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giant flywheel prototype

So, let’s say that you bought a 16,000 Btu air conditioner from Coastal Climate Control and politely rejected our suggestion to add an EasyStart compressor soft start device. Then, the first time you try starting it from your aging Ohno generator it issues a disturbing death-like groan as the compressor tries to start, and then the poor thing pops its breaker. So, what just happened there?

speed dump ahead sign

Is variable speed marine air conditioning really worth it?

OK, I admit it. I’m a graphaholic. I can’t turn the pages of a newspaper without studying each and every graph and chart, regardless of the subject matter. I make them, I dream of them, and I get itchy if I don’t pore over a graph or two for a few days. (Today I studied one showing the rate of decline in teenage marriages in Bangladesh since 1970). But I’m also acutely aware that the accuracy of any conclusions gleaned from graphs and charts are totally dependent on the validity of the data they are constructed from. Remember; Garbage in - Garbage out.

I turned to graphs recently in my quest to ascertain whether employing variable speed compressors in self-contained marine air conditioning units (i.e. compressor, blower and other bits and bobs all together on one base) really has any great benefits, especially considering the considerable extra cost and complexity involved.

Compared to a contemporary self-contained unit, a variable speed model requires the addition of a number of special sensors plus an electronically controlled expansion valve, all feeding data into a specialized electronics package that powers a three-phase compressor.

There’s a lot to go wrong there, and no way to jury-rig an override if the electronics suffer premature death from water ingress, lightning, or even just plain ol’ electrickery.

disgusted face

How’s everyone been out there? Hopefully, all are well and still kicking and screaming. I’m still lying low and pretty much operating under the radar, but I’ve been badgered lately to get fingers tapping on the keyboard again.

With winter approaching, and with the thought of storms and power outages energizing my little gray cells, I got to wondering just how long I could power up some essentials in the house using my Chevy Volt sitting in the driveway as a power plant.

Oh yes, it’s totally possible, there are tales from those who have done so on the internet, and there are even kits available.

power tower and elecric carMy Volt has a 17 kW-hr, 300v traction battery along with its DC generator plus a 12v battery for all the other normal loads. This 12v battery is charged by a DC-DC converter between the two batteries, so if I were to hook up an inverter to this battery I could supply 110v AC mains power to my household essentials during a power cut, or maybe power up an outdoor event, or fire up a blender and mini-fridge at a beach romp.

Possible? Yes, but for how long?

people jumping off boat 2

Some people would like to have their boat’s refrigeration run both air and water cooled, feeling that two methods of heat exchange is better than one. Well, yes and no.

If your refrigeration system needs both to get your box down to set point, then yes, you need to use both, or get a new system.

However, if your system works fine using either one method or the other, then no, you don’t need both to run at the same time, but you still may want both methods available on board your boat.

If you want the flexibility of choosing which heat exchange method to use, then yes, having both in a single unit is good. But why would you want that choice and when would you choose one over the other?

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