For example, I took this shot of my shower head right when the hot water was starting to flow. The hot water shows red and the everything else shows blue. The scale on the right side shows the hottest (103.8F) and coldest (76.8F) temperatures the camera captured with a color scale in between.
If you didn't ask for it, Heat = WasteThe whole point of a car is to move people from place to place. Unless you need heat to keep you warm along the way, any heat the car makes is wasted energy (fuel). Why? Because heat doesn't directly power your wheels...it's a necessary evil in an Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) that relies on explosions to work.
Given that conventional gasoline vehicles only convert about 20% of the energy stored in gasoline to power at the wheels, it follows that when gasoline is $5/gallon, $1 goes toward getting you to your destination and $4 goes to heat the earth. Stupid eh?
EVs, on the other hand, convert about 60% of the electrical energy from the grid to power at the wheels. That's a 3x efficiency...and EVs can recover even more energy with regenerative braking.
"Seeing" Efficiency in InfraredTo "see" how efficient the Nissan Leaf is, I drove my car for 15 miles on an 85F day. I did not turn on the climate control. The first 13 miles were at high speed (65 mph)...with the last few miles spent driving at 45 to 35 mph to get home. The whole trip took about 30 minutes. Once I parked in my garage, I jumped out of the car and started taking these cool pictures.
The first thing I took a picture of was my front brake. You can see the rotor is warm from the braking into the driveway. In the last 1/4 mile of my way home, I brake from 40 to 25, along with the final stop into the garage. In my ICE powered car, I can't touch my brakes when I park, but the Leaf's regenerative braking recovers most of the stopping energy back into the battery.
Then I opened the hood and took some pictures of the engine. The following photo is a legend for where I took the next few photos...
#1 - The photo below is a shot of the left side of the engine bay. The hottest thing in the photo is a relay labeled "PBW SSOFF" in the upper left...it looks like a dot in the photo. I took the cover off the relay and it was 141F...seems odd, but seems designed to handle the heat since it was solid (not soft, warped or discolored after 1y/12Kmi). That's the issue with "seeing" something in infrared for the first time...you don't know if it's broken or normal.
#2 - The photo below is looking down onto the electrical motor/transmission itself. You would think this would be the hottest part of the engine bay, but in this photo, the hottest part is 110F. This is the right end of the assembly which is mostly the transmission housing. I couldn't get a good shot of the motor housing since there were hoses in the way.
#3 - In the photo below, you can see the right side of the engine bay. The battery is in the middle of the picture. Like in photo #1, the hottest part is a relay in the upper right. Taking the cover off shows a relay labeled "M/C" at 105F.
As you can see by these few infrared photos, the Leaf is a pretty cool car to drive (ha!). This also translates into slightly lower home A/C cost for me since I no longer park a very hot car in my attached garage.
I wanted to do a side-by-side comparison with an ICE powered car to show the difference in waste heat, but I didn't have the time with the camera. It would have also been nice to put the car on a lift and shoot the motor from below. Maybe this would be a good project for a school to do?
Parting ShotsHere are a few more photos I took with the camera...
Shadow...my Bombay cat
Cars driving AWAY from me on the Interstate driving 70 mph. I'm on a bridge above traffic. You can easily tell where the exhaust pipes are!
Cars driving TOWARD me on the Interstate driving 70 mph. I'm on a bridge above traffic. Even at 70mph, you can see the heat reflecting off the road from the very hot engine.
The photo below was at a major intersection at night. You can see where cars queue up for the light.
Here's a car that just stopped from a 35mph speed limit road. You can easily see the hot brakes and engine radiating from the road...but you can also tell the car hasn't been "on" too long since the hood is just starting to heat up. The disk brakes are probably much hotter than the indicated 131F since I was so far away (accuracy decreases with range).
Trees in the forest just after dark.
My Feet! You can see my prior steps to the right of my feet.
Disclaimer: I did not adjust for emissivity for each photo...all of these photos were taken at .98. This means the scale on the right of the photos may not be correct. If you know what your doing, I could share the native Fluke files so you can school me...see the About page for contacting me.