Cut Your Energy Costs Day Shortbread

Coincidentally, we're signing loan documents today for 20 kW of solar panels going on our roof very soon.

PC hardware and computing

  1. Thermaltake 32GB DDR4-3200MHz WaterRAM RGB review @ KitGuru
  2. ASRock X399 Phantom Gaming 6 review @ TechPowerUp

Games, culture, and VR

  1. This is how At the Gates almost broke Jon Shafer @ Quarter To Three
  2. Isotopium: Chernobyl lets you remote-control robots in Ukraine @ Rock Paper Shotgun
  3. Ubisoft goes Steam-less, embraces Epic Games Store for The Division 2 @ Ars Technica

Hacks, gadgets and crypto-jinks

  1. Almost $500,000 in Ethereum Classic coin stolen by forking its blockchain @ Ars Technica
  2. Smart pet treadmill might get fat cats up and running @ New Atlas
  3. Make your own dowels at home @ HackADay (I may never need to do this, but this simple process was very satisfying to watch and learn from)

Science, technology, and space news

  1. Here's why Elon Musk is tweeting constantly about a stainless-steel starship @ Ars Technica (the concept of actively cooling a mirror-finish stainless-steel spaceship during reentry by using residual cryogenic fuel is still blowing my mind)
  2. Technical fault strikes Hubble with government shutdown set to postpone repairs @ New Atlas

Cheese, memes, and shiny things

  1. Love burritos? Costco is now selling keto-friendly sheets of cheese @ today.com
  2. American cheese surplus reaches record high @ Slashdot
Colton Westrate

I post Shortbread, I host BBQs, I tell stories, and I strive to keep folks happy.

Comments closed
    • Unknown-Error
    • 10 months ago

    Haven’t used my A/C and water heater in several months. Also, I don’t own a car. Heck, don’t even have a TV. Certainly reduces the bills but you have to forgo certain conveniences. I honestly wish nuclear power was not so badly demonized.

      • sweatshopking
      • 10 months ago

      If we can get thorium power off the ground it might improve things.

        • Shobai
        • 10 months ago

        I guess you could use the transmission lines to tether the stations to the Earth, but I imagine they’d be too heavy for Zeppelins.

      • Srsly_Bro
      • 10 months ago

      Are you a hermit in the woods?

        • Unknown-Error
        • 10 months ago

        Woods? I wish. I Live at the edge of a, lets just say ‘a large city’ surrounded by highways and railway lines. Constant allergies thanks to the pollution.

      • Usacomp2k3
      • 10 months ago

      Agree 100% on that last part. I’m also a fan of 2 modifications of it:
      *the micro-plants that are town-sized that can be positioned closer to densely populated areas to reduce long runs of HV
      *desalinization incorporated plants. Build a plan that is 3x what you need to support the population and use all of the non-peak energy for desalinization. Obviously this only works in coastal areas, but for places like California that frequently go in droughts, it could be a godsend. LA could get all of its clean water from the ocean and not have to rely on the mountain water as much.

      • dragontamer5788
      • 10 months ago

      [quote<]I honestly wish nuclear power was not so badly demonized.[/quote<] I agree. +1. Here's my proposal for the future of US Energy. 1. New Nuclear plants: Incredibly efficient baseload generator, provides all day power. 2. Solar: Great daytime energy 3. Wind: Great night time energy. Synergies extremely well with Solar to provide all-day power. 4. GW-hr scale Pumped Hydro: [url=https://www.utilitydive.com/news/los-angeles-considers-3b-pumped-storage-project-at-hoover-dam/528699/<]The Hoover Dam is being converted into a giant battery through pumped-hydro[/url<]. This is 80% efficient (less efficient than Lithium Ion), but scales to GW-hrs, and only costs a few $$billion. Lithium Ion is far too expensive compared to pumped hydro. Numerous lakes across the USA have the potential to become pumped-hydro plant batteries. Gravity storage works, is simple, and can be environmentally friendly (As long as proper salmon ladders / wildlife considerations are kept in mind). With the ability to deliver GW-hrs of energy storage, this is the only feasible option for US Energy demands. 5. Compressed Air + Natural Gas assist: Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES) isn't 100% green energy, because the compressed air cools down. You need to heat it up with natural gas before it can return the energy back. With that being said: you can build CAES in any old mining shaft. You solidify the mining shafts with steel, and pump air into the mines to store energy. While not GW-hr scale, its far cheaper than Lithium Ion batteries, and uses far less natural gas than a peaker plant. ---------- The USA needs TW-hrs of energy storage and many hundreds of GW-hrs of power generation capacity in the future. Especially if we have a goal of reducing our dependence on natural-gas peaker plants (very expensive to run). Lithium Ion is a dead-end. You are looking at kW-hrs per house, and/or 300MW-hrs per plant. That's too small for the US's energy needs. The main advantage is that you don't need to rely upon geography (ex: Lakes or Mineshafts) to store energy. But IMO, the USA is full of lakes + old mineshafts that we can convert into energy storage projects, at relatively cheap costs.

