Sam wants to talk about DC Fast charging, which some are complaining is as expensive as buying gas. Sam says it's not that bad, but you will pay a premium because of the amount of power that must be supplied to meet the peak load demand in fast charging centers. Sam says you can save if you do DC Fast charging on a regular basis by having a subscription plan for charging. Ala carte is always more expensive because of connection fees. Subscription plans offer waived connection fees and a lower per minute charge.
Rich wants to learn more about solar power and what he would need to get into solar, like how much it would cost, etc.
Rich says that Google's Project SunRoof will answer a lot of questions of how he can get started and get off the grid.
But Rich isn't ready to buy into solar power just yet because the efficiency isn't where it should be and he's not thrilled with drilling into the roof to mount the panels.
Thomas is going to be walking across America. He's outfitted a cart with solar panels and it provides all the electricity he needs.
Thomas is taking donations at movingonwest.com. All proceeds go to the Pediatric Cancer Foundation.
The SmartFlower Solar system was another 'big' gadget at the Luxury Technology Show. They had a unit out in the street so the press could see it in person. The SmartFlower is a fully integrated, all-in-one solar system that can live anywhere, but certainly the sunnier, the better. SmartFlower uses GPS tracking aligned to the specific longitude and latitude of the site where it is installed. This precise tracking can increase productivity by as much as 40%. They do want it setup by one of their installers to get the full warranty.
Tom wants to know if solar power is affordable. Leo says they use Solar City's Power Purchase agreement and it's slightly less expensive than the local power company. Solar power isn't all that efficient, but it's getting better and more affordable over time.
Phil is trying to cut back on his electric bill and his friends suggest powering down his technology, including his router and network every day. But his other friends say that could do more harm than good. Leo says that he'll stress the electronics less if he doesn't turn them on and off on a regular basis. He should just leave it alone. He can reboot things once in awhile, but all modern computers and networks are designed to sip power from a low power mode. If he's not using it for a few days or weeks, then it's OK to power them down.
Carol-Sue's daughter is going to Zambia with the Peace Corps. She'll have intermittent Wi-Fi connectivity, and no electricity. She wants a solar powered solution to charge her tablet. Leo says that without access to power, it will be a challenge to charge her device. Solar devices will work, but they take a very long time -- several days. Goal Zero makes one, however.
Betty is looking for a solar service that offers monitoring through her router. Leo says that it's common that services require a landline or internet access to monitor. Betty doesn't want an ISP because she uses 3G wireless for internet. Leo says that's the choice. Of course, she could get the cheapest possible internet service if she absolutely has to have it.
Jesse just bought a new house and wants to go solar. Any ideas? Leo says it makes sense because of subsidies that make it cost effective to buy into it. What we are waiting for is efficiency with solar power systems. They haven't been efficient enough, but we're on the cusp of a breakthrough that will really make it worth investing in. Even with efficient solar panels, the real challenge is keeping them clean. He'll want to put them in a spot he can easily get to. It may be wise to wait a little longer until they become more efficient.
Jane is thinking of getting a "solar powered" phone. Leo says not to get it, it doesn't really work and takes way too long to charge. The solar panel is just too tiny. She could get a solar charger that she can charge her phone with. Leo got his son Henry a Goal Zero Charger. This will charge a battery and then she could use the battery power to charge up the phone.