Electri-Fried Fusion

Guest Post by Renee Hannon

My dad is an off-the-grid kind of guy and the cost of his lifestyle choice is usually secondary. He was one of the first in Delaware to install a solar hot water heater on his roof in the early 1970s.  During the past decades a gorgeous oak tree grew tall and shaded his solar panels.  But that’s OK because the oak tree brought birds, squirrels and other wildlife near his deck for countless hours of viewing pleasure.  So, in a
sunny spot he put solar panels on the garage roof plus a new free-standing solar panel by the driveway.  That free-standing solar panel is big enough to park a car under and, so far, the neighbors haven’t complained.  I’m not sure what those solar panels cost but his electric bill is about $5 a month.

Solar panels on garage roof and additional free-standing solar panel.

My dad was also one of the first people to heat and cool his Delaware house with geothermal energy.  He drilled three wells about 175 feet deep to tap ‘free’ energy.  The upfront costs won’t be paid off for 15 years or more, probably after his funeral.  He doesn’t really care about initial investment costs because he’s less dependent on the “grid” or “providers.”  And the geothermal energy maintains his house at an even and very comfortable temperature. 

Then of course, we have electric cars.   According to my dad, any gasoline price over $1 per gallon is outrageous let alone the fact that vehicle emissions are a pollutant. Although a gallon of gasoline energy is cheaper today than a gallon of water and automobile fuel emissions are stabilizing.  His first electric car was the Toyota Prius.  He loved that car and bragged about how it cost only $20 to drive from Delaware to Florida.  Well, that wasn’t good enough.  He saw a 2017 Ford Fusion and within a week he traded in his Prius and bought a new Fusion Platinum energi.  EPA-estimated rating quoted by Ford is 104 city/91 hwy/97 combined MPGe.  MPGe is the EPA equivalent measure of gasoline fuel efficiency for electric mode
operation.  The Fusion’s CO2 emissions are virtually zero.

Photo of the Ford Fusion Platinum Electric Car

Two months later, the Ford Fusion was driven to Florida with minimal luggage since the trunk is about the size of a large laundry basket due to batteries stored there.  My mother wouldn’t drive the car because of
all the intimidating electronics, vibrations, beeps and buttons.  After a few months in Florida, she finally
drove about 6000 feet to the store and back home. 

The charging plug-in is illuminated brilliant blue. It’s a great night light while grilling on the porch in Florida during dusk. Dad is so proud of his electric car.  He loves planet Earth, conserving energy and reducing emissions.  He’s minimally dependent on the grid with his solar and geothermal energy home and new electric car.

Picture of the cool illuminating charge port.

Things were good when my parents left Florida and headed 1250 miles north to their Delaware home for the
summer.  Oh, I need to mention he didn’t have to fill the gasoline tank for five months while in Florida and averaged about 100 miles MPGe. 

Once back in Delaware, a thunderstorm came passing through.  Not a notable storm, just a typical summer storm.  The house was struck by lightning on September 7, 2018.  Mom and dad heard a loud crack.  They were fine and didn’t think too much of it. 

The next couple of days were challenging as they discovered all the damage.  The typical stuff.  They found lots of electrical components blown out that didn’t work.  They had to replace the hot water tank, the computer was fried as well as several other electrical items. He had a large deductible on his homeowner’s insurance.  I think they were getting close to paying off all the repairs and the insurance deductible.  A week after being struck by lightning they thought they were in the clear.

Then dad was driving his beloved Ford Fusion and realized it was not holding a charge and other strange stuff was happening with the electronics.  The car had been parked in the detached garage and was plugged into the grid.  But wait, wouldn’t you think a modern electric car would be designed with a built-in circuit breaker for electrical storms like this?  Guess not!  He immediately drove his electric car straight to the Ford dealer and said something was wrong.

That was SIX long weeks ago and no end in sight.  Turns out the Fusion had an en-lightning experience and is completely incapacitated.  Car insurance doesn’t know how to deal with electric cars that have been struck by lightning.  They want pictures.  Really?  What does an electric car demobilized by lightning look like?  Well, the same as an electric car that hasn’t been struck by lightning.  Except none of the 2 separate battery compartments work now.  It turns out the lightning strike blew out the electrical circuit boards.  After weeks of back and forth with the insurance company, things started progressing.  Repair work is underway.

My mom thinks this is one of the first Ford electric cars struck by lightning to be repaired.  The dealer and insurance company need to keep calling Ford’s corporate office in Atlanta to find out what to do.  Now the dealer says they need a special circuit board, but there are none available to fix my dad’s Ford Fusion.  After six weeks of ongoing efforts, Ford will not have the circuit board until January 15th……for sure, or so they say.  Wait, the car went into the Dealer’s shop in early September and repairs will take over five months?  Insurance won’t total the car, and nobody knows how much it will cost to repair this modern, energy efficient, low CO2 emissions electric car.  Well, how about trading his car in for another one?  Nope, the Ford dealer can’t find another electric Fusion in the area.  Well, there’s always the old reliable gasoline fueled car as a backup.

Over the past decade, my parents have driven to Florida every November.  Because my Dad is trying to do the environmentally right thing by owning an electric car, he won’t be driving to Florida any time soon.  And it’s all due to a natural event, a lightning strike, which happens about 8 million times a day on planet Earth.

I haven’t told my dad yet, but according to the newly released Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
(IPCC) report, scientists have a “medium confidence level” of more extreme storms in the northeastern U.S. due to human causes despite my dad’s most sincere efforts.  I didn’t ask my dad, but I have a “very high confidence level” that while the IPCC report mandates carbon emissions must be cut by 45% during the next 12 years and shifts to electric transport systems are essential; nobody from the IPCC has contacted
him about his electri-fried Fusion.

Did I mention my parents found four dead squirrels in that old oak tree the day after the lightning strike?



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October 21, 2018 1:20 pm

My dad is an off-the-grid kind of guy
not true, reqs grid connection to run panels in most states and any away from house charging of car done from grid.
and the diagnostics on these cars at dealers use TONS of grid supplied energy at local shop as well as all the severs used to store the firmware/software updates and vin config info.
hes lucky the dealer was able to help at all as fords oasis portal been having many issues over last 2 months preventing dealers from accessing vehicle info, etc.

Reply to  dmacleo
October 21, 2018 4:13 pm

Agreed dmacleo!

The story above has a number of conflicts.

“but his electric bill is about $5 a month”

Not with an electric car, unless his inexpensive driving was not driving anywhere, at all.

Nor is Delaware a state where solar cells are efficient for most of the year. According to one of the optimistic solar installation sites, Delaware expects approximately 199 sunny days per year. The company did not mention winter’s solar angle and reduced energy production; but that isn’t optimistic.

“The upfront costs won’t be paid off for 15 years or more, probably after his funeral. He doesn’t really care about initial investment costs because he’s less dependent on the “grid” or “providers.”

And just how is he running those geothermal pumps day and night? Pumps that can push water 175 feet deep and 175 feet back up to the surface are not small pumps.
Just to run those pumps likely requires more energy than your solar cell array provides, even at the peak of summer. Night time operations do not source energy directly from the solar array.
It’s real tough to store excess solar energy when your equipment and gear uses all of the energy generated all of the time.

I’ve asked for estimates for installing geothermal systems three times now.
Two times, there were no local installers willing to provide an estimate.
The last time, I told the installer to cease and desist when their latest estimate went well over $20,000.
That particular installer said they had installed geothermal systems for ultra-rich houses in Alexandria and Fairfax.

In other words, if you have to ask the price, it’s not the system for you.
Companies install geothermal systems for office buildings frequently. But, they all use a pond or small lake. The installers I talked too, didn’t really want to consider installing a geothermal system without a pond or lake.

“The Fusion’s CO2 emissions are virtually zero.”

No! Not even close!
Once again a narrow parochial view and opinions masquerade as information.


This article appears to be third hand hearsay and assumptions. A feel good story hit my Mother Nature and reality, but not reality itself.

Reply to  ATheoK
October 21, 2018 5:58 pm

Amazes me that some people are so anti electric-cars. They seem to be psychologically ‘threatened’ by them. Rather weird.

Pop Piasa
Reply to  WXcycles
October 21, 2018 6:54 pm

Maybe the fear that the current state of battery technology is insufficient to get them from St Louis to Chicago in one day?

Reply to  Pop Piasa
October 21, 2018 7:14 pm

Get a hybrid-electric then, and then it does. People everywhere are driving these things between cities all the time, and they’re not complaining, just the reverse.

Reply to  Pop Piasa
October 22, 2018 1:08 am

Give me the additional cost of buying a hybrid and I will. Presumably you have loads of spare money from your instant and highly accurate psychology practice?

