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Dodge 1, me 0

Posted by admin on Jul 29th, 2008
Jul 29

Looks like I was wrong about the estimated mileage that Dodge put on their website about the Charger SE model. We got 27.67 mpg on our trip to Vegas (282.2 miles / 10.2 gallons). That was going 70-75 mph the whole way, which if it had been 65-70 it probably would have been better. We filled up before we left Vegas to come back home and we haven’t filled it up since we got back this afternoon, but it looks like it’s going to be about the same mileage for the return trip too.

One thing though that I should mention. The night before we left for Vegas we went to the airport to pick up my Mother-in-law, which is about 60 miles round trip. We had filled up that day, then we filled up again the next day just before we left for Vegas. The mpg we got from just driving to the airport and back was less that 17mpg! That was with two extra adults and their luggage in the car. What a difference the extra weight can make.

Hypermiling success

Posted by admin on Jul 26th, 2008
Jul 26

Finally, I’m starting to get closer to my goal of 25 mpg in the Charger. On my last tank of gas I made it 381.8 miles, which took 16.07 gallons to refill. That comes out to be 23.76 mpg! Now that’s much better than the 17.5 mpg I used to get while commuting back and forth to work. That’s about a 35% increase in mileage – not too bad.

The biggest differences I made this time was to be more conscious of when I could coast, and I left the car in neutral at lights. Also, I only needed to accelerate hard twice – both while getting on the freeway with a short on-ramp. I only used the freeway about 1/3 of the time so most of this was on surface streets. I actually feel that I can get better results by using surface streets rather than the freeway since I have more opportunities to coast, and since the freeways in Los Angeles are usually stop and go anyway.

This weekend my wife and I are driving to Las Vegas in the Charger – we’ll see just how well we do with all of that freeway driving.

From the “how bizzare” file….

Posted by admin on Jul 23rd, 2008
Jul 23

This is a little crazy, and also very inventive. A truck powered by wood. It seems that if wood gets heated up enough – to around 2400 degrees – then apparently it turns into a combustible gas, which is then ported to the engine as fuel. I’m wondering who he gets to keep the wood filled and stoked while he’s driving it!

The results are in….

Posted by admin on Jul 17th, 2008
Jul 17

I’m neither pleased, nor displeased with the results of my first hypermiling attempt. I know there are more improvements I can implement to further increase my overall mileage and I will continue to research and implement them, but for now I’m just going to have to live with the extra 2.5mpg I got. My average mpg on a tank of gas before this one was usually 17-18mpg, on this tank I got 20.01mpg. Not quite what I was hoping for – only a 13% increase.

You may be wondering why I’m not more excited about these results? I really did set my expectations pretty high. I figured that if I could coast for at least 1 mile of my 12 mile commute that it would make a huge difference. I have lots of opportunities to coast along my route and was usually pretty good at taking advantage of them. I honestly was hoping for 25mpg. A point of clarification I feel I need to make – when I refer to “coasting” I mean take the car out of drive and put it in neutral. I usually only try to do this when I know I’m coming up to a stop, since putting the transmission back in gear while at driving speeds seems to produce a healthy “clunk” when re-engaging the gears.

I’m still “perfecting” my coasting abilities so I still expect to see an improvement going forward. For example, one thing I found to be consistent was if I had my windows rolled down, even just as little as 2 inches, I wouldn’t coast as well. Also, I need to start my coasting earlier to get the maximum advantage of the kinetic energy. I *know* that 25mpg is achievable.

I’m not sure if it’s going to help or hinder my progress, but I’m going to be starting a new job at the end of the month that will increase my commute, put me in more traffic, pretty much keep me off of the highways, and also take me over a large hill (I think they are called Encino Hills?). It may help though because once I get over the hill I can coast for up to three miles one way, and about a mile and a half in the other. I’m sure it will be a wash but it will also depend on how I ascend up those hills. As always, I’ll post the ongoing results.

Hypermiling – the “pre”-results

Posted by admin on Jul 17th, 2008
Jul 17

I should wait until tomorrow to post this since I don’t really have results yet, but I’m just too excited to wait. On the current tank of gas in my 2007 base model Dodge Charger I’ve been implementing some hypermiling techniques. I’ve inflated the tires to their maximum recommended pressure, have been coasting as much as possible, and try to not push down the gas pedal more than 1/4 of the way at any time. Normally I get about 17-18mpg, and on the last tank we got 21.84mpg – but that was mostly due to a round trip to San Diego on all freeways. Hmm – a quick check of the Dodge site shows me some disheartening information. I checked the 2008 SE model and they claim to get 18/26mpg. Lies – all lies I tell you. I’d be ecstatic if I got 26mpg. At least now I have a solid goal to strive for.

