Friday, October 11, 2019

The Fragility of the Electrical Grid

As I write this, a large number of people in California are coping without what we've come to take for granted, a working electrical grid. As I wrote a California friend yesterday, I am sorry, but not surprised to hear about the outages.

I've never considered myself a "prepper", I tend to be too optimistic to believe that doom is just around the corner, but I do like to know how things work, how they break and how to fix them. In that spirit, I recently read Gretche Bakke's fascinating book THE GRID. It's a wonderfully conversational look at our electrical grid, packed with both interesting facts and some truly frightening anecdotes. Our current (no pun intended!) electrical grid is antiquated, under-maintained, and fragile.

I didn't just send my friend a "gee, that sucks" note, I also sent him a 10 Watt Solar Panel and a small lithium power bank. It's not much, but it's enough to keep his phone charged. Now I can't promise that every node of the cell network will stay up, but being modular and somewhat more modern, the phone system is better able to route around local problems.

Many of the residential solar systems in California are tied into the grid and have no local, on-site storage. When the grid goes down, many people with solar panels on their roofs are finding they still don't have a way to keep the lights on at night. Perhaps this latest round of outages will make more people understand that storage has to be a big part of any truly robust energy solution.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

The 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to John B. Goodenough, M. Stanley Whittingham, and Akira Yosino for their work in the development of lithium-ion batteries. Science Focus has a good summary of the story here:

Lithium-ion batteries have become an integral part of our modern day to day lives, powering our cell-phones, laptops and other devices. For myself, the combination of solar plus lithium storage means that since last spring I have been able to keep my phone, tablet, computer and ebike fully charged without ever having to plug into the wall.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Doing Something

While certain problems, like Global Climate Change, can seem overwhelmingly complex and impossible to solve, it is vital to not give in to despair. This article:

contains this wonderful quote:

“There is a magic machine that sucks carbon out of the air, costs very little, and builds itself. It’s called a tree.”

These folks are doing something worthwhile:

Ever since I've heard the now familiar phrase "think globally, act locally" I've tried to put that principle into practice. Like thousands of others around the globe, I will be out in the streets of my town for the global climate strike. (Actually I'm not sure if it counts as striking if you put in a vacation request with your boss and draft a coverage plan to deal with your absence, but that's what I did!) But, I think more importantly, on Saturday and more Saturdays to come I will be volunteering with our local chapter of Friends of Trees.

I've also decided, in the interest of "putting my money where my mouth is" to donate 2% of all sales from Solar Nomadics to the Friends of Trees. This is 2% of sales, not 2% of profits because to be honest, I have no clue if there will ever be profits! But Sunshine and I have sold a few solar panels and we hope to keep this venture going. As long as there is a Solar Nomadics, 2% of the sales will go to the trees.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Dyrt Ranger Review: Renogy E.FLEX10 Portable Solar Panel

I found this nice little video review of the E.FLEX 10 solar panel on YouTube.


The Renogy E.FLEX 10 is what I've been using for the past few months for charging my phone and Kindle. Actually, as I explain in my Talking On Sunshine paper, I use the panel to charge a power bank and I use the power bank to charge my devices.

As noted in the video, the E.FLEX 10, clips nicely to a backpack.

In the Solar Nomadics Store we have the E.FLEX10 Solar Panel for $40 along with a couple of choices of power banks. If you already have a USB power bank, the E.FLEX 10 is all you need to get into the world of solar power. However, if you need a power bank, either the 38.5 WattHour or 74 WattHour banks are good choices.

We also sell a $50 version of the E.FLEX10 that includes a little 18.5 WattHour power bank.

While I'd initially been skeptical of such a tiny power bank, I've actually found it works really well as my daily phone charger and it's the one I carry with me and use most often.

Kent Peterson
Solar Nomadics
Eugene, Oregon USA

Friday, September 6, 2019

Mechanics Who Hate Cars

Interesting dude Austin Kleon has a fun blog post about Mechanics Who Hate Cars. You can read it here:

My kids will tell you that I was a long time faithful Car Talk listener, even though we gave up owning cars decades ago. "Why do you listen, Dad?" "Well," I'd answer, "it's funny. And every damn week it reminds me of all the problems I don't have because I don't have a car."