Sunday, November 26, 2017


The new PowerAll XL1 is the next generation of the Deluxe model, our runner-up. Externally, the pack is identical to its predecessor, though a company representative told us that the cells and internal components were updated. The XL1 uses a clamp design, similar to that of the Deluxe, that makes solid contact with battery terminals and avoids flexing and bending. But the XL1’s clamps are much larger than the Deluxe’s and have much stiffer springs—they require stronger, larger hands to open comfortably. In our tests, the XL1’s starting output was comparable to that of the previous version, so it should have no problem starting large, V8 engines. The carrying case is also drastically improved from the one that comes with the Deluxe. But these improvements come with a higher price tag and limited availability. For a little less, you can get the Deluxe with clamps that are easier to use, or for a little more you can get our upgrade pick and its multiple extra benefits.

SUAOKI T10 jump starter is one of the best selling gadget, it very portable and usefull, for everyone.

The Brightech Scorpion SCP02 was our original jump-starter pick, in the initial versions of “The Best Gear for Your Road Trip” and “The Best Gear for a Roadside Emergency” back in 2015. In our tests for those guides, conducted on a Nissan Juke crossover, it provided the second most powerful jumping current and had better overall construction than the most powerful model. It also provided almost as much starting power in our first round of tests for this guide as our picks did. But it uses the cheaper, generic clamps that we now consider a major drawback since better clamps are available. It also comes with an annoying zippered case that secures everything with awkward elastic loops. Compared with our new top picks, this Brightech model is not worth the savings of 10 or so dollars.

The Antigravity Batteries Micro-Start XP-10 is built by one of the most respected brands in portable jump starters, and it earned the highest rating in Consumer Reports’s tests of jump starters (subscription required). But those tests weren’t conducted recently, and one of the things Consumer Reports likes most is the XP-10’s reserve capacity, saying its extra storage “will allow for longer run times of cell phones, laptops, its built-in LED light and other electronics.” As we’ve previously noted, we don’t prioritize that capacity when evaluating jump starters (as we do for USB battery packs), focusing more on starting power, safety, and build quality. In our output tests, the XP-10 tied with our upgrade pick, the Weego 44, when we measured the current it provided to our dead pickup truck. Unfortunately, the included clamps are the same generic ones found on many other jump starters. In addition, at the time of this writing the XP-10 retails for roughly twice the price of our top pick and a bit more than our upgrade pick, yet it comes with only a clumsy zippered case with elastic loops to store everything. Though Antigravity’s three-year warranty is the best of any jump-starter company we’ve found—our picks come with 12- and 18-month warranties—we don’t think that alone is worth the extra cost for most people.

The Anker Compact Car Jump Starter and Portable Charger provides only an error light when its battery connections are reversed, unlike our picks, which also have an audible tone that immediately tells you something is wrong. And although this model started our SUV as easily as our picks did, it failed to start the larger V8 engine in our pickup truck, likely due to the starter battery having a voltage below this Anker model’s safety threshold. (Each jump starter automatically checks the voltage on your car battery, and if it determines that the battery is too far gone, the jump starter will refuse the connection instead of risking damage. This threshold varies from model to model, and the Anker’s was likely set higher than the ones in our picks.)

The Bolt Power D28A lacks any protection against reversed connections. When we connected the negative clamp to the positive post and attached the positive clamp to the negative post, the final connection sparked and the metal fused together, chewing up our battery post when we removed it.

The Cobra Electronics JumPack XL CPP 12000 wasn’t the strongest performer in our SUV-engine test, but it did turn the engine over. As it’s one of the few models that claim to start V8 engines, we gave it a shot on our V8 Ram 1500, but it failed to start the 5.7-liter engine, a disappointment considering that this Cobra model retails for a similar price as our upgrade pick. We suspect this happened because the truck battery was below the Cobra jump starter’s safety threshold, as with the Anker model. On top of that, the JumPack XL lacks an audible alarm to notify you of a reversed connection, which is something we like about our picks from Weego and PowerAll.