Anyway – the current miles on this tank of gas is 340. The tank holds 16-17 gallons, which gives me approximately 20.61mpg. Not as great as I was hoping for, but I’m just starting out and it is at least 2mpg more than I’d be getting normally so I’m not disappointed. I’ll update tomorrow after I fill up and run the numbers.

I should also mention that there has been an unexpected benefit to my hypermiling experiment. I seem to be much less aggressive on the road and I don’t really get upset at other drivers anymore. So at worst I’ll get 2mpg more and a less stressful commute.

See you all tomorrow.

Desiccant Cooling

Posted by admin on Jul 10th, 2008
Jul 10

I had never heard the word “desiccant” before, let alone how to cool something using it. I was watching a show on Planet Green called Solar Showdown which, if you haven’t seen it, is about a contest sponsored by the Department of Energy looking for the most efficient solar powered home. One of the homes was using desiccant cooling, which they claimed was new and hadn’t been done before in a residential application, and that it was a very low energy and efficient way to cool a home. How their process worked was they used a waterfall with a desiccant additive. The extra “humidity” is then carried, somehow, through the waterfall to the outside and is then released through a series of vertical tubes. They didn’t give any in-depth details of the process, unfortunately.

So what the heck is it? According to Merriam-Webster, desiccant means “a drying agent (as calcium chloride)” – like those little packets you find in new shoes. A desiccant cooler works on the premise that if the humidity is removed from the air inside the house then not only does it feel more comfortable, but the air is easier to cool by AC. Here is a better explanation of the practice in general.

Breast power?

Posted by admin on Jul 7th, 2008
Jul 7

As incredulous and unusual as it may seem, it appears that there is some development going on in the area of breast power. Apparently, it’s possible for a mid-to-large breasted woman to recharge her ipod while jogging. How bizarre.

Speaker generator, powered by sound

Posted by admin on Jul 6th, 2008
Jul 6

This may not be the best or most efficient – or even practical – way of generating power, but it sure is interesting. Here’s a link to an Instructable where the person turns a speaker into…well…a generator. Since I haven’t tried this first hand I find myself wondering if the power produced by putting the “generator” speaker in front of the same sized powered speaker – i.e. the one playing the music – would create a comparable amount of electricity. I’m guessing that’s not necessarily the case, but if it is then I would think that it might be possible to hook up several “generator’ speakers and put them in front of one powered speaker and create multiple times the electricity used. I think I have to test this out myself….

Green power from ladwp

Posted by admin on Jul 5th, 2008
Jul 5

Much to my surprise, I did actually receive something from the LADWP to acknowledge my signing up for 100% green power. When I first posted about signing up I thought there would be, “nothing celebratory or anything marking the change of power“, but not only did I get acknowledgment but I also got two compact fluorescent bulbs from them as well. It’s nothing terribly exciting, but it is at least now more official. If you’re interested, here’s a copy of the letter – just click on it for full size.

Micro wind turbines

Posted by admin on Jul 3rd, 2008
Jul 3

I’ve been thinking a lot lately of ways that I can charge my bank of batteries without having to use power from the utility company or from fossil fuels (my electricity is, in theory, 100% green from the ladwp – or at least that’s what I signed up for….). As you may have read in the previous post, I’m building a peddle power generator, which I’m hesitantly optimistic about. It does seem to be the greenest option for me to recharge the batteries at this point, and if it works as well as I hope then I’ll be very close to unhooking the garage from the utility power – and I’ll be in much better shape to boot.

I’ve heard it’s necessary to have at least an acre and a half to have a turbine in my area so I can’t put one up because of my postage stamp piece of property. Solar is expensive, although I’m signed up on the Citizen-Re program, but they haven’t contacted me about installation in the more than 21 months since I signed up. Also, in order to have solar installed we would need to get our 25+ year old roofing redone first, which is $13,000 I just don’t have.

I’m a systems engineer by trade so I work on computers all day. I’ve often wondered how much power I could get out of one of the larger desktop cooling fans and have actually brought in a voltmeter to test it out. On one of my latest tests, holding the computer fan up to a box fan at full speed, I could get about .17amps out of it. So that would mean that a cluster of six of them would get around an amp in the same scenario. Not a lot, but it could be useful for something. I’m just toying with the idea for now, but I’m collecting the fans as I go along with the ambition of clustering a bunch of them together to see what kind of output they can produce.

I found this link of an entrepreneur in Hong Kong is doing something along the same lines. The fans are bigger than I would use, and I’m thinking of putting them in more of a tunnel format, but essentially the bones of the plan are similar.

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