Tesla Solar Panels

Tesla Solar Panels

Tesla knows how to beautify things. Compare the solar panels in the photo above to some of the other solar panels you see elsewhere, including Solarcity’s own solar panels, and you’ll notice a simpler, less reflective, and a more seamless design. Integrated front skits with no visible mounting hardware make the Tesla solar panels blend into your existing roof a lot better.

The seamless mounting system — the integrated front skirts and no visible mounting hardware — was developed by Zep Solar, which was acquired by Solar City in 2013, which again was merged into Tesla. The mounting system allows for faster module installation, a reduction of installation costs, in addition to making the overall look a lot sleeker.

The 325W solar panels are manufactured by Panasonic exclusively for Tesla at Tesla’s Gigafactory 2 in Buffalo, with solar module production expected to commence during Summer 2017. Panasonic’s current 325W solar panels features an efficiency of about 20% and comes with a 25-year power output warranty. Tesla is sure to meet or better that with its own 325W solar panels.

As long as the cost for the solar panels and installation are competitive there’s really no reason not to go with Tesla, especially if you’re considering the Powerwall and a future Tesla car, like the Model 3.

Source: Tesla

Sony Xperia XZ Premium

Sony Xperia XZ Premium

Sony claims the Xperia XZ Premium is the world’s first smartphone with a 4K HDR display. 4K on a 5.5-inch display is technically impressive, but there might be a large negative impact on battery life. HDR? True HDR requires a display with an LED-backlit BLU (the more LEDs the better), or that it be an OLED display. Does the Xperia XZ Premium have an LED-backlit display? Most likely not; the BLU like almost all other non-OLED smartphones is edge-lit. Is it OLED? No. I might be wrong, but the HDR in this case is probably software based.

The overall industrial design of the Xperia XZ Premium is to my liking: a simple but consistent rectangular shape with diamond cut chamfered edges. The only area that needs a bit of improvement is the forehead and the lip; they are too thick. On the other hand I don’t like it too thin because in order to hold it firmly our fingers need some space. I would have forgiven the thick lip if physical or capacitive back, home, and apps buttons were located there, but no they are on the display taking up valuable pixel space. Oh, there is one more niggle: although the camera bump is not as large as the ones found on recent iPhones it’s still there. A camera-bump-less design is a more beautiful design.

Source: Sony

Apple Park

The new 175-acre campus has an official name: Apple Park. More than 12,000 employees will start moving into the building in April; Apple estimates the move-in to take more than six months. The long process will eventually be worth it: employees will be surrounded by curved glass and have plenty of space — 2.8 million square feet — to work.

Apple Park Steve Jobs Theater

Today is Steve Jobs’ 62nd birthday and to honor his memory Apple will be christening the theater at Apple Park as Steve Jobs Theater (photo above). Quite fitting. Steve Jobs Theater is a 1000-seat 165-foot diameter circular auditorium surrounded by curved glass 20 feet tall. Beautiful, but with all that glass, I wonder how earthquake-resistant the buildings are. I hope quite.

Jony Ive:

We have approached the design, engineering and making of our new campus with the same enthusiasm and design principles that characterize our products.

Apple Park was designed in collaboration with Foster + Partners. Here are some tidbits:

  • 5 million square feet of asphalt & concrete was replaced with grassy fields and 9000+ drought-resistant native trees. (I am anxious for pollen-based allergy sufferers.)
  • Entirely powered by 100% renewable energy; its solar roof generates 17 megawatts of electricity. (I’m guessing there’s a bunch of large batteries somewhere, to power the giant building at night.)
  • World’s largest naturally ventilated building, projected to require no heating or air conditioning for nine months of the year. (Air filtration systems, I’m guessing, are fully operational 24/7.)

I cannot fathom the amount of natural and industrial resources required to have built this architectural marvel, but going forward I am relieved Apple Park will drastically decrease its consumption.

Although park is part of its name, Apple Park is mostly limited to Apple employees and those who visit to conduct business there, but an Apple Store and a cafe will be open to the public. I intend to go sample the coffee there as soon as possible.

Source: Apple

Tesla’s Model 3 is a Tipping Point

Tesla Model 3

Before Tesla, electric cars had some deficiencies:

  • There were slow.
  • They weren’t pretty.
  • Their range was severely limited.
  • They took a long time to recharge.

