28 Oct. 2009
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 RIKL Review - Steve's Solar System

Actually It's MY Solar System

But Steve, the "contractor" did the installation.  Long time readers of this blog may recall that I solved the problem of heating my swimming pool in a novel way.  Unfortunately, as I pointed out the following day, there were certain dangers inherent in using used nuclear fuel rods for this purpose.  In the subsequent years I continued to heat the pool in the traditional way using an excess of propane while thriftily enduring an insufficiency of temperature.  The recent more-than-doubling of the price of fuel led me to consider another alternative.  Yes, it's still nuclear, but I decided that, for safety, I'd use a fusion instead of a fission reactor, and would place it far enough from the pool that there would be no danger, at least not from induced radioactivity.

Solar power is the mother of most sources of "alternative energy."  (Geothermal and tidal being the major exceptions.  Even petroleum is created, laboriously to be sure, by solar power.)  I have been eager to install photovoltaic panels, but the cost is prohibitive, especially since, due to blatant discrimination, my community is excluded from the New Jersey subsidies.  Solar pool heating uses less expensive technology.  How it works, basically, is that you run the water from the pool through panels that are heated by the sun.  When it comes back, the water is warmer.  Once installed, operating costs are minimal, involving only a bit of extra energy to pump the water through the panels.  (Which energy also heats the water, albeit just a tiny bit.)

I forget whether I found Steve, or Steve found me.  Either way, he looked around, took a lot of pictures, did a lot of calculations, and the next day I found all the household silver and jewelry was gone.*  But he also gave me a quotation for a solar pool heating system.  Three quotations, actually, for three variants, one of which also included solar hot-water heating, and one that was somewhat less expensive but also a bit obtrusive in appearance.  I settled on the middle one, not ugly, not as expensive. 

The Magic of Solar Pool Heating

As with all household projects involving contractors, this project was more complicated, bureaucratic, and elaborate than one could possibly expect.  The "plan" was to get it done before swimming season, and, in fact, to prolong swimming season at both ends by a couple of weeks due to the augmented thermal flux.  By the time Steve had cut through the red tape entangling the project at the local end, and induced his vendors to deliver all the hardware, it was already warm enough to use the pool.  As the summer wore on, the system came together.  Steve with (and without) his merry crew must have come by ten times to coordinate, dig, work, glue, loosen, tighten, and finally explain and activate.

Magic 1

While swimming, I paddled my way to the water outlet.  Warmth!  There was actual warm water coming out of the port, increasing the temperature of the pool.  I confirmed for myself that the pool heater was off, so it would seem that the sun was doing its job.

Did I mention FREE warm water?

Magic 2, Far More Remarkable

Steve, the guy who did the installation, is the real magic here.  Not because he accomplished a miracle; there have been other successful solar pool heater installations.  And not because he brought crullers one morning, igniting a lengthy discussion about the true nature of the cruller. 

A proper cruller

Just for the record: 

That's a cruller on the left, Steve.

On the right is a "twist."

A sugar twist.  Not a cruller at all.

No, the magic is that somehow, in an unprecedented and unexpected fashion, Steve managed to escape from the Contractor Zone.  The CZ is where all the people who say they're going to "show up" and "finish the job" go to have a few beers, laugh at their credulous customers, and plan the next job that they will leave incomplete.  Steve would email and say he's on the way or he's getting a part or communing with the building department and surprise actually did what he said and showed up when he asserted he would.  Hail Steve, the Miracle Contractor.

Be Careful What You Ask For

In this case, a reference, which I complete in this paragraph: Between multiple episodes of showing up, he took the time and resources to conduct two educational seminars at our local library.  They were about "Energy efficiency and Home Performance with Energy Star Program."  Despite that title, he seems to have a sense of humor.  Don't you feel that he deserves "Contractor Status" in the NYSERDA Home Performance with Energy Star program?  As a customer, I do, and I shall be writing to "NYSERDA" to tell them so.  I'm sure Steve hopes that they read my reference letter and grant "Contractor Status" before they come upon this blogitem!

Storm Update

Literally.  I discovered that there was a 5.x update for my BlackBerry Storm and installed it.  Too soon to review, but it seems to have sped up the operation enough that they can afford iPhone-like "eye candy" on the display and, wonder of wonders, my "wallpaper" has stopped disappearing.  More later.

*Since this review is serving, to an extent, as a reference for Steve, I should point out that these items were subsequently recovered, and the damage to the computers was minimal, although I did have to apply for a new Social Security number and close all my accounts.

"Columbus Discovers America"
Stan Freberg




Love the shirt!  Believe it or don't, I haven't seen the movie.

Jurassic Park T-shirt
Richard Factor

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