly classified as follows:
A description of the main components of a generator is given below.
The engine is the source of the input mechanical energy to the generator. The size of the engine is directly proportional to the maximum power output the generator can supply. There are several factors that you need to keep in mind while assessing the engine of your generator. The manufacturer of the engine should be consulted to obtain full engine operation specifications and maintenance schedules.
(a) Type of Fuel Used – Generator engines operate on a variety of fuels such as diesel, gasoline,
propane (in liquefied or gaseous form), or natural gas. Smaller engines usually operate on gasoline
while larger engines run on diesel, liquid propane, propane gas, or natural gas. Certain engines can
also operate on a dual feed of both diesel and gas in a bi-fuel operation mode.
(b) Overhead Valve (OHV) Engines versus non-OHV Engines – OHV engines differ from other engines in that the intake and exhaust valves of the engine are located in the head of the engine’s cylinder as opposed to being mounted on the engine block. OHV engines have several advantages over other engines such as:
However, OHV-engines are also more expensive than other engines.
(c) Cast Iron Sleeve (CIS) in Engine Cylinder – The CIS is a lining in the cylinder of the engine. It
reduces wear and tear and ensures durability of the engine. Most OHV-engines are equipped with
CIS but it is essential to check for this feature in the engine of a generator. The CIS is not an
expensive feature but it plays an important role in engine durability especially if you need to use
your generator often or for long durations.
The alternator, also known as the ‘genhead’, is the part of the generator that produces the electrical output from the mechanical input supplied by the engine. It contains an assembly of stationary and moving parts encased in a housing. The components work together to cause relative movement between the magnetic and electric fields, which in turn generates electricity.
(a) Stator – This is the stationary component. It contains a set of electrical conductors wound in coils over an iron core.
(b) Rotor / Armature – This is the moving component that produces a rotating magnetic field in any one of the following three ways:
(i) By induction – These are known as brushless alternators and are usually used in large generators.
(ii) By permanent magnets – This is common in small alternator units.
(iii) By using an exciter – An exciter is a small source of direct current (DC) that energizes the rotor
through an assembly of conducting slip rings and brushes.
The rotor generates a moving magnetic field around the stator, which induces a voltage difference between the windings of the stator. This produces the alternating current (AC) output of the generator.
The following are the factors that you need to keep in mind while assessing the alternator of a generator:
(a) Metal versus Plastic Housing – An all-metal design ensures durability of the alternator. Plastic
housings get deformed with time and cause the moving parts of the alternator to be exposed. This
increases wear and tear and more importantly, is hazardous to the user.
(b) Ball Bearings versus Needle Bearings – Ball bearings are preferred and last longer.
(c) Brushless Design – An alternator that does not use brushes requires less maintenance and also
produces cleaner power.
Fuel Tank System
The fuel tank usually has sufficient capacity to keep the generator operational for 6 to 8 hours on an average. In the case of small generator units, the fuel tank is a part of the generator’s skid base or is mounted on top of the generator frame. For commercial applications, it may be necessary to erect and install an external fuel tank. All such installations are subject to the approval of the City Planning Division. Click the following link for further details regarding fuel tanks for generators.
Common features of the fuel system include the following:
(a) Pipe connection from fuel tank to engine – The supply line directs fuel from the tank to the engine and the return line directs fuel from the engine to the tank.
(b) Ventilation pipe for fuel tank – The fuel tank has a ventilation pipe to prevent the build-up of pressure or vacuum during refilling and drainage of the tank. When you refill the fuel tank, ensure metal-to-metal contact between the filler nozzle and the fuel tank to avoid sparks.
(c) Overflow connection from fuel tank to the drain pipe – This is required so that any overflow during refilling of the tank does not cause spillage of the liquid on the generator set.
(d) Fuel pump – This transfers fuel from the main storage tank to the day tank. The fuel pump is typically electrically operated.
(e) Fuel Water Separator / Fuel Filter – This separates water and foreign matter from the liquid fuel to protect other components of the generator from corrosion and contamination.
(f) Fuel Injector – This atomizes the liquid fuel and sprays the required amount of fuel into the combustion chamber of the engine.
As the name implies, this component regulates the output voltage of the generator. The mechanism is described below against each component that plays a part in the cyclical process of voltage regulation.
(1) Voltage Regulator: Conversion of AC Voltage to DC Current – The voltage regulator takes up a small portion of the generator’s output of AC voltage and converts it into DC current. The voltage regulator then feeds this DC current to a set of secondary windings in the stator, known as exciter windings.
