Sunshine Design Engineering Services
'Real' engineers can usually be identified by their tendency to
deal with all aspects of life through a combination of pragmatism and
objectivity. Every object and objective presents a challenge that requires
consideration of both the initial assessment of each situation and the
careful analysis of how it might be improved for personal optimization
and utilization. You know the type; you probably are one of 'them' if
you're reading this... one of 'us,' I probably should say. Be assured,
you are among friends here. It is at the same time a blessing and a
curse. Joe Cahak, owner of
Engineering Services, is definitely in the club as evidenced by
the numerous articles he has written, and the software and devices he
has created. This latest installment in his creative series offers a
quantitative analysis of his new Ford C-Max Energi Hybrid horseless
carriage, along with an in-depth accounting of his carefully-analyzed
rationale for purchasing it and details of operational strategies. Joe
also provides an update on the financials of his investment in a solar
electric installation at his Southern California home.
See list of all of Joe's articles at bottom of page.
Hybrid HeavenBy Joe Cahak
Sunshine Design Engineering Services
I wrote about my investment into Solar power. I live in San Diego inland
area and it looked like a good investment. Three months later I would
like to give an update on the performance thru the winter so far. We
also doubled down on the alternate energy investments and purchased
Ford C-Max Energi Hybrid to extend our energy savings. So we can
take a look into that investment and hedge to future energy prices.
Today's energy markets are in flux at the consumer level yet again.
We are seeing rapid implementation of electric mobility to improve the
energy efficiency of our vehicles. While gas prices are down a bit and
more stable with the national resources coming on-line again, other
fuels like propane, butane and others are much more expensive.
In the article Solace in Solar
I went over my solar panel investment numbers and the expected output
and payback. I have received 3 "bills" or updates to my account for
the residual electric utility bill. The amounts are: $14.83, $39.71 &
$27.41 for a total of $81.95
The previous year the bills were:
$204, $152 and $120 for a total of $476 and rates have increased since
then. With the bad weather of sorts during the winter in Southern California
was covered 82% of our electricity with the solar. This new level of
service at 100-260 kWhr/month is well under 455 kWhr/month
tier 1 rate at $0.15 /kWhr, instead of the higher tier 2 of $0.17
and tier 3 of $0.35 per kWhr we were regularly exceeding previously.
The new charges were with the additional load of the car charging at
night, which added about $15 to $20 to the bill as can be seen for the
last 2 months bills. The first month the solar covered 93% of our electric
use. This is performing at least as well as expected and is a huge benefit
in additionally charging the car to help me commute to work and lowering
my commute costs.
I had to make a decision recently to replace
my main commute car. My old ride was a 1999 Ford Mustang. She was a
sweet ride. She had a nice sound and she rode well thru the mountain
roads I take to commute to work near the coast daily. The Mustang is
a 6 cylinder and gets a rated 20 mpg for the 99 model which is
the 35th anniversary edition. I used the trick of putting 1 inch larger
diameter tires on the back of the vehicle to improve the distance per
turn ratio. This trick will cause a small loss of power, but you gain
the mileage. This small power loss was not a problem with the Mustang.
My Mustang was getting about 22 mpg.
I commute about 39
miles each way or about 78 miles per day round trip with an elevation
delta of over 1600 feet. It was costing me $40 per 3 to 4 days to refill
the Mustang. This can get costly during the price gouging that sometimes
goes on in Southern California. Now I had to get a new car to commute
with. I didn't have to dump the Mustang. I build a low height storage
shed and am parking it. I plan to keep it and work it up some to keep
as a classic.
car I selected was one I had my eye on for a while. Being a Ford customer
with the Mustang and liking the car and reputation of the manufacturer
were factors. I really liked the fact that Ford didn't have to take
Government money to survive. I also liked the plug-in hybrid idea. I
was out to save money in the long haul and become more energy and expense
efficient. The C-Max Hybrid has a base gas mileage of 44 mpg. It
has about 200 horsepower. It also has a 7.6 kWhr battery capacity
to store about 20 miles. I get about 5 to 8 miles less on cold and dark
winter mornings. The more accessories I have to use, the less electric
range I get first portion of the car trip before it switches over to
My neighbor bought a Plug-In Prius Hybrid and his
package cost was $47,000. I felt this was very high. The cost of the
C-Max was about $38,000 with several options and the paint color I wanted
sapphire blue. I also got a $3000 year end close out discount with a
California rebate of $1900 and a Federal Tax credit of about $2300.
This purchase had to be made before Jan. 1st to get the tax credits
and rebate. This gave me an out the door price about $31,000. I had
good credit so I got a 0% loan and only put money down to reduce the
monthly payment. I didn't have any cost to not use my money for the
The car started with about 46 mpg and has been gaining
about ½ mpg per week. I am presently at 52 mpg cumulative
and it is still climbing as the Ford manual said it would. The trip
readout shows the last two trips, so you can review to and from work
travel statistics and see the difference.
