WattDoesItUse Redesign

I’ve been running WattDoesItUse since 2015 and it has been awesome to see the growth of the site. I’m routinely contacted by users of the site where they talk about how much it has helped them find power consumption for their devices. I’m working to take WattDoesItUse to the next level by redesigning it and adding new functionality. Through this redesign, there will be some lost features. They won’t be gone forever, but I want to hear from users that they are valuable and worth being added back in.

Here are the updates that you’ll see on the new site:

  • Improved and simplified search experience – This will make it easier to find products on the site
  • Consolidated categories – I flattened some of the navigation to make it easier to navigate
  • Administrative updates – I’ve added new functionality to make it easier for me to add more products and to reply to your requests
  • Updated UI – Clean implementation which should make it even easier to look at on different devices
  • New blog – I’m now running the blog on wordpress.com to simplify management of it. It will also make it easier for me to add more posts in the future.
  • Removal of User Accounts – I wanted to call this out specifically as I know a lot of your have user accounts. I’m going to be working on an app for iPhone and maybe Android, that will give you access to the calculator that is currently in the user account. I also plan to add more functionality that will make it easier to find and request power consumption for products.

 

I plan to shutdown the old site on June 15, 2018. All of the products will be migrated over and I plan to add more products on the new site, so no information will be lost. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Thanks,

Corey

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You’ll Never Take the Elevator Again Once You Read This

Do you work in a tall building everyday? If you do, there’s a large chance that you encounter and use elevators on a daily basis. Do you live in an apartment building between say maybe, 3 and 20 stories? If so, This is probably the case for you as well. Even people not in these situations still manage to come across instances where taking the elevator is feasible very commonly. But what about all of the energy being consumed throughout this daily process? How much energy is actually being used and would it be better to just take the stairs?

Now this can be a bit of a complicated question. Elevators today have a large number of variables that could change the outcome of their energy output. Some examples would be: How many people are riding the elevator? What type of lighting is in the car? Is the elevator geared, gearless, hydraulic, or traction applied? Does the system have the most recent braking technology, which recaptures energy that would otherwise have been lost as heat, funneling it back to the grid? Does it use software that plots out the most efficient route possible for each car?

These are all important questions (but not all) that come into play when calculating if you specifically should take the stairs. Let’s jump in and look at some basic details.

The differences in elevators and their consumption can be very wide. According to the elevator calculator from Thyssenkrupp, a typical hydraulic applied elevator that uses LED lighting in a 3 story office building uses about 4,725 kilowatt-hours per year. That’s around how much the average American house uses in a little over 5 months. Traction elevators are used for taller buildings and a traction applied elevator in a 40 story apartment building uses about 14,130kilowatt-hours per year. That’s more than three times as much as the smaller building and as more than an American home uses in an entire year!

Another variable to consider is, not all elevator rides are equal. For example, a hydraulic elevator needs more energy to go up than it does to come down. These types of systems are typically used in buildings that are 7 stories or shorter. But the ride down isn’t totally free. When the elevator needs to come down, as it passes through the shaft at a controlled speed, the friction caused by oil passing through the hydraulic valves generates heat, which then has to be dissipated by the building’s cooling system.

In traction systems used in taller buildings, it is operated by counterweighted pulleys that help raise and lower the cars. The counterweight usually weighs about as much as the car when it is at around 40% capacity. So when it is loaded at full capacity, it needs a significant burst of energy to actually make it lift up. A full car traveling downward, on the other hand, is significantly much heavier than the counterweight so it can move without much help. So what does this mean? Essentially a full car going up uses more energy than a full car going down, and an empty car going down uses more energy than an empty car going up. The system turns out to be most efficient when the car is 40 percent full or when it’s perfectly balanced with the counterweight.

Elevators are even going to burn energy when not running. Some systems have automatic lights and fans that shut off while not in use, some don’t. The average standby power rating is between 0.8 and 2 kilowatts, which can eventually add up. 

So, how does this apply to you? Would you consider taking the stairs if it was more energy efficient in your specific situation? Basically, if you have to navigate through tall buildings, it is more beneficial to try to minimize trips altogether and carpool with your co workers and neighbors if you HAVE to take the elevator to your floor. However, If you live in a small apartment building or work in a low rise office, or even if you don’t need to go that many floors up, it would be immensely more beneficial to the environment and your overall health to just take the stairs.

If you were to simply walk up and down 3 flights of stairs instead of taking the elevator, you would save about 15 kwh a day or 450 kwh a month. That’s enough to power an air conditioning system for a little over 4 hours, or even a 55″ tv for 78 hours! Now can you honestly say that you can’t abstain from taking a 20 second ride to save all of that energy? Try to do your part, when you can.

If you have any insightful information on this topic or other great ways to save power and energy, get the discussions started and comment to let us know!

