Plugless Power’s EV Solution

August 3, 2010 · Filed Under Alternative Energy, Electric, Environment, Guest Posts, Health, News

What’s one of the main catches of electric vehicles? Charging up. It’s one of the major barriers to people buying electric cars. What if I forget to charge my car? What if I run out of charge and am stuck somewhere?

Well the solution to one of those questions is on the horizon. A Company called Evatran is focused on what they have termed “Plugless Power“. They have developed a sensor system for EV users to install in their garage. Instead of remembering to plug in your car at night, just park it over this power station. Without any cords or hook-ups, the car gets charged and you can rest easy.

This invention has incredible potential and a few drawbacks.

First, the bad news

It isn’t as efficient as plugging in your EV (well, less than 10% efficiency is lost). For the dark green eco-enthusiasts out there, that means it uses more energy than it needs to to charge the car. Since the majority of our energy mix comes from non-renewable sources like fossil fuels or nuclear power, this isn’t great news. But as the company points out, this provides a solid reminder that emissions and energy use isn’t a one-sided transportation problem.

Now, the good news

If this technology takes off, it will be an incredible tool to implement in cities, parking garages, and metered parking. As EVs gain more traction, these types of solutions are becoming increasingly critical for its global survival and spread. They also help us get over the inconvenience of plugging in the car (although some may argue we are already conditioned to filling up our gas tanks…so what’s the big difference?).

Is EVs future as gloomy as its past?

No, but it is ominous. When the EVs of this century (yes the first cars were electric) came out they were celebrated as a huge leap in the transportation sector. Inventors competed to have the most efficient vehicle, and hope was abundant. Then something sad happened. The patent was purchased by an automobile company and they decided to silence the debate. The information was now private and would not be acted upon. There was a brief glip where EVs tried to take off in California, but through the oil and auto industries interests and some interesting legislation, they flopped. (Watch Who Killed the Electric Car for a somewhat comical review of the happenings)

Now, as we have grown more aware of climate change and the intricate ties our environmental health has to our societal health, EVs are making a comeback. But it isn’t without its own hurdles. First, since climate change and the hazardous compounds that burning fossil fuels emit have been common knowledge for a decent amount of time, the competitive landscape has changed. There is now competition over “what technology” will win the race. Will it be the EV? Or will we take hydrogen technology to the max. Perhaps we will give ethanol another go. This conundrum is one of the reasons many automakers have failed to invest in new technologies (although not the only reason). What if they build out the machinery for hydrogen vehicles only to find that no one will support hydrogen fueling stations?

The electric car isn’t a particularly new idea, nor is it foreign. Unfortunately, with so many years under our car-driving belt devoted to gasoline vehicles its hard for us to imagine any shifts in this marketplace. Due to rising gas prices, increased environmental awareness, and government incentives, hybrids were able to succeed. But the water is still lukewarm for EVs and their competitors.

One thing we do know, is that this product will revolutionize the attractiveness of EVs as a long-term solution. To learn more about this invention visit Plugless Power.

Photo Credit: Plugless Power

Understanding and Evaluating Energy Saving Technology

December 28, 2009 · Filed Under Electric, Environment, Geothermal, Guest Posts, Solar

With the recent climate change talks in Copenhagen, it is safe to say that even though all countries aren’t actually making an effort to change their actions, most at least understand it is extremely important for the environment for us to change our ways and focus on reducing pollution.

Rather than waiting for our politicians to step up and mandate the changes needed to help save our environment, I feel that it is our duty to help make this world a better place, after all it is the only one we have.

One of the most effective ways of doing this is to help cut down on our energy costs, both in our vehicles and at home. However, when considering some of the technologies available today, it is very important to weigh not just the energy savings, but also the cost of manufacturing these devices.

Heating and Cooling

HVAC

In the home, there are usually few appliances that are as inefficient as our heating and air systems. However, if you live in an area that gets very hot or cold, simply doing without isn’t safe, nor is it comfortable. Fortunately, there are a number of more energy efficient heating and air systems available, which can cut back on our energy use, without having to sacrifice our comfort.

