Tag Archives: battery

An Analysis of Lawn Mower Battery Life

To power my Ryobi 40V cordless electric mower I purchased two additional batteries.  These batteries are made by a company called GERIT BATT and are 6 AH models.  Currently, on Amazon these batteries are available for ~$80which is what I think that I paid for each earlier in the year.

The mower came with a Ryobi branded 4 AH battery and charger.  Thus far it appears that the charger has no problem juicing the off brand batteries, which is a complaint that I read about from some reviewers.  I will note that if I pull the battery off the charger when it claims to be full it runs for a shorter period of time compared to when I leave the battery on for some time after a full charge indication.  Maybe there is some trickle charging going on or a quirk in the firmware of the charger.  I do not know.

Below is a table showing all of my mowing this season and the times each battery lasted while mowing.  I have been recording these results over the course of the lawn mowing season because I have found very little concrete analysis of battery life in cordless electric mowers.  Batteries A and B are the GERIT BATT models while Battery R is the included Ryobi battery:

  Battery A Battery B Battery R
May 1 32 To complete NA
May 8 34 To complete NA
May 17 To complete 32 NA
May 22 40 To complete NA
May 27 To complete 25:28 NA
June 1 18:03 21:37 17:38
June 5 26:42 24:15 To complete
June 8 To complete 38:51 NA
June 12 No time No time NA
June 21 To complete 37:25 NA
June 26 41:57 To complete NA
July 2 39:44 To complete NA
July 8 To complete 48:16 NA
July 13 45:02 To complete NA
July 20 41:51 To complete NA
July 28 37:05 To complate NA
August 14 To complete 36:23 NA
August 28 To complete 39:04 NA

After the first mowing I stopped using the self-propel feature of the mower believing it to use more electricity from the batteries than it was worth.  The mower is quite light and my yard is not steep enough to really justify the extra juice.  Plus, if I consider it a workout it’s better to make it more difficult.  Right?

The biggest change in battery duration seems to be the dampness of the grass rather than the length.  Early in the season we had a lot of spread out rain that kept everything fairly moist.  Even mowing late in the day it would still be damp.  Compared with later in the season when I let the grass grow long as the rain quit and the temperatures rose, mowing damp grass was just an energy suck.  Check out June 1.  It was like mowing through wet concrete.

You can see that the last month was a hot and dry period of time.  I have really only mowed the lawn to even out some spots that grow long while large swaths of my yard stay at about 4-5” of grass height.

Regardless, it seems like mid-30 minute duration is consistent with some deviation to the high or low side dependent upon local conditions.  Given that my yard is about two-thirds of an acre in size I would imagine that most suburban lots—about one quarter of an acre in size—could get buy with one 6 AH battery.  The possibility of large emission reduction from replacing small engines with electric motors is gigantic.

Note: I bought the two GERIT BATT batteries with my own money from Amazon.com.  I have received nothing in compensation for writing about or linking to the batteries.

Are We Focusing on Electrifying the Wrong Thing?

Electric cars are interesting.  Just look at the stock valuation for Tesla.  Like technology companies, Tesla is being valued for something beyond its fundamental performance.  Other electric vehicle makers are being judged in much the same way.

However, I wonder if we are focusing on the wrong path forward for electrification and, thus, decarbonization.

Even an inexpensive electric vehicle is expensive.  For most people in the United States the perceived limitations in range also mean that a lot of people will have a second vehicle for those trips deemed impossible in an EV.  Furthermore, a car is a long term purchase.  The average cycle for buying a new car is measured in years and the average age of cars on the road is close to 12 years. Heck, the average number of new cars the average American is expected to buy in his or her lifetime has been trending down for years.

What is there were better places to put our focus on electrification and decarbonization?

The EV tax credit is estimated to have cost $2.2B between 2012 and 2017 with another $7.5B estimated between 2018 and 2022.  So, about $10B.  What could I do with $10B.

Think about lawn mowers.  The average “life expectancy” for a lawn mower is eight to ten years.  Expect half that for a mower that is not maintained.  Sure, that is within the ballpark of a car’s life expectancy save for the fact that a lawn mower costs a lot less.  For less than $500 you can replace a regular old gas powered lawn mower with a really nice electric mower.

Depending upon the study, a gas powered lawn mower will emit the same amount of volatile organic compounds and nitrous oxides as eleven cars over the same period.  In total lawn mowers represent ~5% of total U.S. air pollution.