Reply to  Pop Piasa
October 22, 2018 7:25 pm

From Pi Pizzeria in St. Louis to Pizzeria Uno in Chicago (near the Navy Pier) is ~290 miles… are there not electric vehicles that can travel over 300 miles on a single charge now? The EPA testing (March 2016) of the Tesla Model 3 RWD Long-Range concluded a Five Cycle Range of 334 miles.

If you do not mind a stop, there is a supercharger about halfway through your trip, in Normal, IL. Leave home with 100% charge, and head to the pizza shop for lunch. Depart the pizza shop with ~95% charge, and drive 163 miles to Normal, IL. You will arrive at the supercharger at the Amtrak station with ~29% charge. Charge for ~17 minutes for $7.18 to ~71% charge. Grab pizza by the slice as a snack at the D.P. Dough, ~3 minutes walk from the supercharger. Travel another 133 miles to Uno, arrive with 20% charge. Eat pizza for dinner. The map shows no fewer than eight (8) superchargers in shouting distance from Uno; stop by one of those before hitting your hotel for the night, or pick a hotel with free charging in their garage.

Total trip time: 5h08m, which includes the 17 minutes for charging. I do not know how you travel, but I would probably stop for 15-20 minutes halfway anyway.
Trip generated by abetterrouteplanner.

Reply to  WXcycles
October 22, 2018 1:05 am

Amazes me that some people can do a whole psychological profile of others from a few lines on an internet board. With their remarkable insight and brilliance they should be FBI profilers or CIA analysts telling us what Putin will do next.

Reply to  Phoenix44
October 27, 2018 9:54 am

What that nice chap Poisoner Putin will do next? . . . .
I guess most answers will have ‘poison’, used as a verb, in them.

PS – that nice Mr Putin probably knows where I live, and is undoubtedly the nicest chap on the planet.

Reply to  WXcycles
October 22, 2018 8:50 am

Pointing out the many problems with electric cars means you are “threatened” by them?

Your insistence on denigrating those who don’t worship as you do is what is weird.

Reply to  ATheoK
October 21, 2018 6:17 pm

I have a WaterFurnace geothermal unit.

And just how is he running those geothermal pumps day and night? Pumps that can push water 175 feet deep and 175 feet back up to the surface are not small pumps.
Just to run those pumps likely requires more energy than your solar cell array provides, even at the peak of summer. Night time operations do not source energy directly from the solar array.

The pump is very small, a little bigger than a fist. The depth is irrelevant as the water going down pushes the water going up. All you are overcoming is the friction of the fluid in the pipe.
You are correct in that installation is expensive. There were subsidies from the electric co that made it not too bad.

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Beijing
Reply to  Latemarch
October 21, 2018 8:01 pm

The subsidies did not come “from the electric co”. They came from the other customers of that electric co. If they were “tax-credited” then the government provided the funding which comes from….guess who?

Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo but really in Beijing
October 22, 2018 10:16 am

I’m not say’in that the subsidies are right….just say’in that they are.
The subsidies skew the market and allow the geothermal manufacturers to charge more.
If there was a free market the prices would soon come down. There’s nothing special about a geothermal unit that justifies the price.

Reply to  Latemarch
October 21, 2018 9:36 pm

“The depth is irrelevant as the water going down pushes the water going up.All you are overcoming is the friction of the fluid in the pipe.”

Sorry, but this is completely wrong. There is this thing called gravity you may of heard of? Every time you raise a pound of water by 175 feet you are using energy to “fight” against gravity.

Reply to  Asmilwho
October 21, 2018 11:38 pm

“The depth is irrelevant as the water going down pushes the water going up.All you are overcoming is the friction of the fluid in the pipe.”
This affirmation is right.

“Every time you raise a pound of water by 175 feet you are using energy to “fight” against gravity.”
And every time you also sink a pound of water by 175 feet that provide the energy to cancel out the raising. Only piping resistance and fluid density change due to change in temperature are involved.

Shame on you for trying to school everyones without even having the slightest understanding of basic physics…

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Asmilwho
October 22, 2018 4:29 am

Asmilwho – October 21, 2018 at 9:36 pm

Every time you raise a pound of water by 175 feet you are using energy to “fight” against gravity.

Iffen you “suck” or “pump” 10 feet of H2O out of the “up” pipe …… then gravity will re-fill it from the “down” pipe. It is a “closed” system, you sillies.

Gravity doesn’t give a “hoot” about the friction of the fluid in the “up” pipe.

And iffen you are lucky enough to “tap” into a pool of “geothermal hot water” ……. it will force itself up the “up” pipe.

Reply to  Asmilwho
October 22, 2018 10:58 am

Mr. Cougar,

I understand your point, and it is correct, and Asmilwho doesn’t understand the big picture of hydraulics. I’ve had clients that were convinced by the installer that running their geothermal system off of their well pump (not a closed loop) was an O.K. idea … Maybe Asmilwho knows somebody that has such a system.

But to clarify (for others, not you, ’cause im guessing you already know) … “gravity” doesn’t care about the friction (coefficient) of the fluid in any of the pipes, but it does care a little about the head loss.

Hf= (f)(L)(v>2)/2gd

Reply to  Asmilwho
October 22, 2018 11:08 am

Oh, oh, oh, I see the confusion here! The ground loop of a “geothermal” heat pump is (usually) a closed loop, really just a heat exchanger between the circulating fluid and the ground, which may sometimes be saturated. While open loop systems exist, according to a webpage I just saw, I have never encountered one, because corrosion becomes an issue. It’s much easier to keep the loop closed so the circulating fluid can be chemically treated to be as non-oxidizing as possible. Inert, in other words. According to Waterfurnace™ in a vertical loop “Holes are bored using a drilling rig, and a pair of pipes with special u-bend fittings is inserted into the holes.” So in a closed loop, the water going down cancels out the weight of the water coming back up, and all the pump has to overcome is some friction loss, it’s very tiny, fractional horsepower, often in the range of 1/20th hp. You would have to worry about the elevation change only if you were pumping through an open system.

Let me add, though, I have done economic analyses for ground loop water source heat pumps for a bunch of prospective installations in a variety of locations. Often I cannot make a business case for installing a ground-source heat pump. Those boreholes don’t come cheap. Even in a completely free market, the price will never equal that of an air-source heat pump because there’s so much more work involved. They work best in a climate where the amount of heat that needs disposed of during cooling is approximately equal to the amount of heat required for heating. In the DEEP south (New Orleans, Miami, etc.) there can be problems with the ground field over heating during the summer and the system just doesn’t work anymore. For all heat pumps, whether air source or water source, I frequently run up against the price of natural gas. Particularly west Louisiana, the price of gas is so low that I can burn the gas on-site to produce heat cheaper than the power company can burn it in a power plant to produce steam to turn a turbine to generate electricity to transmit across (sometimes hundreds of) miles of transmission lines to run a heat pump that moves heat from inside a building to the outside and vice versa. The numbers don’t add up, there’s no return on that extra investment to bore holes in the ground. And that’s the case I’ll continue to make, the amount of CO2 produced either way is irrelevant.

Reply to  Asmilwho
October 22, 2018 4:21 pm

RedViper said:
Let me add, though, I have done economic analyses for ground loop water source heat pumps for a bunch of prospective installations in a variety of locations. Often I cannot make a business case for installing a ground-source heat pump. Those boreholes don’t come cheap.

Exactly. It’s not for every location.
Our seasons here in Missouri are well balanced and in my case building the house on 40 acres I opted for a horizontal installation. The engineer said 100ft loop (out and back) would be enough but as a trencher and pipe is cheap I had them go 200.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Asmilwho
October 23, 2018 4:34 am

Thank you, DonM, for your kind words.

Anyway, I really don’t think the following will work that great …… unless one lives in Yellowstone Park or Iceland ……. where the geothermal source is close to the surface, to wit:

I’ve had clients that were convinced by the installer that running their geothermal system off of their well pump (not a closed loop) was an O.K. idea

Me thinks the “client’s” well pimp would have to be a Deep Well Submersible Pump, attached to the bottom of the drop pipe, cause it can operate in wells up to 300′ deep.

A shallow well Jet Pump can only operate between 0’ to 25’.

Reply to  Asmilwho
October 23, 2018 6:48 am

Red94ViperRT10, an engineer friend of mine had a water-based heat-pump that simply used his already installed well-water and discharged it back into the well. I asked if it made his well-water too cold in the winter, but he said he didn’t noticed any problems. I don’t know about the corrosion issue….

