At 10:28 CST this morning, December 21, we will enter a new era – the winter solstice. This is the shortest day of the year here in Cape Girardeau Missouri, a little over ten hours of daylight. And after a fierce dawn, we are settling into a soft gloomy cloud cover this morning.
While dabbling in solar, you develop a new way of grading days into “good” solar days and the not so good. And December is generally poor fare all around. But as of this morning, each new day will be a little longer and a little brighter than the one before. I like that imagery.
Yesterday afternoon I connected one 70% SOC 377.47vdc Tesla Battery to one 40% SOC 350vdc battery with a single stroke and sat back to watch the fur and feathers fly in the ensuing fight. As expected, it was underwhelming though impressive. I don’t have an actual current logging device connected and am simply recording what the Tesla BMS sends me over the CAN bus. I think I probably need to connect an IVT Current Sensor and measure it more quickly as I have to be missing something. But what my current software did measure was a peak of 169.75 amps at a negotiated settlement of 363 volts or about 62kW – slightly above CHAdeMO power levels but below Tesla’s Supercharger. It lasted for a minute or so, but within five minutes it was down to 135 amps and within 10 minutes it was below 100 amps. So 2/0 cables handled it rather easily as they were only four or five feet long.
So current levels between two large batteries at different states of charge are impressive, but not alarmingly so. I would expect it to be more of an issue at 80% and 20% and perhaps a little more so at 10% and 90%. We’ll have to see what transpires.
We are of course trying to get a little closer to what our viewers have been singularly clear minded about – they want to charge their cars from sunshine and the more directly the better. That means connecting the CAR to the home solar battery and photovoltaics – and charging it. OR it might also mean connecting the car and getting energy FROM it.
When I first encountered this sentiment, I saw a task before me. Explain it to em. If you make electricity from sun, and feed it into the grid, and you take the same amount of energy out of the grid, and charge your car, you are driving on sunshine. So what’s to do?
Our viewers expressed a different task for me. Make it so they could charge on sunshine. They don’t want to convert it to AC and put it into the grid. They don’t want to take energy from the grid and use it to charge the car. They want to charge on sunshine. Directly. You know. From the sun.
Ok. I get it…. Charge…. On sunshine.
I was delighted to watch Tesla’s category 8 truck announcement. Elon Musk certainly knows better. But he has apparently gotten the word too. As so he specifically made a point to mention that you would DRIVE on SUNSHINE and the new MegaCharger Network for commercial trucks would be entirely solar powered battery banks capable of putting 400 miles worth of energy into a truck in half an hour. He also guaranteed them a 7 cent per kWh rate for that sunshine for the life of the truck. Velly intellesting…
I did twelve years as editor and publisher of Boardwatch Magazine and near enough nine years with EVTV. The lions part of the success of both was just a very good sense of what will be important and develop in technology in the future. I just can see it. And rarely miss. I don’t need to mention it. People who follow, and some have made both rodeos, already know about this and so they read/listen/view a bit differently from the more casual. But I’m going to share my proprietary IP here. It’s a trick. A cheap parlor trick.
You see, decades ago I noticed that technology does not evolve randomly or from what is possible or by standing on the shoulders of giants and being enabled by previous technologies or any of that. You can POINT to that, but you’re missing the trick. It evolves almost entirely based on focused intent.
Basically, if enough people want a technology to exist, that is DESIRE it, others will build it and hand it to them for a price. I noticed this and kind of back checked a few dozen notable inventions and found it is 100%. In every case, no matter how serendipitous it appears in the telling, a very STRONG DESIRE preceded it.
If nobody wants it and nobody will pay for it, it could be a Star Trek transporter and it just isn’t going to make it. I’ve seen hundreds of excellent solutions in search of a problem. And similarly hundreds of seemingly intractable problems eventually solved. It is driven entirely by human desire and driven faster in consensus. It takes very literally Napoleon Hill’s maxim: “If you can conceive it and can believe it you can achieve it.” But he references it as an individual aspiration. Picture a crowd based conceive and believe as being MUCH more powerful.
Dropping the other shoe should land the qualifying proviso here. But there isn’t one. IF enough of you can be gathered to want a thing, it will come to pass. Which takes me into a realm most mystical, that the universe is subject to the will and the whim of enormously powerful spirit beings. And you are them.
All of this by way of explanation that if you want to drive on sunshine, that IS the future. And Messrs Musk and Rickard can explain a thing to death without quite ever changing any of that. Which is why we don’t spend much time on the attempt.
And nine years and 321 videos later, you may now return to the first EVTV video where I called for a 100,000-man army to build electric cars. I knew it mattered little how many actually built electric cars or what the cars looked like or worked like. I never said you had to start a car factory or become an OEM. I wanted an electric car. And I was vaguely aware that others wanted electric cars too. And if I could somehow act as a lens to focus the intent of 100,000 people, a tiny tiny percentage of the world, to REALLY want electric cars and to come out of the closet and admit they had been pondering this, in many cases for decades, and publicly DESIRE electric cars, and tinker and innovate and blow things up – electric vehicles WOULD come to pass. And notice I spent zero effort raising venture capital, building factories, or trying to be General Motors – or the Callistoga Wagon Company for that matter.
I did’t want another million dollars or so. And unlike Barrack Obomination, I didn’t want each household to change one lightbulb. I wanted to change the whole world. And was actually at a point in life where I knew how to do it.
Do NOT misunderstand. I don’t claim authorship of the idea. Most of you have known what kind of car you wanted since you were eight years old. We had slot cars in those days. They were electric. They were quiet. They were despicably quick. And they were a shit pot full of fun. Any eight year old could look out the window at Mom’s Impala, and down at the table in front of them with a Porsche, a Ferrari and a Batmobile vying heroically for the lead, and tell that there was something badly amiss in the world. That gallon gulping piston chugging shit spewer just wasn’t right. And Batman wouldn’t be caught dead in an Impala.
But you needed permission to dream, validation for what you wanted, and someone to say it was all right to want it in a world full of people telling you what was possible, what was practical, and what you should settle for – mostly including just get used to the idea of higher gasoline prices.
I am not REALLY premature here. The outcome is now apparent and the reality of converting ALL of the existing vehicle fleet to electric is simply displaced in time and space by the standard Everett Rogers adoption curve.
But whenever you do GET what you desire, that allows you further view of further horizons and so with it further desires. So now you want to drive on sunshine. Not my job to fix you. We’ll drive on sunshine. Batta boom batta bing.
FREE LITHIUM BATTERIES – MUST PICK UP.
In this video I referred to the dramatic increase in price in the price of salvaged EV batteries now that they are somewhat useful and were being discovered by the solar enthusiasts. I did note this would be temporary and with a number of entrants in the salvaging battery goldmine, prices would quickly collapse. I didn’t expect it in three days.
Actually I just kind of missed something happening sort of as we speak. Collin wants to do a semitruck now and asked me to send him a drive unit and a charger. But before I could reply to the e-mail he sent me another noting that I should never mind – he would just buy a wreck and part it out himself, noting the sudden collapse of price in Tesla wrecks. ????? What price collapse?
Turns out another whimsical story. The Tesla salvage market has now been FLOODED so to speak with ruined Tesla’s from Houston, Texas. Apparently they literally got flooded in the flood. Goodnight Irene. What I can’t quite put together is how so MANY Teslas were parked IN Houston in the first place. Isn’t Houston the worldwide capital of all gasoline refining everywhere? Kind of the main drag of the oil industry? Why were so many driving Tesla’s in Houston?
Understand you probably do NOT want a battery from a flooded Houston Tesla. While these batteries seem well sealed, in practice we’ve seen a number of badly corroded and damaged batteries from floods. But it doesn’t matter. The low prices of the Houston Tesla’s has apparently cratered the Tesla salvage market even up into Michigan.
