Electric Cars Storm Detroit’s Annual Auto Show

This year’s automobile expo in Detroit, Michigan was bathed in its customary glitz as car manufacturers around the world gathered to showcase the best of their new-fangled and their fantastic, their jaw-dropping and their completely impractical. Especially sparkling this year was the electric and hybrid vehicle niche. Despite the recent downturn in oil prices, the electric vehicle market continues to enjoy the attentions of manufacturers both large and small. While some companies may be suspected of dabbling in electric and other alternative fuels as a means to placate government imposed fleet-wide emission standards, most such forays appear passionately legitimate – particularly concerning those working in the battery-powered sphere.

Boutique auto-maker Tesla Motors continues to reign supreme in the high-end electric vehicle market.

Few could doubt Tesla’s commitment to the electric vehicle market. From aesthetics to engineering, Tesla knows how to make batteries sexy. Their top production vehicle, the Model S P85D shown below, is not only as sleek as it is lovely, it can embrace you against its bucket seat as it accelerates from 0-60 in just over three seconds on battery power alone. But that embrace is costly. The base Model S P85D starts in the high 90’s, and that’s with incentives.Tesla-Electric-Detroit-Auto-ShowTesla-Electric-Detroit-Auto-Show

Fortunately, Tesla knows the rest of us need love, too, if they ever want to grow beyond a boutique brand limited to a few privileged early adopters. In fact, their desire to establish a presence in the mainstream may have contributed to last year’s release of their technological patents into the public domain. A bold move, indeed. Yet, it is in their best interest to encourage a vibrant, competitive market, because that will lead to industry innovation as a whole, as well as the growth of the infrastructure required to support their products.

Charging stations, like those available here at Steiner, will be as commonplace as gasoline pumps. Did you know you can charge your EV at our Rockford, Elk Grove and St. Charles locations?

EV-hero-550x305 Steiner-Electric-Charging-StationsReleasing their patents into the public domain isn’t the only way Tesla hopes to disseminate their brand throughout Middle America. One of their contributions to 2015’s Detroit Auto Show was more hints regarding the latest iteration of the Tesla Model 3, due in 2017, with an expected retail price of $35k. Along with its relatively affordable price tag comes an all-electric sedan that will probably seat five and get up to 200 miles per charge.

But will Tesla lag behind competitors at this price point?

Among a fleet of noteworthy at the Detroit show this year was Chevy’s freshly debuted prototype model called the Bolt (not to be confused with the Volt, which is Chevy’s gas-electric hybrid). Like the Model 3, the Bolt is also expected to reach consumers in 2017, and it also boasts a strictly battery powered engine that can travel up to 200 miles on a single charge. It will seat four, and it certainly won’t have the sensual aesthetics of Tesla’s designing, but the Bolt’s most impressive feature is its price tag: a respectable $30k.

chevy-bolt-ev-concept 2015 Chevrolet Bolt EV Concept all electric vehicle – rear extWhile it is clear that internal combustion engines will be with us for a long time to come, many will soon be able to fill up their car for the week’s commute by simply plugging into the solar array adorning the roof of your home or workplace. Not only will such sustainable transportation make our wallets a bit heavier, it just might help our children and grandchildren breathe easier as well.

Solar Power Experts Promote Rigorous Standards of Quality

Solar power has come a long way since the summer of 1878, when Augustin Mouchot harnessed sunlight at the third Paris World’s Fair to make a block of ice. It was an impressive feat for his time, but Mouchot’s Solar Concentrator was technologically akin to a child’s naughty wielding of a magnifying glass to assault an anthill. He simply funneled the sun’s heat. Instead of using the heat to roast innocent ants, he used it to fuel a modified steam engine which powered a condenser, essentially turning sunlight into ice.Mouchot’s Solar Concentrator Mouchot’s Solar Concentrator

Today’s photovoltaic technology works on a much different principle. Basically, a solar cell photovoltaic technologyis made from material such as silicon that release electrons when struck by photons of light, causing the material to polarize. This is called the photoelectric effect, and describing it won Albert Einstein a Nobel Prize. If you arrange these cells into a circuit and expose them to sunlight, an electric current is born. Modern research and development into photovoltaics is geared toward increasing efficiencies in power generation, transmission, and storage – while at the same time bringing down costs through advances in manufacturing techniques.

