Sunday, December 23, 2007

Trying to green our white winter with LED Christmas lights.

A couple of notes from the Minnesota home front, on the eve of Christmas eve.

Not being ready nor willing to break with the Christmas light tradition, I invested in LED Christmas lights this year. We are pleased with the appearance of the lights on the house. They really have a nice colorful light. One of the strands has already stopped working, so perhaps they are not quite as durable as I had hoped. Because of so much snow on the roof, I won't be able to try and fix the lights until spring.

We also bought indoor LED's to decorate the tree. I really like them -- they burn very cool, and the light is a nice quality.

As an experiment, I bought 60' of solar powered outdoor lights to decorate the fence in our front yard. As I expected, this experiment hasn't gone quite so well. Here in Minnesota, we are at our solar minimum right now, so the batteries do not charge well even though I tried to angle the panel as far to the horizon as I could. We get a few hours of illumination out of the solar Christmas lights, but they are not very brilliant. I plan to leave 'em out through the spring, and this summer will move them to a tree in the back yard, just for fun. I'll look forward to seeing how they perform in the summer, when we have light from about 5 am to 10 pm.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year.

Monday, December 10, 2007

I'm ready to buy my PHEV Plug-in hybrid. Where is it?

Ok, I'm ready to trade in my Mercury Mountaineer SUV and buy my plug-in electric hybrid. I'll even settle for a Chevy Volt.

Who will sell me one?

Apparently, the vehicles that I and so many others are waiting for are still a couple of years off. Honda says its ready to mass produce a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle, if only a national fueling infrastructure existed. I'll even consider one of those.

More than a decade after the Insight and Prius were launched, Toyota and Honda still appear to be the only "real" hybrid plays with credible product for sale. Although GM and Ford offer a couple of token vehicles that carry a hybrid sticker, the incremental benefit is puny. When I think hybrid, want a 40 MPH+ vehicle, not a Malibu that gets another 1 or 2 MPG.

I will buy a PHEV vehicle from the first car company that makes it practical to own one. I am ready to make the leap. Who is serious about meeting this need? Which company will win my loyalty for the next 20 years by bring to market what I want to buy? Where's my car?