Flowbee Via Alt-Power

Using the sun to cut hair!


The Flowbee works for the average Joe.  If you're a metro-sexual, or Fabio, this product may not be for you.  Nobody gives me a second glance after using it, so it can't be that bad!  Hard to screw up a haircut since the spacers determine how short the hair will be.  The key thing is to use a descent vacuum.  The hair needs to be pulled up inside the cutter unit.

One of the common misconceptions about using alt-power is that using a high wattage device will greatly deplete the battery bank.  While the rate (watts) might be rather high, the time tends to be rather short, so the overall power usage (watt/hours) tends to be small.

Same deal when operating a microwave oven.  High wattage for a brief period, so the overall power consumption is small.


The Hardware


Before I started, I took note of the battery bank voltage.

Also noted the state of charge.

I plugged the vacuum and Flowbee directly into an 1800 Watt inverter.

Okay, I have a gripe about the bogus HP ratings on some hardware.  This thing can't get 5 HP at 120VAC, from a 15 Amp outlet!  Each HP is 746 Watts.  A standard 15 Amp outlet x 120V = 1800 Watts.  5 HP is 5 x 746, or 3730 Watts.  More than double what a standard outlet can supply, not counting the increased current needed to start the motor.  They throw "peak" in the description, in tiny print, totally negating what HP really means.  Marketing crap.  Oh, it works fine, just ignore the decal!

Flowbee. Man I was skeptical when I first bought this thing, but at $50, it was worth the risk.  That was back in the 90s.  Been using it ever since.  Certainly paid for itself a time or two already.

With the Flowbee cutter powered up, it draws 23 Watts.

With the vacuum powered up, the power consumption jumped over 1000 Watts, then settled back to 960-975 Watts (with Flowbee running also).

Nothing difficult to using this.  I use a longer stand-off for the top of my noggin, a shorter/angled one for the side.  The vacuum draws the hair into the cutter, and all the clipped pieces go into the vacuum.  No mess.

Total time to cut my hair, 9 minutes.  Typically only half this amount of time, but I had to stop to measure the current, take pics, etc.

Total power consumed, 0.04 KWH, or 40 Watt Hours.

Before putting stuff away, a quick check of the battery bank's state of charge.  Only used 0.4% of the total.

As the sun sets, my solar array is shielded by a large oak tree.  During the peak of the day, the panels are fully exposed.  Consequently, I get less than optimal charging this late in the day.

Still getting about a 19 Amp charge rate.

By changing the display functions, I can see the total current used was 2.8 Amp Hours.  Since the recharge current was 19 A, it didn't take long to replenish the energy used.

By the time I put the Flowbee away, coiled up the extension cord, the battery bank was once again full.  Battery voltage was up once again also.

630 Watts of panels quickly replenish the energy used.


So only 40WH used for this task.  The solar array recharged the battery bank in a matter of minutes.  This was just an example of the many uses alt-power can do, even on a small scale.  A basic 45W Harbor Freight solar kit could have recharged the battery bank in a tad over an hour (some losses, so not a true 45W array).

While I don't have enough solar panels to power up my entire home, I can use it to run lighting and power to critical systems, and tap directly into the inverter for simple tasks such as this one.  I also use it to operate my washing machine frequently.  I'm still generating more power than I'm currently using.  The battery bank is typically recharged by noon each day.  Hmm, maybe cook dinner via Alt-Power tomorrow...


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Last updated 04/0211    All rights reserved.