Tag Archives: Canadian Tire

Picture of a pink Ikea flower shaped light for kids.

DIY Kid Wakeup Clock

Do you have a child that doesn’t quite understand that 5am isn’t an appropriate time to wakeup and come jump on Daddy? I do. Last spring, our 3 year old learned that when the sun came up, Daddy typically was also getting out of bed. That was a highly unfortunate coincidence at the time. As the spring became summer and the sun came up earlier, Daddy was woken up with “Daddy, get up – the sun is up” earlier and earlier. Things actually got worse as the days got shorter as she started waking up before the sun was up (out of habit) but then had no way to differentiate between 7am and 4am.

The quest for a simple clock she would understand started in the fall and was only satisfied about a month ago.

There are a lot of commercial options for children’s sleep clocks or children’s wakeup clocks. The problem with most is that they are really frickin’ expensive. I’m not paying >$50 for a specialty clock that doesn’t even have the actual time on it. The cheapest one I found was still $35 + shipping and was basically a light that turned on at a set time. Well shit, I can do better than that!

On a trip to Ikea, The Boss picked up a simple kids flower light for ~$10.

I then snagged a digital programmable timer for $10 from Canadian Tire.

Image of a programmable timer made by Noma

The brains of the DIY Kids Wakeup Clock

$20 later and we have a light that is programmed to turn on at the same time Daddy’s alarm clock goes off and then turn off again soon after (no need for it to stay on wasting electricity!).

Now when the 3 year old comes and jumps on me at 4am I can at least ask her if the light is on and if it wasn’t she will usually settle back down and go to sleep again. Small improvements are golden!

Oh, and I nearly forgot the best part! My $20 solution supports up to 20 on/off combinations and even supports a different wakeup time on the weekends! That’s worth way more than the $35+shipping option we had found online.

This version DIY Children’s Wakeup Clock cost a bit more than the initial one. I originally took an unused block heater timer to turn a light on and off. While it worked, it didn’t have the option of multiple programs and the light we used wasn’t that exciting from a kid’s point of view.

I think the $20 solution is pretty damn good and the best part is I can re-use both pieces once we get past this silly wakeup time issue.

Woods SmartStrip power bar saves money

I’ve been watching the Woods SmartStrip power bar at Canadian Tire for a while now.  The regular price of $44.99 seemed a little much in my opinion but a couple weeks back it was on sale for $29.99 with another $5 off because of this year’s Every Kilowatt Counts rebates. So I bought one and so far, I’ve been very happy with my purchase.

The Woods Smart Strip works as advertised.  In my case, I plugged the TV into the “control” outlet and then the Wii, receiver, DVD player, etc into the “controlled” outlets. After a minor adjustment of the sensitivity wheel on the Smart Strip, the TV now causes everything to be turned on or off when it is turned on or off. Yes, there is a very minor inconvenience factor in that the Wii and DVD player have to “boot up” but nothing we can’t deal with. Heck, the TV takes a few seconds to start displaying video anyways.

Previously, we would leave the “TV center” items on all the time or in standby.  The TV itself would be off but the Wii, DVD player, receiver, etc would all be on or in standby.  That consumes power all the time.  With my trusty Blue Planet Electronic Energy Meter (which is like a Kill-A-Watt meter), I was able to determine that we were consuming ~70W continuously. That’s not a big number until you do some math. 70W for, say, 18 hours a day (assuming you use your TV for 6 hours a day, which is pretty high), every day for a year is ~460kWh of power consumed – for something you aren’t even using.

Now with the Blue Planet Electronic Energy Meter I see that the whole setup only consumes 2W.  That is actually the same amount that the TV alone is reported to consume when it is in standby. Basically, the Woods SmartStrip is consuming virtually 0W to provide the controlled outlet functionality. Fantastic!

Why did I buy the Woods Smart Strip?

