Tag Archives: snow

The Downside of Snow

Unlike a lot of people I actually like snow.  I like snow so much that I spend my hard earned money to strap wooden sticks to my feet and fling myself down mountainsides covered with the stuff.  Come to think of it, when I describe my ski trips like that it does not sound so sane.  I digress.

The only problem that I have with snow is that it covers up my solar panels.  Like the two inches of snow that fell overnight:

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After last year’s snowy and cold January and February left my panels snow covered and non-productive I decided to come into this winter prepared.  Enter the SnoBroom:

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Okay, the SnoBroom is just the blue foam blade atop the extendable pole.  The extendable pole might be the true star of this story.  It extends to a maximum of 24’ which seemed like a lot right up until I was clearing snow for real:

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With the pole alone I was able to clear the first row of panels and a portion of the second row.  You can see on the closest panels that I spent some time with a step stool to get additional height.  Yes, I was able to nearly clear the panels.  No, I did not fully clear my array.

In the interest of full disclosure I need to come up with a better approach to clearing the array.  Snow, aluminum steps, and a little liquid moisture make for a precarious endeavor.  Practice makes perfect, right?

The other reason I did not push the issue this afternoon is that the temperature is supposed to be nearly 40 degrees with sunny skies tomorrow.  The snow will take care of itself this time.

January 2019 Solar got Whacked by Snow and a Polar Vortex

Winter returned to eastern Iowa in a big way in January.  Want to guess when it got all wintry up in this house?  Check out the chart and tell me:

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Yep, you can see when the nearly foot of snow covered my solar panels.  Normally the snow will slide off with a few warmer days.  Heck, even when it is still pretty cold the sun can make enough of a difference to clear the panels.

However, when the polar vortex comes along with some new snow the panels on top of my garage remain covered.  Things should warm up this weekend—it might be sixty five degrees warmer this weekend versus Wednesday—and the snow should clear.

Just over 68 kWh of solar electricity for a month is the lowest production number in my system’s brief history.  It is also less than half the production from the same month last year.  It goes to show that I might need to invest in one of those soft rubber roof rakes to clear my panels in times of inclement weather.  Especially if I am going to expand my system by more than 50% to account for the electricity use of my Nissan Leaf.

More to come on the solar expansion very soon.  I promise.

Friday Linkage 5/25/2018

Free your Sundays.  As well as your Monday and Thursday nights.  Free yourself from the craven piss babies who are NFL owners and NFL “leadership” who have caved to the base elements of their fan base and Donald Trump.  Nothing says conscience of America quite like a thrice divorced, porn star spanking, man baby who likes to wrap himself in the viscera of patriotism despite his well-documented history of being physically incapable of serving in the military during the Vietnam War.

The entire issue around the anthem protests has been a dog whistle for extreme white wing.  Well compensated, majority African American males making a statement about well document injustice at the hands of police is just too much.

Well, this kowtowing to the Fox News and Alex Jones contingent of our society is too much.  I am done with the NFL.  Forever.

On to the links…

The Efficiency Myth—Along with trickle down economics I would love to forever banish the conservative edict that the private sector is always more efficient than the public sector.  It is not true.

EPA Bans CNN, AP from Covering Summit on Chemicals, ‘Forcibly’ Removes Reporter—This is what transparency and “draining the swamp” looks like under Donald Trump.  It is a government run with the singular goal of enriching the plutocrats and screwing over anyone else.

Park Service Releases Complete Climate Change Report—Climate change is real.  Human beings are the primary driver.  It is going to mess up a lot of stuff.  Despite what Ryan Zinke and Scott Pruitt want you to believe this is the reality.

Recreation is Redefining the Value of Western Public Lands—The value of the lands of the United States are not just measured in the amount of oil, gas, and minerals that can be extracted.  This runs counter to the narrative of clowns like Ryan Zinke, but the facts—oh those pesky facts—show a reality that people do enjoy these lands for the recreational value is available.