In a given year, five million mowers will be sold in the United States.  If the purchase of an electric lawn mower were subsidized, say 50% of a $500 model, it would cost approximately $1.25B to go fully electric.  Just $1.25B to eliminate 5% of America’s air pollution.  Do not even get me started on the whole “where does the electricity come from” canard.

Maybe we are focusing on electrifying the wrong thing?  Just a thought.

How Long Will the Battery Last in My Cordless Electric Lawn Mower

This weekend was the first time that I actually used my new cordless electric mower to cut my lawn.  Prior to this I had tested the mower to ensure that it worked—in case I needed to return it since I bought it on mega discount at the end of last year’s outdoor season—and to make sure that the third party batteries I purchased online worked as well.  Nothing would have been more disappointing then heading out to mow my lawn and hearing nothing.

My yard is just under half an acre, but not all of that is grass.  A large portion is the house, driveway, sidewalk, etc.  There are also quite a few trees and landscaping with more on the way this summer.  I do not have an exact figure, but it is a large lot.

Most of the reviews of the cordless electric mowers that I have seen were conducted on small yards in places like Florida and California.  These are the kind of yards that take twenty minutes on Sunday morning to mow.  In the case of my yard it is more like 45 minutes to an hour depending upon mowing direction and how many foam darts I have to pick up.

To power the lawn mower I purchased two third party 6 amp hour batteries.  These batteries were decently reviewed and I hoped that six amp hours would provide me enough extra capacity to mow my lawn without stoppage.  Originally, the Ryobi lawn mower came with a single 40V 5 amp hour battery that I am going to use with a battery electric string trimmer.

Well, the first battery—from full charge until the mower stopped cold in its tracks—lasted just over thirty two minutes.  This is a far cry from the forty five minutes I had read that a five or six amp hour a battery would last.  However, I was using my mower’s self propelled feature so there is probably a decent hit to run time caused by the extra oomph it provided.  Given how light the mower is the self propelled feature is more of a “nice to have” than a necessary evil.  The next time I am going to forgo using that feature on the totality of my lawn to see the impact on battery life.

The second battery lasted until I completed my lawn approximately 20 minutes later with no fade in power.  That is approximately 50 minutes of run time with one battery completely empty and another with electrons in the tank, so to speak.  My plan is to keep track of the batteries’ performance across the season to see how operator error, weather, and cutting conditions impact performance.

Lawn mowers are pollution bad actors.  The numbers are hard to pin down because there is so much variation—small engine, riding mower, CARB compliant, etc—but there is no doubt that an hour of mowing is worse than an hour of driving a car.  It’s not just the carbon dioxide that is emitted by small engines that should concern you the most.  These engines are veritable factories for compounds like carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide.  Nitrogen oxide, along with its friend sulfur dioxide, is the bad chemical compound that combines with atmospheric compounds to make acid rain.

For the season, I have eliminated ~50 minutes of gas-powered lawn mower operation with a solar powered battery electric lawn mower.  Stay tuned for the ongoing accounting of how much I “decarbonized” my lawn care routine.

First Step in a Path Toward Deeper Decarbonization

Once you have purchased an electric vehicle—in my case a used 2015 Nissan Leaf—and installed solar panels—in my case a total of 24 panels for a nameplate capacity of ~7.5 kWh—you are left with a question: how do I further decarbonize my household?

If you live in a single family home in the United States there are a surprising number of places where fossil fuels are being used on a daily basis.  Most home owners do not really consider these sources of carbon emissions.

Consider the lawn.  Anyone with an inkling of environmental conscience understands that the turf grass monoculture that dominates our landscape is essentially a hellscape of inappropriate plants, harmful chemicals, and energy intensive maintenance.

In my household we have abandoned the chemicals and I am ripping out sections of turf grass as often as I can in order for it to be replaced with perennials suited for my region.  However, I am left with some amount of turf grass and social expectation that this grass be mowed on a semi-regular basis.

Trust me, I have pushed the bounds of both social expectations and legal ramifications over the years by allowing parts of my lawn to go weeks without seeing the spinning blade of a lawn mower.

