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Figure 11: My wife in a hot tub at Desert Pearl, Springdale, Utah – just outside Zion National Park. Image by Fritz Hasler.


Electric Everything Part 3 (More Things We Left Out of Parts 2 & 3)

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Why do I say “we” in the title? In part one, I listed the things I thought of myself, mostly things that come to mind immediately, like electric cars and bikes and anything on land, sea, or in the air where a fossil fuel motor was being replaced by an electric motor and usually powered by a battery. In part two, I added the things you readers (hence “we“) suggested in the comments, plus other things that came to mind at that point, like electric snowmobiles. That also included obvious things that I left out of part one, like electric trains and buses. I also repeated some of the items from part 1 with new photos.

Once again, readers have pointed out a critical area of electrification left out of parts one and two. Also, new products have come into being.

For over 10 years, I’ve been reading the WWS (Wind, Water, and Solar) articles by Mark Jacobson of Stanford University. (Also see his new book, 100% Clean, Renewable Energy and Storage for Everything 1st Edition.) He points out that everything must be electrified, not just the things I listed in parts one and two. For individuals, the big items are home air heating and cooling, plus water heating. Since air conditioning is almost always already electrified, that leaves home air and water heating that largely still need to be electrified.

First a list of everything listed so far in Parts 1 & 2:

  • One-Wheel Skateboards (Part 1)
  • Conventional Four-Wheel Skateboards (Part 2)
  • Scooters (Part 1)
  • Tools and Lawn Maintenance Equipment (Part 2)
  • Segways (Part 1)
  • Mini Mopeds (Part 1)
  • Bikes (Part 1)
  • Tuk-tuks (Part 2)
  • Motorcycles (Part 1)
  • Golf Carts (Part 1)
  • ATVs (Part 1)
  • Cars (Part 1)
  • Pickup Trucks (Part 1)
  • Vans (Part 1)
  • Work Vehicles like Taxis and Police Cars (Part 2)
  • Scuba Diver Towing Devices (Part 2)
  • Surfboards (Part 1)
  • Speedboats (Part 1)
  • Hydrofoil Boats (Part 1)
  • Snowmobiles (Part 2)
  • Buses (Part 2)
  • Semi Trucks (Part 1)
  • Freight Locomotives (Part 1)
  • Passenger Trains (Part 2)
  • Mining Vehicles (Giant) (Part 1)
  • Small Drones (Part 2)
  • Airplanes (Small and Short-Range Commuters) (Part 1)
  • Helicopters (Part 2)
  • Ferries (Part 1)
  • Ships (Part 1)

The elephant in the room that we left out of parts 1 & 2 is making your home 100% electric. The biggies that still need to be electrified are air and water heating.

I am old enough to remember a coal-burning furnace that heated water for the radiators in our house. My dad was thrilled when we upgraded to an oil-burning furnace, so that he didn’t have to shovel coal and remove the clinkers. A kind oilman would keep track of our usage and fill the tank when needed. Until a short time ago, I thought that a furnace burning gas that was piped into our home was the ideal. No tank to refill, and super clean burning (I thought). I wished that my house in Wisconsin had a gas-burning water heater and I thought a gas-burning heater for a hot tub would also be ideal. (Note: I no longer call it “natural gas.” We’ve decided a better term would be fossil gas.)

One reason these have been slow to be converted is that electrical resistance heating has been the rule up to now. Almost all electric water heaters at present use resistance heating. Up to now it has been considerably cheaper to heat your house and water with gas than do electrical resistance heating.

Currently, most air-conditioning is electrified, but the same type of heat pumps used for air-conditioning can be used for air and water heating. It will be cheaper than fossil gas right now in most areas, and if we are going to stop spewing CO2 into the atmosphere, this is a critical change we need to make.

Figure 2: Electric Heat Pump/Air Conditioner in St. George, Utah. Photo by Fritz Hasler.

You only need to buy a single heat pump, which will both heat and cool your building. A heat pump in areas with mild climates is also the cheapest way to heat a house.

Electric Appliances

Your heat pump and electric vehicle are the biggest users of electrical power, but in order to make the house totally electric, all your appliances need to be electric. Normally we think a water heater would use resistance electric heating or would burn gas to heat the water. It turns out that a heat pump is an effective way to heat water and it doesn’t emit CO2.

Figure 3: Image courtesy of Rheem

The least expensive Rheem hybrid heat pump water heater costs $1329. Hybrid means that it will use resistance heating if needed. Heat pump water and air heaters work best when the air temperature is between 40 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Therefore, they will work best in mild climates like those in the southern US and California. In order to use heat pumps in colder climates, they must use a geosystem that uses the earth at least 6 feet underground as a heat/cold sink instead of ambient air. Other appliances like stoves, dishwashers, refrigerators, clothes washers, microwaves, dryers, and small appliances as shown in Figure 4 also need to be electric. Gas stove tops and stoves are popular, but they must be electric also, and induction stoves are widely seen as better now anyway (even by professional chefs). If all this is foreseen for new houses, there is no reason to even run a gas line to a house.

