Friday, November 18, 2022

I *still* have the only Tesla that pays for itself


You might not have guessed from the headline, but I have a Tesla, and it's on my roof. These beauties were installed in November of 2018. There's a few more not included in the picture, but together they produce somewhere around 13,000 kWh (kilowatt hours) of electricity for use in my home. 

In the four years since installation, they have produced almost 55 MWh (megawatt hours) of power. This amounts to around $7,000 worth of electricity savings since installation. In other words, after 4 years, I've been able to keep $7,000 dollars that I would have otherwise payed to my electric provider.

Granted, this is still small compared to the sum I paid out of pocket in 2018 to get the system (including Powerwalls) installed after rebates, incentives and tax credits. Assuming that the price of my electricity stay around the current $0.13/kWh, the entire system will be paid for in a little over 15 years. It's also likely that the price of electricity continues to rise, and in that case, the payback happens sooner, even if I have to pay more to the electric company for the electricity I still need to buy.

What's that? Oh, yeah, I couldn't install a system that provided 100% of my needs. I actually didn't want to do that at this point anyway. The panels continue to improve, and someday, it will be worth putting up panels on the north side of the house that only gets good sun for 3-4 hours in a day.

However, I can see what you're thinking already. 15 years! That's way too long, and it doesn't even get you off grid!? I suppose it's all a matter of perspective, but there are no cars that ever pay for themselves, and we buy cars because we need to go places. 

The prices of this equipment, the tax incentives and the arrangements with utility providers continues to change, but as people begin to understand the opportunity cost, I think that adoption will continue to grow, and with growth, prices fall with scale, and the sooner people understand the value, even if they can't completely disconnect from the grid, the sooner they can see that value.

I would absolutely recommend to anyone asking that they should get a quote and consider this option for their home. Not all homes can benefit because of their geographic location and the situation with shading and roof complexity, but it's worth a look. I'm not here to convince, do your own homework. I sure did, and I have the spreadsheets to show for it too, because that how I roll.

I do get asked frequently about the consequences of a large hail storm. That's a fair question. Based on my research, the panels will likely outperform the roof shingles in a large hail situation. Large hail is bad news, no matter what you have overhead, but at least I don't have to worry about their fragility.

Perhaps someday, Tesla will succeed in creating a self-driving car, and the regulations will allow you to farm out that car so that you can generate income from only the car, but that day has yet to come.

So for now, my Tesla solar and Powerwall installation is the only Tesla that pays for itself.

There's plenty more that I can share regarding my setup and all the crazy spreadsheets I have to play with the value of this decision, let me hear from you if your are curious, I'm not afraid to share my notes if you'd find it valuable.

Oh, and before I forget, even though I've already been stiffed once by Tesla referrals, here's my referral code just in case you decide to work with Tesla on your own system.

Saturday, September 17, 2022

AI Art exploration continued

Text to Image AI art generation, is making it possible to create things that before could only be realized through someone else's creative expression or sharing.

The above picture is AI art, generated by an open source machine learning model. This text-to-image model was developed by StabilityAI with the goal of generating images from natural language prompts. The open sourced version of the model was estimated to have cost $600,000 to train using some of the latest available GPU processors (NVIDIA A100).

After stable diffusion generated this image, I used another tool called RealESRGAN, another open source tools that is used to make the image much larger. The stable diffusion model was trained on images that are typically 512x512 pixels in size, and so to get larger, but consistent image, you can upsize it. I first learned about this tool on a youtube channel that I have been subscribed to for several years. It's really amazing how you can go back in time and watch old videos that were made before you discovered a channel, and you find something really interesting.

If you look closely at the image above, you'll start to see places where things don't look right, and this is the real hard problem to be solved here. The AI get's a great deal right, and even the problems you see ere can be resolved with iterations. In fact, in the intervening few weeks since stable diffusion was released, there are have been an increasing number of tools (also open sourced) that are built to help with the workflow needed to be successful with creating new art that is not noticeably created by AI. 

Oddly enough, the real controversy here is that people are already having a hard time discerning between human generated art, and AI generated art.

I'm sure in the next few weeks we will start to see additional capabilities in their nascent stages. I've already seen previews of AI generation for videos, and no doubt 3d objects is not far behind. I'm especially excited about the workflows that will enable the creation of highly detailed and interesting metaverse experiences without having to require hundreds of hours of development effort.

Saturday, August 27, 2022

What experiments are you doing?

New technology is amazing, and with ever better technology, comes also the opportunity to try things that were far too complicated for a person to do all on their own. 

This weekend I've already been able to experiment with some incredible AI based tools that will allow you to translate text to speech, text to voice, text to image, text to video and so much more. My favorite so far this week has been the release of Stable Diffusion as an open-source text to image capability that you can run on your own computer! I found out about this from a great (and still small) youtube channel run by Matt that just shares what he is finding in the Text To ____ AI space.

I'm sure there will be more to come from what I am learning. Maybe I can hook AI things to the update of the website that I am planning. Who knows... the future is full of possibilities!