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Old 07-12-2016, 05:32 PM
Hari Seldon Hari Seldon is offline
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Trantor
Posts: 11,495
Originally Posted by bob++ View Post
I remember reading that in Canada, where electricity was cheap (at the time) many office blocks left all their light on 24/7 because the fluorescent tubes lasted longer and replacing them was the more expensive option.

At home, I used to have two fluorescent tubes in the kitchen, and left them on all evening on the (probably mistaken) belief that it was somehow 'better'. I now have LED tubes which not only give out a huge amount more light for the money, but don't have that horrible flickering you get with fluorescents. Naturally, these are left off as much as possible. In fact, all the lights in our house, apart from the tube in the garage and the lamp in the loft (both not used much) are LEDs.
While there might be something to that, in my office building the explanation was very simple. There was a construction budget and it was very limited. So to save money, they skipped light switches in the offices and used a 350 volt supply that wired three fluorescents in series (each off had six fluorescents). They turned them off late in the evening and turned them all on in the morning. It wasn't to save operating cost; it was to save building cost. If I wanted to come late at night or on a weekend, I would have to go the circuit box and flick the switch that turned on my office and maybe a half dozen others. When I left I didn't flick them off because, who knows, someone else might have come in in the meantime and I would be plunging them into darkness.

Eventually, they added light switches. But what they had to was use the switch to turn a relay to turn on the lights in each office because it was against code to run 350 volts to a wall switch. Later on they replaced all the switches by new ones that included motion sensors that turned the lights off after 15 motionless minutes. I am capable of sitting just thinking for 15 minutes. But if my office goes dark all I have to do is wave my arm and the lights go back on.

Shows the value of short term thinking. But the building committee had just one budget and operating (or retrofitting) costs just weren't in their remit.