What Does CARB Compliant Mean?

When looking for a home power generator you will often come across products claiming to be CARB compliant (such as the Yamaha EF2000iS).

CARB is an acronym for California Air Resource Board. The California Air Resource Board is the “clean air agency” which is responsible for managing air sanitation and motor vehicle pollution. California is currently the only state that is allowed to have such a regulatory agency but other states can still follow the CARB standards.

The stated goals of CARB include:

  • attaining and maintaining healthy air quality
  • protecting the public from exposure to toxic air contaminants
  • providing innovative approaches for complying with air pollution rules and regulations

When a home power generator claims to be CARB-compliant it means that it complies with the air pollution standards set by the California Air Resource Board. Such generators will run cleaner than non-CARB compliant generators. However, they still do emit pollutants.

If you are interested in learning more about the California Air Resource Board you can visit their website:

1 Comment »

admin on September 8th 2010 in Uncategorized

Why Does The Power Go Out When It Rains?

During the summer months there are several things that can cause the power to fail. These power failures, or blackouts, typically occur during rain or wind storms. Here are some things that can cause this to happen.

Power lines are typically kept in place on poles with porcelain bushings and insulators. During periods of heavy rain the insulation properties of the porcelain bushings, insulators, and switches can be reduced. These devices can also crack or break allowing water to get in and cause a power shortage. This causes a fuse to blow which results in a power failure.

The wind that accompanies rain storms can cause trees to sway, branches to break, or whole trees to be knocked over. These events can cause anything from brief interruptions to the power (noticeable when the lights flicker) to full blackouts. When a tree comes into contact with a power line the electricity is automatically cut and restarted. If the tree is no longer touching the power line then the power stays on and we just notice a quick flicker. If the tree is still touching the power line then the power stays off and a crew is sent to fix the problem.

In prolonged rain storms water can accumulate and cause flooding. Flooding can damage both overhead and underground electrical equipment. In either case excessive water buildup can cause a short in the electrical equipment which leads to a blackout.

Brief power interruptions are generally harmless except that they can damage sensitive electronic equipment. Even a brief power flicker can cause a computer to automatically shut down. This can lead to loss of unsaved data, corrupt files, or even damaged hard drives. To avoid this it is best to shut off electronic equipment during storms or to connect your equipment to an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) . These devices offer both surge protection and backup power for when the power flickers or goes out completely.

To prepare for prolonged power outages it is useful to have candles, flashlights (with fresh batteries), a gas powered lantern or stove, or even a power generator. A power generator can be used to keep the fridge running, keep the lights on, or power a TV or radio to allow you to stay up to date with the power restoration process.

While the summer rains are always welcome to water our lawns and gardens they can bring power interruptions and failures. While there isn’t much we can do to prevent these power failures from occurring we can always make sure we are prepared so that when they happen they are only minor inconveniences or even a pleasant break from the hot weather.

1 Comment »

admin on August 22nd 2010 in Home power

Seven Ways To Reduce Your Electricity Consumption Now

Are you interested in reducing your electricity consumption?  Perhaps you want to save money or just be a little kinder to the planet.  It turns out there are many ways that you can reduce your electricity consumption that you can start doing right now.  Here are some ideas:

  1. Turn off lights when you aren’t using them.  This one is obvious but it is surprising how often this is overlooked by people.  To help with this I recommend installing a motion sensor.  This is ideal for your outside lights – they will provide light when you need it, turn off when you don’t, and will scare away any unwanted visitors who may get startled when the light suddenly comes on.
  2. Use a power bar for your electronics such as your computer, TV equipment, or stereo equipment.  Electronics are notorious for consuming power when off.  When you are not using this equipment just turn off the power bar and these ‘phantom loads’ will disappear – thus reducing your electricity consumption.  This job can be made easier by using a Smart Strip which will turn off the whole power bar when one of the attached devices has been powered down.
  3. Install an attic fan.  If you own your own home you probably know how much heat can collect in the upper floor.  The attic not only collects heat rising from the house but it also gathers heat from the sun shining on it all day.  By installing an attic fan you can help move the hot air out of the attic and encourage more heat to leave the house.
  4. In the summer, close curtains and blinds when the sun shines in those windows.  The back of my house faces east where the sun rises.  Every night before I go to bed I close all the blinds on this side of the house.  This action alone makes a huge difference to the temperature in the house during the day.  The flipside to this technique is to do the opposite in the winter – make sure you get as much sunshine through your windows in the colder seasons as possible.
  5. Line dry your laundry.  This technique actually has two benefits.  By hanging your laundry out to dry you are saving electricity by not using the drier.  However, by not using the drier you are not adding more heat and humidity to the interior of the house.  Even though the drier is vented to the outside it is often the case that some heat and humidity can escape – especially if the vent is old or not connected properly.
  6. Make sure you fridge and freezer are always well stocked – even if you just fill the empty spaces with water bottles.  By being well stocked the items in your fridge and freezer will hold the cool temperature more and help reduce the amount of the refrigerator has to run, which in turn will reduce your electricity consumption.
  7. Always make sure your dishwasher is full before turning it on.  Also, if your dishwasher has an economy mode then use it.  On my dishwasher this means the drier cycle doesn’t run.  While this leaves me with wet dishes I don’t mind letting them sit to dry.  I often run the dishwasher in the evening then open it to dry before going to bed.  When I wake up in the morning the dishes are dry and I can put them away.

I hope you have found these tips on how to reduce your electricity consumption useful.  Get started by implementing at least one of these techniques today.


admin on August 8th 2010 in Reduce Electricity Usage

Alternative Power For Your Home

Alternative sources of power generation for home electricity such as solar energy, wind energy and water turbines have become increasingly popular because they can help reduce your energy bill as well as provide backup power in times of emergency.

I have long been interested in finding ways to supplement my energy use in order to reduce my dependence on the existing electricity infrastructure as well as reduce my impact on the planet.

However, such a project can be daunting as there are so many factors to consider such as deciding what size of a system you need, how to integrate it into your existing electrical system, and technical things such as charge controllers, inverters, and batteries.

Fortunately I came across this book which helps to demystify these things:
Power with Nature: Alternative Energy Solutions for Homeowners

This book covers everything you need to know to start reducing your dependence on the grid. If you are interested in finding out more about what direction to go in, this book is for you.

No Comments »

admin on August 6th 2010 in Alternative power, Home power