The PowerAll Supreme PBJS16000-RS is almost identical to the company’s Deluxe model, but it claims a slightly higher CCA rating for more starting power, has 30 percent more capacity (16,000 mAh versus 12,000 mAh), and costs about $20 more. Since the less expensive Deluxe was able to start our large pickup-truck engine and offers plenty of capacity to do the job a few times, we don’t see any reason for most people to spring for this model instead.

The Schumacher Red Fuel SL161 was the least expensive jump starter we tested, and the second cheapest on our initial 40-model list. This one just barely managed to start our SUV, though, and the engine sounded as if it wouldn’t make it. The SL161 would probably have an easier time with a smaller car, but that limits its flexibility. In addition, the only sign of an error when we connected the pack backward was a single flash of a small LED. As evidenced by the price and the chintzy storage sack, this model isn’t meant to be a top-of-the-line choice, but our top pick doesn’t cost that much more money, and we think it will be the more reliable jump starter over the long run.

The Beüler Solar Battery Power Pack is an outlier that piqued our curiosity enough for us to include it in our tests. In addition to charging conventionally, this foldable unit has two solar panels for charging up anywhere off the grid, a unique feature among jump starters. That said, its solar cells are mainly for replenishing enough power to charge small personal electronics; recharging the pack enough to start a car would take a very long time. Moreover, the Beüler model currently retails for more than three times the price of our top pick, and more than a couple of new car batteries.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Stealth Cam G42NG

This is a small camera similar in size to the Moultrie M-880 cameras we are reviewing this year. The display is a two line LCD thus no photo viewer on this one. The G42 uses a hinged, camera in the back design which is convenient as the camera does not flop around when you open it.. It requires 8 AA batteries which are stored in a pop out tray.. It has slots for a wide large buckled strap and a python cable hole on the back of the camera as well as tripod mount on the bottom. It supports photo, video and time lapse modes. The clear LED flash array cover has some lines etched to provide break up of the dark blue/black leds.

The set up was easy, did not use the book and I had this camera (like MOULTRIE M-40 GAME CAMERA )taking photos on the range quickly. There are some new button switch settings and labels. These are OFF, 01, 02, 03, CUSTOM, and TEST. I used Custom to configure the typical camera settings. Apparently the 01, 02 and 03 are quick presets for ease of use. This camera supports Photo, video and Time Lapse + Motion. Like the Moultrie’s we are testing this year, the camera comes with a setting to control motion blur called “Reduce Blur” which makes more sense to me than Moultrie’s “Motion Freeze” terminology.

I managed to get some range sample pictures. The sunny photos have a realistic color profile with a minor degree of fuzziness.

I managed to capture the range photos, using both Reduce blur options. On all shots I could still see a fuzziness which I believe is an out of focus issue. I do not have a second camera to test with but I feel the lens is out of focus. I like the white balance on these images better than the G30 if only they were not out of focus. There is usable flash range beyond 60 feet. There is a degree of IR burn on the ground and nearby subjects. I performed some sensing tests at 81 degrees and the camera would not sense beyond 37 feet. I would expect better than that.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

In New England, Cooperative Values Drive Solar Growth – Episode 41 of Local Energy Rules Podcast

New England offers some of the nation’s biggest incentives for renewable energy generation, but high upfront costs and complicated financing mean many residents are still missing out on the opportunity to go solar. But one cooperative, with a series of pioneering programs, is beginning to change that.

Co-op Power, headquartered in Massachusetts, has steadily built up its credentials over the past decade. In a significant milestone, it mounted a $4.3 million community-based fundraising campaign for a biodiesel plant set to go online early next year. It has supported hundreds of rooftop solar installations, and fueled the region’s green job growth.

Leveraging its cooperative structure — underpinned by 500-plus member-owners who help set its strategy and back projects in Massachusetts and New York — the group plans to sharpen its focus on bringing more community solar projects to the grid, then delivering benefits more people in the communities it serves.

To date, Co-op Power has developed a series of innovative projects driving continued success in the marketplace. John Farrell, who leads ILSR’s Energy Democracy Initiative, explored the group’s past, present and future in a November 2016 conversation with Isaac Baker, a founding member of Co-op Power and its vice president of community solar.

