Snow Crash + Further Hydro Measurements

January 4th, 2007 by Potato

I’m sure you’re all bored of my ranting and obsessive tracking of my hydro usage, so I’ll put that at the bottom.

First, I’d like to just mention that Netbug lent Snow Crash to me over the holidaze, and I quite enjoyed it. It has me thinking now, though: you know all that crazy spam that’s been avoiding the filters lately? The ones that mostly have crappy gifs with the random gibberish in the clear? I wonder sometimes if those patterns of lines and colours in those gifs aren’t there to tell you that this really is a legitimate stock tip that you must follow up on, but are attempts to fine-tune some sort of visually transmitted virus for our wetware. Or in a similar vein, try to find a combination of colours and lines and pixelated text that is absolutely hypnotic and is vastly more effective at getting the message across. Given how cheap and plentiful spam has been, it provides a brain researcher in this area an easy way to just go about experimenting by trial-and-error rather than trying to come up with any sort of governing theory… I also sometimes wonder if it’s some terrorist or otherwise secret organization attempting to send steganographic (encoded) messages to people who are unreachable other than by general broadcast…

Anyhow, on to power issues.

I flipped the main breakers today, and the wheel in the power meter did indeed stop spinning. That’s mostly good: good, because it means the meter isn’t completely, flabergastingly broken. Of course, it also means that the easiest solution to my problems is no longer a possibility. Rather than doing stuff and recording the power use in several-hour blocks (pretty much the minimum to get any kind of accuracy from a scale with 1 kWh as the smallest unit), I looked up the method of getting power use from the rate the wheel in the meter spins (thanks to Mr. Electricity). Before I shut off the main breaker, I had one computer and a 100 W light in my room running, plus some LED xmas lights on out front and a variety of leak power (TV, clocks, and the small blower fan for the hot water heater was on too). I was using 428 W, which coincidentally, is quite close to the average power use in the apartment. There’s still a bit of unknown power to account for (again, my computers and all that other stuff were in the apartment too, and except for the light, all that was generally on all the time, so my baseline should be lower so that occasional things like cooking and having the fridge cycle could bring the total up to that point), but it’s not huge. Maybe 100-200 W or so.

Then, after I switched the power off and on again, I went upstairs, turned off the light and turned on the other computer (I should have kept it constant, I know, but I was on my way out, and the difference between the two should be pretty small), then went outside to check again. The furnace clicked on (but I don’t know if the fridge did) and my power usage jumped to 1250 W! This is closer to the usage that would rack up the crazy bills we’ve been seeing, and sort of implies that the furnace fan, beyond all expectation, is somehow drawing 800 W (or possibly, the furnace and fridge together. The fridge was off when I walked out the door, but I didn’t go back inside to check that it didn’t click on before I made it to the meter). I’ll try to track this a bit better tonight when I get home.

Calculation: For the first usage, the wheel turned in 60.5 seconds. The power, in kW = ( 3.6 * 7.2 )/time in seconds. The 3.6 is a factor to go from seconds to hours and also from W to kW. The 7.2 is a factor printed on the meter. So, P = (3.6*7.2)/60.5 = 0.428 kW (or 428 W). The second time was 20.7 seconds if you want to do the calculation yourself.

6 Responses to “Snow Crash + Further Hydro Measurements”

  1. Netbug Says:

    Perhaps you should go get a power meter and stick it on the different connections until you find the offending piece of equipment.

  2. Netbug Says:

    oh ya, and Snow Crash… awesome book. Wish they’d make a movie of it. There were some pre-production paintings done of the cityscapes for it at one point that were mind blowing. It was the late 90’s though and the budget was north of like $200mil, which was insane and the studio balked.

    I love the Rat Thing.

  3. Ben Says:

    I have long suspected that those spam messages with random lines from novels or just completely random stings of words were some kind of terrorist code.

  4. Wayfare Says:

    I prefer to think of those messages as the internet’s attempt to speak with us.

  5. Potato Says:

    I mapped out most of the circuit breakers today (several of them were labelled wrong, the majority weren’t labelled at all). Of course, the one controlling the outdoor light I wanted to kill was the last one I got to (I stopped after getting it, but it really was the 30th of 32).

    What was really weird was one I flicked killed the light in the small storage room in the back, but it wouldn’t come back on after turning the breaker back. The outlet in there doesn’t work either, so it’s not like the bulb just coincidentally burned out. To add to the weirdness, when I tested that switch again later, it controlled the dishwasher, and I doubt they were both on the same breaker. So I have no idea why the light in that room doesn’t work now.

    Well, one oddity of the house I didn’t mention is that there are 32 main breakers, and then a sub-box of 4 for “the basement”. Turns out two of the “basement” ones got thrown in my wild throwing of switches, and it was those ones that controlled the light and outlet in the storage room.

  6. Potato Says:

    So, after having the rear security light off for a while, my usage has gone down to 15-20 kWh/day. Still more than the apartment, which is a bit odd especially considering I’ve been in one room with my sore neck the whole time and haven’t done much cooking, but it’s still a vast improvement on using 30-some without even being here. I’m fully prepared to blame the dying security light for a large portion of that (some of the blame may also lie with the baseboard heater, which even though was set to “0/off”, seemed to use even less power when the circuit breaker was thrown). It’s unfortunate that I didn’t find that sooner though, because it looks like our December bill is gong to be around $160 (compared to an average of $45 before, and what looks like will be an average of $70 for the rest of our non-summer bills here).