(2) Exciter Windings: Conversion of DC Current to AC Current – The exciter windings now function similar to the primary stator windings and generate a small AC current. The exciter windings are connected to units known as rotating rectifiers.
(3) Rotating Rectifiers: Conversion of AC Current to DC Current – These rectify the AC current generated by the exciter windings and convert it to DC current. This DC current is fed to the rotor/armature to create an electromagnetic field in addition to the rotating magnetic field of the rotor/armature.
(4) Rotor / Armature: Conversion of DC Current to AC Voltage – The rotor/armature now induces a larger AC voltage across the windings of the stator, which the generator now produces as a larger output AC voltage.
This cycle continues till the generator begins to produce output voltage equivalent to its full operating capacity. As the output of the generator increases, the voltage regulator produces less DC current. Once the generator reaches full operating capacity, the voltage regulator attains a state of equilibrium and produces just enough DC current to maintain the generator’s output at full operating level.
When you add a load to a generator, its output voltage dips a little. This prompts the voltage regulator into action and the above cycle begins. The cycle continues till the generator output ramps up to its original full operating capacity.
(a) Cooling System
Continuous usage of the generator causes its various components to get heated up. It is essential to have a cooling and ventilation system to withdraw heat produced in the process.
Raw/fresh water is sometimes used as a coolant for generators, but these are mostly limited to specific situations like small generators in city applications or very large units over 2250 kW and above. Hydrogen is sometimes used as a coolant for the stator windings of large generator units since it is more efficient at absorbing heat than other coolants. Hydrogen removes heat from the generator and transfers it through a heat exchanger into a secondary cooling circuit that contains de-mineralized water as a coolant. This is why very large generators and small power plants often have large cooling towers next to them. For all other common applications, both residential and industrial, a standard radiator and fan is mounted on the generator and works as the primary cooling system.
It is essential to check the coolant levels of the generator on a daily basis. The cooling system and raw water pump should be flushed after every 600 hours and the heat exchanger should be cleaned after every 2,400 hours of generator operation. The generator should be placed in an open and ventilated area that has adequate supply of fresh air. The National Electric Code (NEC) mandates that a minimum space of 3 feet should be allowed on all sides of the generator to ensure free flow of cooling air.
(b) Exhaust System
Exhaust fumes emitted by a generator are just like exhaust from any other diesel or gasoline engine and contain highly toxic chemicals that need to be properly managed. Hence, it is essential to install an adequate exhaust system to dispose of the exhaust gases. This point can not be emphasized enough as carbon monoxide poisoning remains one of the most common causes for death in post hurricane-affected areas because people tend to not even think about it until it’s too late.
Exhaust pipes are usually made of cast iron, wrought iron, or steel. These need to be freestanding and should not be supported by the engine of the generator. Exhaust pipes are usually attached to the engine using flexible connectors to minimize vibrations and prevent damage to the generator’s exhaust system. The exhaust pipe terminates outdoors and leads away from doors, windows and other openings to the house or building. You must ensure that the exhaust system of your generator is not connected to that of any other equipment. You should also consult the local city ordinances to determine whether your generator operation will need to obtain approval from the local authorities to ensure you are conforming to local laws a protect against fines and other penalties.
Since the generator comprises moving parts in its engine, it requires lubrication to ensure durability and smooth operations for a long period of time. The generator’s engine is lubricated by oil stored in a pump. You should check the level of lubricating oil every 8 hours of generator operation. You should also check for any leakages of lubricant and change the lubricating oil every 500 hours of generator operation.
The start function of a generator is battery-operated. The battery charger keeps the generator battery charged by supplying it with a precise ‘float’ voltage. If the float voltage is very low, the battery will remain undercharged. If the float voltage is very high, it will shorten the life of the battery. Battery chargers are usually made of stainless steel to prevent corrosion. They are also fully automatic and do not require any adjustments to be made or any settings to be changed. The DC output voltage of the battery charger is set at 2.33 volts per cell, which is the precise float voltage for lead-acid batteries. The battery charger has an isolated DC voltage output that does interfere with the normal functioning of the generator.
This is the user interface of the generator and contains provisions for electrical outlets and controls. The following article provides further details regarding the generator control panel. Different manufacturers have varied features to offer in the control panels of their units. Some of these are mentioned below.
(a) Electric start and shut-down – Auto start control panels automatically start your generator during a power outage, monitor the generator while in operation, and automatically shut down the unit when no longer required.
(b) Engine gauges – Different gauges indicate important parameters such as oil pressure, temperature of coolant, battery voltage, engine rotation speed, and duration of operation. Constant measurement and monitoring of these parameters enables built-in shut down of the generator when any of these cross their respective threshold levels.