In my case, the mainly
downhill to work requires 0.2 to 0.3 gallons for 39 miles or about 100
to 148 mpg. The mainly uphill trip home is 0.7 to 0.8 gallons or
about 35-40 mpg depending on how fast I go on the hills. At 50 MPH,
I don't lose as much mileage as I do at 55 or 60 MPH. I merely
have to back off on the speed a bit to make substantial gains in efficiency.
I do the polite driver thing and move to the right lane for my faster
compatriots on the road to pass me by. Cold and dark winter mornings
require the headlights and heat, so I get much less electric range.
At a gas price of $3.75/gallon and I drive about 78 miles per
day, 390 miles/week and 1800 miles/month. The Mustang it was
costing me $307/month and the C-Max is costing me $140 combined gas
and electric with about $100/month for the gas and $40 electric charge.
So, I use 42% less energy to commute than I did previously. With the
electric being supplied by the solar system I put in, my actual out
of pocket cost to commute to work dropped from $300 to $100 or about
2/3. $200/month is $1200 per year in energy savings over my Mustang.
Driving on the surface streets down the hill, if I keep speed up
at 50-55 mph I am always using gas. I found that doing a short
ramp up to speed and then backing off and just maintain speed, the car
will go back into electric mode and use much more of the charge available,
instead of switching to gas engine. I call this stretching the charge.
Driving this car is different in that you ride the brakes, unlike
a normal car, it would wear out the breaks. In this car there is a hydraulic
drive and I found that a small depression on the break as I gain speed
downhill, gives me a nice boost in charge while keeping the speed down.
Also I get breaking reports from the car to tell me how well I braked
to regain the energy showing the percentage of energy recovered when
I break for stop lights, traffic or lame/dangerous drivers. I love being
able to sail thru the commuter lanes on my uphill stop and climb to
the Highway. Use to take me 2 to 5 minutes. I sail right thru most days
now in under 30 seconds.
Another feature is the car in auto mode
senses regular destinations from the GPS and will not run the gas engine
to recharge the battery so close to home. This setting is 1/8 mile or
200 meters. This is too short a distance for me. Using the battery charge
stretching method, described for the surface streets, comes in very
useful here to help me extend that in practical usage to 4-5 miles or
more if I carefully use my breaking recovery and mpg stretching on the
last distance to home.
Our round trips to the local downtown
is all electric and only cost about $1.00 in electric charge, instead
of the previous ~1 gallon of gas or about $3.75 for the round trip to
Another feature of the new cars is the media and environmental
integration into the car. The sound has AM, FM, DC, Sirius XM, and USB
Digital. It also has Bluetooth to the phone and will play the phone
playlist as well as connect thru the phone for hands free phone operation.
I still don't talk much while driving. The AM isn't much good here due
to the Sierra and Colorado Ranges radio shadowing Southern California.
So, I can't listen to those old Midwest favorites WLS and KAAY. Now
it's 60s on 6, 70s or 7 or some Smooth jazz stations on Sirius XM. All
the FM oldies and smooth jazz stations are a thing of the past. Now
it's all bee-bop, hard rock, and south of the border or country western.
It's a radio wasteland.
The environmental system has individual
temperature control and heated seat for those cold mornings. My wife
definitely likes those seats and they are very comfortable to ride in.
There is a large sunroof with a roll out shade built in. OK, I am a
sun worshipper after growing up for 30 years in Northern Wisconsin and
not seeing the sun for months at a time. The front windshield is wide
and deep for a very good view. Performance of the car is good. It has
the electric zip at the start line and can have a fair push if you stomp
the pedal to the floor. I drive slower and come to speed and level off
and use the efficiencies of the car to some extent but am not ruled
by it. There is a lot to learn about the car and the features available.
For instance you can program the car to start and warm up for you among
other goodies like auto parking. We have it, but I don't use it. The
feature was an option I didn't really want.
Overall, I am satisfied
with the car and pleased with the ride and the performance. Although
I think my friend Kirt is jealous - he keeps joking he saw my car in
the toy store - I don't mind. The savings is real and I have a sweet
and comfortable ride to and from work.
Design Engineering Services is located in the sunny San Vicente Valley near San Diego, CA, gateway to the
mountains and skies. Are you looking for new things to design, program or create and need assistance? I offer design
services with specialties in electronic hardware, CAD and software engineering, and 25 years of experience with Test
Engineering services in RF/microwave, transceiver and semiconductor parametric test, test application program development,
automation programs, database programming, graphics and analysis, and mathematical algorithms.
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|Sunshine Design Engineering Services
23517 Carmena Rd
Ramona, CA 92065
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Posted February 11, 2014
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