Reply to  Asmilwho
October 23, 2018 12:25 pm

Mr Cougar,

You are right, the deep well was in place prior to the remodel and addition of of the groundwater heating system. They saved up front money by using only the existing well & pump, but the whole thing was a bust because the operating costs were the same (or higher) than any standard system. Owner said he wouldn’t do it again. (I was involved in other aspect of his property … not the heating system).

The way I would install a ground system would be in a suitable lake/pond, or by pumping shallow water table (less than 16 feet) slowly through a long, large diameter pipe, across the radiator, and back into the ground through a small siphon that is about the same size as the pump discharge. Everything remains accessible if done right.

Paying for two pump operations, but install costs are (relatively) small and can done as a DIY project. Find reliable 60-year old chest freezers for compressor parts and buy fans. Permitting and environmental compliance restricts the ability to do this legally, so of course I have not done it.

Reply to  ATheoK
October 21, 2018 6:29 pm

I dont know where you live but I think you might want to move to Delaware I had six quotes to install my solar systems designed to cover my current usage of electric for a year with in two weeks. your cost is not intirely out of line but using the rebates from electric company’s ,State and federal government you could probably install a system for half that price and you two might be able to have an electric bill of $4.00

Pop Piasa
Reply to  ATheoK
October 21, 2018 6:47 pm

My meter charge alone is $30, and that stands no matter what my KWH balance might be. Then there are the taxes and surcharges. Sounds like I’m gettin’ fleeced.

Reply to  Pop Piasa
October 22, 2018 2:24 am

$30 for what ? A month , 6mo, a year? Sure this should be counted if someone is say $x per month.

Another Paul
Reply to  Pop Piasa
October 22, 2018 5:21 am

“My meter charge alone is $30” Yikes that’s high! My Cat1 net meter charge is $8.73. (DTE, southern Michigan) We only pay line charges on any energy we pull from our overage balance. Our last bill showed a 1,986KW/hrs ($261) surplus.

Robber Baron
Reply to  Pop Piasa
October 22, 2018 12:25 pm

Yea, a number of power providers load up there basic facility fee (meter charge) to cover all the fixed cost of the grid, and then on average the cost per kwh billed for actual power used is less. This is done primarily by utilities trying to recover the cost of connecting a customer to the grid, even if that customer self generates some or all of their power needs. The polices of whether or not distributed generation should be subsidized is neither uniform throughout the country, nor constant over time within a given utility, making individual economic analysis of self generation particularly vexing.

Reply to  ATheoK
October 21, 2018 7:04 pm

My post was never intended to be a peer reviewed publication. However, it is reality.

My dad’s solar cell arrays generate enough energy to support use of his electric car, geothermal pumps and all his other daily requirements. It was designed to provide about 10% more energy than his typical daily energy need. Since installation of his solar panels he accumulated a 4000 kilowatt credit so the solar panels and geothermal wells require less energy than he uses. That’s a fact.

As far as the geothermal pumps are concerned, they do not run constantly. He has a closed vertical system which does not require a nearby large body of water. Closed-loop geothermal heat pumps circulate an antifreeze solution through a closed loop between his three wells and his house. Yes, upfront costs are expensive but payout times aren’t something he is worried about.

The statement about ‘virtually zero emissions’ is based on the fact the 2017 Ford Fusion Energi is rated as the fifth best plug-in hybrid and emits only 112 grams/mile of CO2 according to the EPA. So, the article is not just hearsay.

I certainly agree with you about the batteries and pollution created in manufacturing. However, it is very challenging to accurately calculate the often overlooked upstream financial and environmental impacts of supplying vehicles and energy to consumers like all of us.

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Renee
October 21, 2018 7:16 pm

Why should anyone put CO2 emissions above pollution created by the currently primitive state of batteries?

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Pop Piasa
October 21, 2018 8:02 pm

From my inquiries into geothermal, I would either have to have “old money” or never survive to retrieve the cost of sinking 3 wells, being a pensioner. Besides, how many city dwellers have enough land to accommodate that?
All I can say is congratulations on an enigmatic accomplishment.

Reply to  Pop Piasa
October 21, 2018 8:08 pm

Pop Piasa,
Excellent question for the IPCC on CO2 emissions.

Non Nomen
Reply to  Renee
October 22, 2018 6:31 am

Your dad has been out of town and out of the house for a considerable time of the year regularly? That explains a lot of savings in energy. Solar in – almost nothing out = surplus = kwh-credit.

Reply to  Non Nomen
October 22, 2018 7:30 am

Non Nomen,
You are correct on the surplus. He would be break-even as designed if he didn’t go to Florida.

dan no longer in CA
Reply to  Renee
October 22, 2018 11:18 am

There are subsidies not mentioned in the article. For example, the PV array uses the grid as a battery, but does not pay for this service. If the rate payer has a big enough PV array and the monthly bill is zero, then that person gets a free ride in transmission and distribution costs. Those costs are normally part of the monthly bill, so the owner of the PV array is subsidized by the other rate payers.

Also, there is no road tax on electricity. The various government entities that tax gasoline get more money per gallon than the oil companies get in profit. Eventually, there will be some kind of adjustment for this.

In the interest of full disclosure, I *like* electric vehicles and I own some stock in Arcimoto.

Jeff Mitchell
Reply to  Renee
October 22, 2018 6:19 pm

Where is all this electricity being generated? And how? If it isn’t hydro or nuke, it’s putting CO2 into the air. It’s just putting the pollutants out elsewhere. Also, I don’t consider CO2 a pollutant. I’d like to see it double. It’s for the plants.

Reply to  ATheoK
October 22, 2018 9:58 am

Minor point on the circulating pumps for the geo-well. 175 feet down and 175 feet up nets out to zero head pressure on the pump. The pump requirements for such a system would be very small and the electric draw would be minimal.

Reply to  ATheoK
October 22, 2018 5:57 pm

“I’ve asked for estimates for installing geothermal systems three times now.”
A search online of what other homeowners in your area and / or broader similar-climate-region might be more fruitful than requesting quotes from contractors directly, if only to give yourself a comparison when a real quote comes through. There are a number of factors that drive geothermal HVAC pricing, and this endeavor might require a bit of research on your part before even calling a contractor.

For what it’s worth, I paid $18.5k for a 3-ton geothermal system in Ohio in 2014. I opted for 3-loop 150-ft horizontal directional boring. While not as efficient as vertical, it is definitely cheaper, both in terms of the initial drilling as well as operations (as you note, pushing and pulling water vertically uses more energy). The HVAC unit (single unit, no more noisy outdoor bbwwwaannggg A/C unit) was ~$10k, and the rest was the installation, power adjustments, and the boring subcontractor. I paid $11.5k total, after energy credits from a combination of utility and tax rebates, or about $2k more than a “high efficiency” heat pump would have cost without geo.

I save a little over $1k/year, or roughly 1/3 of my usage (I have all of my kWh usage per month for over 10 years in a spreadsheet) with the new setup. Hope this helps!

Gary Pearse
Reply to  dmacleo
October 22, 2018 7:32 am

Lighten up. Renee said off grid TYPE of guy and the appelation fits. Just because “progressive” neomarxbrothers want to move us into caves doesn’t mean we have to hate everything they espouse. Saving energy isn’t a soshulist plot per se. Taking a bus now and again isnt succumbing to the quinona granola guerillas. A lettuce and tomato sandwich does enroll you int the vegan pagan klatch.

Duncan Smith
October 21, 2018 1:21 pm

CO2 induced lightening is systematically hunting down solar panels, electric cars and squirrels….News at 11.

A fun story Renee

Bob Hoye
Reply to  Duncan Smith
October 21, 2018 6:56 pm


Pop Piasa
Reply to  Duncan Smith
October 21, 2018 8:09 pm

Can you imagine the fun a Grey Squirrel (tree rat) could have chewing on wires in an EV?

Reply to  Pop Piasa
October 22, 2018 6:12 am

It’s not just EV wires. There have been major problems with animals chewing the newer soy based wiring used in modern vehicles. Had that happen to our 2015 Volvo V60 where the little b*stards chewed right thru the fuel pump wiring into the fuel tank. That caused a major fuel leak if the tank was full. Luckily the insurance covered it as vandalism.
Must get a new cat or rent a weasel.

Tom Schaefer
Reply to  Duncan Smith
October 22, 2018 6:02 am

The lightning strike the author’s father experienced is but a taste of the EMP that the Sun or several of our adversaries can end our civilization with. http://securethegrid.com

Reply to  Tom Schaefer
October 22, 2018 11:55 am

I’m doubtful if a Sun related event can induce geomagnetic fluctuations of a sufficiently high dφ/dt to affect smaller conduction loop like found in domestic electronics or car.

October 21, 2018 1:23 pm

Your Dad sounds like a cool guy.

How’d he deal with you being a petroleum geologist?

