Friday, December 21, 2012

Working the demand side

Well it is rainy and dark on the solstice, but I'm doing OK on electricity.

I climbed up on the roof, and it looks like my connections are all plenty solid. Unfortunately I got caught in the rain and had to redo the work once it dried off a few days later. But all is well up there. I see way less amp-hours of charging coming from it because.... it's winter, in the far reaches of the Northern Hemisphere, is why. Even in the heat of summer I'll never get full power from these unless I drive to Mexico or something.

The simple fact is that I don't have enough electricity to run even a 1A @12V notebook in winter, no matter what I do! So worked the demand side. I got one of these Android tablets with a keyboard. It's slow, and I really hate not having a real computer, but I've got it set up so that I can at least read, and surf the internet, watch videos, and even do some work (slowly). The advantage of the tablet? It's ARM-based and uses about 200mA @ 12V. That's right: about 1/4 the consumption of an Intel-based notebook. This one has a spare battery in the keyboard, and gets 9+ hours of use without even having to plug it in to my house batteries! Perfect for winter.

A little side note is that the fast-recharge capability of the tablet is triggered by USB3.0 voltages: give it anything over 11V and it'll bulk recharge quickly. So I hacked up a cable that was female USB on one side, and my Andersons (12v house system) on the other. Cheap, and effective, I just have to remember never to plug any normal USB 2.0 devices into this little cable, or they'll shut off (circuit breaker) or get fried (fuse)-- USB 2.0 expects 5V.

I also found out that I have to bulk charge these batteries using my 75A converter every few days, for at least a half hour to 2.5 hours or so. That sucks; it means I have to find places to plug in. So I'll have to buy a gasoline or propane genset. I don't like dealing with either gas or propane, neither the pollution nor the noise, but gas is so easy to find, and gas generators can be found for reasonable prices. The one I want is the Honda EU2000i. I'd get the EU1000i but my converter will pull 1300W when the batts are really low, and so I need at least a 1500W genset, which in Honda land means I have to get the 2000W one.

My holiday is going well though, reading and studying mostly, and getting used to the tablet. This old dog does not want to learn the new tricks, so I'm basically setting up the tablet as much like a laptop as I can. So far so good.

Wow, the tablet is a Google Android, running Google Chrome, and it absolutely cannot cope with Google Blogger's web interface. Come on guys, get it together, will ya?

No comments: