Ipad vs Laptop

I just got this new Ipad 2 a few weeks back. My laptop is on it’s last leg since the hinge is broken and the display screen is about ready to fall off.

It took some getting used to ’cause this is my first apple device. But I really like it. It’s quiet, reliable, energy efficient, secure, smooth operating, and high quality. The big plus it that it charges from a USB power supply. This means cigarette lighter recharger. Why such a big deal with this? The sailboat!

Sailboats are very limited in power availability. I hate using my laptop on the boat ’cause in order to use the 12 volt power, you need a converter. And these darned laptops are very power hungry. If you forget and leave it plugged in it’ll eventually drain the boats 12 volt system. I hate starting the engine just to keep the silly computer running. What a waste!

This Ipad has a nice big screen yet if very frugal on power. I can download the free PDF nautical charts from NOAA. It’ll be great for cruise planning. Just to be safe tho I will still print out the necessary charts on hard copy for navigation. But I will use the Ipad for downloading the free Coastal Pilot books. I’m thinking of getting the Goodreader software so I can annotate the Pilot PDF files. Wow! This is golden!

I like these pad features so much that I bought a solid state drive for my desktop. But I am looking forward to the day when these smart little pads completely replace the laptop’s and desktops. Oh, by the way; my brother bought a droid pad. Hmm. Curious…

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RV refrigerator (Energy Hog!) Test Results.

Boy! These RV frig’s are not very frugal with energy. RM-2611 energy usage test results:

time on station: 102 hours
energy rate: $0.15 per KWHR
control panel setting: 2 (medium low)
power used: 16 KWHR
est cost for 102 hour run: $2.41
projected costs: 0.56/day, $3.93/week, $16.84/mo, $204/yr.

Wow! That’s almost a full order of magnitude greater than the mini refrig. It’s at least 5 times as much. Another thing to note that the driving force in the process is heat, not mechanical. So the heat used adds directly to the heat load within the structure. It could be vented off, but that’s adding yet more complexity to the installation. In RV installations, these refrigerators are vented to the outside. This makes good sense ’cause the RV is a small space and any added heat to the interior would be noticed quickly. Conventional refrigerators using compressed gas are starting to look pretty good.

Maybe going mainstream and staying on the grid(!) isn’t such a bad idea. I still want to be frugal so I need to do more research on this subject. How much do I save if I plunk down a fair amount of cash on an energy star rated refrigerator as opposed to buying a refer cheap on craigslist? The bigger picture is would it be wise for people to junk their old refers and spend money on upgrading? Our federal government is trying to encourage this ideal with the energy ratings they publish.

I find it particularly bothersome when there is encouragement to push a throw-away mentality. Is the new stuff really that much better than the old? And what about the energy consumed in melting down the old stuff and manufacturing the new? An article I was just reading was complaining about the new refrigerators breaking down way more often that the old ones. Hence the old proverb: Penny wise and pound foolish. So you save a few nickels on your energy bill, but that efficient refrigerator breaks down after two years and the blasted thing costs near a thousand dollars. That’s counter efficiency.

I remember I was talking once with a group of engineers about the unacknowledged down-side to hybrid vehicles. The high cost of the monstrous battery pack, lugging around all the extra weight with the resulting reduced payload capacity, plus the order of magnitude complication of the machine itself. If our vehicles gain an additional 10% increased in efficiency while the number of vehicle miles over the road increase by 20% within a given time frame; we are not really gaining, we are losing. My Toyota Echo get’s darned near 45 MPG. It’s simple and reliable. Sure it’s a dog on power, but it gets me from point A to point B in comfort.

My point is; you have to look at the big picture. Use the resources we have intelligently, but don’t rip and tear willy nilly without due consideration.

So back to the refrigerator problem. What I am thinking is I’ll buy 2 inexpensive used refrigerators: one 5 cu ft. and a standard size 15 cubic foot. I use the 5 cu ft for daily use. When company comes and I need more space I’ll start up the bigger one. It doesn’t hurt to idle a refrigerator. The motors are sealed.

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Company Leaves, Refrig Blows a Gasket.


Hey! I had a great time with my guests, Uncle Gary and Aunt Carol (aka Mr and Mrs Kahuna). When they first got here I talked them into trying some of my home-made Peach Champagne. I made this by brewing up a 4 gallon batch of peach wine. As I decanted it, I grabbed some empty Grolsch Beer bottles and put a 1/4 cup of peach juice then filled it with the (unsulphited) peach wine. Wow! It turned out really good. So good in fact, that we spent the rest of the evening decanting off the rest of the batch into champagne brews. We made up 4 – 16oz bottles and one 2 litre recycled soda bottle. I’ll have to buy another 4 pack of Grolsch so I can enjoy the beer and use them for more champagne brews later on.

While my guests were here, I was using the RV refrigerator. It was working fine and I bought two boxes of ice cream for our deserts. On Sunday we were starting on cooking up some breakfast, and when I opened the refrig I got a whiff of some strange smell. Uncle Gary smelled it too and he went into shell-shock PTSD. He thought the Ruskies were attacking and shelling us with mustard gas. ‘Turned out the RV refrigerator popped a cork in the freezer compartment and was gassing off the ammonia and hydrogen gas. I yanked the power cord in order to minimize the damage. Then I heard a clicking noise. Yikes! I forgot the car battery was still attached to the refrigerator control board and it was trying to light off the propane backup system. The clicking noise was the igniter throwing off sparks. Luckily I got the control panel turned it off before the hydrogen gas ignited. We could have all been blown sky-high.

Now: Any sane person might be tempted to say that this RV refrigerator experiment was a dismal failure. But look on the bright side: It was a good learning experiment, exciting fun, and we lived to tell about it. It’s like the say in aviation: If you can walk away from the wreckage, it was good landing. Not that alone, but think of the coming adventure I’ll have learning how to repair and recharge RV refrigerators. Wow! ‘More fun than you can shake a stick at.

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Electrical Tests on Quiet Refrigerator.

Startup refrigerator. Let run for about 2.5 hours. Check ref temp: 42 deg F.
Check freezer temp: 15 deg F.

Check 12 volt current draw when refer is on 120vAC and calling for cooling: 0.125 A
Check 12 volt current draw when refer is on Gas and calling for cooling: 0.300 A

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Quiet Refrigerator Startup

I had to go up to Allentown to look at this fridge. It was all rebuilt and nice condition so I went ahead and bought it and hauled it home. I had to let it stand for a day cause I laid it on its side while hauling it home.

Since it needs 12 volt power for the electronics to operate, I had to steal a battery from my lawn tractor to get it to run. Right now I have the battery hooked up and plugged into 120v AC power. Upon hitting the start button it had to think a minute then came to life in the manual gas mode. I could hear the gas solenoid open and the igniter trying to fire. I hit the auto button and it switched over to auto and it switched back over to 120vAC. After a few minutes I could hear that the element was heating up and could feel that the gas tubes in the back were warming up. After about 15 minutes, I just opened the freezer and the cold plate is all frosty. That’s got to be a good sign. The bottom element is cooling off now too.

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I’ll set the thermostat on 1 for now and check it later on.

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Quiet Refrigerator vs. Old Mini Fridge

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I bought a test meter that tracks electrical equipment power usage (watt*hour meter). They have these at Home Depot for a few tens of bucks. Boy! You have to love the cheap and plentiful computer chip gadgets they have today. I have an old clunker mini refrigerator that makes an awful racket when it runs. You’d think it was on it’s last leg. Yet when I monitor it with my meter it shows it’s only using about 3 dollars a month of electricity.

Oh well! So much for energy savings rationalization. On the other hand, it is so nice and quiet at my new place here that on obnoxious noise consideration alone, it is 100% justifiable to ditch the beast.

Stats from test meter: Mini refrigerator from Monkey & Wards
Time on station – 284 hours
Elec rate $0.15/ KWH
Total cost – $1.47
Cost per day – $0.12
Cost per week – $0.85
Cost per month – $3.67
Cost per year – $44.67

This might sound odd, but I’ve decided to get an RV refrigerator. These don’t have compressors, but use heat to circulate the refrigerant. They are almost totally silent when running. The only time you hear anything is a slight tinkling sound when the process it turning on or off. They also run on alternate power sources. I just bought one that is dual source. It runs on either household 120VAC power or propane gas. If there is a power outage it’ll automatically switch over to propane and light the burner. When the electrical utility restores power, the refrigerator will automatically switch back to that source again (electrical is the safest and most economical way to run the refrigerator).

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It doesn’t look pretty cause it doesn’t have the finished trim panels installed yet.

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Company Coming

Aunt Carol and Uncle Gary are coming later in the week, so I need to get ready. I just moved in here a few months back and have been remodeling. The guest bedroom remodeling is done and the room is remedially furnished. For the living room, I just bought a couch, end table and coffee table so despite the fact that things a still a bit spartan, they should be somewhat comfortable. Since they abhor anything computer related I’d better get them into this blog. Should be fun! I wonder if they’d understand it if I said, “Hey you two! You’ve gone viral”.

Living Room Set.

Guest Bedroom is Ready.

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