thoughts on solar panels (again)

Sunpower and Tesla/Panasonic seem to have the best solar panels with over 300 watts and 20% efficiency. Next gen solar panels may reach 45% and even greater efficiency still after those go to market (w/ in next 5-10 years?).

The problem for us is still breakeven. We're low in our electric consumption, about 250kWh per month on average. We're usually under 300kWh and sometimes even under 200kWh during the summer. That usage comes out to be $500 a year on electrical (even with PG&E raising prices/price gouging after the San Bruno pipeline explosion) .

$500 a year on electrical with a 7 year breakeven point means the cost of the solar system that makes sense would have to be $3,500 total. Even extended to a 10 year breakeven, we're looking at $5,000. The cost of a 2kW system is roughly $9,600 ($7,000 after incentives). For 2.5kW it would cost $11,500 ($8,000 after incentives). So, we are getting closer on price but we're probably still a good 10 years away because the cost isn't just in the solar panels, it's mostly the labor for installation.

Cost of one panel is around $300 – $350. We need about 6-8 of them which is about $3,000. The rest of the material costs are the railings, converters, wiring so another $1,000 or less. This DIY solar system kit is about $4,300, if I was super handy, this kit could be an option.

Anyhow, won't be surprised if we start seeing 500kWh panels at 40-50% efficiency which means all we'll need are four panels to power up the house and that'll probably happen within the next 5 years. It could even be 1000kWh panels and all we'll need are two panels. That would aesthetically (to our roof line) be pretty nice.

In any case, we're still a no go for solar panels because our breakeven just isn't there– enough so that Tesla/Solar City and others won't even bother to come out. But I have a feeling a 500kWh panel w/ 45% efficiency at $200 a panel isn't too far away. Then we'll be at $3,500 for a fully installed system sooner than later, *if* we can find someone to do the install.

Tesla 3 vs Chevy Bolt etc

Tesla Model 3 is *THE* car that's changing the world and saving our environmental future. The long range 310 mile version will cost about $57,000 while the base car is $35,000 (but no one is getting that version). How Tesla will do with mass production is going to be interesting, in the long run they'll do fine.

$57k is not bad, given 5.1 0-60 seconds (BMW 340i is 4.6 seconds and $60k), all electric, no emissions, likely less maintenance, plus the cool factor.

The true competitors of Tesla Model 3 are the BMW 3 series, Audi S4, Lexus IS and ES. The competition isn't Prius or Bolt or Leaf or even the BMWi series. Fit and finish aren't in the same league. Teslas are head turners.

I do like the Chevy Bolt a lot (but not enough to consider buying one). You're looking at $44k for the souped up version. 0-60 is 6.5 seconds which isn't bad with a 238 mile range.

The Chevy Bolt looks great. Other cars in its style genre are the Chevy Spark and Sonic, Honda Fit, Nissan Versa Note, Toyota Yaris, Toyota Prius C, Ford Fiesta, and you could probably also include Mini Cooper and Fiat 500. So price is the issue, the Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris are in the $15k-$17k range and the Prius C starts at $20k.

When the Chevy Bolt drops down to $20k and all these other vehicles become fully electrified (which will happen), then we've got a ball game. It is nice to see all the Chevy Bolts on the road from folks upgrading from what I presume their Toyota Prius. At the end of the day, the Chevy Bolt is just a good looking and seemingly useful car.

BMW X3 – 2018

BMW X3 2018

The new BMW X3 looks nice, definitely much more aggressive looking and less soccer mom. Can't wait to see this as an all electric vehicle with 270-300+ miles of range.

Apparently this thing has more ground clearance too. Not sure what's going on with the quasi-M branding but too bad a true M version with a manual isn't available. Otherwise, yea!

cioppino recipe

pizzaiolo's fish stew

Pizzaiolo's fish stew (via Instagram)

Ingredients/Instructions

– saute until translucent
3-4 tablespoons of olive oil
2/3 cup finely chopped shallots
3 cloves garlic
1 small fennel bulb thinly sliced

– add and bring to boil
1 1/2 cup of sauvignon blanc

– add and simmer covered for 25-30 minutes
1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
3 8 oz bottles of clam juice
1/2 cup of water
2 pinches of red pepper flakes
5-6 fresh sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf

– finish broth
1 tsp fresh chopped thyme leaves
2 tablespoons of butter

– saute separately and add
1 1/2 lbs of fish, monkfish or halibut (or 1lb of U-10 scallops)

– finish/garnish
1 lb littleneck clams 5 minutes
1 lb of shrimp 2 minutes
1 lb of PEI mussels 1 minute
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley

serve w/ toast and aioli

MacBook Pro 2016

I love the non-touchbar version of the MacBook Pro. Looking down at a keyboard to find buttons doesn't make sense to me so went with the non-touchbar model. I could also complain about the price and battery life (which you can do every time) but the specs and design are solid. There seems to be quite a few lukewarm reviews out there but that's mostly because people are in need of ad/page views.

The MacBook Pro is still the best laptop in the market by a wide margin from a quality, design, and spec perspective. The Dell XPS laptops and Razer Blade laptops (stealth version) are also ones I'd consider.

Specs:

  • 2.4GHz Intel Core i7
  • 16GB RAM
  • 512GB SSD
  • 2k display, although I'm hooking up to a Dell P2415Q 4k external display
  • weighs 3 lbs. and effectively has a 4 hour battery life (this does need to be way better)
  • USB C and the headphone port are great as the only ports

The sad thing about the MacBook Pro is that it's pretty close to complete as a product (which is what you would expect after 25 years!). You can certainly improve on the internals but this thing can't really get any thinner, lighter, louder, or brighter and no more ports to remove.

Of course a laptop can always get faster but this thing is already pretty fast and the bottleneck is on the connectivity and the server side. The real innovation is happening w/ the iPad and iPhone, still quite a few things that can be done there.

So yet again, this particular MacBook Pro defines laptop because there's really very little left to do to make this an even better product. However, I'm curious to see how Chromebooks continue to evolve (especially versus tablet improvements) since a browser based OS or just a web based experience is what most folks use and need, and a significantly cheaper price point gets the Web out there to more people.

 

if you like Meyers lemons you'll also like…

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Specific varietals of fruits and vegetables to seek out especially in good grocery stores and farmer's markets in the Bay Area/Northern California:

  • lemons: Meyer
  • strawberries: Chandler, Seascape, Albion
  • tomatoes: Early Girl
  • lettuce: Little Gems
  • carrots: Nantes
  • oranges: mandarins (Kishu, Golden Pixie, Murcott)
  • apricot: Royal Blenheim