52 States in 8 Months

Adventskalender: Was bevorzugst du um dich auf Weihnachten einzustimmen?

Posted in Adventskalender, University stuff by Ulf on December 6, 2008

This is once a again a question where I first have to decide what the question is about. I actually have two things in mind:

vote-artificial-christmas-tree-2t1#1 So, which one do I like better?

As a German it’s easy to decide between an artificial and a real Christmas tree — I’d obviously go for the real one. I guess most Americans only take artificial trees because they can just keep them for all the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

#2 So, which one do I like better?

The second question divides even Germany. Shall we take real candles or electric string lights? At home we always had real candles, but my grandparents have used the string lights for many many years. And the Christmas tree of our grandparents always looked better than our own one.

kerzeSo, let the CO2 balance decide! A candle flame gives about 13lm of visible light while burning about 40W of wax. I will just assume that wax only consists of CO2 emitting coal. An electric light with a similar light output will need an electrical power of about 4W. Please note that this is a very bad yield, even for a classical light bulb. lichterketteThese small bulbs don’t get really hot which makes them ineffective. Considering a plant efficiency of about 30% and efficiencies of 90% for both the electric energy transfer and the coal mining and handling, these are 16W of primary energy. This is still way better then the candle flame. And if one additionally considers the CO2 emission of your house while burning down on Christmas eve, the CO2 balance of the string light looks even better!

So for god’s sake, I take the electric string lights!

PS/1: Osram seems to produce LED string lights. Their efficiencies must be amazing! If you ever see them, please tell me if they can give you the real “Christmas feeling”.

PS/2: There is one good thing about candles. Once they run out of wax, they will stop burning. Electric lights will never run out of electricity if you forget to turn them off at night. I took this photo on my way back from the university:

bild3740

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3 Responses

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  1. kueken said, on December 7, 2008 at 2:58 am

    did you consider in your calculations, that it’s generally cold on Christmas Eve (at least in most parts of the christianised world) and you can turn your heat down a little because of the emitted heat?

    kueken – no tree, real candles (and at home: real tree, real candles)

  2. ulf84 said, on December 7, 2008 at 9:37 am

    Ah, you’re right. Once we consider the heating, the real candles must be better as all the heat they give is released at home while the heat of the power plant is released somewhere in … far away from home :-).

  3. […] PS: Ulf hat das Thema übrigens noch ein wenig erweitert. Und ich bin definitiv auch für einen richtigen Baum und nicht irgendein Plastikteil. Obwohl meine Großeltern mitlerweile auch dazu tendieren, da es ihnen einfach weniger Aufwand verursacht… […]


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