A Small Trend

A lady friend went to Pensacola the other day to buy some premix fuel for the chainsaw.  The recent storms had knocked over a big oak at the end of the driveway and her husband wanted HER to cut it up.  He had specifically requested premix and she didn’t check the price until she got home.  Almost $50 bucks!  Holy crap!  That’s for one gallon of premium alcohol-free gas, like I use in my Shadow, (about $4.50) plus a splash of 2 cycle oil.  That adds up to about $7-8.  I thought maybe they were supposed to give her a case of the stuff for $50, but saw an equivalent for $24 at Home Depot.  We know the .gov is trying to eliminate gas engines and especially 2 strokes.  Is there a conspiracy to price them out of the market?

I was with her after an archaeology outing when she went by Northern Tool to return the gas.  They had another brand up front for “only” $36/gallon.  Geez.  No, no mistake.  And if you don’t use the Stihl brand fuel in the Stihl brand tools, you void the warranty.  Wow.

While I appreciate the power of a gas chainsaw on my tree farm, I have pretty much gone over to battery electric for saws and other outdoor power tools.   I go out to work on my own fallen forest with 2 sets of batteries for my Greenworks saw and they last until I am near death.  Running out the batteries gives me an excellent excuse not to stay out and have a heat stroke and, fortunately, the Greenworks charger takes the rest of the day to recharge the batteries!   The battery mowers are not yet at a level useful to me.  Heck, even the gas mowers and my diesel tractors can barely keep up.  Musk?  Let me know when you get a self-driving electric mower that can knock out 10 acres of tall grass at a time.  I’ll beta test them for you…for free.

So, ummm, solar?  Yes, I am leading up to that.  Every morning my inbox is full of stories from all the solar newsletters to which I subscribe.  Usually, it is all about bigger.  Bigger solar farms.  Bigger modules.  Bigger inverters.  Bigger batteries.  Bigger factories.  Etc., etc., etc.  Lately, though, I see a delightful smaller trend.

There are many of you, I am sure, who would like to jump into solar, but are uncertain about it or maybe your own abilities.  This trend is for you.

First item is the Balcony System.  Someone is marketing a solar power system you can mount on the balcony of your condo, for you city dwellers.  Actually, Sun Electronic founder John Kimball did this years ago at his home office.  No custom system components needed.  The Association would not let him mount anything to the wall outside, for safety reasons.  Imagine dropping a 60 lb. module from 14 stories up.  Johnny, you got some ‘splainin’ to do!  He hinged a module to the railing.  Set some legs under the free end to make it horizontal and there’s a table for your iced tea.  When the party is over, prop it a little higher to better catch the rays.  A charge controller and a little stack of Sun230 or other good deep cycle batteries to store the power and a small inverter to run the lights and maybe Mr. Coffee and you have a backup solar power system, which could be used daily to some degree.  Good cheap fun.

The other product is a small solar shed for the backyard.  This is for you in suburbia.  The shed, if you don’t already have one, uses a single solar panel as the roof and some posts and siding for supports and walls.  In many places you won’t even need a permit for the structure.  This shed is for all those battery tools you have accumulated.  Hedge trimmer, weed whipper, pole saw, chain saw and that blower you use to push all the leaves into the neighbor’s yard.  Store them there and charge them there.  A very small inverter should do the trick and a relatively small battery should do it for storage.  I have not checked the ratings of the biggest charger I have, probably the big Ryobi, but suspect a 300 watt inverter will do it.  If unsure of what you need, I’ll bet Roberto can fix you up with a complete kit if you call Sunelec’s office.

Get out there and do some solar!


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