When I installed panels on my San Jose house in the early 2000s, I was an early adopter of the current generation of solar technology, only to see a rapid decline in yield from those panels over the next 20 years.
At our latest home, we use current generation LG panels that promise to hold over 90% of their production capacity for the same amount of time. However, not only am I unable to get the Tesla batteries I ordered last year (I’ve been told I can get them by next summer), I know I’m wasting a ton of energy because of my energy consumption. Usage is unregulated.
A truly green home isn’t just solar. It has a managed energy system so you can optimize usage. But home energy management systems that work well with solar are extremely rare, and I’ve been disappointed with everything I’ve tested.
Lunar Energy, run by former Tesla executive Kunal Girotra, appears to be one of the first next-generation solar companies to focus more on electrical efficiency than generation.
Lunar Solar is an early version of an upcoming wave of companies that will rapidly branch from solar production to energy management, providing a strong ROI for their products.
This week let’s talk about how we manage electricity, and how appliances are made by moving to solar power. Then we’ll end with our product of the week: the new Dragonfly Folio from HP.
problem with solar
Solar energy is cheap. In fact, it’s free but, sadly, the technology we need to use is next to nothing. My previous installation, which was heavily subsidized by the California and US governments, still cost me about $30,000 – even after subsidies – and my current system is closer to $100,000.
The direct benefit is that my electricity bill has gone up from $700 a month to less than $50 during the summer. But winter is a different story. You see, solar energy is powered by the sun. In winter when the sun is low on the horizon, it doesn’t power the panels as much, but you still need the energy to heat the house.
Admittedly, most of my house is now heated with gas, but I would like to go completely electric. It still cut my energy bill by about two-thirds, but the solar only works during the day and when the sun comes out. So, if you don’t want to go dark at night or on cloudy days, you need some sort of alternative power source.
If you are connected to the grid without a battery, you will still lose power if the power goes out on a hot summer day (as happened to me the other day). Batteries are not only expensive, but you must also draw enough electricity to charge them and power your home during the day, increasing the need for more solar-sourced electricity.
Now if you live on-grid, you will not have to pay this every night, but only if you discharge the battery during an outage. If you go off-grid, that means you’ll need about 30% additional capacity.
But what if you also focus on improving efficiency?
Firms like Lunar Energy promise
This is where these next generation solar companies are focused: less on generating energy and more on increasing the efficiency of energy use. While Lunar Energy is working on more efficient whole-house batteries, initially their overall effort is focused more on efficiency than production.
If you can make your home more efficient, you don’t need as much solar or as many batteries. This efficiency focus works whether you are solar powered or powered from the electric grid. You can use an energy management system no matter where you source your power.
You can also potentially do things like power down your chargers when the battery they’re charging is at full capacity and only turn them back on when those batteries are below 50%. This will help the battery last longer and potentially reduce daily energy usage.
In the past, tests of the Energy Star rating system showed huge holes in their process. This manageability will also expose devices that are idle, forcing equipment manufacturers to improve their energy efficiency, and catching people who may still be gaming the system.
next generation solar devices
There are now companies like Sundanzer that have built appliances for off-grid homes over the years, but the features and capabilities of these appliances remind me of what my grandmother had in the 1960s. Manual defrost, no cold water or ice-making capabilities, limited capacity and, for the most part, nothing you’d call attractive. But they are incredibly efficient.
What I anticipate with the next generation of devices from companies focused on solar homes blends the efficiency of off-grid offerings with the capabilities and presence of the current generation of modern appliances – so we can have the features that An off-grid product we want close to efficiency.
Lunar Energy is one of the first generation of solar power companies to focus more on efficient use of energy than its own generation.
I expect that by the end of the decade we will see entirely new companies in the market with increasingly efficient appliances, more advanced home energy management systems, better whole-house battery solutions, and a more comprehensive approach to green energy generation and use. Will see you come
We are just at the beginning of this solar energy wave. Over the next 20 years, kitchen and home designs will change, appliances will change, and we will use AI to ensure efficient use of every watt of energy we generate. Overall, this effort should result in a significant reduction in greenhouse gas formation and a major step towards combating global climate change.
HP Dragonfly Folio G3
I get to review a lot of laptops over the course of a year, and the one that has consistently been my favorite is the HP Folio. This line has gone through several iterations. It started out as a consumer-focused device, went into business with the Elite Folio, which I’m used to writing this, for the launch of its successor: the HP Dragonfly Folio G3.
The Elite Folio fixed my biggest complaint with the Folio was the contrasting colors. It came in brown and burgundy, and I’m sure the ’80s wanted their color back. But the previous generation, HP went black, used updated Qualcomm Snapdragon processors and graphics, and improved the pen dock and SIM slot. With all this, the Elite Folio becomes my favorite laptop of the year.
Well, I just recently got the HP Dragonfly Folio G3 and now my old Elite Folio is sadly out of date.
HP Dragonfly Folio G3 / Image Credit: HP
HP found that IT buyers just didn’t want to risk a Qualcomm product. While that chip worked fine for me—and I really appreciated the massive battery life—other users complained about it getting worse. This is due to running an x86 emulator which pulled performance from the part that was performance-constrained.
In addition, Intel has reassured IT buyers that they need vPro, although most don’t currently use that capability (Microsoft is working to make Windows work with ARM that will eventually match performance with Snapdragon). should solve the problem).
So, the HP Dragonfly Folio G3 has improved the camera, added a privacy screen option, and while it has taken a battery life hit, it’s noticeably faster (the Snapdragon part of Qualcomm leads the industry in battery life).
In short, HP took my favorite laptop and made it better, so I’m in love again, and the HP Dragonfly Folio G 3 is my product of the week.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ECT News Network.