        • JustAnEngineer
        • 10 months ago

        [url<]http://energystorage.org/compressed-air-energy-storage-caes[/url<] The two operational CAES units (in Germany and Alabama) and those facilities currently being developed (in Texas) use solution-mined salt dome cavities rather than mechanically excavated mine shafts. The unit in Alabama can generate over 100 MW for more than 24 hours before re-pressurizing the cavern. [url<]http://www.powersouth.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/CAES-Brochure-FINAL.pdf[/url<]

          • dragontamer5788
          • 10 months ago

          [quote<] The unit in Alabama can generate over 100 MW for more than 24 hours before re-pressurizing the cavern.[/quote<] Oh wow, so CAES is also GW-hr scale! That's ~2.4 GWhrs. Smaller than the Hoover-dam, but that's still larger than a lot of Pumped-hydro installations. Very exciting technology IMO.

    • anotherengineer
    • 10 months ago

    I didn’t see this interesting news

    [url<]https://www.mcgill.ca/newsroom/channels/news/canadas-chime-telescope-detects-second-repeating-fast-radio-burst-292994[/url<]

    • NovusBogus
    • 10 months ago

    [quote<]Ubisoft goes Steam-less, embraces Epic Games Store for The Division 2 @ Ars Technica[/quote<] Begun the distribution wars have. Given that I'm one of those GOG.com one percenters, it'd be great if the AAA publishers and distributors beat each other up enough that everyone finally admits that vendor exclusivity sucks and just put all the games on all the services.

    • NovusBogus
    • 10 months ago

    You have no idea how badly I want to make a trolly comment regarding Radeon VII. But let’s be real here, a purported 25% perf/watt improvement is impressive even if Vega 2.0 doesn’t immediately challenge Nvidia’s substantial efficiency advantage.

      • Srsly_Bro
      • 10 months ago

      What has ever stopped me?

      Edit: I stopped reading at comment

    • Redocbew
    • 10 months ago

    [quote<]Make your own dowels at home[/quote<] Yeah, dowel plates are nifty if you often need to make a lot of dowels. I usually make mine on the lathe, or you can get by with just using a router with the right size bit if you square up your stock beforehand. I made a couple book racks a few years ago using the router trick, because the dowels I needed were too long to fit on the lathe.

    • CScottG
    • 10 months ago

    ..new minced-oaths by the bit-coin crowd:

    Forkin son-of-a-bit! ..I’ve just had my e-wallet drained!

    • CScottG
    • 10 months ago

    “the concept of actively cooling a mirror-finish stainless-steel spaceship during reentry by using residual cryogenic fuel is still blowing my mind..”

    -bah, waste of energy!

    Should have had a diamond surface attached to a layer of piezo’s for generating electricity and keeping the interior cool (..other side of piezo).

    • Anovoca
    • 10 months ago

    Congrats on the panel. Im thinking about doing something in the future when the roof is do for repair but that is another 10 years away. I would LOVE to do the tesla solar shingles but I am guessing the premium on those make them not worth it from a cost savings perspective. I haven’t really shopped around, just used their very well designed [url=https://www.tesla.com/solarroof<]website[/url<] to crunch numbers for their specific product.