Advanced technologies require advanced skills.

For Underwriter’s Laboratories (UL), electrical safety from the industrial to the personal has been a cornerstone of the organization’s existence. UL has been fundamental to worldwide electrification for over a century, with a commitment to quality and safety that is as active and vibrant as ever. In 2013 alone, UL evaluated over 90 thousand products and nearly 22 billion products were manufactured bearing their stamp of approval. Along with product evaluations, UL develops professional accreditation and certification programs that set industry standards, including the expanding solar power industry.

For example, UL offers a Photovoltaic System Installer Certification. The qualifications to even attempt this certification demonstrates UL’s rigorous professional standards. An applicant must have passed the OSHA 30-hour construction safety program and be recognized as a Qualified Electrician, which requires an apprenticeship, classroom training, and state licensure. This reflects thousands of hours of real world experience (roughly 2 – 4 years, depending on individual state licensing guidelines). Once the certification is achieved, the installer must earn six continuing education credits in photovoltaic technology within three years in order to retest, which is when the certification expires.

Clearly, you can expect a UL certified installer to be the embodiment of competence. Keep that in mind when you consider adding or upgrading a solar system for your home or business.

Steiner Solar Installers

Expanding Battery Life Through Automation

Look around you, maybe it’s on your desk, in your pocket, you’re holding it, or it fell between the couch cushions and you’re scrambling to find it because you haven’t checked Facebook in the last 20 minutes.

We’re talking about your Smartphone.

Continue reading “Expanding Battery Life Through Automation”

Harvesting Daylight for Your Business

Did you know that you can harvest daylight through your windows at work?

We all know how much the sunlight can affect employee moods as well as sales of products, but it’s affect on the office space works in better ways…for your pocketbook. Plus, using daylight as the primary source for illuminating a space is more sustainable in the long run. Continue reading “Harvesting Daylight for Your Business”

The Power of LED in the Future

To start off July, Detroit announced it had installed its 10,000th LED street light and was on track to add 55,000 more. Lighting Motor City is no easy task but Detroit’s Mayor says this project has helped some neighborhoods be illuminated for the first time in years leading to safer streets at night. On a larger scale, news like this for the lighting industry is even bigger.

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Detroit installed it’s 10,000th LED street light in early July

Continue reading “The Power of LED in the Future”

Ordinary Copper Wire Doing Extraordinary Things!

Recent research published in Advanced Materials and Nature magazines shows a breakthrough in the usage of copper wire and how it can store energy. The research could mean even smaller electronics and clothes that act as batteries!

A nanotech scientist believes by using a thin sheath that surrounds lightweight electrical copper wire, he can store energy. We already know that all metals, including copper, form crystals that have free floating electrons that can move between associated atoms. That’s why electrical charges can come from one end of a wire to the other – basically electrons are shoving each other out of the way for the charge to move. Copper does this extremely well. But, now, the same wire that transmits electricity can also store extra energy.

Copper-Energy-Batteries Continue reading “Ordinary Copper Wire Doing Extraordinary Things!”

The Power of the Backup Generator

Be Prepared for Severe Weather with a Backup Generator!

We are in bad weather season – from tornadoes and severe storms tearing across the Mid-West to hurricanes and tropical storms on the East Coast. The amount of times the power has gone out in areas in northern Illinois, Indiana and Southern Wisconsin is already too high to count. But, there’s an easy way to keep you and your family out of the dark in a storm.

Backup Generators from SteinerWhy Do I Need a Backup Generator?

