PV panels and SMOG

Jun 22 2011 Published by under Geek stuff, Sloar, Uncategorized

Is smog a consideration when planing a photovoltaic solar system? Well in my very un-scientific analysis of my solar photovoltaic system production I have seen some patterns develop.

I have a monitoring system that constantly  collects data on how much the PV system produces every hour and instant production. One thing that I keep monitoring is what is the peak amount of wattage does the system produce.  I deduced that the closer we approach the summer solstice the more power the PV system would producre. General that is true, I have seen a constant increase in monthly production since the winter solstice.

But what I did notice is that for a couple of days after a rain storm the PV system was generating more power then on average. To the tune of 2 kilowatts (or about 5%) more. Two day after the rain storm the production would drop back to the lower average peak output.

The pattern was very constant (see chart below). Rain and then a couple of higher peek production days and then a return to the lower peeks. So I deduced that the days following a rain storm the air is cleaner, less smog. anyone can see, as they fly in the the Los Angelse basin, that most of the time there is thick layer of smog. So the smog is filtering the sun light and less sun is reaching the PV panels.

So you might argue hat the rain cleans off the PV panels. All the rain washes of the dust awasy and the panels receive more sunlight and therefore producer more power.  Sounds reasonable, BUT just recently we has a service clean the PV panels and both the day of the cleaning and the two day after the cleaning the power production was the average peek not the 2 kilowatts higher peek. Both day were also very sunny and cloud free.

So the more I look at the monitor reports, the more I’am convinced that the smog is costing me about 2 kilowatts a day in lower power production. All due to the SMOG levels in our area.

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Using 163 Light Bulbs?

Jan 20 2011 Published by under American Consumer, Changing scene, Geek stuff

Do you have 163 60 watt light bulbs on for several hours a day.  Will if you are running a single speed 2 horse power pool pump, that is how many 60 watt light bulbs you have on each and every hour the pump is on.


The average 2HP single speed pool pump uses 2000 watts per hour. Most people run there pump atlease 3 hours a day, most likely 6 to 8 in the summer.  So for the average summer month you are spending $50 to $60 a month, based on Southern California rates. It could be costing you more as you move up to a higher rate tier when you consume more electricity in the summer.

How does this happen. Back in the 70′s and 80′s pool pump horse power was king. The pool salesman would upgrade you to a better, higher, horse power for the same cost and you though you were getting a better deal. More power, ya!

So,  do you really need all that horse power to jam the water through a pool pump and filer. NO, you do not. So the pool industry came out with a two speed pump to save you money on electricity.  One speed to clean your pool and get that pool sweep running. With a slower speed to circulate the water and get your turn rate. Did it save money?  You bet!  But now there is even something better.

The Pool industry has a variable speed pump. The pump can be programed to run at almost any speed you want. And here is the dirty little secrete! As you decrease the pump speed, by reducing the revolutions per minute (RPMs),  the pump gets more efficient and uses LESS ELECTRICITY. Are you with me?

The normal pool pump runs at or above 3200 RPM, that will use 2000 watts or more of electricity per hour. A variable speed pump can be run at 1100 RPMs and only use 156 watts or less per hour. Sometime 145 watts.  BUT BUT what about my water turn rate, will it turn over in 6 hours? NO, so you run the pump longer. BUT that use more electricity, right? NO, not  at the lower RPMs.

If you run your single speed pump for 6 hours, that 12,000 watts of electricity.  If you triple your run time to 18 hours with the variable speed pump you will only use 2,772 watts of electricity. That is less then what one and one half hours of the single speed pumps electricity usage.

So what about the pool sweep it will not run at that low flow rate. So you program the variable speed pump to ramp up to maybe 2000RPM and use anothe 1000 watts of electricity to keep the pool clean. Onky for an hour or so. Your still way under 12,000 watts of power.

So save some money and get a variable speed pump. Do they cost more? Ya a lot more.  But you just missed a Southern California Edison rebate program that paid you $300 to install a variable speed pump. I’m sure there will be more incentives. Just keep your eye open. Once you get a variable speed pump you will only be using 2.5 60 watt bulbs per hour not 163. And that save you money and is good for the environment.

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Solar – the Electronics

Nov 15 2010 Published by under American Consumer, Sloar, Solar Install

The collection box: This device is used to collect all the power from the various photovoltaic arrays. The panels are wired up, in series, to create several groups  or arrays. each array puts out about 600 volts DC.  The connection box feeds the wires through attic to the inverters.