Co-op Financing Benefits

A central barrier blocking community participation in new solar projects is federal securities rules. Designed to shield people from pyramid schemes, the rules either severely limit how solar projects can be advertised, or limit participation to accredited investors — generally speaking, high-net-worth individuals that make up just a fraction of the population. For years, the regulations have added complexity to project financing and held back development (for more on securities implications for community renewable energy, see our 2016 report).

But using its cooperative status, Co-op Power has cracked the door to a much bigger pool of prospective investors. A regulatory exemption for co-ops means the group can tap accredited and non-accredited investors — which is to say, pretty much anyone — to raise up to $1 million per year for its renewables projects.

These members contribute financially, but they also own the organization and help to set its strategy — and, sometimes, even lower its costs. Solar development carries “soft costs” tied to various parts of the process, like recruiting residents to buy panels in an array or identifying sites, that Co-op Power members mitigate where they can.

Often, members will enlist their neighbors in a project or relay ideas about locations that could accommodate a community solar installations. Members’ permitting and planning know-how — some sit on local planning committees — also helps Co-op Power navigate complex municipal development processes.

“We have a lot of insight into how to move effectively through those processes that you wouldn’t see with the standard for-profit developer,” Baker said.

Diversifying Solar Ownership

Co-op Power’s community focus was bolstered by a confirmation from the federal government last year that the tax credits that help finance such projects can be spread between multiple owners of a single array, rather than held by the developer alone.

The decision props up community-owned solar projects. Community solar has emerged as a popular way for anyone to go solar, regardless of whether they own a sunny rooftop. Still, in most cases, the projects are owned by for-profit companies, with participants relegated to the role of “subscribers,” sharing the output from the solar project. More accessible tax credits open the door toCo-op Power’s “direct ownership” model.

Those who own panels see a bigger payoff from solar installations than those who lease a panel (for example: GOAL ZERO NOMAD 13 ) on their rooftop or subscribe to a community solar project owned by someone else. A study by the state of Massachusetts found direct ownership “drives a substantially higher economic benefit” for project investors.

Co-op Power’s platform means its members amplify their payoff.

“Residents are able to buy into a project by actually owning panels in one of these large ground-mounted or roof-mounted arrays that we’ve seen popping up around the state,” Baker said. “They can actually benefit from that tax credit directly against their income taxes, making the investment much more attractive and valuable for an individual customer.”

Without an opportunity for ordinary participants to receive tax credits, Co-op Power would need tax equity investors to round out financing. Those backers, including cash-rich Wall Street investors, put up a portion of upfront costs and in turn claim the tax credits themselves. They buy in to projects largely because tax credits provide steep returns with a quick turnaround. As much as half of the tax incentive benefit is re-routed to Wall Street, instead of local project owners.

With Co-op Power, more of the financial upside funnels directly to community members.

Especially in states like Massachusetts, with relatively hefty tax credits and incentives for renewable energy projects, finding ways to divert value toward communities is vital, Baker said. He pegged current state incentives for distributed solar projects at $0.28 per kilowatt-hour, not counting the value of the electricity produced on site.

“At the end of the day, those tax equity investors can enable some business models to work effectively, but ultimately when we’re able to distribute that value back to the consumer, we keep more of those dollars locally and in the project,” Baker said.

Expanding Solar Benefits

Co-op Power’s programming extends across income brackets, with some innovative ways for lower income residents to participate.

A loan program helps those earning 80% or more of the area median income purchase solar panels, but it’s often not a viable pathway for lower earners who may also have poor credit scores. Instead, the organization crafted an alternative arrangement that offers a no-money-down-option for those residents.

Through the program — which Baker describes as a sort of “reverse community solar” — Co-op Power uses individual home rooftops for solar installations. In turn, the homeowner receives 20 percent of the array’s generation applied as a credit to their electricity bills. Ideally, Co-op Power bundles a portfolio of dozens of houses, usually in urban areas, through virtual net metering.

