Energy conservation is the process of reducing energy consumption through the prudent use of an energy source. Although energy conservation has been the subject of extensive discussion, and many energy saving devices such as solar panels and electric vehicles introduced to the market, much more needs to be done in terms of ‘saving’ energy. After watching the television we sometimes forget to switch it off or we keep lights on during the night or keep a fan rotating even when there’s nobody around and these add up to a massive wastage of energy on a daily basis. Keeping this concept of energy conservation in mind, Professor K K Y W Perera had taken the step of introducing a smart fan controller for ceiling fans, which he believes would be an efficient method in which to reduce the amount of energy wasted by a normal household every day.
Having his roots in Kannimahara, Radawana, Professor K K Y W Perera is a product of Ananda College, Colombo and was a gold medalist at the college in 1949. In 1950, he proceeded to the University of Ceylon to pursue his higher education and received a B.Sc. (Engineering) degree with first class Honours, after which he went abroad and earned a M.Sc (University of Birmingham) and Ph.D (University of British Columbia).
He was the first Professor and founding Head of the Department of Electronics& Telecommunications Engineering and the founding Dean of the Faculty of Engineering & Architecture at the University of Moratuwa. Professionally, he has served as the Chairman of the Sri Lankan branch of the Institution of Electrical Engineers, U.K., General President of the Sri Lanka Association for Advancement of Science, President of the Institution of Engineers, Sri Lanka, Chairman, Ceylon Electricity Board; Chairman, Sri Lanka Telecom, Chairman, Arthur C Clarke Institute for Modern Technologies, founding Chairman of the National Engineering Research & Development Centre and as the head of many other Institutes. He also served as the Secretary, Ministry of Power and Energy for approximately 10 years. In appreciation of his enterprising work in the field of electrical engineering, he was also honoured with the prestigious Vidya Jyothi title.
While serving at the Ministry of Power and Energy, Professor Perera understood the need for energy efficiency and this encouraged him to invent a series of energy saving electronic devices including light activated switches for street lamps and automatic “Time out” devices for switching off appliances. He had had a passion for invention during his young days where at the age of 10 he turned out a wheel which rotated as a result of the flow of water drawn from a stream in his village. This was one of his first inventions where oscillatory motion was transmitted by tiny ropes and had used to ring bells to scare off birds and rats at a nearby plot of vegetables. He was able to translate the usefulness of these ventures into the university and elsewhere.
Speaking to the Dailymirror , Professor K K Y W Perera expressed his views about energy conservation and the importance of his invention.
“I wanted other people to promote energy saving. With the experience i gained during my long stint at the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) we introduced CFL bulbs and many other devices that were ideal for saving energy. There was an option in microwave ovens to automatically switch off the appliance at a certain time and my colleagues encouraged me to introduce this in to encompass ceiling fans as well. So I spent around 5 or 6 years attempting to do just that. The result was this device which saves energy by switching off at a set time, in my case 2 hours. Our people are in the habit of keeping the television on even when they are doing something else and not in front of it. Similarly, when we turn on this ceiling fan, it turns off at a set time. I have set the maximum time limit as 2 hours, but it can even turn off in variable intervals as well. Therefore the controller is quite efficient since it doesn’t heat up.”
“In conventional wiring of ceiling fans only the phase or the live wire are available at the fan regulator; the neutral wire is not. With the phase and the neutral wire you can have a timer and a direct current (D.C) power supply. In this case the neutral wire doesn’t reach the controller but goes directly to the fan. The solid state Integrated Circuit (IC) developed for this device includes a timer and also a system to efficiently control speed as well. The system is compact and packaged into a conventional light switch plate, enabling easy and convenient installation. The highlight in this innovation is that the usual speed regulator of any ceiling fan can be replaced with a speed and time controller, which can be used to regulate the speed and automatically switch off after a pre-set time interval. The usual manual switch is also used and it doubles for time resetting.”
“At a research level I was able to develop the device but at a business level now only we are getting some support. But we do need more in order to produce more of these devices..”