    • superjawes
    • 10 months ago

    “You know, replacing sandwich bread with a lettuce wrap gives a higher proportion of the best stuff!”

    [quote<]1.Love burritos? Costco is now selling keto-friendly sheets of cheese @ today.com[/quote<] "...Mother of God..."

      • Pwnstar
      • 10 months ago

      It comes in SHEETS!?!?!

      • Brainsan
      • 8 months ago

      I know I’m way late, but you need to know about Chupaquesos.

      [url<]https://www.schlockmercenary.com/2003-09-06[/url<]

    • moose17145
    • 10 months ago

    20kW of solar panels?

    PLEASE document the entire process and write article(s) of the happenings of this!

    I would love to see what you all are having installed, how they are installing it, how long it takes them to install it, costs of the project, along with (if you are able to track this) how much power you are actually generating, Energy usage vs. generation, etc.

    Seriously, I think this would be a VERY interesting article, or series of articles. At least I would find it pretty darn interesting…

      • drfish
      • 10 months ago

      It’s on my list.

        • sweatshopking
        • 10 months ago

        Good

    • mcnels1
    • 10 months ago

    20 kW of solar panels? We have 4.9 kW, which generated more than we used until we got 2 electric cars. Even with the cars 15 kW would probably be more than enough. But we probably run our AC only about 20 hours per year.

      • drfish
      • 10 months ago

      Yeah, 20 kW. Hopefully, it’s a bit overkill, but probably not a lot. Electric cars are up next, but it’ll probably be another 10 years. Between heavy AC use during a decent chunk of the year, and not having greatest solar index here in MI, we had to go big.

        • DragonDaddyBear
        • 10 months ago

        Not having a good roof for solar (MN, trees) is one reason I decided to not even bother looking. What’s the time for ROI on this project?

          • drfish
          • 10 months ago

          Depends on how you slice it, and I don’t want to spoil a future story, but less than 15 years. I’m estimating that my loan payment will cost ~$125/mo more than my average monthly electric bill.

          We’re all setup for net metering, but it will still all come down to the annual weather.

            • moose17145
            • 10 months ago

            are you having to also have a new meter installed, or is your current / old one going to be sufficient?

            • drfish
            • 10 months ago

            We’re getting a new meter too, so it can measure what’s going back out to the grid.

            • Wonders
            • 10 months ago

            [crowd chants] Fu-ture sto-ry! Fu-ture sto-ry!

            • anotherengineer
            • 10 months ago

            How long before solar panels and batteries need replacement? I have heard some typically only have about a 15 year life??

            • drfish
            • 10 months ago

            The panels are warrantied for 25 years but sound like they will be useful for 35 or so. The battery (did I spoil the battery already?) is warrantied for 10 years.

            My understanding is that the panels will loose ~2% of their output in the first year and then another 0.5% each year afterward. That, and because I eventually want to charge an electric car, are just a couple more reasons I wanted to get the biggest system possible. Meanwhile, I’ll keep trying to use less power over time as the system slowly degrades.

            • anotherengineer
            • 10 months ago

            That seems pretty decent, I thought about supplementing or going off the grid, but at $130-$150 a month, all the set up to code by a licensed electrician and materials, the payback would probably be 30 years, and then everything may have to be replaced anyways, and that’s assuming no repairs and nothing fails in those 30 years.

            • Srsly_Bro
            • 10 months ago

            I think people also forget to do discounted payback to take time value of money into consideration when they make these purchasing decisions.

        • Srsly_Bro
        • 10 months ago

        You’re in the LP, right?

          • drfish
          • 10 months ago

          Yep.

            • Srsly_Bro
            • 10 months ago

            Nice. Only been to the UP a few times.

        • e1jones
        • 10 months ago

        20 kW is pretty spectacular… we have just under 7 kW. We also have a slightly better solar index (S California) but that’s balanced by needing to run the AC *a lot* for 4 months of the year.

        With what’s left of January to go until our annual true-up, there’s a 854 kWh surplus left, as well as a ~$230 energy credit. If that roughly holds for the future, that’s maybe 3000 miles on a decent EV, which is probably going to be the next car we get (2006 Prius is getting a little tired).