Figure 4: Everything Electric in Your Kitchen. Image by Fritz Hasler.

Most homes have a myriad of electric appliances in the kitchen like those you see here in our kitchen (i.e., toasters, microwaves, blenders, beaters, and popcorn poppers). Fortunately, these are already electric in all cases, so there is no need to change.

Outdoor Electric Machines

Figure 5: EGO Cordless Electric Lawnmower. Image courtesy of Lowes/EGO.

For other areas of the home, we need to move outside. The battery-powered electric lawnmower in Figure 5 is self-propelled and costs $569, but there are models that cost as little as $149 for a 14” push mower. Since electric motors have great torque, this mower should make quick work of tall grass like that shown in Figure 5 that tends to stall a gas mower. With extra batteries that can be easily changed out, an electric lawnmower can handle almost any size lawn.

Figure 6: EGO Cordless Electric Snow Blower. Image courtesy of Walmart/EGO.

Many people in areas with high average snowfall use snow blowers to clear their driveways and sidewalks. A true all-electric home will need to use a battery-powered electric snow blower like the $649 model shown in Figure 6.

Figure 7: DeWalt Electric Table Saw. Image courtesy of DeWalt.

A table saw is one of myriads of electric tools that are used in home workshops. There is nothing new here, these have a cord and have run on electricity since the end of steam-powered, belt-driven tools over one hundred years ago.

Figure 8: Ufond Electric LED Job Site Illumination. Image courtesy of Ufond/Amazon.

Lighting has been electric since gas lights became obsolete over 100 years ago. What’s new is a progression from tungsten, to florescent, to halogen, to LED lighting, which provides a huge reduction in energy use for lighting. It also often makes battery-powered lighting much brighter and more practical. Flashlights and camping lights are now much improved.

Recreation & Relaxation

Figure 9: Duraflame Electric Fireplace. Image courtesy of Duraflame.

Why have a gas or wood fireplace when you can have an electric fireplace with infrared heating. It turns on and off with a switch and is perfectly clean and safe.

Figure 10: Gibson Electric Guitar. Image courtesy of Gibson.

Purists may prefer acoustical music instruments, but a whole range of musical instruments are now electric, and acoustical sound for concerts is often miked and boosted with huge electrical amplifiers and speaker systems.

Figure 11: My grandkids in an electric resistance heated hot tub in Three Lakes, Wisconsin. Photo by Fritz Hasler.

There are 10.4 million private and 309,000 public swimming pools in the US. In addition, there are more than 7.3 million hot tubs in the US. Private hot tubs like mine in Wisconsin, shown in Figure 11, are almost universally electrical resistance heated. With a well-insulated private hot tub that is covered most of the time, it is not economical to heat with fossil gas or a heat pump. So, the current practice of electrical resistance heated private hot tubs is also the best practice for a greener world.

Private swimming pools are often not heated. However, public hotel and resort hot tubs like the one shown in Figure 1 and public heated pools like the one also shown above are almost always heated by fossil gas. The relatively few private pools that are heated are also heated with fossil gas. Fossil gas heating needs to change to electric heat-pump water heating.

Figure 12: Solar panels on my house in Utah. Image by Fritz Hasler.

If you don’t want to be at the mercy of your local electrical utility to power your 100% electric house, you need solar panels on your roof.  Mine have paid for themselves in the seven years I have had them on the house. In the highest producing months, my 20 panel system has reduced my monthly payments to as low as $12. Note that if you want to have power when you have an electrical outage and true autonomy from your electric company, you also need to have a Tesla Powerwall or similar storage unit in order to store the electricity from your solar panels.

More Electric Vehicles

Figure 13: Polaris Ranger XP Kinetic Electric ATV. Image courtesy of Polaris.

When I wrote Electric Everything Part 1, I included the Polaris Ranger Electric ATV, which was not much more than a glorified golf cart with lead/acid batteries. In the meantime, Polaris has come out with the Ranger XP Kinetic model, which is a true electric vehicle developed with the help of Zero Motorcycles technology. It has a 110 hp motor, and the most expensive model sports a 30 kWh lithium-ion battery which has a range of 80 miles. You can charge the battery at L2 speeds as fast as 9 kW.

Figure 14: 150-horsepower Evoy electric outboard marine motor. Image courtesy of Evoy.

Moving into recreation on the water, this 150 hp electric outboard marine motor is under development by Evoy of Norway and should be available soon to drive medium-size boats at high speed. Evoy is also working on 300 hp and 450 hp versions which are as much or more than any gas-powered outboard.

Warehouses and Excavation Sites

Figure 15: Big Joe Electric Forklift. Image courtesy of Big Joe.

Electric forklifts are especially important for indoor warehouse work because they emit no deadly carbon monoxide. 