This Could Be A Clever Fix For The Biggest Climate Problem—Refrigeration and the energy use it requires is a big problem in any climate change mitigation scenario.  To combat climate change we need to reduce the energy needed to cool ourselves and our food.

Northeastern States Band Together, Develop a Unified EV Charge Network—Take a densely populated area, add an EV charging network that uses the same technology across the geographic area, and…BAM!…you have the recipe for increasing the adoption rate of EVs in the Northeastern United States.

A 100% Renewable Grid Isn’t Just Feasible, It’s Already Happening—At first they said that the grid could not handle 5% renewables and then it became 10%.  Every year that number has to get revised upward because the grid can handle it.

The Netherlands Announces Ban On Coal, Plans To Close 2 Power Plants By 2024—Every day there is at least some good news.

Lawns Are an Ecological Disaster—If there was one thing that I wish we would do en masse in the United States it would be to rip out the acres and acres of lawn that cover our landscape.  This is a landscape that provides little to no visual interest.  It provides little to no habitat for wildlife.  It is a suck for time, energy, and chemicals.  Most people do not actually like mowing the lawn.  Remind me again why we have lawns?

Harley-Davidson took its tax cut, closed a factory, and rewarded shareholders—This is what a $1.4 TRILLION tax cut gets you.  Harley Davidson may be in a lot of trouble as its core customers begin to age out of pretending to be bad ass biker guys.  That has not stopped the company from increasing its dividend and buying back stock.  It’s all about maximizing shareholder value and screwing over anyone who gets in the way of profiteering.

How Much Will West Coast Snowfall Decrease In The Next 80 Years?—If you love snow you are screwed:

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April was Brutal

It has been a brutal month of April for anyone who wanted to spend time on a bike in Iowa.  How brutal?  Here is what things looked like on April 8th:

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If you were thinking that this was an aberration here is what things looked like from the same vantage point on April 15th:

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Measurable snow on the ground in mid-April.  Icey road conditions, sub-freezing temperatures, and lots of wind into the third week of the month made this a brutal time to try upping my bike commuting miles.  Add in a hectic kids’ activity schedule and you have a month of me sucking to reduce my transportation emissions through two wheeled salvation.

On the bright side, the last week of April has been perfect.  Like high-60s in the afternoon, plenty of sunshine, and no significant precipitation perfect.  If you can deal with the joys of wind in Iowa you can enjoy some time in the saddle.

If I could just get my new bike dialed in…

February’s Solar Production Shows Me that I Need a Snow Broom

Check out the week between February 6th and the 13th:

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Notice the difference on either end?  That is what half a foot of Midwestern powder will do to your solar panels.  I lost several days of sunshine that would have easily pushed me past 225 kWh of production for the month.

Now I need to contemplate a snow broom or rake.  This is literally an item I never thought that I would have to consider purchasing.  Is this peak adulting?

As it stands now my system is producing approximately two-thirds of my household needs.  I anticipate that with the increased production going into spring and summer that I should easily produce 100% of my household needs in March.

Friday Linkage 12/29/2017

There will be no links today.  Hopefully everyone is enjoying the holidays—drunk Uncle Carl notwithstanding—and taking at least some time to recharge mind, body, and soul.

I am hoping for snow and good times on the sloped like a little kid waiting for the announcement of a snow day.

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See everyone in 2018…it has to be better than 2017, right?

Thank God I’m not in Buffalo

It may really feel like winter is tightening its grip on Iowa, but with milder temperatures on the way I can only look in horror at the snow-pocalypse that is slamming western New York.

I feel for this guy:

WINTRY_WEATHER_NEW_YORK_31758957I’ve been there.  Scraping ice and brushing snow off your vehicle, but finally just saying, “Screw it, I’m cranking the defrost and getting on with my day.”  Granted, I’ve never been rolling down the street with multiple feet on top of my car.  Not yet anyway.