Wednesday, February 14, 2018


Garmin’s Dashcam range are industry leading. These tiny windshield mounted watchers are taking care to protect you or anyone driving your car. Though if you’re like my partner, it’s a great device to re-watch some extraordinary encounters natural or man-made... Garmin has designed each of their Dashcams for a different purpose, and I'll try to highlight the differentiating factors below. 
If you’re in a rush, at the bottom of this article I’ve included a spec sheet that details the differences between the units and a quick summary. As usual though, I’ve done a full breakdown on each unit along with footage comparison from each of the models. Just as a bit of information on the video; The Dashcams weren't installed correctly. I couldn't actually attach these to my windscreen as the sticky magnet they come with is no joke! Think Go-Via tag but worse. These adhesive mounts are built to last, so I ended up with a bit of a hokey setup with magnets and tape. It worked, mostly. The Dashcam 55 got the worst of it so it looks a lot shakier than it should.


Now if you have ever owned a dash cam you’ll know the pain of removing the MicroSD card putting it in your computer, leaving it in your computer, cursing yourself in the car and then going back and retrieving the MicroSD card. Garmin has done away with this problem with their free VIRB App. You can also use their free software for your PC for any video editing. The dashcam will still run on a MicroSD card, but you’re able to connect a smartphone via WiFi (The cameras own WiFi – you don’t need to connect to your home network) and review any saved photos or videos. You can also download the footage directly to your phone. Just be aware that it’s much faster to do this process via a cord connection. However, this is a very convenient addition by Garmin.


All the Dashcams automatically record and save footage when it detects an incident, or you manually tell it to save. The Dashcam’s run on a loop of available space deleting old footage for new footage - if the old footage hasn’t been saved. All the saved clips are time stamped, show location data (latitude, longitude), speed and direction of travel.
The Dashcams also possess incident detection so that when the camera detects an event, the footage is automatically saved. The detection system is an accelerometer sensor or G-sensor installed in the dash cam that will detect movement above a threshold and record and save footage both before and after the 'incident'. The Dash cam will also alert you with
Garmin Dash cam will also alert you with forward collision warnings and lane departure warnings. These aren’t a huge selling point for me, I get much more use out of the fixed red light, and speed camera alerts that the Dashcam announces. There is also an alert that I haven’t come across before which is the “Go” signal, this alert lets you when the traffic has started moving when you are stopped at an intersection or traffic lights. If everyone had this, it would likely make a startlingly difference to my daily commute.
The Dashcams can also shoot footage in a Travelapse format. It will fire every 30 seconds – this is a great little feature to share a cool road trip or adventure.
All the Garmin Dashcams are tiny. The 45 comes with a 2inch LCD display and a physical dimension of 5.62cm x 4.05cm x 3.53 cm and weighs only 59.6g. This size is shared across all the units. It has 4 buttons on the side for easy navigating through the menus and a 30-minute battery life *You should have this unit plugged in.
Another great feature that Garmin doesn't specifically talk about is that the Dashcam will stop displaying after 1 minute, which surprisingly is not a standard feature for dash cams (You can also disable the timeout if necessary). This is perfect for night driving so that you don't have a glowing orb in front of your face ruining your night vision.


The Garmin dash cams' have an optional feature called 'Automatic Parking Mode' I say optional as it requires an additional cable to be purchased. This requires professional installation by an auto electrician and an additional cable. It activates when the car is parked, and the engine is not running. The camera will monitor the vehicle’s surroundings and begin automatically recording if motion is detected (Car hitting you in a shopping car park, or another similar incident). This cable works by using the accessory power for normal recording, and the permanent 12V non-accessory power supply for when not driving, so the cameras always have power when needed.


The 45 records in full 1080p HD at 30FPS. The camera sensor itself is powerful. While it won’t look like a fast and the furious movie, it trades vivid colours and cinema overlays for a focus on detail in both bright and low-light conditions ensuring that in a pinch you’re able to see every tiny detail.
The model 45 is the least expensive of the units currently at an RRP of $199, which makes it a desirable option for most consumers interested in keeping themselves protected. It comes everything listed previously and a 4GB microSD card.