The remaining 80 percent of rooftop-generated power feeds an “anchor institution” — any big energy user, such as a university, hospital or municipality. That buyer receives the aggregate output through a power purchase agreement, simplifying the financials enough to make solar work for households otherwise sidelined by low credit scores or underwriting challenges.

Despite Success, Barriers Remain

Even considering Co-op Power’s significant success in expanding ownership of renewable energy in New England, obstacles loom over solar growth prospects in Massachusetts and New York. Notably, a lack of cooperation from utilities bogs down projects’ development and ramps up their price tags.

Baker estimated that a project’s permitting process could rack up costs between $50,000 and $500,000. On top of that, before a utility signs off on interconnection, it typically requires the developer to pay for a third-party study on grid impact. The pricing for that starts around $10,000 but could balloon to as much as $30,000.

And even after all that, a utility can still say no. That risk complicates the prospect of attracting project financing.

It’s a problem that could be solved in part if utilities offered more transparent disclosure of suitable spots to install solar on the grid. That’s what California utilities must provide (as shown in a map from Southern California Edison), and it’s what Co-op Power is fighting to see in the states it serves.

“If the utility was more transparent about saying this is where smart solar development can and should happen on our grid, and actually turn that over to the public,” Baker said, “we would have a lot more ability to avoid a lot of cost and time in developing these projects.”

This is the 41st edition of Local Energy Rules, an ILSR podcast with Director of Energy Democracy John Farrell that shares powerful stories of successful local renewable energy and exposes the policy and practical barriers to its expansion. Other than his immediate family, the audience is primarily researchers, grassroots organizers, and grasstops policy wonks who want vivid examples of how local renewable energy can power local economies.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

How to Run a Successful Steel Fabrication Business

Starting a steel fabrication business is a fantastic move if you want to make a healthy living. You’ll need a lot of investment to get the company off the ground. However, it’s one of the few industries that’s still thriving in both the US and across the pond. Most people working in that field will complete custom jobs for their clients. So, the products are not suitable for mass production. That is the primary element that has stopped countries like China from taking the helm. You might spend one day creating a steel fence for business premises, and the next building supports for the construction world.

The possibilities are endless, and so is your potential for making a profit. You just need to ensure you research the market ahead of time. Take a look at some of the biggest players, and work out which elements led to their success.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

5 Important Areas to Outsource When Starting a Business

When you decide the time is right to start your own business, there are many factors and areas you need to consider. Will you run your company from your own home? Will you take on staff at first? How will you fund the business to begin with?

You could spend a considerable amount of time working everything out before your business takes off. And rightly so. If you do not think things through thoroughly, you could run into major problems once you have already started operating. So it is better to iron out any potential problems before you get started with your company.

One way to ensure you don’t run into any initial problems is to outsource certain areas of your business. This is an especially good idea if you are starting out as a sole trader. When you are running a business on your own, you will have a lot to on your plate, which could lead to a lot of stress. So rather than have to think about a lot of extra administrative tasks, you’ll be better off outsourcing these tasks to a virtual assistant.

Monday, February 27, 2017

A Comprehensive Guide to Conduct Effective and Efficient Business Meetings

Here is a startling fact that you may not know – Businesses in U.S. lose approximately $37 billion in salary cost as a result of meetings! This is equivalent of annual revenue of some of the largest companies in the U.S. Imagine the money that companies can save just by avoiding, or at least being effective in, those meetings. Ask any professional about his opinion on the meetings he has to attend as part of his job and more than likely you will hear lots of complaints. According to Atlassian, employees on an average attend 62 meetings per month. Nearly 50% of those meetings are considered waste of time by employees attending those meetings!

So what is wrong with the way in which businesses conduct meetings? Majority of them are organized without a pre-planned agenda and most of them end without having made any decision. The complaints about meeting fall into these categories:
  • Inconclusive or no decisions made
  • Poor preparation
  • Disorganization
  • Domination by individuals
  • No published results


The new PowerAll XL1 is the next generation of the Deluxe model, our runner-up. Externally, the pack is identical to its predecessor, thou...