This system has two inverters due the number of PV panels and the desired expansions options.  The inverter take the DC power created by the  photovoltaic panels and covert it in to 240v AC power. These inverters are a little more sophisticated then the inverters you use in you car to get 110 power. These are full sign-wave inverters. A fail-safe system is built into the inverters to shut down if the street service is interrupted.   The interruption is to protect any power Company employee that is working to restoring the main grid.

Two inverter introduces a problem as both inverter takes up two slots in the electrical panel.  I was lucky and had the space in the panel. We had upgraded to a 200amp panel two years earlier in preparation and anticipation of adding solar.

There are also some advantages to having to inverters. If one inverter fails you do not loose all your power production abilities.  Half of you system will still be producing usable power. The other advantage is the cost less to replace if one fails.

Next the photovoltaic panels.

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Solar – off with the roof

Oct 15 2010 Published by under Geek stuff, Sloar, Solar Install



This is not your normal instalation of photovoltaic panels. In a normal install, on a concrete tile roof, the photovoltaic panels are install on top of the concrete tiles. The contractor walks all over your fragile concrete tiles and cuts holes in you tiles to install the mounting hardware.



The photo above is an examle of the traditional method of installing a PV panel mounting system on a concert tile roof. Select tiles are removed, a bracket is mounted to the rood sheeting, a riser post is attached to the mounting bracket, a standard sheet metal  roof flashing is placed over the post and the top edge is sealed. This whole process is tough on the existing roof, as you are walking all over the tiles, and prone to leak due to the numbers location of the mounting post. This type of install also used a rail that the panels are mounted to.

Our installation requires the concrete tile too be removed. The a New 40 year asphalt shingle is laid down, a metal flashing is placed on the roof and the SunPower smart mounts are attached to the roof.  Pre-installed on the botom of the mount is a sealing compound the is squeezed out the the bolts are tightened.  Talking about bolts there are eight. No rise post or rails are used. the panels attach directly to the SunPower Smart mount.

Next the electronics.


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Google TV let down

Oct 07 2010 Published by under American Consumer, Changing scene, Geek stuff, Google

Wednesday October sixth was a real let down!

Logitech and Google started releasing a bunch of information about Google TV recently. Google luanched a more informative website http://www.google.com/tv/ early in the week.  That was the first sign of the letdown. DVR functional would only be available to Satellite customers. BUMMER!!!

Then on Wednesday (10/6) we get the first detail look at the Logitec Revue. The first thing I noticed was the connections on the back were limited to HDMI In and Out. So how was this going to work with OTA (over the air) broadcasting? well it is not, BUMMER!!

I was hoping  that the Logitech Revue device was going to be able to get ANY internet content.  Thats mean stuff like HULU! But several reporters reported no HULU at launch. Plus it was missing from all the screenshots. Another BUMMER!!

And the cost of the Logitech Revue is $300 dollars. Thats is a $200 dollar premium over most to the rest of the market. Like Apple TV and Roku which are both selling at the $99 dollar price point. So the cost is a real big BUMMER!!

On thing that is interesting about the Logitech Revue is it ability to control other devices like a digital cable , Satellite box, or a A/V receiver.  The Revue has an IR blaster and two connections on the back for IR out. I guess IR control is a no brainer for a company like Logitech that makes all the Harmony remotes. Plus you can use your smart phone (iPhone or Android)  to control the Revue over WiFi with a Logitech App. That is cool.

But the BUMMERS out number the cool factors, so I canceled my pre-order. I will sit on the side line a little longer to see who comes out with the set top box that hits the sweet spot. I thought it was going to be Google , but they missed by a long shot. My one hope is that this is just the initial release of Google TV…. Maybe better features are still coming

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Steve Jobs out of Touch

Feb 24 2010 Published by under American Consumer, Changing scene, Geek stuff

steve-jobsThe iPad look and sounds cool, but who will buy it. When I talk to friend and co-works I always a are you going to buy and iPad? I asked the same question a few years back about the iphone and always got a resounding yea you bet, as soon as it comes out. No matter how long the lines are or how much it cost.

Well the response, i’am get now, when I ask the question about the iPad is “No I’am not going to buy the iPad for myself”. Then they continue “I will definitely buy it for my parents!”