The Dashcam 55 has two major differences, the first and arguably the most important is the Video quality. The Dashcam 55 records at 1440p, while this will chew through the data on your card a lot quicker, it could make all the difference regarding detailed information. The picture resolution is significantly larger than the model 45.
The second difference between the 45 and the 55 dash cams are the Voice Activation features included on the 55. The Dashcam 55 has four main voice commands; which will activate after saying OK, Garmin. The commands are: save video, take a picture, record audio and start Travelapse.
The Dashcam 55 currently retails for $249 – this is for a more general consumer looking for the best resolution and picture quality available. Unlike the Dashcam 45, the model 55 is packaged with an 8GB card, this is due in large part to the increased size in resolution resulting in a faster rate of data consumption on the card. Below I've included some stills from the drive I took to compare the Dashcams. If you watch the video you might see that the 55 seems to shake a lot, this is not normal. This was due to my setup as it was quite difficult to get the Dashcams mounted so close together. 


The Garmin Dashcam 65W or 65 Wide, shares the same recording resolution as the model 45 has a much broader FOV (Field of View) at 180 degrees. It also shares the voice activation features available on the 55. The extra degrees are the only distinct feature on this dash cam however it is quite significant. By allowing you to record a wider field of view always you’re capable of catching incidents that might occur towards the sides of your vehicle that the other dash cams might not pick up. An example of where this might useful is a litigious pedestrian taking a run at your car, the extra viewing angle may make a significant difference in proving whether it was intentional or accidental.
The 65W dash cam currently has an RRP of $349 – The 65W won’t be for everyone as it is quite an expensive dash cam, but the wider FOV will make it an attractive option for those looking to have the widest coverage. This unit comes with an 8GB MicroSD card additionally.
In the video at the top of the article, you can see the 65W picked up a lot of colour completely changing the image. This didn't make a significant difference to the quality of the picture, but there were a couple of instances when I rewatched the footage that particular cars and trucks appeared almost entirely different, and details were washed out. The image below highlights the difference in lenses on the 55 (106-degree FOV) and the 65W (180-degree FOV).


I’ve bolded the 4 main differences on the table included below (Field of view, Resolution, MicroSD card included and Voice Activation). I’ll also summarise each model
Firstly the model 65W has the 180-degree FOV as opposed to the other two models that have a 106-degree FOV. This means the 65W Dashcam will be able to see more things on the left and right-hand side of your vehicle, it currently has an RRP of $349 and is the most expensive of the three. The best example for the 65W is any incident involving the front sides of your vehicle, the wider range will allow you to much more clearly. This could help in situations involving insurance fraud with pedestrians or someone clipping the front side of your car. 
The distinguishing feature of the model 55 Dashcam is the 3.7MP camera with a recording resolution of 2560 x 1440p up to 60fps. This allows you to see more details than the other Dashcam models. This unit currently retails for $249 like the 65W comes with an 8GB micro.The 55 doesn't need a specific example as it is superior to the 45 in detail and is, in my opinion, the best choice out of all the cameras. It shows the highest clarity and adds a small degree of contrast which makes the picture look better and also help differentiate individual objects in the image. 
Lastly, the Model 45 is the cheapest of the models, it doesn't have any distinguishing features like the 65W with a wider FOV and the 55 with higher resolution, however, it is still a powerful Dashcam at an entry-level price point. Below are high-resolution images of each of the Dashcams just click on them to see the full size. 

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Do Solar Panels Save You Money?

Solar panels are the main building units of solar electric systems. To find out whether solar panels would save you money means to estimate your investment in a solar electric system.

Such a task starts with calculating solar electricity production costs.

