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Efficiency

Efficiency

GTK LTO Battery by ShenZhen Facewell on AliExpress.com

18-May-2020

If you're thinking of making a purchase for an LTO battery from a place like Aliexpress, I'd strongly suggest you think twice about it.

I bought a 48V 40ah battery - and it's been a bad experience.  Battery didn't work properly: had much lower voltage and capacity than advertised.

Upon opening the battery to look for obvious issues (broken wire or ???), I find the cells inside are dated...  22-May-2016!!!  

My AliExpress dispute went poorly, my appeal ignored, and because of the extremely lengthy delivery time, I couldn't open another dispute.  Jeez.  Thanks AliExpress.  My days of dealing with you have just come to an end.

Product link:  https://www.aliexpress.com/item/4000529784733.html

I'll write a WHOLE PILE MORE about this long sordid tale soon, so please check back.

Update 28-May-2020:  Seems I'm not the only one who's had trouble with GTK LTO batteries from Shenzhen Facewell or Shenzhen Fuxiang (name has changed) on AliExpress.com:

https://tolnix.com/lithium-titanate-66160-battery-review-fake-lto/

 

The Real Reasons Why Things are Out of Stock Right Now

The covid virus has caused many folks to be shut in to their homes and wait for safer times to venture out. 

That said, most of us will still have to brave the supermarket to get food and the basic necessities.  Although there are suddenly no more mouths to feed, whey are their shortages at the at the supermarket right now?

1)  Psychological - when folks sense that tougher times are on the horizon, they strive to make sure they have the basics that they need while it's available and they have the money to get it.

2)  Practical - every time you come in contact with someone, you increase the odds of getting infected.  It therefore makes more sense to buy more than you normally would so you can ultimately make fewer trips to the grocery store.

3)  Unexpected - there will be items you need to buy that you wouldn't have considered previously.  Did you buy hyrdogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, bleach, plastic gloves and facemasks much before?  Likely not - and now everybody wants them, so massive net new demand creates the shortages here.

4)  Consumption changes - a big one here is "eating out".  In the past few years, in the USA anyway, people actually spent MORE eating out than they did eating at home.  So a large part of their food budget was spent in restaurants and bars.  Now?  Many of these places are shuttered due to covid.  And what about students?  There are 1000s of lunch programs at schools that provide served meals that are no longer being served because many schools are now shuttered.  People still have to eat, so they are actually going to the store and buying food like they didn't before - once again creating a large amount of demand that wasn't there before.  It will take time for the system to adjust for the fact that huge amounts of prepared food are no longer being consumed at risky restaurants but now in the safety of homes.

5)  Boredom - quite frankly when folks have more time on their hands, most will end up eating and drinking more.  

6)  Direct Processing shutdowns - in the case of some foods, the actual processors have had to shut down or reduce production because their workers are sick or at high risk of getting sick.  We are seeing this now with meat processing plants.  This will likely create some shortages for e.g. beef in the coming months.  As well, some farmers are having difficulty getting seasonal workers to plant, harvest and maintain crops - due to border restrictions or workers concerned about the spread of the virus.  

7)  Reflection - some individuals are trying to deal with the current covid issue by solving multiple problems at once.  To deal with depression, food shortages and helping the planet, many have decided to start growing food.  Gardening will bring in fresh healthy produce regardless of whether there are shortages.  Gardening also provides a worthwhile task that has been proven to reduce depression, and greeehouse gasses - as your produce doesn't come from thousands of miles away so fewer fossil fuels are burned to bring it to your mouth.  

So there you have it.  It all makes sense when you think about it.  A lot of these problems will go away in the next few months. 

Stay Safe.

Chinese Diesel Air Heater Instructions to Program using the LCD Panel

If you live in or visit a cold environment and have a need for extra heat in your vehicle, RV, bus or even outbuilding, a viable option is a diesel heater.  These are devices that burn diesel fuel to generate heat and all you need with one of these kits is a battery (usually either 12 volt or 24 volt) and some diesel fuel. The burner, mounting kit, fuel tubes, fuel tank, clips, exhaust pipe etc.  are (or can be) included.

One of the best deals on the market currently is the "Chinese Diesel Air Heater".  I purchased mine on AliExpress.com.  It was an 8kw unit with remote as per the picture above.  At the time, I paid approximately $140 USD and free shipping for it.