Nonetheless, I am bound to some degree to maintain a well-manicured lawn.  As a good suburban homeowner I spent the last nine years mowing my lawn with a traditional gas powered push mower.  I dutifully filled it up with a small amount of ethanol free gasoline every few weeks and spent about an hour clipping my grass down to the maximum height setting.

Thankfully, a series of mechanical mishaps aligned with my desire to rid myself of this pollution spewing beast.  How much pollution does a mower release, you ask?  It depends upon the source and methodology, but according the EPA lawn mowing accounts for up to 5% of the United State’s total air pollution.  Not to mention the millions of gallons of gasoline that are spilled filling mowers.   Add in the oil required for four stroke engines and you have a lot of fossil fuels being consumed to keep our lawns high and tight.

Now, I could have rolled old school with a reel mower as someone will surely point out.  I would also ask that person if they have ever mowed more than a few hundred square feet with one of these contraptions.  Seriously, another eco-minded neighbor bought one and every household with an interest tried it once.  Reel mowers are the Zima of lawn care.  You try it once and never think about it again.

Strolling the aisles of my local Home Depot—an activity one is likely to engage in when waiting for your child to complete soccer practice—I noticed a clearance sticker on a Ryobi cordless electric mower.  Now was the time to jump on the electric lawn mowing bandwagon.

For less than the cost online of a regular push mower—battery electric or ice—I took home a battery electric self-propelled mower.  The 40V mower came with a single 5-amp hour battery.  If I believe the online reviews this battery should provide about 45 minutes to 1 hour of cutting depending upon usage.  We shall see.

Additionally, I purchased an extra battery online.  The cool thing about the 40V Ryobi tool line is that with such a large installed base there is a healthy aftermarket in third party batteries.  I was able to get a compatible battery rated at 6-amp hours for less than $80.  With two batteries I should have more than enough capacity to complete mowing my lawn.  Again, we shall see.

For the first time in forever I am looking forward to the beginning of lawn care season if only to see how the electric revolution applies.  The march toward a deeper level of decarbonization carries on.

Friday Linkage 12/20/2019

This will probably be the last post of 2019 as I am readying for a trip to the mountains where the phones and computers get put away.  People ask me why I love heading to a place that is colder and snowier than home for the holidays and I can only smile.  There is nothing more like freedom from the modern than spending fifteen minutes riding a fixed grip chairlift with just your own thoughts to occupy the time.

Some people meditate.  Some people go to spa retreats.  I seek out secluded and slow lifts.

See you in 2020.

On to the links…

These 91 Companies Paid no Federal Taxes in 2018—Make no mistake, this is a feature of the system as designed by Republicans.  If you want to know why we cannot afford anything at the federal level look no further than corporate tax policy.

U.S. Forest Service Allows Mining Company to Write Its Own Environmental Report, Docs Show—This is just the everyday sort of corruption you get in the Trump administration that never gets any press mentions outside of a very niche set of publications.  It’s like Teapot Dome every day with these people.

Trump’s Food Stamp Cuts Will Be Devastating to Trump Country—How is that MAGA hat working out for you now?

Scientists Feared Unstoppable Emissions from Melting Permafrost. They May have Already Started.—From the “Well, that’s not good news” department comes this little gem.  We may have already started the unstoppable negative feedback loop of climate change.

We Need a Massive Climate War Effort—Now—The thing I do not understand about arguments against combatting climate change is that the skeptics act like the money spent on mitigation is going down a drain.  This is money that will be spent in the United State employing Americans to deploy technologies that will make us less reliant on volatile fossil fuel markets.  It sounds like a national security and economic development package all in one.

Energy Waste: Can We Half Emissions At The Flick Of A Switch?—Probably not half, but my guess is that we could cut our emissions in a quarter just by being more efficient.  Heck, given the number of ways I can see to reduce electricity consumption in my small neighborhood it cannot be that hard.

US has Only One Offshore Wind Energy Farm, but a $70 billion Market is on the Way—I do not really know what $70B in investment buys when it comes to offshore wind.  However, a 12MW turbine capable of producing the power necessary for ~16,000 homes is freaking cool.

Almost Two-Thirds of Australia’s Coal-Fired Generation will be Out by 2040—Why can’t we make this a 2030 goal?  Or 100% shut down by 2040?

Coal Will Remain World’s Largest Source of Electricity Through 2024—Not great news, but in less than five years it will not be the biggest source of electricity.  Cold comfort in a world ravaged by climate change, though.