(c) Generator gauges – The control panel also has meters for the measurement of output current and voltage, and operating frequency.
(d) Other controls – Phase selector switch, frequency switch, and engine control switch (manual mode, auto mode) among others.
All generators, portable or stationary, have customized housings that provide a structural base support. The frame also allows for the generated to be earthed for safety.
(Courtesy of cover wallet 2021-08-21)
Light fixtures today can be controlled by smartphones, heating and cooling systems and can be set to adjust automatically depending on the weather, motion-activated security cameras, and internet controlled doors. These are just some of the most common smart home automation systems that are gaining popularity right now due to their luxurious appeal and ease of use.
In recent years, smart home technology has also been implemented into pipes and plumbing fixtures, promising to save your consumers money and help avoid water-damage related disasters, one of the leading causes of home insurance claims. All these new trends provide benefits for your consumers who can lower risk and costs, and it provides opportunities for your plumbing business as the demand for high-tech plumbing upgrades increases.
A very interesting concept that was recently unveiled to the public, Brain Pipes runs via a demand-controlled water system. The main water supply line is closed by default and only opens upon a valid water request. Each water device has its own detection sensor that communicates with the main brain of the system to directly supply water.
Aside from its high tech water delivery, what’s great about Brain Pipes is its ability to detect leaks and malfunctions, alerting the consumer when there is a problem within the conduits. Equipped with a mobile app, Brain Pipes allows customization of water usage and sends monthly reports so users can monitor their water consumption. The whole system can be installed in existing plumbing locations, as well as in new projects, with calibrations carried out by certified technicians.
Delta Leak Detection
It’s said that prevention is better than cure, and knowing this Delta Leak Detection has developed a system that can detect water leaks at various levels. Using sensors and software, this new plumbing technology enables users to detect water leaks in a fast and simple manner.
The beauty of Delta Leak Detection lies in its ease of use since, unlike commercial water systems, it doesn’t require hardware hubs for sensors but rather uses the home’s Wi-Fi to operate. The Delta Leak Detection is specifically designed for home and small business use and works with major water sources such as washing machines, sinks, water heaters, toilets, and many more. With a lifespan of two years, it is powered by three AAA batteries, and mobile app monitoring is available for both iOS and Android users.
Dubbed as the smartest sprinkler ever, ETwater isn’t a company offering water services but rather is a cloud-based irrigation system that automatically controls outdoor watering depending on several factors. Every day, gallons of water are wasted outdoors rather than indoors, and this is where ETwater comes to the rescue.
Depending on the weather forecast, type of plants, microclimate, soil condition, and other environmental data, it offers a reliable irrigation system where water is conserved instead of wasted. Designed for commercial and high-end home use, the device adapts to changes in the environment and smartly measures the water needs of your landscape in a high tech manner and delivers based on this. Through its patented technology, ETwater offers immense water savings for the betterment of nature and the community.
Recycling The idea of Greywater Recycling isn’t the newest plumbing trend, but it reinvents the standard concept of water recycling. Greywater refers to the used water from your washing machine, bathroom sink, tub, shower, and kitchen that has been gently used but isn’t too dirty or contaminated.
It might contain cleaning agents, dirt or food particles that, while not safe for consumption by humans, aren’t harmful to plants. The concept of Greywater Recycling is that instead of letting used water flow down the drain and back to natural resources such as lakes and rivers, why not use it again for other purposes like watering outdoors. It features a filtration process that removes minor contaminants so users can recycle the cleaned water for whatever purpose it might serve instead of polluting the environment.
The last but not least new plumbing technology that will surely benefit the smart home and business owners is the smart appliance. Most machines nowadays are built using the latest technology, so it’s no surprise that there are fantastic devices that allow users to save and conserve water.
New appliances are commonly equipped with computer chips with automatic sensing abilities while others can be controlled directly through smartphones. For example, there is a kitchen faucet that automatically shuts off the water supply after a few seconds of use to avoid continuous running of water. Smart toilets are also getting popular right now due their ability to sense how much water is needed for flushing.
Then there are water heaters equipped with smart thermostats that automatically adjust the water temperature so you’ll have the perfect mix of hot and cold upon opening.
Courtesy of Crown Publications, 28 July 2021
“Turn off the lights!” How many times were you told that when growing up? Even as adults, some bad habits are hard to break.
Today, many lighting engineers are focused on LED lighting control in smart buildings. With the advent of LED-based solid-state lighting (SSL) and its ability to be interconnected into electronic systems, we no longer need to be reminded to turn off the lights when we leave the room.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is impacting almost every field and application space in our society. This includes the areas and rooms in which we live and work. Smart cities, where intelligent sensing and processing networks, and AI and machine learning (ML), are endeavouring to transform our surroundings by thinking entirely for themselves.