Parents! Why are you going to buy it for you parents? “Because, it is easy to use and does not have a mouse.”

I though Apple product were always for the generation x and y’ers not the old baby boomer’s of the 50′s.  You know the cool products that the young persone has to have. The fancy packaging, the modern stores, stuff that a baby boomer would never identity with.

So what happened? Is Jobs designing products for a different generation?  Is this a planed marketing change? Or did Apple just miss-read the masses? Or is Steve just getting old like the rest of us Baby Boomer’s?

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Google Real-Time Search

Dec 07 2009 Published by under Corporate America, Google


Google announces “Real Time Search”. What is it, results as they happen. Today the Real-Time Search results display results from Twitter and general sources. Google is still working on additional feeds form Facebook and MySpace.

Getting a feed from MySpace raises the question is Goolgle paying for these feeds.  Google did not answere the question, Danny Sullivan tried to come at the question in several direction. One wonders, in the wake of the fight over paying for news feed over that last few weeks, if money is exchanging hands.

This new feature “Real -Time Search” results display as a scrolling window on the main page or by using the option column you can change the whole page in to real time web search results.

Google has a video about the new ‘Real-Time Search” results:

or you can read the Google Blog about “real-Time Search” results.

How is Real Time Search done? Real-Time Search indexes a Billion pages a day. Yep thats a B for BILLION. And with in seconds analyzes the results for relevance and decides if the results should be used.  With in seconds the result is available on Google. Google had to develop doezons of new technologyed to get Real-Time search to work, see diagram below.


So now the questions are:

1.   How will this change the Web?

2.   What is your strategy to leverage this new technology?

3.  What is relevant for “Real-Time” ?

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Google Chrome OS

Nov 19 2009 Published by under Changing scene, Future things, Geek stuff, Google


In a nutshell the Google Chrome browser is the Google Chrome OS. It is aimed toward a netbook. There will be no disk drive only a RAM or solid state memory. Googles plan is to have the OS ready for Christmas next year.

So the good news is Google OS will load in 7 sec. The bad news all your data will be in the cloud. But is that  good or bad news. If your data is out in the cloud you can access a document from your notebook or your home machine or your office machine. So that is good, right.

Google Chrome OS  introduces a secure platform that stores your user settings in the cloud. If you loose your netbook , just get a new one and log-in to the cloud and you setting will all be there with your files.


Everything you do in Chrome OS will be in the browser. So all your applications will be web based. Google claims that this is to make computers more accessibly,  less costly to install and maintain.

The example Google gave was you can buy several netbooks for $300 each. Load Google’s Chrome OS and get an adorable house wide solution. And since Google’s Chrome OS  is auto undated you do not have software updates to buy and install on all your home PC. For me that would have saved the purchase of the new windows 7  Family Pack and several hours of installation time and i still have bugs to solve to get everything working.

Looks like something I will be install at home as most of the laptops we use, around the house, are for web browsing and e-mail. So a new netbook with Google’s Chrome OS will be a lot cheaper.

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Blu-ray Disk Push Blu-ray Techonlogy

I_believeI do not get it! You already bought the Blu-ray player. You bought or rented a Blu-ray disk. You bought the high definition television to watch your Blu-ray disks. You are knowledgeable about high definition. After all you own all this Blu-ray hardware and software. Yet when you pop in the Blu-ray disk into your Blu-ray player  there is a 30 to 60 second commercial about how great Blu-ray is.

Well, ya I know Blu-ray is great, you already sold me on the Blu-ray technology. Otherwise how would I be viewing the Blu-ray disk. So why are the studios putting these Blu-ray commercials on a Blu-ray disk?  Beats me!

It has got to be the dumbest strategy I have ever seen. It is like preaching to the choir, we already believe  in the Blu-ray technology. So why the commercial? I just do not get it?

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Organize yourself with Twitter

Nov 03 2009 Published by under Blogroll, Changing scene, Geek stuff, unbelievable

lists-birdEver had a problem sorting through you Twiter time lines. Will in the past you had to use a third party applacation to help sort out Tweets by topic. Now Twitter will do it foe yuou.

Recently Twiter luanched a new feature called “Lists” . With the list feature you can organize yout timelines into separate lists by topic. Have as many topics as you like. You can even share you list by marking them as “public” or you can keep your lists all to yourself by marking them “private”.

It is a simple feature but it sure makes using Twitter a lot easier to use.

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