Dutch Electric Vehicle Sales Explosion-Market will Not Return to Normal—Or, this is the new normal for vehicle sales in the Netherlands:


I am just surprised to learn that this may be a function of buyers who get company cars.  I thought that was a thing that went out of style with Mad Men.

Daimler is Bringing Electric School Buses to Virginia—Here is an idea: a federal program ot bridge the cost difference between a traditional diesel bus and an electric bus for every school district in America.

IBM’s Cobalt-Free EV Battery Uses Materials Extracted from Seawater—Cobalt is in the news for all the wrong reasons right now.  The thing about these headlines is that it shows the market coming to bear, with all of its resources, on the sticky problem of batteries for EVs.  When it’s a few compliance cars for California, the market does not really care.  When it is for millions of cars across the globe, the market really cares.

University of Arizona to Transition to 100% Renewable Electricity By 2022—Was that really so hard?  Given the nature of the in state rivalry, I have to ask, “Can you do it Arizona State?”

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom To Be 80% Powered By Solar Carport—I often wonder why every surface parking lot is not covered by some form of a solar carport.  Imagine every airport parking lot covered with solar panels.  You can still park there for the low, low price of a percentage of your soul per day but the same area could also be producing clean energy.

This ‘Ponzi Scheme’ Surrounding Development Leaves Most Cities and Towns Functionally Insolvent—Let’s be honest for a moment.  It should surprise no one that big retail and real estate developers are engaged in what is essentialy a Ponzi scheme to get their ticky tacky boxes built.

The Future of Building is Communities that are All-Electric and Ultra-Efficient—Truly deep decarbonization will require us to examine every facet of our energy use, but especially our homes and buildings.

‘It’s pretty staggering’: Returned Online Purchases Often Sent to Landfill, Journalist’s Research Reveals—This is why it is critically important to reduce shopping generally and to reduce shopping form massive online retailers specifically.

Lawn-Mowing Reduction can Help Wildlife, says Study—Can 2020 be the year where we finally stop praying to the gods of manicured lawns?

There’s Nothing Wrong with Repetitive Cooking—This is a sentiment that needs to get pounded into peoples’ skulls.  The single most important thing to my household’s reduction in eating out was the fact that I have a handful of recipes that I can “whip up” from memory on most weeknights.

Plant-Based Meat Takes Center Stage at Kroger—Sometimes it can feel like we live in the future:


Friday Linkage 12/6/2019

I drive by the signs advertising Ronald Reagan’s childhood home frequently when traveling to the Chicagoland area.  It is just too delicious that the patron saint of government bashing’s house is going to be administered by the government.

Or maybe the problem is that people really do not care all that much about hypocrites like Ronald Reagan.

On to the links…

The Economics behind Planting Billions and Billions of Trees–To bastardize a saying of Michael Pollan’s, “Plant trees, on appropriate land, mostly native species.”  It is a simple action that really has no downside. If we focus on areas that have been logged, burned over, or denuded by other means it will reintroduce tree cover to appropriate lands.

The World’s Top 10 Carbon Dioxide Emitters–Take a look:


The future of the Earth rests in the hands of China, the United States, and India.

This Energy Transition Is Different. Here’s Why–I applaud Andy Stone for pointing out that the key ingredient missing in the transition to a fossil free future is sufficient political will on the part of all politicians, but particularly those leaning with a conservative bent.  Our politics are bought and paid for by fossil fuels.

Spain Might Be The World’s Most Important Climate Test–How did we end up in an era where our political choices are being defined by progressives facing off against neo-fascists?

CO2-Eating Bacteria Made in the Lab Could Help Tackle Climate Change–Does this sound like the beginning to a young adult dystopian novel?

Let’s Implement a Luxury Carbon Tax, because not all Carbon is Created Equally–Let’s start with first class and business class airline flights.  Say $25 per ticket. All funds to be spent on reforestation.

Renewables are Not Making Electricity any More Expensive–Economics is a health of a thing.

Utilities Running Uneconomic Coal Plants Cost Consumers $3.5 Billion From 2015-2017–Coal is costing you money.

Average Battery Prices Fell To $156 Per kWh In 2019–Here is the key line: “this year the average EV battery pack prices decreased to around $156/kWh, which is some 87% less than it was in 2010 (over $1,100/kWh).”  In less than a decade’s time the average price has decreased almost 90%.