In its Annual Energy Outlook 2021, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that US residential and commercial sectors combined to use about 219 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity for lighting in 2020. This was about 8% of total electricity consumption by both of these sectors and about 6% of total US electricity consumption. It adds up to a lot of electricity. Just consider what it might mean if we really could more effectively turn out the lights.
The arrival of AI promises the commissioning of building lighting control and automation to save money. It will also reduce energy consumption and waste, and improve service quality and customer satisfaction. AI will act as an unseen intelligence that stands in for us, going around and physically turning off the lights. AI will engage its decision-making capabilities to help provision future smart buildings. Let’s examine how AI and LEDs together will enable the next generation of advancement in lighting control.
Smart lighting control
Smart lighting control systems comprise LED lighting systems that have communication and controls integrated into them. This integration permits greater automation and flexibility. Not limited by fixed-wired connections, wireless communication aids in covering vast distances. Control flexibility increases because the overall lighting response can get tuned at three critical levels:
AI learns faster than you and I
I attended school for many years to learn all sorts of things. Some things, such as various historical facts, I nailed down quickly. In contrast, other things, such as quantum physics and handling Laplace transforms as easily as basic mathematics, took me many years to achieve some form of mastery (slowly, over time, much of that has started to erode).
AI is a significant technology disruptor. One of the characteristics that AI brings to smart lighting is learning. AI is a faster learner than you and I. AI allows smart lighting systems to improve their performance in a manner analogous to feedback in an electronic circuit. This learning and refinement function is called machine learning.
ML requires the successful handling of large amounts of data by computers. As this vast assemblage of data is analysed, the computer is allowed to make decisions. These decisions are called inferences, which are conclusions reached based on evidence and logical reasoning. This type of processing is well-suited to a computer. AI is like a version of the fictional private detective Sherlock Holmes on computational deductive steroids.
The computer system learns by one of three methods:
Supervised learning works by providing and comparing the desired best correct answer response (output). Unsupervised learning is supervised learning’s complement. In contrast to supervised learning, it does not contain any information regarding the desired, best correct answer response (output). Reinforcement learning provides appropriate positive or negative feedback based on the best correct response (output). Because computers have high data processing capabilities, they can make dramatic jumps in their reinforcement learning performance rather quickly. This comparison of quickness is relative to humans, who do so without the aid of computers.
Here, there, everywhere
A plethora of industries are now incorporating AI. Banking, retail, automotive, and medical are all sectors that have taken a significant leap in employing AI. Although AI will be pervasive, it will likely be adopted across various sectors at different paces. Over time, knowledge and lessons learned in these fields will flow over into the industrial and lighting control application space.
The breadth and scope of the industrial control sector, including smart LED lighting, is enormous. Organizations with particular and specific knowledge of their smart lighting control and automation parameters will adapt faster than those who have farmed this duty to outside firms.
AI and ML implementation are easier for organisations that have initial conceptions of how they should address learning algorithms to tackle the specifics of their organizational challenges and goals. Understanding the existing system’s limitations and interrelations will provide specific areas for focusing and applying AI in building lighting control and automation solutions. AI can be tailored to address application-specific areas that the organisation desires to control and automate. It is a tool that has many uses. Like a handyperson with a well-equipped tool belt, it has at its disposal a wide variety of contexts and applications.
Because of the diverse activities within the industrial space, standard higher-level functions will yield the primary market entry points with the greatest level of return on investment. Areas where human safety, overall security concerns, and risks represent large financial exposures will likely be the first industrial areas employing large amounts of AI. Also, industrial AI applications such as smart LED lighting, where relatively similar high-level systems can be quickly adapted and modified, represent areas for adoption. Organizations should be looking at and strategizing how AI offers the possibility of increasing efficiency and efficacy.
Reducing human intervention
AI enables systems and devices to operate while requiring little or no direct human supervision or control. Successful building automation leads naturally to better building LED lighting control that can save money by reducing energy consumption and waste. All this provides an improved level of service quality and customer satisfaction.
A fine example of AI in an office setting would be building LED lighting control and automation changes that respond to the sun’s location changes throughout the day. This adjustment is made through proper synchronization with the measured amount of illumination being received from the sun and then adjusting for various locational and output illumination requirements needed by multiple consumers.