Unique Products That Save You Time and Energy

Once there was a time where our civilization as a whole was as energy efficient as possible. Long before the outstanding advancements in society that allowed us to live comfortably and sometimes conscious-less. But the privileges in which we all enjoy in the modern day, occasionally come at a cost. This cost of course, is overwhelming energy consumption and today we have the responsibility of managing it and putting in the effort to find ways to be as efficient as possible. There is no time in history where it has been harder than now to do that, so here are a few ideas that could be just a start at minimizing our footprint.

1. GE Z-Wave Wireless Smart Lighting Control Smart Switch

Forgot to turn the lights off before leaving the house? The GE Z-Wave is a smart switch that gives you the wireless control to turn lights on and off, schedule a timed event or create a custom scene from anywhere in the world. This is the perfect solution to completely eliminate the consequences of a high bill just because you forgot to turn a light switch off. Of course, you’re going to need a brain (or a hub) to communicate to this switch and there are a couple of options, but just to get you started….

2. Samsung SmartThings Hub

This is a perfect hub to compliment the GE Z-Wave Smart Switch. Not only can this connect to the switch, but can also connect with a wide range of compatible devices, including lights, speakers, locks, thermostats, sensors, and more. You can actually use this to teach your home tricks like what to do when you’re asleep, awake, and all other sorts of great things. This essentially allows you to create an automated and sensor triggered environment that, in the long run, will save you a ton on the use of lights and electronics while at the same time providing you with the convenience of increased safety. A bit of a no brainer, but it does require an internet connection and is also fully compatible with Amazon Alexa.

3. Niagara Conservation Sava Spa Shower Head

Water conserving shower heads are nothing new, but Niagara’s Sava Spa Showerhead has a luxurious feel and is actually pretty high water saving benefits. It has a patented pressure compensator that ensures a consistent flow, regardless of water pressure. It’s built from a durable brass construction, which ideally will provide the longest use, getting the most savings in your home and in your wallet.

4. Save A Watt Phantom Power Indicator

This little tool allows you to check how much power your electronics are using in standby mode. How much energy are your chargers using by just being plugged in? What about your video game console on standby or even your laptop? Built-in LED indicators quickly show how much electricity is being wasted and help you identify the best places to save. Just plug it into any grounded outlet and attach the item you want to test and you’re good to go!

5. The Laundry POD

You might be surprised to hear of the numerous resources that go into washing and drying your clothes. You have water. That water has to be heated so now your water heater has to consume electricity or gas to sufficiently get that job done. And not to mention all that goes into all the detergent you have to use with washing machines. The Laundry POD is a great alternative for all of that! It is a washing device that holds 6 liters of water and only requires about 1.5 teaspoon of laundry detergent. It has a spinning, washing and draining system that is operated by the hand turned crank on top and washes the cycle of clothes in less than ten minutes! There are few other ways to save this efficiently for years to come.

These are only the beginning in what it takes to most efficiently conserve. Maybe you know of some! Let us know what types of products are your favorite for conserving energy in the modern era!

Large US Manufacturers Reduce Energy Usage by Huge Amounts

And our take on overeating from the energy buffet

Manufacturers, here’s some good news: energy efficiency will save you a huge amount of money. We’re talking large sums here – energy efficiency programs have saved large US manufacturers $2.4 billion over the last five years. These savings come from firms representing just over 11% of the US’s manufacturing energy output, meaning that these savings could grow exponentially as more companies participate. 

CertainTeed Apollo II

Perhaps most impressively, within the 157 companies that have partnered with the Department of Energy’s Better Plants program, all 50 states and nearly every manufacturing sector are represented. This will make it easier to replicate the program as it expands in future years.

Here at WattDoesItUse, our primary focus in on energy efficiency and energy conservation. The monetary gain that these companies enjoy from energy efficiency is an additional boon, but we primarily value that manufacturers are thinking about reducing consumption. Just because there is a seemingly endless buffet of energy available doesn’t mean that we need to overeat from it. Rather, as consumers, citizens, and businesspeople, we can approach our energy usage with a focus on using a sustainable, appropriate level of energy, rather than gorging ourselves with unnecessary energy consumption.

How do you view your energy consumption? What is your expectation for the way US businesses use energy? Let us know in the comments below.

New Dream Home Technology Allows You to Charge Electric Vehicle From Solar-Powered Home

We just added a new feature to your dream home. Pretty soon you’ll be able to charge your electric car directly from your solar-powered home. Princeton Power Systems and NRG eVgo, two major electric charging companies are partnering to create the technology for the Orange County Team’s entrance into the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon. Both companies are donating their time and products to the team which displayed its project at the Great Park in Irvine, CA from Oct 8 – 18.

CertainTeed Apollo II

The technology is brand new, and allows electric vehicles to charge from a home’s solar output. The conversion process reduces power losses by 50% while maximizing efficiency. Plus, the system allows unused power to flow back into the home or into the grid when not needed. Have you added this to your future home’s checklist yet?

Princeton Power Systems has partnered with US Armed Forces to create electric charging systems for the Los Angeles Air Force Base. The systems allow bidirectional charging of vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf, meaning that power can flow from the charging system into the vehicle and vice versa. The Leaf’s battery can then be used as an energy backup for the base as needed. With the rapid development speed for electric charging technology, pretty soon this might be a feature for every home, not just your dream one.