Are Electric Vehicles Really About To Plateau Oil Demand?–Plateaued oil demand is bad enough, but even a lower growth model will doom many higher cost oil plays in the short term.  EVs are part of the problem for oil demand, but just as important are tighter regulations on fossil fuel emissions in general.

Coal Power Becoming ‘Uninsurable’ as Firms Refuse Cover–If you cannot get insurance, you cannot operate.  I am sure that Donald Trump and his coal dust caked cronies will come up with a government backed reinsurance scheme to make sure that people like Bob Murray can profit from killing the planet.

Why Aren’t We Building a Traveling Wave Reactor in the U.S.?–Nuclear power always seems like it is an answer to our electricity problems until you account for all of the problems that nuclear power creates.  I am unwilling to hop on the traveling wave reactor bandwagon, but maybe Bill Gates is on to something. At least he is not spending his money on running for president.

Biofuels Could Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions By 96%–If nuclear seems like the holy grail of energy security, biofuels have to be the One True Cross of energy security.  At what point do we give up on the idea of liquid biofuels?

Agriculture is Part of the Climate Change Problem. Colorado Wants Farmers’ Soil to be Part of the Solution.–Improving soil health across grazing and other agricultural lands is probably one of the biggest “gains” we can make in the war against climate change.  Furthermore, increases in soil health and captured carbon will improve our ability to feed more people.

Chew On This: Farmers Are Using Food Waste To Make Electricity–Every kilowatt hour of electricity generated without the use of fossil fuels is a good thing.  Using a waste product to generate that electricity is like a double bonus.

DiGiorno and Stouffer’s Bring Plant-Based ‘Meat’ to Frozen Italian Food–If you do not think that plant based meat stand-ins are mainstream then how do you explain it being available in frozen pizza and lasagna?  Maybe it will be considered mainstream when there is a Jack’s frozen pizza with plant based pepperoni on sale for 4 for $10.

How Our Home Delivery Habit Reshaped the World–In an age of ubiquitous and pervasive shopping opportunities we need to radically rethink our relationship with consumerism.

Green Consumerism Is Part of the Problem–There is no such thing as “green consumerism.”  There is just “less bad consumerism.” Once we understand and internalize the reality that we cannot buy our way out of the problem of climate change, the sooner everyone will be better for it.

Friday Linkage 11/8/2019

Did Trump suffer the greatest defeat of all time in Kentucky?  Not so much. He was in that state to rally for a horrible candidate who ended up losing by a razor thin margin.  However, Trump is a loser nonetheless. And a clown.

On to the links…

It’s Official: Trump Just Started the Process to Formally Pull Out of the Paris Climate Accords—This is where we are now.  In one year we have the best chance and maybe our only chance to stop this madness.

EPA to Ease Restrictions on How Coal Plants Store Toxic Waste—This is what you get with the Trump administration.  Coal companies want to pollute without regard for anything.  Coal companies get what they want because they are sucking up to Trump and will be with him until the end.

Why Restoring Nature is so Important to Limiting Climate Change—Restoration is the concept we need to be fighting for right now.  If we can restore forests, wetlands, bayous, grasslands, and what not we have a chance.

How To Reach U.S. Net Zero Emissions By 2050: Decarbonizing Industry—Transportation gets all of the attention because cars are part of our national psyche, but industry is a big player in terms of emissions.  Just reducing emissions by concrete and steel producers would do a lot to put us on the path of net zero emissions.

How America Can Reach Net Zero Emissions By 2050: Decarbonizing Buildings—There is a lot of progress that can be made by figuring out how our buildings are using energy and fossil fuels.

Race Heats Up For Title Of Cheapest Solar Energy In The World—This is a race to the bottom that you want to participate in as much as possible.  How is coal and, perhaps, natural gas going to compete with solar at $0.0164 or lower per kWh?

Huge Battery Investments Drop Energy-Storage Costs Faster Than Expected, Threatening Natural Gas—Peaker plants are going to be replaced by big batteries.  Like replacing coal, these batteries are going to replace the most inefficient and polluting natural gas electricity sources.  Overbuilding renewables and building out a level of storage is how we beat the “duck curve.”

Giant Water Battery Cuts University’s Energy Costs by $100 Million Over Next 25 Years—This is so low tech and cool at the same time.  Why can’t this type of solution be deployed in places like California and Arizona?  Oh wait, it could.