It is important to calculate the cost of electricity produced by your PV system (for example: RENOGY 200 WATT ). After estimating the cost you can decide whether it is worth purchasing a solar system or not.

You could arrive at approximate estimate of hardware cost of your equipment by taking available prices on solar power equipment on internet.

No one however could tell you the exact prices of installation cost except your potential local installer. Have in mind that installation cost are about up to 30-50 % of overall system cost and one varies by location.

How to evaluate your system correctly with included installation cost?

The best approach is:

Step 1: Decide what type of system you are going to buy /grid-tied, grid-tied with battery backup, etc.).

Step 2: Contact your potential installers and to ask them for expected overall cost per Watt for the system type you have chosen.

Step 3: Multiply expected overall cost per Watt installed ($/Wp) by system size in Watt installed (Wp). Thus you calculate total system cost without operational expenses for the system’s period of operation (system lifespan).

Example:You want to buy a 4.5 kWp grid-tied system without battery backup. An installer has informed you that the expected price is $5 per Watt-peak. The final price is: $5 x 4,500Wp = $22,500.

Step 4: Add the operational costs to the already calculated system cost.

If a solar system contains an inverter (every grid-tied system contains an inverter), you should consider its replacement after every 12-15 years of operation. In such a case, add $3,000 to the sum.

Step 5: Calculate solar electricity production.

Step 6: Use the formula given below to estimate solar electricity production costs over solar system lifespan.

Solar electricity production costs =

[Solar system initial cost + (System lifespan x Operating costs per year)] /(Annual solar electricity production x System lifespan)
Solar system initial cost, a.k.a. CapEx, is the costs for implementing the whole system, including site survey, system design, construction works, obtaining permits, equipment delivery and installation, and system commissioning.
System lifespan is assumed 25 years.
Operating costs, a.k.a. OpEx per year, are system maintenance costs. The most essential part of the operating costs is related to inverter replacement. During a 25-year lifecycle the inverter should be replaced at least once. If the inverter costs $3,000, for a period of 25 years average annual maintenance costs would be

$3,000 * 25 years = $120 per year.

If the annual energy target is 7,000 kWh, then the daily energy target is:

7,000 kWh *365 days = 19.2 kWh

Upon daily average annual value of PSH is 5.5, and system efficiency is 0.7, the required installed solar power on the roof is:

Installed solar power in kWp =

= Daily energy target in kWh * PSH * System efficiency =

= 19.2 * 5.5 * 0.7 = 5.0 kWp = 5,000 Wp

If system implementation cost is estimated $5 per Wp and the installed solar power is 5 kWp, initial system cost is:

$5/Wp x 5,000 Wp = $25,000

Furthermore if:
System lifespan is 25 years,
Yearly generated energy is 7,000 kWh under existing environmental conditions, and
OpEx is $120 per year (inverter is planned to be replaced once during the system lifecycle, assumed cost for replacement is $3,000, and distributing this amount over a 25-year period gives $3,000 * 25 years = $120 per year),

then solar electricity production costs over the total operational period of PV system [German Energy Society, 2008, pp. 333-334] are calculated as follows:

Solar electricity production costs =

= [Solar system initial cost + (System lifespan x Operating costs per year)] /(Annual solar electricity production x System lifespan) = [$25,000 + (25 years x $120)] /(7,000 kWh x 25 years) =

= $0.16/kWh

So, 16 cents is the average price of electricity produced by this grid-tied PV system for a period of 25 years. These $0.16/kWh result into annual costs incurred by solar electricity generated by PV system as follows:

Annual costs incurred by solar generated electricity=

= Annual solar electricity production x Solar electricity production costs = 365 x 19.2 kWh * $0.16/kWh =$1,121.28

If grid electricity price is $0.07/kWh, and we assume 5% increase of the electricity price per year (average increase rate during the last 30 years in the USA), the average electricity price you would pay for the same amount of power to obtain from the electricity grid over 25 years will be $0.14/kWh, or a total of $24,500 payable to the grid:

Annual energy output x Period of system operation x Average grid electricity price within system operation period = 7,000 kWh x 25 x 0.14 $/kWh = $24,500 spent on grid electricity

In this case, after comparing the amount of $24,500 spent for electricity bill over a period of 25 years to the PV system initial cost of $25,000, buying a solar system is obviously not a good investment!