Figure 16: Electric Bobcat Mini Excavator. Image courtesy of Bobcat.

Thanks to a comment on my Electric Everything Part 2 article, I am including electric mini excavators. The E10e has a state-of-the-art, lithium-ion, maintenance-free battery pack with an advanced management system. It makes only one half the noise of a similar diesel machine.

Figure 17: John Deere Compact Electric Track Loader. Image courtesy of John Deere.

I would call this a front-end-loader. It has a rated operating capacity of 965 kg (2,125 lb), gross horsepower of 48.5 kW (65 hp), and net horsepower of 45.6 kW (61 hp).

Figure 18: John Deere Small Electric Bulldozer. Image courtesy of John Deere.

You weren’t surprised to see electric golf carts and forklifts, but Bobcats, front-end loaders, and bulldozers, really?

Figure 19: Proterra-Powered Komatsu Electric Excavator. Image courtesy of Komatsu.

Small electric excavating equipment like Bobcats, mini-excavators, etc. are not a big surprise, but how about a full-sized electric excavator? Proterra, the same company that manufactures electric buses, is supplying the huge batteries necessary for this kind of equipment.

Other Uncommon Vehicles

Figure 20: E70N Electric Tractor. Image courtesy of Solectrac.

Another area left out of previous articles was electric vehicles for agriculture. The 70 hp Narrow Electric Tractor shown above is not going to replace the monster tractors used on large farms today, but it is well suited for vineyards.

Figure 21: A World War II US submarine is a classic use of battery electric propulsion. Photo by US Navy.

A World War II submarine is a classic use of battery electric propulsion. During WWII, submarines were built by many nations. The most famous were those built by Nazi Germany. The British Navy and the US Navy ruled the surface, so the relatively few German surface battleships were quickly hunted down and sunk. However, the Germans built many submarines which were the scourge of the North Atlantic during the whole war.

When a submarine is running as quietly as possible, it is powered entirely by batteries and electric motors. Since battery technology during WWII was primitive lead-acid technology, the electric range of submarines was very limited. Most submarines had snorkels so that they could run submerged under diesel power. They would also surface when possible to recharge the batteries.

Figure 22: US Navy Nuclear Submarine. Photo courtesy of US Navy.

Nuclear power was a no-brainer for submarines. As soon as the US developed compact nuclear reactors, most of the US submarine fleet became nuclear powered. The nuclear reactor generates nearly unlimited power and doesn’t require air to operate like the old diesel-powered submarines. Nuclear-powered submarines have nearly unlimited range underwater. I assumed that the nuclear reactor generates the steam needed to drive the turbines, which generate electricity for motors which drive the propellers. However, apparently, the steam drives turbines which drive the propeller directly. The top speed of a nuclear submarine is 30 knots, or 35 mph. The top speed for competitive water ski jumping is 35 mph. The steam also drives another turbine that generates electricity for all the electrical systems on the ship. The US has developed technology to allow our submarines to operate as quietly as possible. This technology is highly classified.

Figure 23: US Navy jet being launched by an electromagnetic catapult. Photo courtesy of US Navy.

As long as we are talking about electric applications for the military, the US Navy has always used steam-powered catapults to launch planes from the short runway off the deck of an aircraft carrier. The US has been working for many years on electric-powered railgun technology to replace steam power. The EMALS system has been installed on one Ford Class Nuclear Carrier at this point. The system is designed to put less stress on aircraft by using an electromagnetic catapult. It’s also meant to be more reliable and accurate, while requiring less maintenance than the older steam-based system.

Figure 24: General Atomics Rail Gun, courtesy of General Atomics. Photo courtesy of John F. Williams/US Navy

As long as we are discussing military applications of electricity, another application of a railgun is to actually shoot projectiles, an artillery gun. Conventional guns that use a chemical propellent are limited to accelerating projectiles to about 2 km/sec. Electromagnetic railguns can accelerate projectiles to 3 km/sec or faster. A railgun can have longer range, which is especially critical in naval warfare. The higher kinetic energy of the faster projectile will inflict more damage. You can see from Figure 24 that the railgun launcher is more complex than a conventional artillery cannon, but the projectiles are simpler, cheaper, and safer to handle.

Figure 25: NASA Experimental Electromagnetic Railgun for Space Launch. Photo courtesy of NASA.

Another potential application for electromagnetic railguns is for launching payloads into space. Achieving the velocities high enough for orbital insertion would be difficult. However, it would be feasible for space probe launch or to eliminate the need for the heavy booster to launch a payload from the ground.

Will you readers come up with enough additional items that I will need to write a part four?

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Arthur Frederick (Fritz) Hasler, PhD, former leader of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization & Analysis Laboratory (creator of this iconic image), and avid CleanTechnica reader. Also: Research Meteorologist (Emeritus) at NASA GSFC, Adjunct Professor at Viterbo University On-Line Studies, PSIA L2 Certified Alpine Ski Instructor at Brighton Utah Ski School.


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