Reply to  David Middleton
October 21, 2018 2:12 pm

Ha, he always complained about his daughter being a petroleum geo and his brother worked for Duke nuclear power company.

Uncle Jeff
Reply to  Renee
October 22, 2018 3:40 am

Nuclear is the answer; clean C02 free power by day to meet household and business needs, and when demand is down at night, very cheap power to recharge electric vehicles and other battery backup systems.

Reply to  David Middleton
October 21, 2018 2:14 pm

Your dad is doing all the right things. Even if you don’t believe the climate change hype, it’s commendable to use our precious non-renewable fossil fuels in a responsible way. It took nature millions of years to create this energy treasure, and we are blowing through it in a couple of hundred years. A real shame.

David Chappell
Reply to  Trebla
October 21, 2018 3:16 pm

Meanwhile nature blew through his electrics in a couple of microseconds.

Reply to  Trebla
October 21, 2018 4:40 pm

The market decides precious by its price. Oil at $25 per barrel is less precious than $100 per barrel.

Derek Colman
Reply to  Trebla
October 21, 2018 4:40 pm

But is oil really a fossil fuel? Some deposits of oil have been found at depths well below where there ceases to be any fossils in the rock. They appear to have been formed before life on Earth. An experiment of compressing a combination of different rocks together under extreme pressure caused droplets of oil to start forming.

Reply to  Derek Colman
October 21, 2018 6:41 pm

Internet knowledge isn’t.

If there were any reservoirs of Precambrian oil we’d have mapped it and would be extracting it right now. But there aren’t any.

I’m amazed however that you personally know where all fossils exist, because paleontologists sure don’t. They could contract you to tell them were to dig.

And you know where large reserves of Precambrian oil exist within earth’s crust too? Tell us, where? You’d be worth trillions to any geo exploration-survey effort. In fact, no one would even need to spend the mega-bucks to explore the Earth for oil again.

Alternatively, you could stop kidding yourself and go to a coal mine where copious tree and leaf fossils exist within the coal, and see them for yourself, if you have trouble being told the facts of the matter, and learn directly about the known mapped (in detail) physical, structural and chemical associations between coal, oil and gas, and why they’re typically found in close proximity or the same seds and rock units with clear structural linkages and porosity connectivity.

But no, it can’t be from plant detritus, geos could not possibly know about Earth, and specialists in the field clearly have no clue about what they do all day. They could all stand to learn a thing or two. You should create a website that condenses the quintessence of your thoughts and insights on the whole misguided topic of oil exploration, and where it all went so wrong.

Bob Hoye
Reply to  WXcycles
October 21, 2018 6:59 pm

Nicely done.

Reply to  WXcycles
October 21, 2018 7:05 pm


Reply to  WXcycles
October 22, 2018 1:14 am

Apparently Geos can’t read, notice his “?” at end of sentence. Notice the word “appear” hardly a definitive term. Then someone how “deposits” actually means trillions of dollars of “large reserves.” Poster made no mention of or claim to size.
If your desire was to show how smart you are you failed miserably. Knocking down strawmen with snarky comments isn’t that hard. Next time just stick to facts and you may come across as smart instead of a smarta…

Alan Tomalty
Reply to  Trebla
October 21, 2018 4:48 pm

We will NEVER run out of fossil fuels. Take a look at the gigantic west Texas Permian basin.

Charles Higley
Reply to  David Middleton
October 21, 2018 5:40 pm

” He loved that car and bragged about how it cost only $20 to drive from Delaware to Florida. ”

It’s impossible for him to have gone this far for so little. He is sucking electricity from the grid at no charge? Some one is paying for this.

There is no free lunch. His math is very off.

Non Nomen
Reply to  Charles Higley
October 22, 2018 6:38 am

He just bragged. Braggers occasionally tell the truth, but not in this case.

John F. Hultquist
October 21, 2018 1:26 pm

Fried squirrel makes a great meal.

Reply to  John F. Hultquist
October 21, 2018 1:48 pm

There’s not much meat on a squirrel. Too bad they didn’t think to wrap the squirrels in bacon before the storm hit.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  PaulH
October 21, 2018 2:53 pm

Not much meat on a squirrel and VERY tough. It is probably best to use a pressure cooker to make squirrel stew. Bacon won’t help.

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
October 21, 2018 6:43 pm

My mom agrees the best way to cook squirrel is with the pressure cooker.

Reply to  Renee
October 22, 2018 11:32 am

Sigh…my grandpa would’ve argued that squirrel’s proper cooked form was in gravy and served with biscuits. Of course, he was also known to go out a pick dandelion greens to serve with dinner…so…yeah… 🙂


John Tillman
Reply to  PaulH
October 21, 2018 3:00 pm

Brunswick stew!

Squirrels are cute because they have busy tails and live in trees.

Rats are repulsive because they have naked tails and live in the ground.

John Tillman
Reply to  John Tillman
October 21, 2018 4:06 pm

Make that bushy. But also often busy.

Joe D
Reply to  PaulH
October 22, 2018 9:21 pm

We had one guy bring Squirrel to a wild-game night at my church. Needless to say, you had to be near the front of the line to get a taste.

Reply to  John F. Hultquist
October 21, 2018 5:48 pm

Don’t eat the brain or spinal cord. That goes for any wildlife, but especially squirrel.

Squirrel brains are known to carry a prion disease called spongiform encephalopathy, a/k/a Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a variant of mad-cow disease. Quite a few people have died from it after eating squirrel brain, and it is NOT a good way to die.

Rabbit and deer are also suspected to have the same problem, and other wild game might, as well. However, infectious prions are mainly found in the nervous system, so if you discard the brain and spine you’ll also remove almost all of the dangerous prions.

The infectious prions cannot be destroyed by any amount of cooking, not even in a pressure cooker. The only way to be safe is to never eat the brains or spines of squirrels and other wild game.

Reply to  John F. Hultquist
October 21, 2018 6:00 pm

Ummm, limb chicken.

October 21, 2018 1:30 pm

Take-away message:
Charging points for electric cars need foolproof ultra-fast overload breakers. Unfortunately it isn’t easy to build breakers fast enough to protect against lightning strikes.

If the car hadn’t been plugged in it would probably have been OK. Normally a car body will work pretty well as a Faraday cage. Of course this wouldn’t necessarily apply to a Tesla with a composite body. The carbon fibre in the composite is a fairly good conductor, but not as good as metal. I know of a case where a yacht with a carbon-fibre composite mast (in salt water) hit a high-tension wire. The mast literally exploded as the carbon vaporized.

If anybody knows what actually happens when a Tesla is hit by lightning I would be very interested.

John Tillman
Reply to  tty
October 21, 2018 1:35 pm
Reply to  John Tillman
October 21, 2018 2:00 pm

“I heard the crash, and just a second or two after about 9 errors popped up on the dashboard. Some of them were low charge warnings, saying it would disable some functions. ”

Reminiscent of Apollo 13.

John Tillman
Reply to  PaulH
October 21, 2018 2:20 pm

Honey, we have a problem!

Reply to  PaulH
October 21, 2018 4:37 pm

Not to be peevish, but it was Apollo 12 that was struck by lightning just after launch.

Bill Murphy
Reply to  snopercod
October 21, 2018 5:39 pm

RE: “Not to be peevish, but it was Apollo 12 that was struck by lightning just after launch.”

True, but the main effect of that was mostly a huge Adrenalin surge and near tachycardia for Pete Conrad and it made a minor hero out of EECOM John Aaron for his famous “Try SCE to Aux” call in Mission Control regarding an obscure switch in the CM that even many astronauts didn’t know existed. Fortunately Alan Bean did know about it and flipped it to Aux. That mission was completed very successfully, unlike Apollo 13 or this affair with the Ford Fusion. Maybe Ford should investigate some 1960’s Apollo technology. It seems that it was more robust than what Ford is doing almost 50 years later.

Reply to  snopercod
October 21, 2018 5:53 pm

You’re right! I had forgotten about the Apollo 12 lightening strike.

But my comment was Apollo 13 specific, in that after the event (a lightning strike on a battery-powered car, or the Apollo 13 oxygen tank explosion) the ‘dashboard’ lit up with multiple errors and warnings.


ferd berple
Reply to  John Tillman
October 21, 2018 6:54 pm

Our steel yacht survived a lightning strike. We had switches on both the pos and neg 12v cables to the engine and radio grounds so the DC was isolated from the hull ground. Spark arresters and manual switches on the hf and vhf.

Most small boats get fried because the negative 12v ultimately is grounded to the water and the master switch only disconnects the positive .

Reply to  tty
October 21, 2018 1:55 pm

It turns out the lightning strike blew out the electrical circuit boards.