However if current electricity price is $0.10/kWh, under the very same conditions the average electricity price over a period of 25 years is calculated $0.20/kWh which translates into $36,750 to be paid by you to the grid.

If you compare this $36,750 to the initial investment of $25,000, the situation looks different, even taking into account the amount of $3,000 for inverter replacement in the twelfth year of system operation.

You should also mind that it is possible the price of the chosen type of inverter after 12-15 years of operation to be way less than the price at the moment of system launch.

Let’s go on with a more specific example.

If current electricity price is 20 cents per kWh (the price in the city of Los Angeles), the corresponding results are:
$0.40/kWh average electricity price for 25 year period
$0.68/kWh electricity price at the end of 25 year period
$2,803.2 paid annually to the grid if you would stay connected to grid (that is 365 x 19.2 kWh x $0.40 = $2,803.2). These are annual grid electricity cost savings, which are actually potential expenses payable to the grid if you did not have a solar electric system.
$70,080 paid by you to the grid over 25 year period upon 5% annual increase rate of the grid electricity price
You save on electricity bills a total of:

$70,080 (total money paid) – $25,000 (initial system cost) +

+ 3,000 (System life span x Operating costs per year) = $42,080

The payback period of the system considering the forecast grid electricity price rise within a 25 year period would be:

[PV system initial cost + (System life span x Operating costs per

year)] / Annual grid electricity cost savings =

= [$25,000 + (25 years x $120)] / $2,803 = 10 years

In such a case buying a solar system is a very good investment, provided you do not have a better option to invest your $25,000.

Investing in a grid-tied PV system could save you more money than putting $25,000 in a bank for 25 years at 3.1% annually compound interest rate – you get as much as $28,629 additionally from interest rate over 25 years!

As a homeowner however, you are eligible to receive 30% off the total cost of your photovoltaic system from the federal government in the form of a Federal Solar Tax Credit. So actually you will pay for this system not $25,000 but $17,500 instead.

If you put this $17,500 in a bank, all you can get upon 3.1% of annual compound interest rate for 25 years is even less – $20,040!

You have noticed that no Feed-In Tariffs are included and discussed here. With Feed-In Tariffs things become even more attractive.

To learn about Feed-In Tariffs and other financial incentives, read on!

To have Feed-In Tariffs included in calculations, you should use our Gold Package calculator. Click Here to Learn More about our Solar Packages and Solar Gold Package Calculator.

If the provided here method for estimating feasibility of your investment in solar energy looks kind of cumbersome, you can use our handy, simple and fast Gold Package calculator for advanced evaluation of grid-tied solar systems without power backup

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Aleko AR1500 Sliding Gate Opener

This amazing gate opener (for example: MIGHTY MULE MM562 ) has the ability to open gates up to 1500 pounds or 600kg in weight and 40 feet (12m) in length. In case if the gate is more than 40 feet in length, you have a 13 feet gear rack tracks included with the option of buying extra racks. The product has a 120V AC (1/2HP equivalent) motor which provides remarkable starting torque and continuous operation. It has a user programmable and user erasable remote codes and 2 remotes are included.

What’s in the box?

When you open the package, a lot awaits. First you will find one brand new slide gate opener unit, which is followed by a set of ALEKO® 13Ft Nylon Gear Racks reinforced with a metal insert 3.3 Ft each, 4pcs. Then one mounting metal base and two 433MHz remotes LM122. Also enclosed in the box is one set of accessories and mounting hardware for easy installation and of course a user manual with a step by step instructions. This is what I call a full box!