Hydro One recently notified me that we are going to be billed based on the new Time of Use rates starting this month. That means we are now paying different rates based on the time of day.  There are three tiers – off-peak, mid-peak and peak.  I’m not a huge fan of the current implementation because the average rate over 24 hours is higher than what I was previously paying and the off-peak rate isn’t low enough. But, this is where the Woods SmartStrip is coming into play.

Before Time of Use kicked in, our rate was ~ $0.055/kWh.  That 460kWh of power when the TV wasn’t even  being used was costing us ~$25/year.

Is that all?  Well, hang on, Time of Use increased the average cost for something that consumes 24/7.  It averages around $0.075/kWh which adds another $9 to our yearly cost bringing us to almost $35.  Well, the Woods Smart Strip power bar has now paid for itself if it lasts one year.  Woo-hoo!

But there’s more… We don’t actually pay only $0.075/kWh. Where I live, it’s more like $0.137/kWh once you add in all of the other charges that are billed based on your consumption.  Transportation, delivery, debt retirement, etc.

That turns into approximately $63/year or $71.20/year including the HST I don’t have to pay. Hell, that’s a couple cases of beer!

I strongly recommend the Wood SmartStrip for this sort of application. Why waste perfectly good beer money for no reason?

Over the next while you’re likely going to see more Time of Use related posts on ivany.org. I’m on a quest to reduce our base electrical consumption so that I don’t have to pay for wasted electricity. As demonstrated in this post, small reductions in usage can add up very quickly.


Mastercraft Warranty

A while back I posted about the Mastercraft Life-time Warranty because I was able to replace a measuring tape with no questions asked. That post has received a number of comments from people who have had problems exercising the Mastercraft warranty.

I decided to contact Canadian Tire, the retailer who sells the Mastercraft  tools brand in Canada, to ask them about their warranty policy. The response I got back from one of their Corporate Customer Relations people was:

Limited lifetime warranty is issued on certain types of Mastercraft tools and can only be exercised with a proof of purchase and/or the visible marking of the Mastercraft name. Without either one of these criteria, the store is unable to honour the replacement of a tool.  The warranty excludes any damage resulting from apparent negligent handling, misuse or lack of maintenance or care.

Based on this policy, we would be able to exchange the tools that meet the above criteria. In the event there is no replacement tool available, the store would then issue a refund.  The stores reserve the right to refuse to credit or exchange the article should a receipt not be available or a defect cannot be found with the product.

From the response above, it would appear that if your tool has an obvious Mastercraft marking, Canadian Tire should replace it with the same tool, as long as it is available, no questions asked. Of course, don’t abuse your tools or they won’t honour the warranty.

Unfortunately, it also sounds like each Canadian Tire store can refuse to honour the warranty if you don’t have a receipt. If you are lucky enough to live in an area where there are multiple stores, you should try a different store if the first one rejects your warranty exchange. If you do get refused, you should contact Canadian Tire and request their help in exchanging the defective Mastercraft tool.

Good Luck!

Hydronic Heating System Information

In my previous Hydronic Heating Coil Replacement post, Jim asked about more information on my heating system. I’ve finally had the opportunity to collect some of that information and try to crunch the numbers. I can’t guarantee that any of what follows is correct – even after almost 5 years, I’m still learning about my heating system as it was installed by the previous owner of my house.

My house is a 1½ story,  approximately 1900 sq-ft of finished space and another 600 sq-ft of un-finished basement space.

My source of hot water is a Polaris Natural Gas hot water tank, model PR-100-34-2NV.  This is a 34 gallon tank that is capable of 100k input BTU per hour and 129 GPH recovery rise to 90°F.

To pull the water from the tank through my hydronic heating coil, I have a Taco 006 Cartridge Circulator.

It’s a rather cold day today so the system has been on a fair bit.  This is good for getting ballpark temperature readings. For all of my temperatures, I’m using a Mastercraft Digital Temperature Reader which happened to be on super sale last week. It’s supposedly accurate within ±2°F at room temperature. You do have to keep the reader as close as possible to the subject though or you will get poor results.  I tried to keep within 1 inch at all times.