Longer term, there is just a very good reason I’m bearish about EV battery prices. Factoid one is that people are skittish about being battery operated in the first place. So to sell an electric car at all, the manufacturers have to warranty the batteries for 300 years or 3 million miles. Actually not, but 8 years and 100,000 miles is rather a lot. I have an early 2013 Model S with 16,000 miles on it and it will be under warranty until 2021. So picture that basically ALL existing Tesla’s are under battery warranty and for years hence.
What this means is that there IS no salvage market for Tesla batteries as replacement parts. NOBODY needs a Tesla battery to replace a failed Tesla battery because 1 they don’t fail, and 2 if they did fail it’s Tesla’s problem and they will replace it with a factory fresh NEW battery. So there is no legitimate parts “market” for the batteries or indeed for most Tesla parts.
Further to the point is basic arithmetic. There are 250,000 Tesla Model S on the road now and a certain percentage will meet their demise with some impact. This is exacerbated by the thin aluminum sheet used in their manufacture to make them delightfully light, spriteful and efficient on the road. Unfortunately, it also makes them horrendously expensive in the body shop and a five-minute hailstorm with dime-sized hail pretty much makes it a total write-down from an insurance company perspective.
This is FURTHER exacerbated by Tesla’s unwillingness to provide information, parts, or support to people repairing/rebuilding Tesla’s. This strikes me as profoundly and deeply and most sincerely stupid as a corporate position. But they actually discourage fixing Teslas in any and every way they can. Who wants a reputation as a $100,000 disposable irreparable car? And eventually an uninsurable one? What are you DOING Elon?
But more than all that, they have 455,000 deposits on Model 3 cars that have BETTER batteries. And they would love to manufacture all of those in 2018. Effectively TRIPLING the number of Tesla Motorcars plying the roads.
And an impressive number of people not only want to buy one, but want to buy one so they can immediately take it out and wreck it. One Tesla P100D in the northwest area was salvaged with 44 miles on it. The guy paid $126,000 for the car, and never made it home from picking it up at the service center. Totaled. So we needn’t wait long.
Solar cells are down to 42 cents per watt. And I really see the batteries, LARGE batteries, available for solar energy storage, as being very nearly free. Some of you want to hang in there and wait for your Tesla Powerwall. JB Straubel has assured us that they won’t be using salvage Tesla batteries for solar storage because it just doesn’t make sense. Actually all those things are graven in jello JB. Kind of depends on price and availability. And yes, there are more homes than cars now. But in the U.S., there are 100 million homes and 250 million cars. Work it out.
But we aren’t going to handle them. A solar enthusiast, has actually gone crazy on this and has picked up a DOZEN Tesla packs out of salvage and is taking them apart to make a quick $7000 per pack. But he’s trying to avoid being a secret so we’ve agreed to sell them for him.
BING. There, I just felt it. 10:28. Right on time. The winter solstice just kicked in. There was a very slight planetary rocking motion and back on track. Around the back side of the sun now.
Back to blogging. So I see inexpensive EV batteries as solar storage, which is exactly what is needed to actually enable solar power in any useful sense. Indeed all solar installed in homes and businesses and utilities prior are prelude. Like EV’s, it is ALL about the batteries and always has been. Solar energy only ever made sense if you could store the energy.
By the way, Tesla’s battery pack just turned hero. A massive coal power plant in Australia went on total shut down and the Tesla battery pack, 1000 kilometers away, shot to full 100MW output within milliseconds. Back up peaker plants took another four to six seconds to come online which very easily could have caused the usual Australian power cascading failure/blackout mess they have become inured to. But the Tesla battery was so fast, and handled the additional load long and strong enough to bring other generators up and cover the shortage. In grid terms, within a month of startup, Tesla’s battery is now the national hero of the Australian grid industry. Methinks this presages more batteries will be on order. Worldwide. Tesla “blue sky.” $950 per share.