If you have purchased one and have gone to install it, you will notice that there are NO instructions in the box.  Installation is actually quite straight forward if you're familiar with this type of thing - until you go to use the remote or enter you settings using the LCD panel.  Although there are some videos on Youtube to help, there isn't a quick list (which most of us prefer - especially when were installing it out on the driveway, remote location, when it's -20, etc.) of how to do it...  See below for some for some of the basics.  All below refers to the unit I bought - yours may be different...

First - the kit doesn't come with a battery for the remote.   The required battery for the remote is an A27.  It's a 12V battery.  As it's uncommon, expect to pay about 5$ for it locally.  If you're not in a hurry and smart, you can also order these from aliexpress.com for about 60 cents USD each. 

 

Setting up remote/LCD - image below
Set the Time: Press “settings” (top left), it starts flashing- use arrow keys to adjust. Then “OK”
Timer 1-3: “1 of” appears after timer above – set the “On” and “Off” time as needed.  This will allow your unit to e.g. come on at 6am in the morning to warm things up a bit before you get up.
Hz vs Temp: press top 2 buttons- (“settings” and “Up”) toggles between.  Hz is kind of a bizarre setting - unless it refers to how fast the fan turns by chance.  Most of us will want this in degrees - so you can change this here.
Prime pump – press bottom 2 buttons “OK” and “down arrow”. H Off is showing but press “Up Arrow” to turn “H on”.  Apparently this primes for about 2 minutes and then shuts off.
Current temp – “OK” – shows “small degree symbol”.  The temperature in your van, RV etc. as recognized by the LCD sensor.
Maintain temp (the temp the heater will work up to and keep) – “OK” again – shows “big degree symbol” (you'll see if the difference when you get there).
Battery Level – “OK” again (or 3x from starting i.e. pressing "OK" 3 times assuming you haven't done anything else)
E Settings – are Error Codes - sometimes a light blinking a number of times, or an error e.g. 04 is displayed:

1 - Under voltage of power supply

2 - Over voltage of power supply

3 - Ignition plug failure

4 - Diesel fuel Pump failure (magnetic pump in most kits).  Check to make sure the connector clip is in all the way.

5 - Machine is overheating 

6 - Motor fault

7 - Broken Line Fault

8 - Flame extinguishment


Heater “ON” – press “power button”
Heater “OFF” – press and hold “Power button”
Flashing arrows – air in and out indicator
A few other things explained:

 

Other considerations:

1)  Cold (diesel #1 or 1-D) vs warm (diesel #2 or 2-D) weather - many will be aware that in cold weather you need to use "cold diesel".  Cold diesel will ignite more easily (flows more easily) but contains less energy.

2)  Exhaust temperature - is hot.  If you are putting the exhaust pipe through anything combustable e.g. plywood wall, or fabric in a vehicle, you must protect the combustibles from catching fire.

3)  Collecting waste heat - you can route the exhaust through a heat exchanger to collect some of the waste heat (if you know what you're doing).

4)  What is the right way "up"?  Not sure.  Most pictures show the exhaust and intake to the bottom.  Some show it to the top.  It would appear it doesn't matter.   Normally you'd expect heat gases to be discharged at the top or side - but (perhaps) because they are forced out with a fan, it doesn't matter. 

5)  Muffler - will help to reduce the noise from the exhaust.

6)  Noise - the pump makes a clacking noise - nothing terrible, but I wouldn't want it close by if I was going to try and fall asleep.

7)  Fuel Filter - normally I'd expect to put the fuel filter BEFORE the pump - to help protect the pump.  But that's just me...

 

My Opinion

I've installed and used mine a few times.  It's impressive the amount of heat it throws off (about 25,000 btu at it's highest setting).  It does take about 5 minutes to start generating heat, but once it's up and going, it heated my (small) uninsulated workshop to a usable temperature quite quickly.  I would recommend this unit at the moment - but we'll see how it stands up over time.

 

Installation Pictures and thoughts

Typical diagram from AliExpress:

The fuel pump should be vertical to 45 degrees for best performance.

Mine came with 2 types of fuel line - a thicker rubber chunk and a long thin clear chunk.  Seems you have to insert the thin tube into the thick tube to get it all to work.  Ergo, I cut my rubber chunk into 5 equal pieces and used them:

1)  on the connector to the heater itself

2)  on both ends of the fuel filter

3)  on both ends of the pump

You can then cut the thin clear stuff to bridge these connections.

