What heater? Oil-filled, fan, ceramic, halogen, gas, paraffin, bioethanol…

Convector heaterAll electric heaters are 100% efficient at converting electrical energy to heat.  However, as for how warm they make a room occupant feel, this varies from a lot one type of heater to another.  Some heaters are also more efficient at heating an area or minimising heat loss out the ceiling.

Heat pumps and dehumidifiers are a few electric appliances that deliver more heat energy than the electrical energy they consume.  Heat pumps work by transferring heat from one area to another and dehumidifiers release latent heat by condensing water vapour.

In this article, I will compare various portable heaters I am familiar with or have used over the years.  I also suggest which heater works for what type of environment and cover a few gas and liquid fuel portable heaters.  Continue reading What heater? Oil-filled, fan, ceramic, halogen, gas, paraffin, bioethanol…

DIY in-car Wi-Fi and data plan suggestions for use in Ireland

Irish roadWhen I had a chat with a lady who bought a new Opel car, she mentioned how expensive the in-car Wi-Fi is to run.  In addition to paying for an OnStar subscription to enable Wi-Fi access, she must pay for usage.  She was surprised to hear that there are other alternatives available that would let her children go online with their Tablets.

In this article, I will discuss various options for getting Wi-Fi capable devices online in the car.  These do not involve any hard wiring or modification to the car.  In fact, the tethering option mentioned below may work without having to purchase any additional equipment or cables.   Continue reading DIY in-car Wi-Fi and data plan suggestions for use in Ireland

How to fix slow Wi-Fi on the Eir F2000 (Android / IPv6 DNS issue)

Eir F2000Eir’s F2000 router provides IPv4 and IPv6 connectivity, which allows devices to reach websites and web services with native IPv6 connectivity.  While the Eir ISP network handles IPv6 routing, unfortunately its DNS servers seem to stutter with IPv6 DNS lookups, particularly with earlier firmware versions on the F2000.

One workaround is to use an app that tunnels DNS lookups to an IPv4 only DNS server.  While this procedure works, the procedure here aims to let one go online without depending on a third-party app or rooting the phone.  Continue reading How to fix slow Wi-Fi on the Eir F2000 (Android / IPv6 DNS issue)

Solar water heating payback vs replacing the hot water tank

Shower headWhen we had a new hot water tank fitted some years ago, we asked the plumber about solar panels for water heating.  The plumber said that while they can cut hot water heating costs, they rarely pay for themselves in a home.  The plumber went on to say that most installers exaggerate solar water heating cost savings to sell a complete package.

Before I start, I am not against solar based water heating and this article is focused on the climate in Ireland.  Indeed, solar is the most environmentally friendly way of heating water, particularly in warmer climates. Continue reading Solar water heating payback vs replacing the hot water tank

Alternative way to buy a Three 500MB prepay data add-on

Buy a Three 500MB data add-on problemThree’s Irish All You Can Eat prepay plan sounds great – Just top €20 every 4 weeks and stream away to your heart’s content.  But what if you don’t need all that data for a few weeks?  Without an active AYCE or 500MB data bundle, Three gobbles credit at a rate of €1.01 per Megabyte!

At a first glance, the solution should be simple – Just buy a 500MB bundle.  Just try doing this in My3 and chances the user will be greeted with “Sorry, there’s been a problem. We know about it and are working hard to fix it.”  Yet that error has been ongoing for months at a time. Continue reading Alternative way to buy a Three 500MB prepay data add-on

Meaco 20L Low Energy Dehumidifier review – Great with a few niggles

Meaco 20L Platinum RunningWe have gone through several dehumidifiers over the years, many of which either failed or got too noisy.  This time I carried out extensive research, including reading many reviews and use feedback.  Based on various user reviews such as on Amazon, most report the Meaco Platinum series as quiet running and energy efficient.  Meaco is also one of the few manufacturers that state realistic extraction figures, i.e. 20°C @ 60% RH.  Most other manufacturers only report 30°C @ 80% RH or higher – Sure, if you want to dehumidify a greenhouse!

I purchased this machine through Amazon and had no issue with the shipment.  I already tried a desiccant dehumidifier, but found it far too power hungry.  While it can function as an economical space heater, this heat is of no benefit during the summer.   Our house also rarely dips below 18°C. Continue reading Meaco 20L Low Energy Dehumidifier review – Great with a few niggles

3G/4G antennas – Types, directional, MIMO, cables & connectors

MIMO SMA connectionsChoosing the right antenna is not as simple as picking a random high gain 4G antenna and expecting it to work!  There are several types of antennas and connectors.  Even the cable type and length can make a difference.

Before considering an antenna, check out the article on choosing the right 3G/4G router.  A proper mains-operated 4G router can do away with most indoor antennas.  Continue reading 3G/4G antennas – Types, directional, MIMO, cables & connectors

Google Music vs Spotify – What I like and problems

Phone streamingThere are countless reviews comparing Spotify, Apple Music, Google and other streaming services.  While they compare the variety of songs and features, most do not look at real world use such as in-car streaming with patchy data coverage.

I have used Google Music and Spotify for some time and tried out Deezer and Tidal HiFi.  This article looks at the benefits and issues I ran into with each service.  It also covers my brief experience with Deezer and Tidal HiFi. Continue reading Google Music vs Spotify – What I like and problems

How to pick the right router for 3G/4G broadband

Huawei B593s-22 LEDsPeople regularly ask me what router or antenna to get for mobile broadband.  Most people who ask are in rural areas that are stuck on a slow DSL or fixed wireless connection.  Before even considering a router or antenna, I recommend first finding out which networks are available in the area.  Then check whether 3G or 4G is available on each network.

This article will mainly focus on routers, see my other article for antenna advice.  I recommend that one first sees how they get on with a suitable router as an antenna may not be necessary.  Continue reading How to pick the right router for 3G/4G broadband

Mobile broadband vs rural 5Mb DSL with real world tests

Rural mobile broadband vs DSL header imageOne question people often ask me is what 3G or 4G broadband is like in rural areas, such as for downloading, streaming or gaming.  Unfortunately, the areas with the slowest fixed line services tend to also have the most congested 3G/4G cell towers.  This is due to other people turning to mobile broadband in a hope of getting faster Internet access.

I live in an area outside Kilcar (Co. Donegal) with many houses that get less than 5Mbps on DSL.  Many houses here are not even on the Open Eir rollout map for FTTH.  The only 4G service available here is from Three, so just how does it compare with DSL?  How does Meteor 3G and Vodafone 3G compare to the supposedly superior 4G service that Three offers? Continue reading Mobile broadband vs rural 5Mb DSL with real world tests