Further to the point, the most recent massive grid solar installation just came in. These days, instead of shopping for solar components based on price, these large mega-plants simply announce where they want them and how big they should be. Solar component manufacturers then offer to do ALL the design work and provide the components and they actually compete to do it in a kind of now formalized auction process.
On October 3rd, 2017 , the Saudi energy ministry said Abu Dhabi’s Masdar and Electricite de France SA bid to supply power from a 300-megawatt photovoltaic plant for as little as 6.69736 halalas a kilowatt hour, or 1.79 cents. If awarded, that would beat the earlier record for a solar project in Abu Dhabi for 2.42 cents a kilowatt-hour. Solar is now EGGREGIOUSLY less expensive than coal to produce electricity. And it is destined to approach the cost of sand – although you don’t burn it up – you can use it for 30 years. The plant is slotted to be online by June 2019, that’s how fast this is moving and it is part of a plan to deploy 9500 MW of solar in Saudi alone by 2030. They see the writing on the wall for oil, but their vast deserts have no shortage of sunshine.
This is why I say all solar heretofore is prelude. The pricing of magic rock photovoltaics issues in an entirely new deal. And the other enabler is battery storage. Right on time. So the next 10-15 years will be known as the dawn of solar, not the last 15.
I had back burnered making the Tesla onboard charger work for nearly a year now. I wasn’t really sure why. It’s a 10kW charger the size of a briefcase. But they seem to cling to about $800 at the low end on eBay and can be seen at $1800 regularly. Why? Nobody can use them.
I think it is just a bet on the come that sooner or later someone will figure it out. Actually we did. But it is kind of icky with HVIL loops, J1772 issues, odd connectors and connections, and of course liquid cooling.
We have sold a number of 3.3kw Chevy Volt chargers at maybe $1700 with a controller and so forth you can actually use and indeed we now just order new ones from Chevy dealers at $1200 each, add a controller and some kind of pricey connectors, and they work fine. I have one in the 1990 VW Doppelkabine Pickup now.
But liquid cooling is a mess in an EV. It brings us all the leaks and hoses and antifreeze issues we want to be rid of in electric cars. But at the same time it allows us to get rid of heat from our drive units. So we have TWO loops in the DOKA – one for inverter/motor. And one for the Delphi DC-DC converter and the Chevy Volt charger. I actually need to put in a THIRD cooling loop which will actually be for HEATING with a Chevy Volt Eberspacher heating unit so I can drive the thing in winter – which I should get done by about May if EVTV traditional scheduling applies.
But liquid cooling for home solar? What a mess. What an additional expense. What a complication. But we do need a charger to supplement our battery-centric powerplant with grid (or generator) AC. Particularly in the dog days of winter. As mentioned in the video, we simply have an extreme variance seasonally in solar irradiance that either makes us generate power we can’t possibly use in summer or fall short in winter. It is basically the AC coupling for our DC coupled system.
We’ve sold a charger for years from the Tieching Instrument Company we called the TCCH charger. Elsewhere marketed as the Elcon. Served well and admirably and attractively priced. But of course hopelessly dated now.
Apparently Tieching thought so as well. Things just don’t stand still and the EV world in China has received a big boost from major government initiatives regarding electric cars. So TCCH has a new model that is 6.6kw, liquid or air cooled, and we just have one in. I don’t know what I expected. I had kind of lost interest in the genre and assumed we would be using OEM chargers in the future from electric cars.
But this thing has me wowed. First, it’s tiny. 14x9x5.5 inches – the size of a lunchbox. Second, it’s powerful, 6.6kw. Then, it is air cooled. I don’t have to fool with liquid cooling. It has a very OEM look with heavy cast aluminum enclosure and two shiny aluminum heat sinks. Unlike the earlier models, it comes with TWO fans. And they are so quiet I can barely hear them. And with an hour of putting out 6500 watts or so – 18 amps into a Tesla battery, it is COOL to the touch. It is of course CAN controlled. ANd the connectors, which were previously just wires sticking out of the enclosure or cheap Anderson connectors, are now clearly automotive grade.