I’m surprised it would even move after that. New designs have gone all-electronic controls, when I push on the gas pedal (of my 2014 F-250) the cable that moves doesn’t pull on a lever on the carburetor or throttle-body, it moves an input slide on a computer. Then the computer decides how much fuel the engine will get, and even what gear the transmission needs to be in, no more vacuum lines to downshift the transmission. So if you fry the main circuit board, none of those decisions can be made, not even enough to start the engine. So the fried circuit board is the power control board? The one that decides where power comes from when driving and where it goes to when charging?

Sean P.
Reply to  tty
October 21, 2018 4:04 pm

TTY – You don’t need an ultra fast Circuit breaker – They just need to add a lightning arresting circuit to the charger. Basically a shunt circuit that kicks in once the voltage goes above a couple of hundred volts.

Another Paul
Reply to  Sean P.
October 22, 2018 5:29 am

a MOV and a fast fuse might have clamped it far cheaper than a breaker. Knowing Ford they either balked at the extra $0.67 or hired the low bid supplier that designed exactly to the spec that they themselves wrote.

Reply to  tty
October 21, 2018 5:38 pm

Just keep in mind that any modern(post ~1984) uses electronics to run the engine. The older ones used big, old, uncomplicated integrated circuits and are pretty tough. The newer ones use the modern 13nm, the old stuff was in the 250+nm. Guess which is more resistant to abuse.

Any car with a computer in it can be fried by lightning, that includes ALL the electronics except possibly some of the electric motors.

As the story shows, modern cars are quite susceptible to massive electronic damage. The manufacturers haven’t come close to making them lightning or EMP resistant- not to mention flood damage.

Just an aside on MPGe- it’s a hoax. The EPA defines at the electrical equivalent of the energy in gallon of gasoline- hence the 80-100 mpg figures. The conveniently leave out the losses involved in producing and transmitting the electricity. Most of electricity is from coal or natural gas- 35-55% efficient, less another 10-20% of transmission losses. 100kWh at 50% efficiency at the generator results in minus another 8-10%, or 42kWh at the charger. The charger and the car lose another 5% or so, resulting in a real MPGe of about 40 mpg. That is quite good, and actually in the same range as any hybrid electric vehicle can do.

Reply to  LogicalChemist
October 21, 2018 9:29 pm

MPGe uses wall to wheel. Just like MPG uses pump to wheel.
If you count transmission and generation losses, then you also need to incorporate refining and distribution for gasoline. Do not compare Apples with Orangutans.

Reply to  RLu
October 22, 2018 2:24 am

Extraction, refining and distribution are relatively cheap energy-wise, Generation and transmission aren’t. And Fossil fuel used for electricity also needs extraction and processing before even reaching the power plant.

John Endicott
Reply to  LogicalChemist
October 22, 2018 6:04 am

Any car with a computer in it can be fried by lightning,

but for non-electric cars, the car itself (or very close to it) would need to be struck. For electric cars the strike can also get to the car through the electric grid that car is plugged into. Morale of the story: Don’t plug your car in when there’s a chance of t-storms in your area.

ferd berple
Reply to  tty
October 21, 2018 6:44 pm

Fast breakers are not the problem. It comes from conecting the 12v DC ground to the 120/240 v AC ground.

Since that ground exists to prevent electrocution during normal usage don’t expect approval to disable during storms.

Reply to  tty
October 22, 2018 9:01 am

Basically there are two types of circuit protection.
There are circuits that can activate quickly, however they can’t handle much energy.
The circuits that can handle a lot of energy can’t react quickly.

You need both. As the voltage starts to ramp up, the fast circuits kick in and slow the rise. About the time these fast reaction circuits are vaporizing, the heavy duty circuits are starting to kick in to absorb the bulk of the energy from the strike.

dan no longer in CA
Reply to  tty
October 22, 2018 11:06 am

Lightning hits airplanes fairly regularly. With an aluminum airplane, the current flows through the aluminum with little loss. I have one friend who had that happen to his Piper Comanche. The strike was wing tip to wing tip. With a fiberglass airplane (several homebuilt designs), the lightning punches a hole. I have another friend with a Long-EZ who had that happen. The plane still flew and the damage looked like a large caliber bullet hole. Carbon fiber, on the other hand, is terrible. The energy is dissipated in the structure, which explodes. Airplanes made of carbon fiber typically have embedded conductive mesh to provide a path for the lightning current so this doesn’t happen. The Space Shuttle had a carbon fiber structure with a *silver* mesh at great cost because it’s a bit lighter.

M Courtney
October 21, 2018 1:31 pm

My thoughts are with the squirrels.

As for the other problem with the car… it’s an issue with being an early adopter.

Lightning strikes are so rare that that just replacing the car with a similar on of the same age would be the obvious action for the insurance company. But, as yet there aren’t any around. This won’t be an issue if Ford electric cars take off.

But the poor squirrels will always be vulnerable.

Reply to  M Courtney
October 21, 2018 2:33 pm

I agree that an obvious action for insurance would be to replace the car. It’s my understanding that lightning strikes are not covered under collision and therefore, insurance would not total the car or replace it. They will just pay to fix it which will take up to 5 months.

Reply to  Renee
October 21, 2018 6:41 pm

I’d suggest whole house surge protection.


Disosure: I’m a former lineman and now electrician.

Reply to  john
October 22, 2018 7:30 pm

John: “I’d suggest whole house surge protection.”

I second this. I had a whole house surge arrester installed when I ran a 220V/60A line to my garage. It replaced two existing breakers, no need to run new wires. It has 2 little LEDs on it, that say, “Protected when lit.” Granted, this is not the end-all of protection, but it might have saved the OP’s father some trouble & replacement expenses.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  M Courtney
October 21, 2018 2:56 pm

M Courney,
There is an old joke that you can tell the pioneers because they are with ones with arrows in their backs!

Adam Gallon
October 21, 2018 1:34 pm

Interesting. Something else to consider when thinking about buying an EV.

John Tillman
Reply to  Adam Gallon
October 21, 2018 1:37 pm

In parts of FL, an EV owner would need to unplug every afternoon.

Tom Halla
Reply to  John Tillman
October 21, 2018 1:51 pm

Texas somewhat less often, but many rainstorms here are thunderstorms. Another thing to consider buying a plug-in hybrid.

John Tillman
Reply to  Tom Halla
October 21, 2018 2:17 pm

Yup. And if you have one, keep a close eye on the sky and WX forecasts.

Reply to  John Tillman
October 21, 2018 2:40 pm

Yes, in FL you would need to unplug every afternoon and make sure you don’t have a detached garage.

John Tillman
Reply to  Renee
October 21, 2018 3:03 pm

A misconception exists that FL has good WX. What it has going for it is that it’s not cold.

But it’s the Lightning Capital of the US and in the running for Hurricane Capital. Ranks right up there for rain, too, although parts of Hawaii and the PNW beat it out.

October 21, 2018 1:36 pm

Did I mention my parents found four dead squirrels in that old oak tree the day after the lightning strike?

It has been my experience that any tree struck by lightning will be dead within 2 years at the most, usually <1 year. Not to throw more shade (SWIDT?) on your dad’s environmental stewardship.

Ed MacAulay
Reply to  Red94ViperRT10
October 21, 2018 1:53 pm

We had a lighting strike on a tree that was heard 800 miles away since we were talking on the phone to the daughter in Montreal. It was a maple tree, and still going strong 12 years later.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Ed MacAulay
October 21, 2018 3:00 pm

Ed MacAulay,
There was a hickory nut tree hit across the street. It sounded and looked like a hand grenade going off. The funny thing was that it just peeled some bark. It is still going strong two years later.

Reply to  Red94ViperRT10
October 23, 2018 7:34 am

It has been my experience that any tree struck by lightning will be dead within 2 years at the most, usually <1 year.

Friend had a 70 ft Norway spruce struck — a line burned on the trunk from the top down to the ground. After 20 yrs scar healed over & tree never showed any effect other than a branch or two died that intersected the burn-line.

October 21, 2018 1:39 pm

Damaged things are replaceable, your parents were lucky to escape uninjured, possibly saved by excellent ‘grounding’ of the geothermal heating pipes. When I was in my early teens, my friend and I made ‘cat whiskers’ radios, he put up a 60-70 foot long antenna to a nearby pine tree. His house was just off a hill top and a year later, during a late summer storm the antenna mast on the roof top was hit by lighting, his dad was killed and mother was badly burned.

Mr GrimNasty
October 21, 2018 1:48 pm

If you have geothermal resources it’s probably worth using it. Solar heaters – where panels contain pipework that circulates to a heat exchanger in the hot water tank – also worthwhile. Everything else – destroying the planet to be green!