What other energy-saving technologies would you like to see in your home? Let us know in the comments below.

 

Wireless Charging for Your Electric Vehicle

I recently discovered the company, Evatran, which makes Plugless, a wireless charging system for electric vehicles.  I got a chance to chat with Steve Cummings, a spokesperson at Evatran, and he gave me some great background on the company and the technology, which you can read below.

 

How long has this technology been around?

Technically speaking, Nikola Tesla invented the basis for all inductive EV charging when he demonstrated inductive power transfer, wait for it, back in 1894. (As I understand it, he illuminated NYC street lights wirelessly for the demo).  Fast forward to the founding of our company, Evatran, the maker of Plugless. In 2009, we were essentially a spin off from the industrial 

electrical transformer company of founder co-founder Tom Hough, the other co-founder is our CEO (and Tom’s daughter) 

Rebecca Hough. Our patented technology was tested, refined, and released for a large-scale trial program (we called it our Apollo Program) in 2011. Our trial partners include: Google, Hertz, Bosch, Argonne National Labs, Idaho National Labs, UC Davis, Clemson, 

SAP…among others. During the trial, from 2011 to 2013, we tested more than 15,000 charge hours on LEAF and Volt installations across the country. Using that data, we made a few product refinements and began selling Plugless to Volt and LEAF owners in the U.S. and Canada in March of 2014 and later in the year to Cadillac ELR owners.

 

Has this been deployed in any commercial buildings, or is it more targeted towards consumers?

It has been deployed in a variety of commercial installations – L.A. Department of Public Works, Duke Energy, Clemson University and the City of Raleigh to cite a few. However, we are largely marketing toward and selling to consumers at this point.

 

What are the barriers to integrating this tech with more EVs?

I can tackle that (great) question in two ways. The first, in terms of EV model to EV model and in terms of Plugless (as opposed to generally speaking, which I tackle below).  Plugless is integrated into the EV to be safe, to maintain all functionality of the EV, to be installed in a way that doesn’t damage the EV (no drilling, cutting or breaking the EV in anyway), and in a way that places the vehicle adapter (receiving coil) where it can be easily and consistently aligned with the power pad (the coil that transmits the energy) all for optimum efficiency. In addition, all of this must be accomplished in a way that keeps the systems affordable and relatively easy to install. Like all technologies that make life simple, “under the hood” there is huge amount of complexity to get it right. Given that each new EV we support represents a tremendous amount of engineering, design, testing, and manufacturing work to bring a safe, easy-to-use, and well priced product to market.

With that being written, we very much look forward to any competition to see how they solve for these things.  That leads to the second way to answer your question – in the sense of for ANY company or OEM, what are the barriers to integrating this tech? We are the only company in this space that has moved from being a technology company into being a product company, and so we have a unique perspective. All Wireless EV Charging (WEVC) companies, when they move from bench models in the lab to production models out in the world, as Evatran has with Plugless, will have to balance safety, vehicle integration, ease of use, power level (read: speed of charging – I.e. 3.3kW, 6.6kW, 10kW etc.), logistics of shipping the units (where weight and size matter), installation of the systems, and efficiency – all against the cost to the consumer. Our sense is that the majority of the market is waiting on a WEVC standard, which will push some of the costs onto the EV manufacturers and, by extension, their customers as optional equipment. We are involved in those discussions, and they are moving along.

 

Do you intend to integrate with cars like Tesla?

We are months away from selling Plugless for Tesla S models and the BMW i3. Those systems will be 6.6kW systems.

 

Does weather affect charging time?

Not for the vast majority of conditions. The operating temperatures we list on our tech specs are 0° to 122° F. We know that above or below that range charging might slow down a bit, and as the temperatures get more extreme, stop charging altogether (or not initiate charging). On the cold end of the spectrum, if it begins charging, the warmth of the charging would bring the speed of charging back to normal quickly.

 

Where can I buy Plugless?

You can go to https://www.pluglesspower.com/shop/ and buy a wireless electric vehical charger for your electric vehicle. If you don’t see your vehicle, you can sign up to be notified when it is available.

Energy Storage North America Holds Annual Conference

Energy Storage North America is holding their annual conference October 13 -15 in San Diego, CA. The conference, which includes keynote speakers, an exposition hall, and learning seminars, is in its third year of existence. Attendees include utilities, retail companies, renewable energy developers, lawmakers, environmental groups, microgrid developers and more.Energy Storage North America

The conference grew by a quarter in attendance from 2014; the 2015 version had over 2,000 attendees from over 20 countries discussing the theme of how to build an ecosystem for cost effective applications of energy storage. The symposium bills itself as an opportunity to strategize for your organization, be a part of shaping the future of grid storage, network with key players from all areas of the industry, and to learn more about the market.

Discussions this year focus on analyzing the current market and developing strategies for profiting from it as well as learning about emerging technologies.

The 2016 conference will be October 4 – 6 in San Diego, CA.