Product features and dimensions

The product dimensions are 38.1 x 35.6 x 30 cm and it weighs 8kg.

The opening gate speed is 5inches per minute and the remote control distance equals 100feet (30m). It also has reliable rolling code technology for remote control and an emergency release key in the case of power failure. There is a built in radio receiver and the motor is a single phase one. For your safety, this model will stop and reverse if it encounters an obstruction on closing and stop when it encounters an obstruction on opening.


Since my friend isn’t very handy, recently I had the opportunity to assemble this gate opener and to see how it works. The instructions are pretty clear, we just followed the steps and it worked like a charm. As far as operation goes, it does what it’s supposed to do. The only trick which is not mentioned is that you need to turn the magnets around in order for them to work properly. If you do not do this you will have problems with the magnet sensor. To sum up, I was happy to help, and my friend is satisfied.

Pros and cons

Easy to install
Midway mode
Soft start and stop
Stop/Reverse option in case of obstruction
Built in adjustable auto-close (30, 60, 90 seconds)
Optional accessories
Emergency release key in case of power failure
Built in max. 90 seconds Motor running time (MRT) for multiple safety protection

Problems with the magnet sensor – SOLUTION: Turn the magnet around.

Aleko is one reliable company and when you take into consideration the price, this is a very good product for the money given. It has a lot of pros, but the most important thing is that it is easy to install and optional accessories can be added in case you are not satisfied. Worth the money and time spent on installation.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Essential Steps to Set up a Business in Hong Kong

Want to do business in one of the most economically viable regions in the world? Think of Hong Kong. This market is huge and the administration has very supportive policies that will help you operate smoothly, has lower tax rates, and lets you keep bulk of the profit. In this post, you get everything you need to know to start operations in this Special Administrative Region of China.

Key Benefits of setting a business in Hong Kong

  • Hong Kong is a very liberal economy
  • Flexible tax regime with chances of paying 0% tax if the operations are overseas
  • The cost of setting a business is very small
  • Opening a corporate bank account is equally easy
  • The market is huge because Hong Kong is a gateway to Mainland China.

What you require to set up a business

Company formation in Hong-Kong requires you to register a company. A company will serve as a separate legal entity that can get funds from banks and even help you get an investment visa to enter and work in Hong Kong.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

How Can Small Businesses Benefit from Using HR Software

If you run a small business, it is extremely important to work efficiently. Doing so will enable you to compete effectively with other firms that are much bigger than yours.

There are many ways to work more efficiently, one of which is using the best tools for the job. These days, that means investing in the best software, as well as the right equipment.

Today, we are going to look specifically at HR software, like the one sold by CascadeHR. Large firms use this software, but it can also benefit small businesses. Just read on to find out how.

Keep you legal

Using the right HR software can help you to make sure that you operate within the law. For example, ensure that your payroll is up to date, and that you pay all of your employee taxes, in full, and on time. Using the right HR system, you can conclusively prove that you have complied with this, and other types of employment law.

Monday, March 6, 2017

What Happens When a Business Goes into Foreclosure?

Running a business always has its risks. What matters is being aware of these risks right from the start and finding ways to avoid them moving forward.

One of the most common issues that business organizations often encounter is in the financial arena. When funds are not properly managed and the expenses become greater than the cash coming in, there’s bound to be a problem. And if this is not resolved sooner, a company can go into debt or worse, become a subject of foreclosure.

A foreclosure occurs when a borrower or debtor fails to pay or defaults on his loan and the bank or lending institution takes back the property involved. A default can happen when a borrower often makes late payments or fails to act on other requirements of his loan such as maintaining hazard insurance on the property. It is when the debt remains unsettled that the property involved is seized and sold.

If your business is experiencing financial problems, you may need to consult with a financial adviser as soon as possible. It would also help to get in touch with a foreclosure attorney to find out your options early on.


Garmin’s Dashcam range are industry leading. These tiny windshield mounted watchers are taking care to protect you or anyone driving yo...