If hurricanes are likely to become more common and stronger, it doesn’t make sense to have energery generation infrastructure that will be destroyed by them (windmills and PV panels). Destroyed PV panels will leak toxins and contaminate land/water, just to add to the fun.


Reply to  Mr GrimNasty
October 21, 2018 2:37 pm

Mr GrimNasty

Ah! The joys of knee jerk government policies with unintended/unanticipated consequences.

A government announces “Our country will only sell all electric vehicles by 2040”. Well, the British government actually.

Unlike industry which takes baby steps when it comes to technology, and anything else for that matter, the UK government announces giant steps, and misses out all the really difficult in between stages that shape our future.

Funny that. Aneurin Bevan opened the first NHS (National Health Service) hospital in 1948 and the juggernaut was conceived.

The NHS has moved from being the provider of essential medical services into the forefront of specialist medical care across the world. All at public expense.

That’s an unintended consequence, and the costs were never anticipated.

The unintended consequences of nationwide wind turbines and solar panels have yet to be understood, obviously, never mind the added difficulties of weather and social influences.

Grand schemes are all very well, but the NHS is now reliant on the more cautious private sector to ensure it’s services are delivered as the government expects.

Funny that.

Reply to  HotScot
October 22, 2018 1:57 am

I ain’t laughing!

Alan Tomalty
Reply to  Mr GrimNasty
October 21, 2018 5:03 pm

“If hurricanes are likely to become more common and stronger”

Only an alarmist believes this. All the data ever collected proves them wrong. CO2 has nothing to do with extreme weather. There is NO upward trend in extreme weather of any kind.

Reply to  Alan Tomalty
October 22, 2018 1:50 am

Yes I agree, but if ‘they’ do believe it, why would ‘they’ think windmills & PV were sensible – the old cliche – cognitive dissonance.

R.S. Brown
October 21, 2018 2:03 pm


Here in NE Ohio we get the occasional “fried Squirrel” when they sit on
top of a transformer and set off an arc.

Given that phenomenon, plus downed tree limbs and occasional
nearby lightning strikes, we get to use our battery powered lanterns
and antique kerosene lamps four or five times a year.

That’s the difference between being off the grid and the grid going off.

You can’t put a Faraday cage around everything electrical…

No one.
Reply to  R.S. Brown
October 21, 2018 7:23 pm

We lost our power three times in two weeks. Either a squirrel or chipmunk exploding themselves by arcing the pole transformer. The electric company would have put ‘bird guards’ on the transformer, if they happened to have any on hand. Guess it was a self-limiting problem. The supply of tree rodents was sufficiently diminished.

Very well written article. I thoroughly enjoyed the story.

Reply to  No one.
October 22, 2018 2:32 am

In Sweden the power companies have at long last twigged onto the fact that if they use isolated wires to the transformers they don’t have to repair them every time a bird makes a bad decision about where to perch.

October 21, 2018 2:06 pm

“The Fusion’s CO2 emissions are virtually zero.”

I don’t give a hoot.

“Unfortunately it isn’t easy to build breakers fast enough to protect against lightning strikes.”

Aye, there’s the rub.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  jorgekafkazar
October 21, 2018 3:06 pm

What you have to do is use a vacuum arc switch to shunt the major pulse to ground (such as is commonly done with radio antennas) and put heavy-duty MOS varistors on the inputs of everything that might be affected.

kent beuchert
October 21, 2018 2:09 pm

“But wait, wouldn’t you think a modern electric car would be designed with a built-in circuit breaker for electrical storms like this? ”
No offense,but your Dad lives in a parallel universe. Electric cars are built to be charged from a
line that is protected from surges, such as those from lightning strikes.
And your Dad’s solar system is financed mostly by our neighbors – up to 6KW systems, tax credits pay for roughly half of the system, more if you install it yourself. Your Dad is living on welfare. Even the credits he gets from the grid for his power is hugely subsidized – that power you Dad pushes onto the grid, which has no control over it, is practically worthless. The grid is paying your Dad, thru exchange, about 6 times more than the power he gave them is worth. And geothermal systems
quite often are a nightmare and not very effective. They are yesterday’s bright idea gone bad. He should have built a bern against the wall of the house that gets the bad temps, like Frank Lloyd Wright did.

Mike Wryley
Reply to  kent beuchert
October 21, 2018 3:41 pm

while I admire guys like Renee’s dad, (in many ways I am the same kind of person, almost to a fault),
much of what he accomplishes is academic.
most people, on their own, could not fix any of the systems he has, and their vulnerability and complexity makes them
expensive to repair by others and in the long run, a hobby compared to what today is the norm.
If you want to take this road, knock yourself out, but be advised that for most people attempting this approach go broke, especially if they are not technically adroit.

Flight Level
October 21, 2018 2:12 pm

On average, an airliner get hit at altitude by lightening 6 – 15 times per year.
Consequence, quite some noise, St-Elmo light, objectionable language and on occasion, about the surface of a dime of paint to fix and some papers to fill.
Think of it next time you dream of green bio composite lightweight full of batteries airframes with electric propulsion and deadweight batteries.

October 21, 2018 2:19 pm

How to respond to this from a confirmed climate change sceptic……..Hmmmmm

As someone earlier responded, early adopters of any technology will find problems. Not that electric cars are particularly new technology, but modern ones with sophisticated, low voltage control units will be susceptible to all sorts of external influences. My sister lives in Bermuda and because of the high humidity her digital kitchen oven(s) simply die after a few years. The ovens fine, the electronics controlling them just get mouldy.

However, I’m with your Dad and I suspect many people here also support his efforts to be self reliant. The problem is that do be reliably self reliant today means we still must turn back the clocks and burn wood for heating we gather ourselves from local sources.

Except that for even the most modest rural conurbation that is neither practical or possible as we have day jobs that pay for the electricity we use. Abandon electricity, sure, but be prepared to abandon electricity and be prepared to spen your days grubbing for timber (and I mean brushwood) to burn for cooking and heating.

And whilst I suspect your Dad is several generations on from that primitive principle, self sufficiency is both expensive and soul destroying, that’s why the western world sought an alternative.

It also takes considerable wealth to indulge in solar panels and electric vehicles, all made with fossil fuel derived energy, and the wealth amassed from the same sources. If your Dad is of pensionable age, it might be worth considering that it’s entirely likely (nay almost guaranteed) that his retirement income is thanks to fossil fuel energy which forms a considerable part of any pension portfolio.

That’s not to suggest he shouldn’t do what he’s doing, I mean, we are all allowed to spend our money as well like, after taxes for carbon schemes and electricity bills subsidising inefficient wind farms/solar farms etc.

Just as a matter of interest, does your Dad get a refund from the government because he’s not using conventional electricity and his installation is done entirely at his expense. Apart from the grid connected refunds of course.

Having said all that, good luck to your Dad assuming he’s not jamming the ‘benefits’ down everyone else’s throats. And if he is, no one argues with Dad, they just tolerate him.

HotScot, a Dad.

Reply to  HotScot
October 22, 2018 7:50 pm

HotScot: “My sister lives in Bermuda and because of the high humidity her digital kitchen oven(s) simply die after a few years. The ovens fine, the electronics controlling them just get mouldy.”

I wonder what would be more trouble, replacing these expensive items when humidity kills the electronics… or taking them apart when you buy them and coating the boards to protect them from humidity. Is your sister capable of such tasks? There may be some coatings available that could save her quite a bit in the long run.

Carbon Bigfoot
October 21, 2018 2:21 pm

Since oak trees in general are shallow rooted I believe your parents home will someday have other issues. Only working with the picture you furnished, it would appear the Pin Oak ( leave & branch density suggests ) which surprisingly is standing after that lightning strike. My opinion it would appear to have been the lightning rod attraction due to being the tallest structure on the flat land the property sits on.

Having at a 30 inch diameter red oak land on my house because of a micro-burst I would not wish that to befall anyone else. The tree represents a future problem (s).

The tree would also appear to be planted to close to the house—that’s what time and photosynthesis provides. I’m surprised it hasn’t undermined the house foundation, interfered with sewage lines/beds, well water lines, geothermal piping, etc. Maybe in the near future.

Notwithstanding the affection for Mother Nature I would seriously consider cutting it down. Or have a professional arborist prune the living hell out of it so it doesn’t provide a lightning target for your house and other improvements. As Dennis Miller usually says ” its just my opinion–I could be wrong”.

Reply to  Carbon Bigfoot
October 21, 2018 4:34 pm

Cutting down that oak tree is good advice. A neighbor just had a large oak tree practically cut his house in two during a storm. It will be many months before the repairs are completed.