But best of all they are VERY inexpensive. We have them up in the store at $995. I already have the code to operate it IN the Tesla Full Battery Pack Controller and it works beautifully. You can set the GRIDSTART variable to a state of charge and if your battery SOC falls below that, it turns on the charger. You can also set a GRIDEND state of charge for it to quit – leaving room to charge with solar if and when the sun does ever come up again.
I’ve tried everything with regards to physically interfacing to CAN. My latest foray is with CAT6 ethernet. So while fooling with that and the charger, I came across some of Andromeda Interfaces 7-inch touch screens on the shelf. Recall that we buy these, reflash them with our own software, and use them as a Tesla-like display for our Telsa Drive Unit.
Well I had some that were already flashed with the Orion BMS version from Andromeda. Orion BMS comes from Ewert Systems I think in Illinois and has been the least obnoxious BMS available for EVs. IN any event, it displays the basics, SOC, pack voltage, highest cell, lowest cell, temperatures, and a current progress bar for charging and discharging currents. How hard could it be?
It took all afternoon. So I missed my nap. But beyond that, not to shabby.
No sooner than we had our previous video out extolling the virtues of the 20kW inverter we found in China, that will work off the 300-400vdc battery input, than we received a couple of things. Several e-mails condescendingly noted that many inverters work on 300-400vdc. One actually cited Solar Edge as being a leader and less expensive too.
This is an ongoing problem. We have a lot of attention from those with too MUCH knowledge. And most of what they know is of course wrong. We have SolarEdge on our grid tied side here at EVTV. They indeed make very inexpensive inverters. But they make up for it with the sale of their POWER optimizers. Picture buying an emphase microgrid inverter, and using THAT to feed an ordinary wall inverter. The optimizers mostly optimize their output to a very steady 350v. Not 300-500. SolarEdge IS working on some EdgeStore battery stuff, but again very proprietary, and you will of course use their chosen batteries.
Second group was the left out me-too’s with Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf batteries. Actually almost everything we talk about works just as well for those if you can figure out the management and do a controller for them. But that’s not the problem. They too have found it impossible to find just an off-grid inverter with a 300-400v input. They are just not available.
And that’s what we’re doing here. I don’t REALLY want to handle inverters. You need them for selfish solar.
Great news. We found em. We have em. You can have em too. Here they are…
Err, ahh., hmmm. Well you see, they don’t REALLY need a 20kW inverter, they really only need 5k. No problem.
Well, it’s not just they only NEED 5k, it that they want to pay $300 for one. Sorry, can’t help you. And indeed, note that Selfish Solar just isn’t about WEENIE solar. We actually think tepid ginger toe-in the water solar has been the PROBLEM driving most of the developers to come up with all these bizzare and mishapen devices. The experiment is over. Solar works. Now it is about how to cobble together a FULL solar system for a big persons house. This isn’t Tiny House Nation and I’m not about to relocate to a container home. And no, we still aren’t really about bottom feeders. We seek to optimize the value proposition and enable those who want to replace dollars with some sweat equity. But I’m sure there is a solar version of DIYelectricjunk for you guys out there somewhere.
But yes, we think there are some ways for individuals to save about HALF the going rate on solar installations by doing it themselves, and in the process wind up with a battery system that will run for a couple or three DAYS of bad weather. But we are going to have to misappropriate a few items from the EV industry, starting with the batteries. Likely including the chargers. And the thing left is the inverter.
