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Get Powered Up! Certified Energy Manager Jeff Yago answers your alternative energy questions

Wondering about a great new energy-saving device
you found on the Internet? Then CLICK HERE!

Sorry. Jeff no longer answers questions online.
This will remain as a searchable
resource for all BHM website visitors.

Archive for the ‘Automobile’ Category


Adding water injection to auto engines

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009


Any truth to the claims of adding water injection systems to increase my mileage for my gas-guzzling SUV?


Joe Rocchio
West Palm Beach, Fl


I am no expert on automobile engines, but I do know two things:

1.  You can find 1000 different gadgets claiming increased mileage including wrapping magnets around the fuel line, injecting water, all kinds of fuel additives, coils to make a hotter spark, hotter spark plugs, and slicker lubricating oils.

2.  If I manufactured low mileage cars in today’s high fuel cost environment causing many buyers to switch away from the “gas guzzlers”, I think I would be adding any gadget I could to make my design more efficient unless I had already tested and found all these gimmicks to either have little or no improvement, or their improvement caused long term engine damage.

You should read the opening paragraphs of an article I wrote last year.

Hope this helps,

Jeff Yago


Emergency Home Power

Saturday, January 17th, 2009

Hi Jeff,

I live in Wisconsin, which is prone to ice storms similar to what shut down the power grid in the Northeast and across Indiana this winter.

I am considering a battery backup system using four golf cart batteries wired to 12v and a 1500-2000 watt inverter to power lights, fridge, gas furnace, or wood stove blower [separately, of course].

Since I don’t have the budget yet for solar or wind, I was wondering if using my Honda Odyssey’s alternator with a battery isolator installed to recharge the battery bank would be a good idea.  Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Thank you in advance,

Frank Falzon


We have many projects with batteries and inverter for emergency power that did not include solar.   However, I would not use the car to re-charge the batteries as this will be a major load on the small alternator and will use more gas than you think as you will probably need about 3 hours of charge time per day which is like driving 200 miles each day.

Keep your idea, but buy a generator.  Most high quality inverters will include a high capacity battery charger which will allow re-charging for about 1 or 2 gallons per day.  The only caution is you need a good quality generator in the 6 kW or larger size range, and having a good voltage regulator.  Low cost generators drop their peak to peak voltage as they get loaded up and any battery charger will stop charging altogether when this happens.

Good Luck,

Jeff Yago


Solar panel on car

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

Hi Jeff,

I find your articles on 12 volt interesting. I’ve often thought about cars having eg. a roof that was a solar panel which would be connected to a rechargable ni-cad battery and then to an air conditioner / heater which would keep the cabin of the car cool or warm.

Any thoughts?


Frank Savoy


A solar module is not magic, it does not make energy, it just collects the sunlight energy available and converts this from solar photons to electricity electrons, and even the best are only about 10 to 15% efficient. Using your example, lets put a solar module about the size of a car skylight. What ever solar energy is striking the solar module, you only get 10 to 15% of that as electricity, which we wire up to your example electric car heater. Now if we remove that solar module, and let the same amount of sunlight pass on through into the cars interior, almost all of that energy will be converted to thermal heat, not 10%.

In other words, unless you enlarge your car’s roof to mount the 400 square foot solar array you will need to power a small AC unit or electric heater, the only thing a normal size solar module will do on a car roof is keep the battery charged if you like to park for hours and operate the radio or laptop computer!

Hope that helps,

Jeff Yago


Good used car

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008


I lost a good paying job and as a result I now need to let my Escalade go. I have about $3500 to spend on a replacement used car. I live in Ohio and I have five children so snow and space are issues. Also obviously since my cash flow right now is very poor, mileage is very important. Any ideas as to what make and model would be my best bet?


Dennis in Dayton


With today’s cost of gas almost all of us are in the same boat. However there are some good used cars out there that get great mileage. The Volkswagen made a diesel Rabbit in the 70’s that got over 50 MPG, and their newer Jetta and Golf diesel models of the 80’s and 90’s also got great mileage. A diesel engine has a higher up front cost on any new car as it is heavier construction and much longer life. Also, since a diesel engine does not have spark plugs or ignition system, there are less things to go wrong.

If I had limited funds and wanted highest mileage, I would try and find any used Volkswagen Golf or Jetta. They have better mileage than the new hybrid models and are far less expensive. I think most Rabbits are long gone but it may still be possible to find one and the parts are still available. My best friend had a diesel Rabbit in Ohio many years ago and it would go through the snow like a snow plow. He loved that car although he did have to plug in the oil heater on cold winter nights to make it easier to start.

Regardless of the high cost of diesel fuel, it is about to level out while gasoline has been lower but will soon pass diesel again like it was until this mess started.

I am sorry you are hurting as I know many others in same situation. Hang in there as things will get better,

Good Luck,

Jeff Yago


Alternative battery charging

Friday, August 15th, 2008

Hi Jeff,

I don’t know if you will respond, but I have had trouble finding people that can answer some seemingly obvious solutions to recharging batteries that could be used to power a electric vehicle (scooter etc) or whatever.

I am unfortunately required to drive quite a bit. When I think of the energy lost in the driving of a car it amazes me. Here are some questions or ideas: mini electric generating turbines: that could be easily mounted in the front grill etc. that could recharge batteries brake conversion kit- turn your car brakes into hybrid vehicle type brakes that would generated electricity that could recharge batteries

Sun blocking solar shields similar to what people use to keep the interior from heating up (I live in Florida)

So, lets say I buy an electric scooter. Instead of just recharging the batteries using my home plug, wouldn’t it be possible to have some sort of easy system of using my car to charge either a bank of batteries in the trunk, that could then be used to recharge the scooter (easiest solution) or having two sets of scooter batteries and recharging the batteries each time I drive?

I would imagine that this already exists, but when you think of all the energy that is lost involving a car….. kinetic, wind, solar, friction, heat, etc its amazing. I feel that our society is in this black and white way of thinking – using fossil fuels, or using alternative energy. Why not simply harness all the energy that is lost in a vehicle and use it to charge energy storage units such as batteries? In a way hybrids do this, but it is still very inefficient when I hear hybrids getting 40 mpg. There are plenty of gasoline vehicles that get that in Europe, and diesel that get 50 mpg. But if an energy efficient vehicle is completely harnessed, I do not see why 60 plus is not possible. I’m straying from my original question.

I hope you respond


Daniel Buisson


Lots of questions!

Let me address your main points and perhaps this will help on the others. Yes, if you use dynamic breaking you can do some extra battery charging from this waste energy each time you slow or stop a car. All of the battery-electric and hybrid cars on the market today already do this. Yes, if you dark tint your car windows you can reduce the cooling loads, and most cars sold in hot climates already include tinted windows.

However, until somebody can void the laws of physics, anything you do to a car to charge a battery will require more engine power and in turn, more fuel. Adding a “wind turbine” to generate electricity will cause an equal amount of wind drag on the car which will lower the mileage. Adding a battery charger to re-charge scooter batteries in the trunk will not only require more horsepower to turn the car’s alternator to generate this charging energy, but the added battery weight will lower the mileage.

Making a vehicle go 100 miles on a gallon of gas is easy. Just get rid of all the weight, and decrease wind and rolling resistance by making it very small. However, you will always end up with a small flat box having no interior space, no crash safety, no heating or cooling, and with no acceleration.

Since I am asked this type of “free vehicle energy” question many times each year, I have a simple answer that may help you understand the concept of physics involved, and why this never works – Just take your 26″ bicycle and replace the front tire with a 16″ tire, then your bike will always be going downhill and you will never need to pedal!

Hope this helps,

Jeff Yago



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