New Lithium Ion Battery Design Could Allow Electric Vehicles to Be Charged in Ten Minutes—This is how EVs get better without a major breakthrough in battery technology.  Improve the charging, increase the efficiency of the components, etc.

Can ‘Nests’ and Eco Bikes Reduce the Environmental Impact of Parcel Delivery in Cities?

—Bikes are amazing and if we are going to insist on buying everything from Amazon at the very least the delivery can be eco-friendly.

Sydney Hints At Electrification Of 8,000 Buses—We are never going to build out rail networks in our cities that are built for automobiles using surface streets.  However, as density increases we can utilize electric buses to utilize the existing infrastructure in a better way.

Backcountry.com Breaks its Silence Amid Trademark Lawsuit Controversy to Apologize and Aay “We made a mistake”–The first rule of being an outdoor manufacturer or retailer should be “Don’t be a dick.”  No one was confusing someone talking about backcountry skiing with an internet retailer.

Friday Linkage 4/5/2019

Now wind turbines cause cancer.  Okay, only Donald Trump believes that but he also said his father was born in Germany when in fact Fred Trump was born in New York.  You say tomato and Trump says Germany.

At least Chuck Grassley, the senior and most useless senator from Iowa, finally got off his lazy rear end to criticize something the president said.  Yes, Trump’s comments about wind turbines causing cancer are idiotic.

On to the links…

Trump’s Pick for Interior Dept. Continued Lobbying After Officially Vowing to Stop—Nothing can stop the corruption of the Trump Administration because it is corrupt at heart.  The entire act is an exercise to loot America.

Renewables ‘Have Won the Race’ against Coal and are Starting to Beat Natural Gas—It’s over with except for the accounting.

New Coal Power Projects Are In Decline Across The World—Every solar panel and wind turbine installed is another nail in the coffin of coal.  The march is on across the globe:


A Good Problem to Have—California has a problem.  California almost has too much renewable energy.  Okay, it really has a lot of renewable energy in the middle of the day:

March 23 renewables

We have now gotten to the point where we are trying to figure out how to reconfigure demand to match renewable energy production.

A Silver Lining to Sage Grouse Rollbacks?—States are where the action will have to be for the foreseeable future as Congress is riven with the division of Mitch McConnell.  However, great strides can be made at the state and local level.

High-Density EV Battery could Offer 600-mile Range on a Single Charge—This is a long way away from prime time, but imagine an EV with 600 miles of range.  My truck with a 36 gallon tank scratches that kind of range on highway trips.

Behold the Beefless ‘Impossible Whopper’—I love fine dining as much as anyone, but rolling out a product at a national fast food chain is scale like no other.  This is the kind of move that can make a product like the Impossible Burger as mainstream as any other food.

Inside the Race to Build the Burger of the Future—AOC is not coming for your burger.  However, there is a lot of effort to make your burger less bad for the environment.  Expect that little bit of nuance to be lost on the hosts of Fox News.

Friday Linkage 2/22/2019

What is it with my kids and John Tesh?  Every night when we drive home from various activities they both beg for the radio to be turned to the station that plays Tesh’s syndicated “Music and Intelligence for Your Life.”

It is so odd to hear them discuss the relative merits of whatever study or lifestyle tidbit Tesh brings up between songs.

On to the links…

Minnesota’s Climate Begins its Descent Toward an Unrecognizable Future—The future is happening now when it comes to climate change.  The impacts may not be noticeable in the short term, but the changes are happening.

Planting 1.2 Trillion Trees Could Cancel Out a Decade of CO2 Emissions—What are we waiting for?

Amazon’s $0 Corporate Income Tax Bill Last Year, Explained—This is the symptom of a failed policy.  Amazon makes billions of dollars a year and uses a loophole to pay no tax.

The Secret Ingredient for Cutting Costs and CO2 Emissions in Infrastructure—There are huge savings in terms of energy efficiency when we look at the biggest users of energy across the United States.  Cutting the energy consumption of these “low hanging fruit” could deliver massive savings for relatively low cost on a timescale that is fairly quick.

BP Energy Outlook Predicts Renewable Energy Will Be Dominant By 2040—Remember, this is an old line fossil fuel company putting out a technical analysis that says renewables are going to win.