AI will enable the commissioning of building lighting control and automation. That’s not to mention how AI will help society move in a positive direction to save money, reduce energy consumption and waste, improve service quality, and increase customer satisfaction because of further advancements in lighting control. Now, if kids would only listen to their parents and remember to turn off the lights when they leave an empty room.
Some level of computer literacy is required in just about every job on the market today. Although employers expect new employees to have a basic knowledge of standard office software programs and internet capabilities, they prefer to see a higher level of competency beyond the basics. As a business owner, when you hire a new employee, you need to evaluate the level of computer literacy you need to get the job done, and the advantages associated with various skills.
Reduces Training Costs
As an employer, you need to consider the costs of onboarding an employee, such as those associated with the time and resources to train employees on required computer programs, processes and resources. If a prospect is already well-versed in the necessary programs for the job, the costs to train new employees drops, as well.
Of course, there may be certain proprietary programs that are company-specific. Although you might not be able to avoid training employees on these programs, the training becomes much more effective if that employee has a solid background in computer programs, since many programs have similarly functioning platforms. When a new employee is learning everything from the most basic skills to proprietary software, it takes longer to learn and can become frustrating for employees and employers alike.
New Employees Start Strong
Usually, you hire a new employee to fill a need. Ideally, the sooner that gap is filled, the faster your company or department can get back on track. When an employee comes in ready with the required computer literacy skills, she can sit down and get to work. The time required to ramp up and get started is dramatically reduced.
Productivity and Efficiency
Employees that are computer literate are generally more efficient workers, thus are more productive. There are times a person might need to know a trick he learned years ago; he might not need that trick every day but when he does it can save a lot of headaches and frustration. For example, most executive assistants are well-versed in most office suite programs such as Microsoft Office. This means that he knows more than the basics of Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
Assume you have been invited to speak to a local chamber of commerce about your company, and you ask your assistant to put together a PowerPoint presentation with text that slides in, while you are speaking. Being well-versed in software, he can probably figure out the process but being well-versed in the program itself might save him two to three hours of trial-and-error fiddling around, searching online for help or relying on help from colleagues or friends.
Make sure your plumber holds a current, relevant licence.
For many people, plumbing is that ‘dirty job that someone else has to do’. Because most people don't give a second thought to their plumbing until a problem arises, it's often not given the attention it deserves. In reality, plumbing is the one system that your home absolutely can't be without. It keeps your home clean, hygienic and safe, allows you to cook properly, and helps you regulate the temperature. Without plumbing you'd have no hot water, no gas to cook with, no flush toilets, no swimming pools and no air conditioners.
What do plumbers do?
The short answer is that they plan, install, maintain and repair all the systems in your house which allow water and gas to flow in and out. Consider where these systems exist: bathrooms, toilets, kitchens, laundries, swimming pools, braai areas, air conditioners and so forth - all around your home. What you generally see with all of these systems is the end fixture - the toilet, the air conditioner unit and the kitchen sink.
What you don't often see is all of the piping, valves and fittings that allow these systems to work. These have been carefully selected, arranged and installed inside your wall cavities by plumbers and gasfitters, to allow your plumbing to operate effectively, quietly, and in a way that keeps you and your family safe.
Why can't I fix or install my own plumbing?
There's a lot more to plumbing than meets the eye, and the way that plumbing works is very carefully regulated in South Africa in order to keep it safe.
Sewage and waste, for example, have to be managed carefully in order to avoid the dangers of exposure to harmful bacteria and poisonous gases. Natural and LPG gas are highly combustible, and require special care and procedures to avoid ignition or explosions.
Regulations also exist to ensure that the water in your hot water tank is of a sufficient temperature to prevent the growth of dangerous legionella bacteria. At the same time, your plumbing also needs to incorporate valves that limit the temperature of the water coming out from your shower, so that it won't burn the skin from your back.
All of these conditions and precautions are just a sample of why any and all plumbing must be done by a licensed plumber in South Africa. Taking matters into your own hands, even for a job that looks simple on the surface, could very easily lead to disastrous damage to your property, or even injury or death. It's also likely to spoil any chance of an insurance claim if things do go wrong.
To reiterate: for all plumbing work (beyond perhaps changing a tap), you need to hire a licensed plumber.
Written by our experts at KOST.
List of Articles:
What do Plumbers do?
The Advantages of Being Computer Literate in the Workforce
AI meets LEDs for innovations in lighting control
The latest trends in smart plumbing technology
How Does a Generator Create Electricity? How Generators Work
How to Choose a Home Security System (2021)
11 Innovative Commercial Ceiling Design Ideas for 2021
Indoor Painting Tips & Techniques
The ultimate guide to what type of blinds are in style: 2021 edition