Clean Energy Store - Northern Tool & Equipment

A few days ago I was out and about and I had some time to kill so I stopped by a  Northern Tool and Equipment store because I noticed on their website that they have a pretty good alternative and renewable energy section.  Below are some of my observations and pictures taken at the store.  Overall I was pretty impressed with their clean energy equipment products.  I wonder why stores like Lowes and Home Depot don't also offer products to produce your own clean energy?

Electric Bike:

While not more energy efficient than using your own two feet, a bike with an electric motor is certainly better than a gas powered scooter.  The E-zip trailz 7-speed bike electric bike, which sells for $300 has a 450 Watt DC motor (which is probably close to the power that most humans can output on a bicycle).  It may not be the best electric bike out there, but I thought it was cool to see in a store.  Would you be tempted to take less short trips by car if you knew you could just hop on your electric bike (assuming you're feeling too lazy to pedal)?

Evaporative Cooler:

As we stated in the post "What is an evaporative cooler" :

An evaporative cooler uses a combination of a water source and a fan to blow air that has moisture (water that has evaporated) in it  into an area.  In order for water to evaporate, it needs a heat source.  An evaporative cooler uses warm air as the heat source to evaporate the water.  When the water evaporates, it sucks heat from the air…and just like that you have cooler air!

Northern Tool sells an evaporative cooler called the KuulAire model KA50.  It was selling for $189.99 and claims to cool up to 350 sq. ft.  However, on our earlier post I highlighted that they work best in dry environments, which is why I was a little surprised to see them in a store in humid Atlanta, GA.  If the air is too humid, the water won't evaporate into it, so there won't be as much cooling.  Has anyone tried the KuulAire in a humid environment?

The good part is that it looks like the KuulAire is an actual evaporative cooler, and not just a fan that blows over cold water (which is what the Mira-Cool seems to be).

Solar PV:

I wrote about the Sunforce Solar Charging Kit back in April, and it looks to me that Northern Tool is just brand labeling the Sunforce product under the NPower brand name.  You can see what looks to be the same product on the Sunforce 15 Watt solar charger page.  The product in the picture above is meant to charge 12v batteries, but if you don't have any batteries to charge it could also be used as an educational tool.

But there's a lot more to solar pv installations than just the panels, and Northern Tool has equipment for mounting and making/controlling the electrical connections as well.  I think it's pretty cool that you can go into one place and find all the parts you need for a DIY solar system.

Power Monitoring:

We first wrote about the Blue Line PowerCost monitor (it's brand labeled by Black and Decker) in October of last year and then again when they announced that the PowerCost Monitor and Microsoft Hohm were teaming up.  It was selling for $109.99 (you can find it online for a little cheaper but you can't hold it in your hands first!).  As I pointed out in the article about the partnership with Microsoft Hohm, you'll want to get the adapter kit to communicate with a web interface.  The wireless gateway is actually more expensive than the monitor.  The Blue Line website has the wireless gateway suggested price at $159!  It's good to see a home energy monitor being sold at a national store.

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