Friday, September 24, 2010

Emergency Preparedness

The location of our operation in Derby, CT has had quite a history. It was a cannon factory, then a munitions factory, and just previous to our residence, a dye and print factory of fabrics. There was a fire at the location in the mid 1980's that devastated the property. You can see the canal alongside the property from which previous occupants tapped it's kinetic energy for powering machinery. In recent years, it powered a turbine to generate electricity for McCallum Enterprises, who have a similar facility on the Shelton side of the Housatonic River.

Given that emergency personnel in Derby (ambulance and fire) are volunteers, it's important that they be aware of our operation's layout and the hazards to be aware of within. When responding, seconds can make quite a difference and rather than require someone to call up drawings and files and radio them to the responders, we thought - why not make it available to them via the internet?

We created the most simple of webpages:

This should be accessible from most smart phones or a laptop that has internet access. The page contains only text so it's easily readable, but contains:
  • instruction on where utilities access the property
  • emergency contacts of property owners
  • basics on the construction materials and layout of the structures on the site
  • chemicals that are typically stored and their location on the property
We even created a QR (Quick Response) code posted on signs at our location for those who have such software on their phone. Snap a photo, and go direct to the webpage with the data.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Electric Vehicle Public Charging Station

Just this month, we installed a weather proof outlet to charge our Tesla electric vehicle at our Derby location to harness the "free" solar electricity rather than power a car by hydro-carbon fuel.

As early adopters to such means of transports, the challenge for electric vehicle drivers is finding places to charge up quickly. After we installed our equipment, we thought: why not offer free charging to other electric vehicle owners? One hour of charging on our 220v 40a outlet would only cost us about 40 cents. If someone were to spend an hour charging their vehicle, it would put another 25 miles in their "tank", and while they waited they could enjoy some food and bring business to our favorite pizza joint across the street, Apollo Pizza (tell Gus we sent you).

We put together a webpage describing our charging location and what we offered, and made mention of it on the forum pages of the Tesla owners website. To my knowledge, IDA International is offering the first free public charging location for electric cars that is powered from the sun in the State of Connecticut - maybe the USA?

It didn't take long!! On 2010/Sep/20 we had our first visitor with Mike from New Jersey! On his way toward home from Massachusetts, he stopped for a quick top-off while he toured our factory where we explained how the solar array functioned that was currently filling his car with energy.

Visit our Derby location and we will offer you free electricity for your car that we've gathered from the sun. And you might enjoy a good pizza!!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Electric Vehicle Charging

If you read this blog, you will know that the company's operation in Derby, CT has a solar array that provides all our electricity needs, and then some (114% of our consumption since the installation went live in 2009Mar).

Rather than sell that electricity to the utility (in March the electric company sweeps out any kwh we have "banked" and pays us based on the average rate of the New England Regional market, which is about 5cents per kwh), the value is in deferring buying electricity from the utility (which in total of all the line items on your electric bill is about 21cents per kwh).

As mentioned earlier, we have a diesel powered delivery fleet of light-duty trucks. With a round-trip delivery of apx 150 miles, they might one day be served by electric power. We are testing the viability of this with the only pure electric vehicle available to non-fleet owners as a purchased vehicle, the Tesla Roadster. While not a "delivery" vehicle, it is a real-world case study in how electric vehicles perform in hot or cold weather, and the reality of their charge time that yields miles driven. Our methods and purpose is not unlike Google's fleet of vehicles.

An issue often raised is that there needs to be a charging station infrastructure for people to adopt to such vehicles over internal combustion engine power. While there are outlets most everywhere (the Tesla can charge on 110v 15a), a quick charge requires power and that comes in 220v 40a or higher.

The defining characteristic is power (kilowatts) input into the batteries. Returning to your basic science: Watts = Volts x Amps. Thus, 110v x 15a = 1650w, or 1.65kw. Plug in for an hour and you have 1.65kwh. Go with a 220v x 40a for an hour and it = 8.8kwh, which equates to substantially more miles from the contribution to the battery's storage of power.

To put this in real world terms from our actual experience and data, charging a Tesla for 1hr at 110v = 5 miles of driving. 1hr at 220v = 25 miles of driving.