Fuel tank - to test, I just stuck the fuel line into the jug of diesel fuel...

Priming - after assembling all the host pieces, I then sucked fuel through the line until just before it was filled up - and then stuck the end into the heater unit - save some time/hassle with priming the line.

 

Power Consumption

I put an amp meter on the power line to see how much power the diesel heater draws.  On startup, the max draw was 9.15 amps - so about 110 watts.  Presumably this draw is to run the glow plug to get things going.  This was probably higher draw than the meter showed as the meter only allows up to 10 amps - and the resistance became too high.

The power then seemed to reduce to about 90 (running) watts - but this figure was obtained from my charger and how much wattage it said it was having to put back into the battery bank.  I'll put the amp meter on again when time to get a more accurate reading.

 

Temperature

The heat pipe coming out of the heater (to heat the room) measured a max of 70C.  The highest reading I got for temperature on the exhaust pipe was 213C.  That said, it charred the board it was leaning against (before I protected it).

 

Heat

In terms of heat output, it is quite impressive.  On paper, an 8 kw unit puts out about 25,000 btu.  To put that into perspective, a 1500 watt heater puts out about 5,000 btu.  The heat is nice and "dry" too.

 

Idiosyncracies

Strangely, it appears you can't "set a temperature" that you want the unit to maintain.  For me, it would be cool if I could tell it to keep the workshop at say 10C, but it doesn't do this.  I thought about hooking in a simple thermostat, but then you get into the issue of the power suddenly getting cut while the thing is cranking - and potentially creating a firehazard/damage as the heater can't go through it's cool-down period as it should.  So room for improvement there IMO.

 

Thanks to all who offered tidbits on the NET.  Above are things I've figured out or thought about with the rest provided by others on Youtube and forums.

 I'll try to post a few more helpful pics when I get a moment, but for now, hope this helps.

 

Heating Water With Wood - Wood Boilers

Looking to heat water with wood?  There are actually quite a few options available though finding them on the internet seems to be a farce.  Here are some cheap wood boilers suppliers or links that might be worth a look that I've come across:

Hobby/Pool/hot tub:

https://www.woodwaterstoves.com/pricing/external-heater.html

https://www.warmwatersolutions.com/

https://www.cedartubsdirect.com/japanese-wood-ofuro-soaking-tub-for-2-wood-fired-heater-p-666.html

 

Irritating - no pricing information (what's the big secret - don't waste my time) but here's another:  https://www.woodstovepools.com/

 

Home or outbuilding

http://www.heatmasterss.com

 

Interesting New Technology

https://www.windhager.com/int_en/products/pellets/biowin2-touch/ (Video)

 

This article will be updated as new information becomes available.

 

Google Maps Bum Steer

Google Maps (GM) is a great tool for navigation.  I can't count how many times it's helped me find my way to somewhat obscure addresses.

A great feature too is that it will actually speak the instructions on where to turn - so you can keep your eye on traffic and concentrate on driving.

That said, I've discovered that the route that GM chooses is not always the best.

I recently found myself in Ottawa Ontario Canada and was making my way to Barrie Ontario Canada.

After plugging in my destination and letting the GPS tell GM what my location was, it told me the best route was:

Hwy 416 to Hwy 401 to Hwy 400 for a total of 525 km and a total time of 5h 4m:

Strangely, for our first basic attempt to find a route, GM only offers 1 route - presumably this is the fastest (route). 

But do I always want the fastest route?  Not at all.  I prefer the most efficient route (within reason).

Note that by dragging the route up a bit, I get another route - but it is actually 6 minutes longer:

 

And if we drag around a bit more (higher up on the map yet again), we get this option too.  It's only 4 minutes longer than the first option:

What's interesting to note about option 2 and option 3:  They're both 100 km (60 miles) shorter!

So at a cost of 4 minutes (option 2), I'll actually drive 100 km less.  And get a quieter, more scenic route to boot.

As I drive an efficient hybrid car, I also get considerable gasoline savings. 

By driving 100 km fewer (each way), I'll end up saving about 10 litres of fuel (2.5 gallons).

So consider playing with your Google Maps routes before you go - especially if you're interested in a more efficient, quieter and more scenic (IMO) drive.

 

 

The Car With The Longest Range

What car (generally available) has the best range i.e. what vehicle can go the furthest on a single fill-up?  The answer will probably surprise you.  It's the 2015 Honda Accord Hybrid.