Trump’s Intervention Fails to Save Coal-Fired Power Plant—Remember when Republicans were all about the free market because…uh, freedom?  The market has said that coal is a dead technology and that the transition is underway, but people like Trump and McConnell have coal barons to keep happy.

EU Setting its First Emissions Standards for Big Trucks to Lower C02—Cutting the emissions of heavy duty and heavy use trucks is probably the biggest bang for the invested dollar that we can get in the near term.

World’s Biggest Battery to Boost Solar in Texas—Texas, surprisingly, is driving a lot of innovation in renewable energy.  First it was a lot of wind and now it looks like solar plus storage is going to be the next big thing.  Everything is bigger in Texas.

World’s Largest Offshore Wind Farm Hornsea One Generates First Power—I am noticing a trend with these renewable energy stories.  Every other one seems to be about the “world’s largest” something.  Largest storage battery, largest offshore wind farm…you get the idea.

Vineyard Wind Proposes 1,200 Megawatt “Liberty Wind” Offshore Project For New York—This would be America’s largest offshore wind farm.  Okay, that would not take a lot.

Here Comes All Your California Offshore Wind Jobs—The craziest number in this article is 112 gigawatts.  This represents the state’s technical offshore resources, which is a figure higher than the state’s current electricity needs.

Giant Wind Power Transmission Project Could Spark New Wind Rush In Wind Belt—The more wind power that we can deploy in the Great Plains the better.  It is clean, green power that helps economically depressed communities by bringing much needed income and property tax base.

Adding Balance to the Meat Debate—There is something to be said for balance.  What we eat is as important as how it was made.  A processed meat free “chicken” nugget may not be any better than a piece of chicken from a pasture raised bird.  There is a lot of nuance.  People hate nuance.  It forces them to think.

A Comeback for African National Parks—It’s not all bad news.  It appears that if we resource the parks and do not encroach on the boundaries with development that large animals can succeed.

A Resistive Heater is the Enemy of Efficiency

I do not know if the weather of the past few days qualifies as a “polar vortex,” but it is really cold.  It is grab you by the spine when you walk outside to your car cold.  It is stay inside even if all you have to eat are frozen waffles cold.  It is make sure you have a dirty thirty of American lager in the fridge cold.  Seriously, the number of people I saw picking up thirty packs of Busch Light at the grocery store the night before the cold snap started was a little surprising.  What says staying in because it is bitterly cold better than a beer that has to be cooled to near freezing just to be palatable?  I digress.

The problem with the extreme cold—it was negative double digits without making any consideration for wind chill—is that I am forced to use my Nissan Leaf’s heater to prevent the windows from turning into an ice and breath fog mess.

Range anxiety is not something that I suffer from on my roughly ten mile round trip to work, but watching the estimated range drop from the mid-90s to the low-70s is disheartening.

The culprit is the resistive heater used by the Nissan Leaf.  In a regular old internal combustion engine powered vehicle “waste” heat from the burning of gasoline is used to heat the cabin.  Electric cars do not have any waste heat to tap into, so these vehicles must rely on auxiliary heaters.  The simplest method is to use a resistive heater.  Do you have a toaster?  That is a resistive heater.  Do you have a space heater?  Resistive heater.  Incandescent light bulb?  A better resistive heater than a light source.

This is electric heat at its simplest.  Push electric current through a metal wire and the physics of a material’s particular resistance will produce heat.  The problem with the simplicity is that it is a relatively inefficient way to produce heat.

To combat the loss of range and limit use of the resistive heater for the cabin most Nissan Leafs are equipped with heated seats—front and rear—and a heated steering wheel.  The idea being that if your immediate body is warm—especially your hands—the less you will rely on the cabin heater.  It all works when the winter temperatures are reasonable.  When the polar vortex comes calling you just give in to the inefficiency.

Newer Nissan Leafs with higher trim levels come equipped with a heat pump that uses significantly less electricity when conditions are right.  However, as the air cools below 32 degrees Fahrenheit the heat pump’s effectiveness is reduced and the good ol’ resistive heater gets to work.  You cannot “move” heat from the ambient environment to the controlled environment if there is not heat to “move.”  Even the fancy Leafs have a problem in the extreme cold.

Thankfully, it’s so cold no one really wants to go anywhere.  Range is not an issue when you are staying at home all weekend.