One of the most exciting technologies available to help reduce energy costs is the Geothermal Heating and cooling unit. Geothermal heating and cooling uses very long tubes that extend into the Earth and actually pull heat from the ground. In the summer, the same process can be reversed, sending the heat from the house, into the ground.

Using a geothermal system, it is possible to heat a 1500 square foot house for less than a dollar a day. Of course, they are quite expensive to install and depending on the location, can require that a very deep hole is drilled. To help off set this cost, many power companies will offer incentives for installing a geothermal heating and cooling system, with some options also available from the government. While the initial cost is very high, the savings over a 10 year period could easily offset this initial investment.

Another option for those wishing to cut heating and cooling costs is the Cold-Weather Air Source Heat Pump, which uses an additional compressor that is used when the temperature drops below 30 degrees. The second compressor is necessary because a traditional heat pump does not work well when the temperature drops below freezing, so auxiliary heat must be used. Auxiliary heat, or emergency heat, is very expensive to operate, as it uses a great deal of energy.

Using a Cold-Weather Air Source Heat Pump ends up using less power than a standard heat pump would when it gets very cold. Further, when the temperature is above freezing, only one compressor is used, so the energy usage is similar to that of a traditional heating system.

Generating Your Own Power

For years, people have been putting solar panels on their home to help reduce their dependency on fossil fuels and the power company. While this can save you a great deal of money and it is even sometimes possible to sell your excess power back to the power company, the initial investment has always been quite steep.

Recently, however, the cost of solar panels has begun to drop, as new manufacturing technologies have been introduced. This, coupled with rising energy costs across the country, has made installing solar panels a much more attractive idea.

Several companies have recently developed very thin solar panels that are relatively inexpensive to manufacture, but because they rely on some semi-rare minerals, so it remains to see whether this can be used on a very large scale.

Going Green in Your Automobile

Another popular move has been to use a more energy efficient vehicle, with a number of hybrids, which are cars that use a mixture of gasoline and stored electricity, and battery powered vehicles available.

Currently, GM, Nissan, Honda, Ford, and Toyota all offer some sort of battery powered vehicle, but when considering these cars, it is important to take into account the environmental impact that manufacturing them has.

For example, the Toyota Prius uses a very expensive battery, which uses nickel that is mined in Canada, using a mining technique that is bad for the environment. Then, the nickel must be shipped across the world, converted into batteries, and subsequently shipped back over to the US. So, with all of the environmental costs associated with the manufacture of the Prius, it tends to off set the benefits of driving it.

It All Starts with You

What a lot of people don’t always realize, myself included, is that the things we do everyday can have a major impact on the environment and the future. Even if you don’t have the money to invest in something like a geothermal heating system, you can still help the environment by changing your actions.

For example, making an effort to shut off the water when you wash your teeth and shave can save a tremendous amount of water. Also, consider setting the heat to around fifty-five and putting on an extra sweater or perhaps wearing some thermal clothing, rather than cranking up the heat.

If everyone made what are essentially very small changes to their lifestyle, it would no longer be a small change and could have a tremendous impact on the World.

About the Author

Tiger is a writer who understands the importance of protecting the environment. In addition to writing about the environment, he also writes about a number of other topics, including lift chairs. Lift Chairs are devices that in design are similar to a recliner, but contain a powerful lifting system, which helps to make it easier to stand. They are especially popular among the elderly and lift chairs Medicare are available, for those who live in the United States and are currently enrolled in Medicare.

Telsa Unveils Model S Highway Capable EV

March 30, 2009 · Filed Under Automobiles, Electric

Telsa Motors just announced that they are now taking orders for their new model, the Model S. This model is a series of all electric sedans that have a range of up to 300 miles on a full charge and can seat up to seven people.

Model S

Tesla’s new Model S is different from their well-know roadster in that it is a sedan and a much more practical car for daily use. The main differences are the body style and interior, its performance and the
price.

Body Style and Interior

The body style is a sleek and stylish body that is comparable to a car like the BMW 5 series.  The interior is roomy as it holds a total of 5 adults comfortable along with 2 child seats.  It actually has more trunk room than a traditional station wagon.  It even has a trunk under the hood to provide more storage space.  I actually think this vehicle looks better than the Roadster and many comparable cars on the market today.

