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July 12, 2013

Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line

Filed under: solar lighting — Tags: , — solaroutdoorlight @ 6:30 am

In the vast expanse of the exceptionally crowded compact crossover segment, it is inevitable that otherwise worthy alternatives will fall through the cracks. Yes, while the likes of the Ford Escape and Toyota RAV4 sport new sheet metal and are snatched up no slower than chocolate cupcakes at a dessert table, certain models tend to be completely overlooked.

The Volkswagen Tiguan finds itself in this rather unfortunate predicament, much like the red velvet cupcake. It, too, plays second-fiddle to chocolate at the dessert table, but take a bite and one is instantly drawn in by its delectably sweet core and layer of frosting. But I digress. Like the car on which it’s based, the Golf, it has been around for a while. It boasts neither the sexiest sheet metal, the most powerful engine nor the most cutting-edge technological wizardry. Rather, it does many things well, despite its rather high price, without making much of a fuss.

Take the styling, for example. Onlookers in a shopping mall parking lot would be hard-pressed to stop in their tracks, bewildered by the Tiguan’s unrelenting beauty. It eschews the rounded-off styling so common with many other crossovers, embracing a more traditional two-box design. From the front, it does not look half bad, with its split two-bar chrome grille, finished off by a set of  Wholesale Xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights.

Look closer and there is a badge on the grille denoting what makes our particular tester special — the R-Line package. New for 2013, it is available exclusively on the fully loaded, $37,440 Highline trim level. The package adds a handful of goodies to the Tiguan, including the aforementioned headlights as well as tinted tail lights and a spoiler on the hatch. It rides on a set of 19-inch alloy wheels wrapped around 255/40 series rubber, surprisingly (and pleasantly) wide for a car in its class.

The choice in tire width, something otherwise seemingly inconsequential, does wonders for the ride in tandem with another R-like exclusive, the sport-tuned suspension. Though the Tiguan is not the best option for the autocross or the racetrack, its driving dynamics are a wonderful surprise considering high stance. It feels very planted ascending on-ramps, rough pavement and even tight bends, far from the numb and wallowy tendencies of other crossovers.

Steering is tuned toward the light side of the equation

. It takes little effort to manoeuvre around town and in tight parking situations, and gives the driver a reasonable idea of what is going on under the wheels. As a Golf offspring, the Tiguan is not as direct as the GTI or Golf R, but is definitely up there with the Mazda CX-5 and the Subaru Forester XT. Outward visibility is good despite the small side-mirrors. Thankfully, the a back-up camera is standard.

Powering the Tiguan is Volkswagen’s ubiquitous 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine. As with many other VW products beating with this heart, it does not take an engineering professor to figure it produces identical numbers to the GTI: 200 horsepower at 5,100 rpm and a 207 pound-feet of torque at 1,700 rpm. Like the GTI, the Tiguan feels it produces much more thanks to minimal turbo lag and a fairly linear powerband. Keep the radio off and the go-fast pedal pressed far enough and you can even hear the turbo spool up, something more than welcome considering its sporting genealogy.

Where it differs from the GTI is how it puts the power to the ground. The Tiguan is equipped with VW’s 4Motion all-wheel-drive system. Whether or not it has the chops to compete with Subaru and Audi’s systems is yet to be determined, but it certainly inspires confidence knowing all four wheels get horses and torques, regardless of weather conditions.

My only nitpick with the car lies with the transmission. Though the six-speed automatic is respectably smooth and responsive, it is not Volkswagen’s magical-elf-and-pixie-dust-powered dual-clutch Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) automatic. Rather, it is a standard, run-of-the-mill tiptronic slushbox. Slotted into Manual mode, it does not detract from the sporty drive, but I do miss the lightning-quick upshifts and downshifts. Click on their website hmhid for more information.

June 7, 2013

USDA find LEDs extend strawberry shelf life

Filed under: LED Lamp — Tags: — solaroutdoorlight @ 3:17 am

Bathing strawberries in UV light over a long period of time means they don’t go off for at least nine days, which should see them last for the majority of Wimbledon – even if the good weather doesn’t.

The technique sees a novel use of LED technology that turns your fridge into a chilly sun bed by bathing the contents in UV light – and it could also have benefits for other fresh produce.

The study, by the United States Department of Agriculture and a specialist lighting manufacturer, found that the typically dark and damp conditions found in people’s fridges were a haven for strawberries to go off.

But, when they installed UV LED lamps, spoilage time for the shop-bought soft fruit was delayed and they were still fresh after nine days – faring much better than the darkened berries when compared by their weight, moisture content, concentration of certain chemicals, visible damage and mould growth.

The special lamps emit UV light at a wavelength similar to natural sunlight that passes through the earth’s atmosphere, which until recently was only possible using UV fluorescent tubes.

Previous tests using the traditional method for simulating sunlight ended up drying the delicate fruit out, and researchers found that the long periods of exposure to UV light required to keep mould at bay could only be achieved if they used the new UV LED lamps.

Lead researcher, Steven Britz, explained their approach: “UV-LEDs presented the opportunity to try low power devices that work well in the cold and can be engineered to work in small spaces such as refrigerator compartments.”

Researchers say that the typically dark and damp conditions found in people’s fridges are a haven for strawberries to go off.

LEDs are now a common feature in domestic and commercial light fittings and outperform traditional bulbs in most tasks thanks to their long life and efficiency.

The scientists used the latest generation of LEDs as they are capable of emitting light across a wide spectrum of frequencies from ultra violet to infra-red, and can be controlled to emit specific kinds of ultra violet light.

The team’s next step is looking at ways to adapt the technology for home use, explained Remis Gaska, president and CEO of SETi, the technology firm which developed the UV LED lamps.

He said: “These findings are expected to have a major impact on the appliance business to extend the shelf life and preserve nutritional value of fresh produce while reducing waste and saving money for every household.”

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