Ken Mitchell
October 21, 2018 2:29 pm

Back in the mid-1700’s, that colonial genius Ben Franklin solved the problem of lightning frying electric cars. Too bad dad didn’t have a LIGHTNING ROD.

Reply to  Ken Mitchell
October 22, 2018 2:45 am

Probably wouldn’t have made any difference. From the description it is pretty obvious that the damage wasn’t from the lightning bolt itself, but rather from the induced currents it caused in the AC grid.

A lightning rod was excellent protection in the days before electricity. Today with micro miniturized circuits everywhere, not so much.

October 21, 2018 2:36 pm

You know what happens to a Ford when it’s struck by lightning?
The same thing that happens to everything else.

Reply to  MikeN
October 21, 2018 2:53 pm

My mom’s gas powered car was parked in the detached garage next to my dad’s electric car. And it survived the lightning storm just fine.

feed berple
Reply to  Renee
October 21, 2018 6:37 pm

Because it wasn’t grounded while the EV charge cable ground completed the circuit to earth the lightning was looking for. This groind was also connected to rthe chassis 12v DC ground which is also the negative terminal on the DC. Which resulted in a reverse EMF of 1 million plus volts on circuits only able to handle millivolts reverse emf.

The problem if a result of connecting the negative terminal of the 12v battery to ground.

Bob in Castlemaine
October 21, 2018 2:58 pm

Great to see your dad walking the talk Renee. Mind you I suspect there are other issues beside the high up-front capital cost and the lightning incident that might also bite your dad in the hip pocket. Factors like the cost of maintaining his complex electrical/electronic toys like short battery service life and limited availability of competent maintenance services. Not sure how you would go when selling a house with such a complex electrical/electronic system and likewise heating cooling gear, it might well scare off potential buyers.
But good on him for trying.

Reply to  Bob in Castlemaine
October 22, 2018 5:34 am

I wonder, do you cheer people who use only “natural cures” for medicine, eat only organic food and never vaccinate their children. Walking the walk when the idea is not rational—there’s a word for that.

October 21, 2018 3:39 pm

With a bit more know how and a heap more money your dad could upgrade to this.
Could whole streets be connected for heating and cooling by geothermal process ?
Adding a HH0 generator and storage to his solar system would open up more possibilities, like powering an electric generator on cloudy days.

Reply to  jmorpuss
October 21, 2018 4:02 pm

OMG, is there anyway to delete this video so my dad doesn’t see it? He’s very technically savvy and I don’t want him spending the rest of his retirement $$.

John Tillman
Reply to  Renee
October 21, 2018 4:22 pm

Especially scary given close proximity of NJ and DE.

Bob in Castlemaine
Reply to  Renee
October 21, 2018 11:39 pm

Even ignoring conversion efficiency, hydrogen is difficult to store and distribute. High pressure storage and piping of hydrogen presents significant leakage problems, leakage of the gas is not easy to detect, also it rises and becomes trapped in elevated cavities where it presents a flammability even at low concentrations. This is related to its lightness and small molecular size.
Take it from one who has been involved with the hydrogen cooling of large electric alternators the gas is not easy to deal with.

LOL@Klimate Katastrophe Kooks
Reply to  Bob in Castlemaine
October 22, 2018 7:21 pm

Not to mention that hydrogen produced from electrolysis is bound to have some trace of oxygen in it unless the design of the electrolyzer is exactly right… and that poses an explosion hazard when that mostly-hydrogen / a bit of oxygen mixture is compressed. A guy in Southern California doing research into electrolysis at voltages below the Faraday Limit blew up himself and a large chunk of the building he was working in by trying to compress hydrogen with a bit of oxygen.

An alternative is to split pure water into its hydroxide and hydronium components via application of voltage below overvoltage (so electrolysis isn’t initiated), ionic currents will be set up which divides the water into hydroxide and hydronium.

Since hydroxide and hydronium are denser than bulk water, they’ll settle to the bottom of the separation tank (hydronium (H3O+) near the negative electrode, hydroxide (OH-) near the positive electrode). Taps at the bottom of the separation tank in the vicinity of the electrodes will allow the denser hydroxide and hydronium to sink into electrically-insulated storage tanks, displacing any water in those tanks back into the separation tank and thus increasing the concentration in the storage tanks.

The storage tanks would have to be made of material which is electrically-insulating and can handle both high-pH and low-pH (hydronium is highly acidic, whereas hydroxide is highly basic).

The separation tank should have a permeable membrane (Nafion or similar) in the middle to slow hydroxide / hydronium migration out of the storage tanks and recombination in the separation tank when the voltage is turned off.

When recombined, you still get nearly the same energy as the recombination of hydrogen and oxygen, but without the explosion and leakage hazards inherent to hydrogen.

This sort of energy storage would be ideal for a low-voltage solar / battery setup, as the ionic current is the only current that flows.

Reply to  jmorpuss
October 21, 2018 9:18 pm

Hydrogen is an inefficient energy storage. Electrolyzer efficiency around 70%. Fuel cell efficiency around 80%. Overall efficiency 56%. Lithium ion battery efficiency 90%. Grid electricity is most efficient, no need to store energy.

Another Paul
Reply to  Dr. Strangelove
October 22, 2018 5:43 am

“Fuel cell efficiency around 80%” Maximum theoretical is 83% of a cell. I’d wager that adding balance of plant and actually drawing energy from it drops efficiency quite a bit.

October 21, 2018 3:47 pm

They want total conversion to electric cars.
Should be fun in a time of war.

Bob in Castlemaine
Reply to  Ve2
October 21, 2018 11:01 pm

Convert your petrol (gas) cars to charcoal or kerosene like they did here in Ozz during WW2?

dan no longer in CA
Reply to  Bob in Castlemaine
October 22, 2018 12:02 pm

When the sticker on the gas door says “87 octane minimum”, they mean it. Today’s computer controlled fuel injected engines require fuel that has several properties that you simply don’t get with kerosene or charcoal reformers. If you really want this capability, go buy a 1960 or earlier car with a carburetor and low compression ratio.

Bob in Castlemaine
Reply to  dan no longer in CA
October 22, 2018 6:53 pm

Yeah I know Dan it was intended as a tongue-in-cheek comment. But some bright spark would no doubt come up with some other work-around e.g. we might see the reemergence of the Stanley Steamer?

dan no longer in CA
Reply to  Bob in Castlemaine
October 23, 2018 1:28 pm

Steam engine cars still burn fossil fuels, though as an external combustion engine, the range of acceptable fuels is wider. I personally like the Achates design opposed piston engine that’s getting better efficiency than the current standard. Fairbanks-Morse uses their technology in their latest offerings. Rumor has it that Ford has an F-150 with an Achates engine that gets 37 MPG combined. The OP engine has the advantage that technically killed the Wankel. That is, the shape of the combustion chamber can be optimized for combustion (no valves, no aluminum head conducting heat away).

LOL@Klimate Katastrophe Kooks
Reply to  Bob in Castlemaine
November 2, 2018 11:24 pm

Metered water injection will not only allow one to run a lower octane fuel without knock or ping, it’ll allow one to lean out the fuel mixture quite a bit without burning a hole in the piston.

Using my idea above about separation of water into hydroxide and hydronium, then injecting that instead of water, gives you not only the cooling and octane effects of water, but a fuel, as well.

In addition, the injected OH- improves combustion efficiency and speed… in fact, OH- is an essential step in the combustion process. That’s why burning fuel produces water… and why your tailpipe drips.

I increased my motorcycle’s fuel efficiency by 47 MPG by doing the above. A bonus is that the engine now has so much torque that I had to gear it up a bit because I kept hitting red-line far too easily, even at partial throttle.

October 21, 2018 3:49 pm

Now the dealer says they need a special circuit board, but there are none available to fix my dad’s Ford Fusion. ????

Ford is still making the car….they are still putting them in cars on the assembly line…of course there’s some available…..tell Ford to pull one off the assembly line and send it

Reply to  Latitude
October 21, 2018 4:06 pm

Are 2017 circuit boards the same as 2018 and 2019? The insurance company and local dealer called Ford corporate headquarters and were told they couldn’t get one until January.

Reply to  Latitude
October 21, 2018 6:33 pm

Did that didn’t work

Lil Fella of OZ
October 21, 2018 3:58 pm

Ripper of a story, Renee.
Hidden elements of going green.

Lil Fella of OZ
October 21, 2018 4:01 pm

Ripper of a typical green story, Renee.

Peter Morris
October 21, 2018 4:14 pm

My dad drives a older Nissan Titan V-8 that gets about 13 mpg. His “fuel efficient car” is an Infiniti FX35. I’m sure it rates somewhere in the 20s.