Since 2012, one in every four homeowners has experienced a power outage lasting 12 hours or more, according to a recent Harris Interactive survey. Property damage averaged more than $1,900. Most homeowners don’t consider the need for a backup generator until they actually need one because the electricity has gone out. During the humid summer or frigid winter, we only recognize the weather issues when the A/C or Heater is down and we have no lights! But, at this point, it’s too late.

Portable Generators Vs. Standby Generators

Backup Generators from Steiner Keep Electricity on in Severe StormsThere are an increasing number of homeowners as well as businesses that are considering or have already bought a backup generator. Most homeowners think a portable generator will do them good…and, in some situations, they do work just fine. This is an immediate solution to an emergency power outage that can run home essentials. Plus, you can bring it with you camping or to a tailgater! Standby generators, though, offer a more powerful solution when the electricity goes out…especially if it goes out for longer than a few hours. Standby generators automatically turn on when a power outage occurs. They are piece of mind for homes as well as business.

We offer residential and commercial backup generators with clean power, quiet operation and a 5-year limited warranty. Isn’t it time to see how Steiner can keep your home or business powered when your neighbors aren’t?

Kohler Generators from Steiner

The Future Business of Lighting

One of the bigger takeaways from LIGHTFAIR 2014 in Las Vegas earlier this month was how quickly the world of lighting changes – not in terms of years, but in terms of months. We already know LED lighting has permeated our daily lives starting in offices, moving into homes and in our cars. As the industry changes, the demand to make our lights more efficient while maintaining optimal light output is key.OLED-The-Organic-light-Emitting-Diode Continue reading “The Future Business of Lighting”

Keeping the Lights From Blocking the Stars

Every year, especially if you live in a city, you can see less and less stars. Light pollution from homes, businesses, cars makes it harder and harder to enjoy the night sky. This is what started the “Dark Sky” movement and has prompted some towns and cities to implement Dark Sky ordinances. If you are preparing to change the outdoor lighting at your home or business, you might want to consider not only the efficiency of your lights but their ability to light the ground rather than the sky.Dark-Sky-initiative-Steiner-Electric

Everything that makes light reduces our ability to see the heavens.

We all know this when we head out of town.  Not properly shielding lights allows that light to travel upwards, blocking what is coming down from the heavens. Skyglow in cities, that’s the orange haze you see over major metro areas is mostly manmade by our over-illumination. But there are ways you can, even just a little, help curb that skyglow.

Steiner offers options when it comes to installing complete cut off for commercial buildings.

In fact this is mandatory for earning ComEd incentives. We can then work with you to determine the best ways to light the area around your building and not the area above it. We know how important it is to keep paths lit, but we also want to be sure the light stays on the path and isn’t reflected. These fixtures are also more efficient since you aren’t wasting electricity into space. The International Dark-Sky Association has offered some simple guidelines when it comes outdoor lighting and some communities in the U.S. have adopted them –

  • Use the lowest wattage of lamp that is feasible. The maximum wattage for most commercial applications should be 250 watts of high intensity discharge lighting, but less is usually sufficient.

  • Incorporate curfews (i.e. turn lights off automatically after a certain hour when businesses close or traffic is minimal).

  • In regards to safety, one needs only the right amount of light, in the right place, at the right time. More light often means wasted light and energy.

While some of these aren’t feasible in the larger cities, considering Dark Sky options is a great way to save money on your electrical bills while also keeping the stars shining bright for the next generation, and also earn LEED points – www.usgbc.org/leed/certification

Safety First in the Electrical World

We all take electricity for granted; we turn the power on, lights come up, computers turn on, etc. When our electrical gadgets don’t work, we try to troubleshoot the issues ourselves. This troubleshooting is why we have a yearly safety reminder – May is National Electrical Safety Month.

National Electrical Safety Month Steiner Electric Continue reading “Safety First in the Electrical World”