I wish one of you guys would retool our less than $1000 air-cooled DMOC645 to do about 100kW of 240vac. It’s not REALLY that far of a stretch…
But in the meantime, it is true that many homes simply don’t need 20kW. In fact most do not. I personally use a ridiculous amount of electricity at about 160kWh per day at my home. But that averages 7.5kW per hour and it rarely sees a peak output over 10kw. So the average American home using 30kW per day probably averages 1.5kW peaking at maybe 3 or 5kW. While I am an “overkill is always appropriate kind of guy because stuff lasts longer that way, I have found some remarkable new inverters of lesser size and cost.
Here’s a unit that will do 5kW continuously and 10kW for close to two minutes at $2995 and it works perfectly on 300-400vdc EV batteries and gives a perfect sine wave 60Hz 240vac L1, L2, N, PE U.S full house output. And it IS simple. This would work with Leaf and Volt and Bolt and BMW batteries IF you can control them as we do with the Tesla batteries.
SO I want to close with an uplifting holiday message wishing you each a very Merry Christmas and a joyous holiday season with friends and family and good will toward men and peace on earth. Hmmm. Well, half the country is made up of alt-left libtard Trump denialists who are very convinced the world is a very messed up place because of Trump and his deplorables.
The other half of us Deplorable Trump Supporters are convinced that the aforementioned alt-left libtards make it a really messed up place.
This is all largely a media event to set us up as two teams after the fashion of NFL football in order to sell MyPillow, Oxyclean, and Progressive insurance. As I’ve claimed in recent blogs and videos, things have just never ever been so miraculously fabulous all the way around. But there are always things you can point to that could be better.
How messed up? My poor brother-in-law, a proud and sometimes militant “African American” just had his DNA tested. Indeed he was 33% Nigerian. Oh, and 27% British. Leaving 40% literally everything else on earth. Picture a Scottish Aleutian Islander Samoan with a fro. This kind of points up the nonsense of race in America – a mythology founded on a gross lack of understanding of both genetics and the binary number system nature of having parents, who all too often do NOT confess to their children their sexual proclivities, generation after generation after generation. This lead to absolutely COMICAL misunderstandings of race and political issues surrounding it, with virtually NONE of the activists and participants even knowing what race is or who or what they themselves actually are. How messed up is that?
You want more? It is now pretty clear that Jesus Christ had to be born sometime in mid to late September, though there is a vocal minority group who campaign for the first week of October. Kind of have our Christmas date messed up THERE.
Worse, it is generally held that he was born between 6 and 4 BC, which kind of hoses up the entire CONCEPT of their BEING a BC. You see, you can’t really have Christ BEFORE Christ, or maybe you can – like the Trinity thing.
And Santa Claus, the jolly elf advocating good will toward men and peace on earth, was actually a bishop, Nikolaos of Myra who at the first Council of Nicaea in 325 AD (331 years AFTER Christ?) punched another bishop, Arius, in the nose so hard that it pretty much put him out for some time, ending Arianism and the Arian debate, which was very important at the time. So important none of you remember what it was about. But that was Santa Claus’s most notable act. He was later canonized as Saint Nicholas. And the story went on from their thanks to the Dutch, Thomas Nast and his poem, and eventually Macie’s Department Store.
Nonetheless we celebrate the birthday of Christ during the pagan holiday of YuleTide, to mark the winter solstice which is usually three or sometimes FOUR days earlier. We couldn’t even get THAT right.
So fake news and confusion, opinions and errant misunderstandings, eggregious misrepresentations and the twisting of history and fact for political purposes, was not precisely invented in the 21st century or America. It has been going on for several thousand years.
With all that, I and my wife will be at St Mary’s Cathedral in Cape Girardeau Missouri this coming Sunday night at 11:00PM and for two and a half hours in the middle of the night, she will bang away at the pianoforte and organ and I will bellow like a bull in a charming simulation of nearly singing — with our marvelous choir, and loving every minute of it. The church will be packed. And a good time will be had by all to the wee hours of the morning.
In fact, it just doesn’t get any better than this. I hope each of you and your families experience the same peace and love and warm holiday friendships and celebrations as well.
Merry Christmas. I’m from the government and I’m here to help…