The Numbers

The output air temperature is 100°F (37.8°C) at one of my main floor forced air registers.  This is probably the most direct run in the house and was also the hottest of the few I checked.

In the basement I took a few readings at different points in the system. Now, all of the copper pipe used in the system is ¾ inch and it appears that the heat does not transfer quite as much.

The new copper for the water to air heat exchanger coil

The Polaris hot water tank is set to 60°C (140°F). At the hot water tank outlet, the copper surface temperature is 120°F (48.9°C). Just before the Taco 006 circulator pump, the copper is 100°F (37.8°C). The circulator pump itself has a surface temperature of 160°F (71.1°C) (!).

Just before the hydronic heating coil in the plenum, the surface temperature of the ¾ inch copper pipe is 85°F (29.4°C) and after going through the coil the output is 81°F (27.2°C).

The hot water tank inlet is 90°F (32.2°C).

This is all in my unfinished basement area where the ambient temperature is 64°F (17.8°C).

Taco Model 006 Cartridge Circulator Flow Graph (click for the full PDF specifications)

Taco Model 006 Cartridge Circulator Flow Graph (excerpt)

Based on the data sheet (and the graph shown above) the Taco 006 Circulator is moving between 7 and 8 GPM in my installation (4 foot lift from the tank outlet to the ceiling where the forced air unit is mounted). The 006 is represented by the blue curve with the number 3.


This would suggest that there is a 30°F (16.7°C) drop in the water temperature. Unfortunately, that’s really just a SWAG because measuring the copper surface temperature is not going to be a linear delta to the water temperature.

Oh, and I’m really not sure why the Taco 006 circulator had a surface temperature of 160°F.  It does feel quite hot to the touch but it shouldn’t be more than the 140°F water going through it. Maybe the surface is too shiny for the temperature reader to get a correct value.

Noma “Super Bright” LED Christmas Lights

This season, Noma has introduced a new line of “Super Bright” LED Christmas lights.  I picked up a string of 70 “Super Bright”  multi-coloured LED Christmas lights last night from Canadian Tire and they really are much brighter than the older style Noma LED Christmas lights.

Noma Super Bright LED Christmas light box

Noma Super Bright LED Christmas light box

The two immediate advantages to the Noma “Super Bright” LED Christmas lights are the ability to change the lights and the fact the string is fused!  Included in the box were two additional fuses and two replacement LED “bulbs”. Yippee, we potentially can now have no more burned out LED lights!

Fuses and extra LED bulbs included

Fuses and extra LED bulbs included

Oh, and by “changing the lights”, I mean you can change the order in which the lights are on the string.  You just pull off the coloured plastic strawberry shaped light and swap it with any of the other lights on the string.  Super!

Unfortunately the Noma “Super Bright” LED Christmas lights are not perfect.  They are supposed to have yellow and orange lights but there is very little difference between the two colours.  It’s sort of like bright yellow and not so bright yellow. If you notice in the (crappy) picture below, the “Super Bright” LED lights around the front window are brighter and more yellow than the others.

This is unfortunate as the biggest complaint about the older LED lights was that the blue and green were overpowering.  Now you just get a whole lot of yellow.

Noma LED lights outside - Super Bright are around front window

Noma LED lights outside - Super Bright are around front window

Also, be careful with the length of this string of lights.  The set of 70 is supposed to be 23′ long but that doesn’t seem to be the case.  One review on the Canadian Tire page linked above says their set was only 17′ long.  I didn’t measure mine before installing but the string of lights is definitely not 23′ long.  Maybe if you put the thing on a rack and stretch it out completely straight it might be close.

Finally, make sure you keep your receipt!  The box indicates a 5 year warranty (as does the instruction sheet inside) but it explicitly states you must have proof of purchase.  Go and put that receipt in a safe spot now.

5 year warranty on the box and in the box

5 year warranty on the box and in the box