          • drfish
          • 10 months ago

          It’s literally the most we can get considering our residential zoning. We use the AC a ton in Michigan too, the summers can get pretty brutal. We used 26,000 kWh in the last 12 months, the system should put out 28,000 kWh based on the low end of the index for our area.

          However, 8 mouths out of the last 12, we had [url=https://techreport.com/review/34005/asus-rog-rapture-blue-cave-and-lyra-trio-wireless-routers-reviewed<]half a dozen extra people and their electronics living in the house[/url<]. That used a lot more power than normal. I intentionally left the system estimate based on that usage, even though I expect normal usage to be closer to 20,000 kWh annually. When considering snow coverage and other factors, I just felt like going all in would be the best idea. I absolutely don't want an electric bill, heh.

            • Srsly_Bro
            • 10 months ago

            Let me interject! I lived across the lake from you and grew up in the Midwest. Im my experience and of most people I’ve known from the areas, they love the AC on 65 and act like they are dying once it hits 70 and if you set the AC to 75+ they call 911 for heatstroke.

            Let me get to my point. Do you melt if the AC is above 65? I once had an opinion that northern people were more resilient to weather. The only thing I’ve really noticed is that they complain twice a year and that’s when it gets cold and when it gets hot.

            • drfish
            • 10 months ago

            You’re not wrong, that’s a fair impression to have. However, I do think things have changed a bit over the years. Last year we moved the AC from 72 to 74, where I plan to keep it. For heat, I’d rather set it to 68, but the wife insists on 71. I don’t fuss, because the house is a lot easier/cheaper to heat than cool.

            • Srsly_Bro
            • 10 months ago

            I’m a 75 degree year-round guy. When I was going to college in Utah, some friends came down to stay for a few weeks. Normally my bill was just over $100 in the hottest months. Several were complaining non stop about the 75 degree setting and cranked it to 65 when I was at work. My electric bill came back and it was over $250 for the month. I wasn’t happy.

            • sweatshopking
            • 10 months ago

            I don’t use ac. If it’s 35c out I wanna feel it. I want that sweat all over.

            • Srsly_Bro
            • 10 months ago

            LMAO. Did you have a good vacation?

            • anotherengineer
            • 10 months ago

            you sweat at 35C?!?!

            Usually about 38C for me, but that’s with Govi humidity at about 15-20% lol

            • Srsly_Bro
            • 10 months ago

            A secondary thought regarding temps is why not just leave it the same all year round? My experience in the Midwest is freezing 65 in the summer and freezing 65 in the winter.

            • drfish
            • 10 months ago

            It’s just an energy conscientious/expense thing. I can survive being a little cooler in the winter and a little warmer in the summer. As long as the indoor temp is between 65 and 75 it’s not a big deal for me anymore. I have no idea how some people can set the AC to 80 though, oof.

            • DPete27
            • 10 months ago

            People generally dress for the season:
            Sweatpants and long-sleeved shirts in the winter – Thermostat can be set to a lower temp
            Shorts and t-shirts in the summer – Thermostat can be set to a higher temp.

            We do 70F in the Winter (was lower before we had a kid) and 75F in the summer.

            • dragontamer5788
            • 10 months ago

            Heat physics are about the differential. If it is 95 outside, leaving the temperature at 65 is a differential of 30F. While leaving the temperature at 75 is only 20F.

            This means that the 75F house uses 33% less power.

            ————-

            Its less effective for cold weather, because things become very chilly in the winter. If it is 30F outside, leaving the temperature at 65F is a differential of 35F. Leaving the temperature at 75 is 45F differential. This is only a 22% reduction (and it gets worse the lower the temperature drops).

            Insulation doesn’t matter in the calculus, because it applies equally under all circumstances. (If you better insulate your house and drop energy costs by 30%, it helps regardless of the internal temperature of your house)

            • Srsly_Bro
            • 10 months ago

            Oh, I thought of that too. In the Midwest when it’s 80, they want it 65. In Florida where it’s 90s, the Midwest I know there want it 65. 65 is the magical number. My premise is that many in the Midwest are mentally set on a setting and don’t think of something else, regardless of external temperature.