After Tesla’s Roadster, Model S and Model X, electric cars were no longer slow. In fact the Model S P90D, the performance model with dual electric motors, can get to 60 mph in just 2.8 seconds with a “Ludicrous Speed Upgrade”. Only supercars like these are faster (0-60 mph times in seconds):

  • 2010 Pagani Zonda R: 2.6
  • 2014 Ferrari LaFerrari: 2.6
  • 2013 Nissang GT-R NISMO: 2.7
  • 2014 McLaren P1: 2.7
  • 2012 Koenigsegg Agera R: 2.7
  • 2006 Bugatti Veyron EB 16.4: 2.7
  • 2016 Lamborghini Aventador LP750-4 SV: 2.7

There are no ‘normal’ cars that can beat the Model S P90D from 0 to 60 mph. I think we can clearly cross off that electric cars are slow.

There were slow.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, yes, but I think most would agree the Roadster, the Model S, and the Model X are prettier than the average car. Most other EVs are still on the ugly side of the spectrum.

There weren’t pretty.

Many electric cars still have limited ranges. Here are some examples, in miles (Source: Plugin Cars):

  • BMW i3: 81
  • Chevrolet Spark EV: 82
  • Fiat 500e: 84
  • Ford Focus Electric: 76
  • Kia Soul EV: 93
  • Mitsubishi i-MiEV: 62
  • Nissan LEAF: 107
  • Smart ForTwo Electric Drive: 68
  • Volkswagen E-Golf: 83

With ranges like these this list of electric cars can only be used sparingly and most likely for local commuting. On colder days the range will decrease quite a bit. But on the list are three three electric cars that have enough range to go from San Jose to San Francisco to Berkeley and back to San Jose, with some battery left over:

  • Chevrolet Bolt: 200
  • Tesla Model S: 265
  • Tesla Model X: 250

Yes, the range can be better — you’ll want a regular gas-powered car to go on long trips without having to stop every 200 miles to refuel — but I think a lot of us can live our daily lives with a 200-mile range car. I think it’s safe to delete the severely limited range deficiency:

Their range was severely limited.

Electric cars took a long time to recharge their batteries. Let’s go back to the list. I’ll put two recharge time: one at 110/120V and the other at 220/240V, both in hours. Most homes in the U.S. have 110/120V, but you can install special 220/240V outlets to charge your electric car.

  • BMW i3 (22 kWh): 18, 3
  • Chevrolet Bolt (60): ??, 9
  • Chevrolet Spark EV (19): 20, 7
  • Fiat 500e (24): 24, 4
  • Ford Focus Electric (23): 20, 3.5
  • Kia Soul EV (27): 24, 5
  • Mitsubishi i-MiEV (16): 22, 6
  • Nissan LEAF (24-30): 21-26, 4-6
  • Smart ForTwo Electric Drive (17.6): 12, 8
  • Volkswagen E-Golf (28): 20, 3.7

Don’t even think about charging your EV with a 110/120V outlet. Install a 220/240V outlet and you’ll save thousands of hours of charge time.

Tesla’s EVs come with a variety of battery capacities. With the 85-kwh battery — a battery much larger than all of the aforementioned EVs — a 220/240V outlet will charge it in about 10 hours. Tesla’s Supercharger can charge it in just one hour. It takes some planning to get to a Supercharger station right when you want to eat lunch or dinner, but 3+ hours of charging time down to just one is a lot of improvement. But if you’re not on a road trip the charging happens while you’re sleeping and by the time you’re ready to head off to work the next morning your EV will be fully charged, assuming you installed a 220/240V outlet. Of course, charging time still takes too long if you compare it to about the 5 minutes it takes to refuel a car with gasoline. Recharge time gets crossed off with a note*: Supercharger or when you’re charging at 220/240V while you sleep.

They took a long time to recharge.*

Fast, pretty, with a long range, and a short charge time. Only Tesla’s Model S and the Model X have all these features. The Chevrolet Bolt has a long range, but fast and pretty it is not. The upcoming Model 3 though is all of that: Tesla announced 0-60 mph times at less than 6 seconds for the base Model 3 model. Not ludicrous fast, but pretty fast for a base model. I’m certain if there was a P90D version of the Model 3 that it would be one of if not the fastest $35,000 car you can buy. The Model 3 is also one more: The Model 3 is affordable at US$35,000. Yes there are affordable EVs on the list, but none that has it all.

They were too expensive.

I believe Tesla’s Model 3 is/will be a tipping point.