Tesla Model S

Battery

The Model S will come with one of three battery options, a 160, 230 and 300 mile range.  The batteries can be charge to full power in just around 4 hours and has a 45-minute quick charge option.  It can be charge from just about any outlet type including a 120, 240 or 480 volt.  The battery pack lifespan is expected to last approximately 7-10 years.

Price

Price is a huge factor as to why this vehicle may become extremely popular and make Tesla a much more prevalent automaker in America.  The starting price for the Model S is at $57,400.  It has the maximum tax credit for any vehicle at $7,500, reducing the car to a cost of just under $50k.  Those prices are comparable to similar luxury cars like Audi’s or BMW, but is fully electric and has much lower maintainence costs over the lifetime of the vehicle.

Performance

It’s not as fast as the Roadster, but it still has a 0-6 in 5.6 seconds and a top speed of 120 miles per hour.  Unlike gas cars, it only has two gears, drive and reverse.  The ride in Tesla’s vehicles are much smoother as shifting is not required.

Overall, the new Model S seems like a viable option for people across the nation.  If you are going to spend $50k on a luxury vehicle, why not get one that is fully electric.  It will be available in late 2011 and you can reserve yours today.  Let’s hope the efforts of Aptera and Tesla make a huge impact on the America auto-making industry.

Tesla Motors

March 30, 2009 · Filed Under Automobiles, Electric

Tesla History

Tesla Motors is the first automaker in America and Europe to manufacture highway-capable electric vehicles. The company is based out of Silicon Valley and is focused on manufacturing electric vehicles. Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning originally founded the company in 2003 and named the company after famous inventor and physicist Nikola Tesla. Tesla’s goal in producing their cars is to make electric automobiles a viable alternative.  None of their models do not sacrifice quality or style and still maintain high performance.  The first of their stores opened in April 2008 in Los Angelos, California and their currently have support centers in several states across the nation.  They plan to build more in the coming years.  They are expanding as we speak as they plan to have stores in every major city across America within the next few years.

Tesla Roadster

Roadster

The Roadster is the first of Tesla Motors vehicles that was first unveiled to the public in April of 2006.  It uses a lithium-ion battery pack that allows it to get up to 227 miles per charge.  This sports car is extremely fast as it can go from 0-60 in about 3.9 seconds with a top speed of 125 miles per hour.  They have a new Sports model that lowers that number to abou 3.7 seconds.   Tesla Motors originally brought in Lotus Cars to help them design the body on the car, if you can’t tell from how it looks.  Their vehicles are currently manufactured by Lotus in their England factory with a few parts shared from Lotus models, but many  shipped in from California.  This car is actually one of the least expensive cars with any entirely carbon fiber body.  This allows for minimal weight while still maintaining a strong body.

The lithium ion battery packs in the Roadster maintain good driving performance for up to 5 years or 100,000 miles.  Tesla will recycle the battery for you once it’s reached the end of it’s life.  In 2007, it was estimated to cost about $20,000 to replace the battery system, but should have gone down since then.  In the next 5 years, the technology will most likely be dramatically better and at a cheaper cost.  The space if fairly limited in these cars and only can fit 2 people and approximately a golf bag in the trunk.  Over 250 Roadsters have already been delivered and are becoming more and more popular.  The currently list price on one of these cars is $109,000

Tesla’s electric vehicles are the first production ready and have already gotten great reviews.  Let’s hope this company makes a huge impact by getting large car manufacturers to start developing electric cars that get more than 50 miles per charge.  Maybe one day we will see charge stations all around the nation…

Chrysler Introducing New All Electric Peapod

November 14, 2008 · Filed Under Electric, Technology

Chrysler recently unveiled it’s new all electric Peapod vehicle out of it’s Green EcoMobility (GEM) division. It used to be called Global Electric Motorcars, but was updated with this new generation of cars. This vehicle will be a new generation of vehicles produced from the GEM subsidiary of Chrysler that hopes to hopes to makes a more user friendly car that is eco friendly.