            Ive tried to explain the Delta between interior and exterior temps, and haven’t been successful.

            Thanks for your post and adding to the discussion, bro.

            • Mr Bill
            • 10 months ago

            We have the swamp cooler running 24/7 from June to Mid August. During Spring Fall and Winter, We set the thermostat at 60F and run a pellet stove to for a nice point source of heat in the living room.

            I’d guess most people want the thermostat down lower in your area because of humidity. Dry that air out and it will feel cooler at a given temperature. We have relative humidity in the 20’s or lower here and even the swamp cooler does not dent that much.

            • ludi
            • 10 months ago

            Yeah, I used to have relatives living in central MI. It was pretty common that anyone who had a basement also had a portable dehumidifier running down there to keep the space from turning moldy and damp.

            • fredsnotdead
            • 10 months ago

            At 75 in the summer, the womenfolk still say it’s too cold. Winter is at 66/68 variable during the night/day. Using a geo heat pump, so it’s all electric. Wish I could do solar, but the main roof faces East and West so I guess that won’t work. Also the trees.

            • Srsly_Bro
            • 10 months ago

            75 can be too cold it it’s 110 outside.

            • fredsnotdead
            • 10 months ago

            More like 85-90.

            • drfish
            • 10 months ago

            We have an east/west roof too. It’s not ideal, but with modern panels it’s apparently still worth doing. We have no trees though, completely open sky all around.

            • fredsnotdead
            • 10 months ago

            Hmm, no trees on the East side of the house. The garage has a South facing roof but it’s small and sometimes shaded by the neighbor’s house. Maybe after the offspring finishes college.

            • anotherengineer
            • 10 months ago

            That is a lot of power!! I’m about 450 miles north of Rochester and a high month for me is 1.2MW.hrs (1200kwhrs), typically we’re around 750 kwhrs a month. Then again family of 4 here, maybe that’s why.

      • jihadjoe
      • 10 months ago

      I know a guy who’s DIYing a 20kW install. By ordering all the stuff from Alibaba it came out pretty cheap, although I dunno how that will work now with the new tariff situation.

        • Shobai
        • 10 months ago

        How does compliancing work where you are? Is it safe to assume that this would be a grid connected system?

        • ludi
        • 10 months ago

        He better hope his direct-order inverter meets the required UL standards for harmonics or the utility might start having issues and then come disconnect him.

    • The Egg
    • 10 months ago

    [quote<]Smart pet treadmill might get fat cats up and running @ New Atlas[/quote<] Sounds just about as useful as jpegs to Hellen Keller.

      • drfish
      • 10 months ago

      …and now Weird Al is stuck in my head. Thank you.

        • Captain Ned
        • 10 months ago

        [url<]https://youtu.be/GyV_UG60dD4[/url<]

          • Mr Bill
          • 10 months ago

          How many megawatts of (((SYNERGY !))) is that?

    • chuckula
    • 10 months ago

    [quote<]Almost $500,000 in Ethereum Classic coin stolen by forking its blockchain @ Ars Technica[/quote<] A great way to cut energy costs that doesn't hurt anybody's quality of life: [b<]STOP MINING[/b<].

      • derFunkenstein
      • 10 months ago

      So very much of this.

      • Krogoth
      • 10 months ago

      “But, we need our digital monopoly paper monies!”

      • Neutronbeam
      • 10 months ago

      Fork you, blockchain!

      • dragontamer5788
      • 10 months ago

      But what else are you supposed to do with your 20kW of solar power?

        • jihadjoe
        • 10 months ago

        We can use it to play games!

        • NTMBK
        • 10 months ago

        20kW laser?

          • Fursdon
          • 10 months ago

          As long as there’s a shark or ill-tempered sea bass to attach it to.

      • anotherengineer
      • 10 months ago

      NO

      Mining keeps the electric utilities going!! Um real mining anyway, not that pretend digital currency mining.

        • Srsly_Bro
        • 10 months ago

        I wonder if there is a Sarah Palin meme for “mine baby mine.”

        • just brew it!
        • 10 months ago

        Sounds like a synergistic relationship to me. “Mine for mining!”

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