Using a Kill-A-Watt to Make Ice Cream

Ice Cream Kill a WattThe Kill-A-Watt meter isn’t just great for finding what devices in your house use the most energy, it’s also great for making ice cream! How, you ask? Well it’s always a pain to take the top off and check to see how the icecream is doing. With this meter you can know exactly how close your homemade icecream is to done. Read the rest of this entry »

How Much Power Does an iPad Use?

Awhile back I asked myself, “How much power does an iPad use? What uses the most power on it?”. I hooked a What’s Up meter and ran some tests to see:

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My Solar Backup Scam

It’s important that you educate yourself about solar backup’s before you spend money on a solar backup system. Many people have called My Solar Backup a Scam. A solar backup system is pretty simple. It is comprised of a Panel (charger) Batteries (storage) and an inverter to take the 12 or 24 volt DC energy that’s stored and turn it into 120V AC that you typically use in your home. The cost of these three components is not very high. Read the rest of this entry »

My Solar Backup Review

Being a solar enthusiast or general electronic nerd, I was intrigued by the ads for solar backups. Specifically the solar backup system from “Solutions from Science” drew my interest. I thought it was a nice clean system but was very surprised when I got to the price. A scam is probably a pretty strong word, but it’s probably enough to just say that they’re taking advantage of people with the prices for the solar backups they offer.

Homemade Solar Backup

Item Price Shipping
90 Watt Solar Panel $260 $30 Buy
Personal Hand Truck $30 $8 Buy
1800 Inverter $260 $0 Buy
Charge Controller $17 $0 Buy
Panel Extension Cord $21 $8 Buy
Battery $100 $0 Buy
Total $688 $46

*All Prices rounded up as on 1/19/2012

The purpose of this post is to illustrate how a homemade solar backup compares with the cost of the flagship “solution from science” solar backup from MySolarBackup. The cost for that system is $1,797.00 plus “only” $150.00 Here’s the rough price list for MY SOLAR BACKUP that has the same specs: Read the rest of this entry »

BEST LED Cabinet Lighting

You can pay a lot of money for lighting under your cabinets or above your cabinets. If you’re not looking to spend a lot of money and you’re looking for the BEST LED Cabinet Lighting for your money this is what you’ll need to get:

LED Light Strips

First, you’ll need some LED light strips. These aren’t the most efficient LED’s on the market but they’re the cheapest and most convenient we’ve found for cabinet lighting.

Under Cabinet Lighting

Power Supply

LEDs operate on direct current, these specifically operate on 12V DC- the same as your automobile. If you remove the 12V power port from this power supply you’ll have a perfect power supply for your cabinet lighting system.


You may want to adjust the brightness of your cabinet lighting system, especially if you can do it for around $5. You can do it with this dimmer.

A few things to keep in mind

Adding the lights are easy. The LED strips have adhesive on one side that allow them to easily stick to your cabinets. One side of the lights has raw wires that can easily attach to your power supply. The other end has an adapter that easily fits onto most plugin 12v power supplies. You may want shorter strips and you can do that by cutting the lights wherever there are 2 solder tabs. When you attach the lights to your cabinet you’ll want to put put them closer to the front of the cabinet, unlike the photo below.

LED Cabinet LightingWith the lights closer to the front of the cabinet you’ll be sure that they won’t be visible from a lower line of sight, like when people are sitting down.

Commuting to work on Solar Power

For the last few weeks I’ve been driving an electric scooter to work. I’ve got a small solar system that creates 100 watt hours of energy each day. Since my commute isn’t very long (about 3 miles) I figured I’d see if I could commute to & from work with just solar energy pushing me. The result? With the help of the watt’s up meter I was able to see exactly how much energy would be required: Read the rest of this entry »

How Much Energy Does a Macbook Pro Use?

How Much energy does a Macbook Pro Use?Although the adapters that come with Macbook Pros are rated for 85 Watts they rarely use that much energy. A Macbook pro browsing the web typically uses about 40 Watts. You should know that how much energy your computer uses depends a lot on what you’re doing or not doing. For example if I put my Macbook to sleep the power consumption rises to 42 watts for about 10 seconds as it prepares to go to sleep then the power usage is only 1 watt while the Macbook sleeps. Read the rest of this entry »

Green Slim Projector Review

Green Slim ProjectorWe’ve really enjoyed having the green slim projector. Our specific model was the 235 that we bought from new egg and we were surprised to find that it also came with the wireless adapter. The adapter wasn’t much help to us as we use macs and you have to install the pc software for it to work.

The main selling point for us was that the green slim projector doesn’t use a bulb, but uses an LED laser hybrid light source rated at 20,000 hours. We bought the pk-10 a few years back and it only had an output of 10 lumens. It’s refreshing to have the output of 2,000 lumens.

With the high output came the surprise of high amounts of heat. The laser must push the majority of the light. The fan can be annoying if the movie was silent but we typically don’t have a hard time covering up the noise.

The zoom and auto keystone adjustment have been helpful features. All in all we’ve been vey happy with it.

Maximum Solar Panel Outputs

Depending on the technology, peak power ratings for panels may not be what you achieve in practice. It’s important to know that the tests that deliver the peak ratings occur close to the north pole. The most important element of that location is the low temperatures. Mono-crystalline and Polycrystalline solar panels each loos around 15% of their peak when they are in a location with high temperatures, say on top of your roof with the sun beating down on it. So if you are looking to get the most out of your panels, keep them cool, and oh yeah, keep them in direct sunlight too.

I’ve actually yet to monitor my panels reading peak power. They’ve reached about 90% of their maximum output in cool weather in direct sunlight. In cloudy weather (Rainy days) expect outputs around 5%.

Another important element of getting efficiency or peak power from your panels is to run your system at a higher voltage like 24 volts rather than 12 volts. Using the higher voltage results in less energy loss as it travels through wires routed to your batteries or inverters. To save even more energy from escaping the wire, keep connections short; DC power dissipates quickly as heat with long wires unlike AV power, that’s one of the benefits of panels with inverters built in.

Quick Charging the TK45

tk45 chargingThe tk45 has been a wonderful flashlight for me it’s all the power you could need in a compact flashlight. The other day I discovered an aspect that made it even more valuable. The biggest pain for me was charging the batteries- pulling out the holder then each of the eight AA’s. I would also have to replace a square of toilet paper that I use to keep the battery holder from rattling.

It doesn’t have to be that hard! The terminal at the center of the holder is positive and the circle outside is negative. All I have to do is use a couple alligator clips and it is it’s own charging cartridge!