Peapod

Today’s GEM is the nation’s No. 1 zero-emission electric vehicle, with 38,000 produced and in use. GEM vehicles are used in settings such as city centers, planned communities, military bases, college campuses, corporate and commercial centers, and city, state and national parks.

Past GEM vehicles were fairly inefficient as they were not aerodynamic and usually were partially open. This made them extremely impractical for daily use. This new generation of electric vehicle is not only fully enclosed, but is much more technologically advanced.

Colors

Peapod Specs

  • Dimensions: 12 ft. long X 5 ft. 10 inches high X 4 ft. 8 inches wide.
  • Car Weight: 1,290 lb. total weight ( no people inside )
  • Interior Capacity: 910 lbs
  • Person Capacity: 2 person max.
  • Range: 30 miles
  • Max Speed: 25 miles/hour
  • Low Speed: 15 miles/hour
  • Battery: 72 volt battery system with on-board charger.
  • Recharge Time: 6 to 8 hours

As you can tell from the specs and the earlier quote, this is not a vehicles for highway use. Since it can only go a maximum of 25 mph, it is not street legal in all states. This model can only fit up to 2 people back to back, but there are larger 4 or 6 seater vehicles.

Inside Car

It has a modern look with newer battery technology and even has a plug-in for iPhones or iPods. I actually like the look of the inside as it is extremely simple, but still looks very nice.

Interior

The big questions I had about this vehicle are: Where can I charge it at and how long will it take? The answer to the first question is it can be charged in any standard 110-volt outlet. The appropriate time to recharge completely six to eight hours. I still wanted to figure out how much it would cost per charging of this vehicle. Since the normal outlet is typically 15 amps. In order to use my energy calculator, we need to convert volts to watts. The wattage for this device is

72 volts * 15 amps = 1080 watts.

Plugging this value in to my calculator you get a cost of about $331.13 per year to operate this car. I also did an article the average gas cost of a car per year that showed a small economy car uses about $1,868 of gas per year. That means that an electric cars could cost you 1/5 of the amount to run.

At an approximate price of $20,000, do you think you would every buy this electric vehicle? What about other options like the Aptera or Tesla?

Aptera: A New Generation Vehicle

July 25, 2008 · Filed Under Electric, Environment, Green, Solar, Technology

The Aptera Typ-1 is new concept vehicle being made by the California based company Aptera. It’s actually a vehicle, not a car and technically classified as a motorcycle. The vehicle looks a little weird at first as it only has 3 wheels, but I dug a little further to find out more information about it.

The New Aptera Typ-1

The Typ-1 will come in two varieties, the all electric version and a plug-in hybrid-diesel version. The electric model has an approximate range of 120 miles when the battery is properly draining. That is not bad considering the average daily commute for Americans is under 20 miles per way. The plug-in hybrid version get 300 miles/gallon when traveling 120 miles in a day. That incredible compared to the current hybrid cars available. Since the average person only travels closer to 50 miles per day, the mpg raises to about 500!! That’s what i call truly gas efficient.

After hearing about this car on the radio several times, I am convinced that it will succeed. You can hold up to 15 bags of groceries. One really awesome feature about this car is that it has a fan that will maintain the temperature of the car to the temperature outside. This is done through a fan that will automatically start when you leave you car and is completely controlled through a solar panel on top of the car. The problem with a lot of cars that are available that get really high mileage or are electric is the price. This car ranges anywhere from $27,000 – $30,000 depending on the model you buy. That really makes this car much more affordable for the average person.

There are a few downsides to this car. The biggest is that it is not yet available to the entire nation because Aptera is such a small company. Also, the car can only fit two people and an infant. If you have a big family, this car is out of the question. You also have to charge the battery nightly that will cost you about $1-$2 of electricity to do so.  That still saves the huge gas costs we are currently paying.

If you really want to get a hold of this car and live in the state of California, you can reserve one for only $500 at https://aptera.com/reserve.php. It would be awesome if this car was made available to all states in the next few years and the priced dropped a little further. Even though the more practical model of the Aptera still uses gasoline, I think it is the first step to eliminating our reliance on gasoline.

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