So far their house hasn’t been hit by lightning, but I’ll check up on the grounding situation next time I’m there.

steve case
October 21, 2018 4:55 pm

I like your dad, he reminds me of my daughter’s father in law, only much better. Brings tears to my eyes. Such true blue walk the talk pioneers are a rare breed indeed/

October 21, 2018 4:59 pm

And that Prius he got rid of was clad with utrathin aluminum that the insurance companies declare as totaled with just a fender bender. Or you can go with non-OEM thin skin aluminum and guess how easy that is to find for repairs. That’s not even getting to the issues of safety in the post-Volvo safety era of smart cars and ultra thin skin aluminum. Ain’t evolution fun to watch.

Russ R.
October 21, 2018 6:10 pm

found four dead squirrels in that old oak tree the day after the lightning strike

I am curious about the state of these squirrels? Where they really still IN the oak tree? They didn’t get blasted off the tree from the voltage of the strike? And if they were still in the tree, did your father go looking for them after not seeing them, and climbed up the tree to check on them?

Mike Wryley
Reply to  Russ R.
October 21, 2018 8:31 pm

Quantum mechanics indicates that you can’t know the squirrels state and location at the same time,
Prolly’s Extermination Principle

October 21, 2018 6:39 pm

They fell to the ground

Joel O’Bryan
October 21, 2018 11:18 pm

She’s lying to herself and doesn’t realize it.

To wit: “. The Fusion’s CO2 emissions are virtually zero.”

As in, shifted emissions to battery materials extraction, production, and charging on a fossil fueled grid.

Also how much extra cost has he incurred that he will never recover buying the EV Ford, when a Toyota Corolla at half the price will run reliably at 35 mpg for 250K miles w/o the hassles?

The delsion continues on the Green Hustle. And the children-turned-adults are not educated sufficiently to figure it out.

Tom in Florida
October 22, 2018 5:08 am

Sorry but the writers dad is a self martyr. It must be terrible to be so obsessed that you deprive yourself of modern luxuries.

I, on the other hand, will be making my annual Thanksgiving pilgrimage to Las Vegas in about a month. This year I will be at the Mirage, eating, drinking, gambling and enjoying myself. I will again rent a car one day, usually a full sized SUV, and drive to Summerlin where I will visit the Red Rock Casino while my wife shops in near by. I have only about 20 years left on this Planet and I really don’t care what happens after that. I have earned the right to do what I want, when I want without regard to anything else at all. My only contribution to being green those days is by flying non stop so I won’t be the cause of having to use more fuel to lift my butt into the air more than once each way.

You may now return to your regular scheduled postings.

October 22, 2018 5:30 am

My electric bill is a MINIMUM of $25 a month—it’s called a service fee. How Deleware missed having this is beyond me.

I gave up reading the “article”. I guess if Watts Up with That wants to play the “equal time to all” game, it’s Anthony’s website. I’ll get my science elsewhere and skip the pontificating.

Reply to  Sheri
October 22, 2018 7:24 am

The main point of the post is to show how electric cars can be unreliable and how unprepared manufacturers and insurance companies are to repair electric cars. It was a build on the recent IPCC report trying to frighten us all away from gasoline powered vehicles due to CO2 emissions and to use only electric cars by 2040. Also, not addressed by the IPCC, is pollution associated with the manufacture of and eventual disposal of lithium batteries.

The solar and geothermal energy systems used by my dad set the stage for his desire to live a green lifestyle which made the electric car disaster even more hysterical. I do not for a second believe humans can influence one degree C of climate variability by controlling CO2, no matter how hard we try.

October 22, 2018 6:16 am

I am an amateur radio operator. Back in the mid-60s we had a thunderstorm at night. About 2 AM, I was awakened by a flash and loud bang — one of my antennas had been struck by lightning. My mother got up screaming that the house was on fire – the basement was filled with smoke (my father had passed away a few years before that happened). Fortunately, I had coaxial connectors wired to our cold-water pipe, with 1″ braid. The entire power of the lightning strike had gone safely to ground through the water pipe, but it vaporized the dielectric on the coaxial cable — that’s where the smoke came from. There must have been a frequency component to the lightning surge, because about every 4 feet, the coax was vaporized – even where it went underground. My amateur-radio equipment and our TV, etc. — they were fine — they were all “hollow state” (as opposed to solid state — think vacuum tubes). BTW, the current from the lightning melted the coaxial connector on the water pipe — it turned a gold color (it may have been plated brass – I don’t know).So maybe we need to use vacuum tubes for electric cars and charge-control equipment for the solar panels 😁

Joe Crawford
Reply to  littlepeaks
October 22, 2018 11:09 am

Years ago when protection from EMP was just starting to be discussed, designed and specified they talked about how all U.S. aircraft would be disabled, but U.S.S.R. aircraft would survive. At that time the U.S. had converted to solid state where the U.S.S.R. was still using vacuum tube designs. Engineers soon quite laughing at how backward the Soviets were.

dan no longer in CA
Reply to  littlepeaks
October 22, 2018 11:52 am

I worked in an AM radio station in the 1960s (WGSA). We had 3 towers each 190 ft tall. During a thunderstorm, it was my job to sit in the transmitter room and turn the transmitter back on every time lightning struck and knocked us off the air. IIRC, that happened about every time an electrical storm passed through. That taught me at a young age that lightning *does* strike twice in the same place. . . . . . made me wonder about other commonly accepted things.

LOL@Klimate Katastrophe Kooks
Reply to  littlepeaks
October 22, 2018 8:25 pm

My dad is also a ham (I was, but I let my license lapse long ago). Back when we lived on the farm (he moved into town after we kids all left), he had a 2 mile long-wire antenna on 25 foot wood poles, nearly all the way to the far end of our pasture. He used the old-style glass insulators screwed into the top of each pole to hold the antenna wire.

It always had some voltage on it, so he kept it grounded unless he was using it, and even then he had a spark block on it just in case. The ground at the house was a 25 foot long 2″ diameter solid metal pole he rammed all the way into the dirt (rammed in by hand with a fence-post driver he’d welded more weight onto) in the back yard, in parallel with a 5 foot square metal plate buried 10 feet deep (we had a trench cutter we’d used to cut trenches below the frost line for our water lines… he used that to make the hole for the plate).

When it snowed, you could grab the antenna coax with the insulated pliers and pull it away from the ground connection, and it’d spark up to 6″. It’d also spark when it rained, but only a little bit. When the wind blew, it’d spark, too.

We had winters where the lights went out, and he hooked a fluorescent light to the antenna to provide light.

It got hit by lightning quite often, but each pole out in the pasture had a spark gap on it, with a hefty 2-gauge braided wire leading to a large flat metal plate buried 10 feet deep… so by the time the lightning strikes reached the house, most of it had been grounded off. It’d still hiss during a strike, though, even though it was grounded.

The house roof was also peppered with lightning rods… Dad didn’t mess around when it came to lightning. Our cedar shake roof would have lit up pretty easily without those lightning rods.

Yeah, lightning strikes can do a lot of damage unless you’re set up to drain them to ground. Today’s sensitive electronics, in combination with insufficient grounding… that’s the perfect recipe for letting the Magic Smoke out.

David Hart
October 22, 2018 6:45 am

Going green with solar only makes sense when there is no grid to connect to. I have a second house/home in the UP of Michigan that is over a mile past where the power line ends, about 6000 feet. The power company quoted $60,000, or $10/ft to run the power line to my house. It had to be underground since it crossed a state forest. I put in a 2.75 kW solar system to upgrade from straight propane which was running over $1000/yr to run the generator. I have battery back-up and I just replaced the whole battery bank for the first time in 10 years for $2500. My propane bill for the generator, which is now a back-up, not primary power, dropped to less than $200/yr. Before the solar we would go “cold iron” whenever we left for more that a couple of days, now the power is on 24/7, though I do turn the generator off. The inverter is smart enough to turn the whole system On/Off in response to the batteries’ state of charge. Oh, after 10 years the solar installation still hasn’t paid for itself in saved propane costs but it’s getting close.

Walter Sobchak
October 22, 2018 8:44 am

“Did I mention my parents found four dead squirrels in that old oak tree the day after the lightning strike?”

It is an ill wind that does no good.

John Endicott
Reply to  Walter Sobchak
October 22, 2018 8:48 am

IDK 4 fewer tree rats sounds like the silver lining in that story.

Claude Harvey
October 22, 2018 9:45 am

Lady writes a delightful, lighthearted piece about lightening striking her dad’s obsession and you guys respond with a verbal food-fight. Get some perspective!

Reply to  Claude Harvey
October 22, 2018 7:45 pm

Hear!Hear! Evoked some interesting informative comments too.

October 24, 2018 12:42 am

Shame about the squirrels.

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