Putting a Roof Over Their Heads

A Brief History of the Roofing Industry

The Greeks and Romans were the first to experiment with different roofing styles. When they began to conquer parts of Britain, they utilized slating and tiling to endure the rainy climate. It is indisputable that a roof is an essential component of any dwelling.  Through innovation, there are many different roofing styles. Most of the changes in roofing materials have developed in the last 200 years. Although people generally still use the most available materials for the region. Wood and metal are used in the southern part of North America, slate in the northeast, wood in the Midwest and tile in the southwestern part of North America.

Now we are seeing technological advances in glass, polymer and smog absorbing tiles.

Timeline of Modern Roofing Materials and Systems

Most of the materials and systems available to us today began to take shape in the 1900’s.

  • 1896 – Barrett Manufacturing Co. developed the alternating application of layers to produce an impenetrable foundation that we know today. This changed the shape of buildings, allowing for roofs to take on both a flat and pitched appearance.
  • 1910– It is difficult to put a finger on who really created the asphalt shingle. The H.M. Reynolds Company of Grand Rapids, MI, claimed to have invented the product, but it’s hard to prove. However, asphalt shingles enter the story in the early 1900’s–making it possible to roll and stretch the compound into a material that could be cut into shingles. Since their conception, asphalt shingles quickly replaced wood shingles because of their endurance.
  • 1925 – Clay tiling is one of the oldest forms of roofing materials and predates asphalt shingles. Over the years it has been improved in both style and shape. By 1925, the product was rebranded as an “ancient” material and catalogs from that time give evidence of their popularity in residential architecture.
  • 1930 – Slate roofing was used in northeastern U.S. and parts of Canada where it’s readily available. Contractors encourage the use not just because it was available but it was impervious to the harsh weather conditions. It’s a weighted material that does well with steep pitches. The trend of slate took off in the 30’s and could be seen on many residential and commercial properties across the U.S.
  • 1936 – A manufacturing company from Nevada changed roofing materials for the better. Homeowners wanted the look of clay tiles but not the weight or the cost. W.F. Norman Manufacturing Co. utilized the flexibility of metal’s design to construct stamped sheet metal roof tiles. It was the bridge between functionality and design.
  • 1939 – Republic Steel Co. decided that small individual metal panels added unnecessary weight. So, they formed large corrugations that spanned a longer distance. It reduced the volume of metal needed to provide the superior protection they are known for delivering.
  • 1957 — Red Cedar Shingle Bureau.  Cedar shingles commonly topped residential structures through the 19th century but were supplanted in popularity in the 20th century by asphalt. The shingle typology has been revived in the 21st century for roofing and siding applications, typically in higher-end projects.

Roofing Today:  Issues Faced by Modern Roofers

Training and Workers in Roofing

There is some really good training that happens in the roofing industry today — and there is some really poor training, too. The NRCA offers several training options that can be completed online or in person and hands-on.  There is training for roofing technology, roofing safety and professional development. The resources appear to be available; however, contractors need to buy in to the importance of introductory and ongoing professional training.  It would also be highly beneficial if the industry had a training standard. This shift in attitude is what the roofing industry needs to recruit the kind of people needed in the industry.

One of the biggest challenge roofers face is finding workers at all levels. The United states is getting older as a county and roofing is not post-retirement work. The field workforce today is almost 60 percent Latino, and the current immigration climate is affecting roofers’ ability to employ workers. Without a recognized and standard training program, roofing fails to create a foundation and tell the story of how rewarding it can be.

Major Changes in Industry

There are two. One is referred to as the “green building” movement.  Thirty years ago, roofing technology was primarily concerned with keeping water out of buildings. Today, roofers must understand long-term thermal properties, reflectivity, vegetative roof systems and the integration of photovoltaics into roof systems. That’s a big change.  Along with understanding, roofers need to be aware of tax credits and different programs available in their areas that encourage more efficient and sustainable roofing systems.

The second major change is the natural vertical integration of the industry. Years ago, it was not uncommon for contractors, distributors and manufacturers to fight with one another. Happily, the industry is moving much closer to alignment in all sectors.

Pricing

Roofers need to find the balance in pricing to offer a fair price to customers while maintaining value in the business. A top quality roof along with a great experience for customers should not also be the lowest price.  The saying, “you get what you pay for,” is a truth in contracting and construction. Many roofing companies do not have big enough margins to even keep their company running for more than a few years, so it is important to establish a dependable and admirable reputation in order to have staying power.  

Safety

OSHA continues to pass more strict safety laws. It’s important to be looking ahead and plan for the future. Roofers do not always agree with everything that OSHA passes, but unfortunately that doesn’t change the fact that they are the ones who have the authority to enforce the laws.

Roofers must be educated about the latest safety requirements and implement them as necessary to keep your employees safe and your company safe from violations and fines.

Winter Roofing and Dancing with Temperature Demands

According to Mitch Dickinson, a roofing contractor, “A roof will look the best in the conditions it was installed.”  There are few professional roofers, if any, that would dispute that claim. A winter installation will always look the best in the winter.  A summer install is the same. Temperature has such a great impact on the materials, unless you live in a climate with little to no temperature fluctuation, your roof will experience changes.  Cold temperatures change the roofing game completely. There are multiple things to consider and plan for when the mercury drops and people need a roof over their heads.

  • Frost on Rooftops can set back start time, progress, and hamper safety of crew.  Most of the time crews tarp a roof, or roof section, one-two days prior to beginning a job to prevent frost.
  • When the shingle company delivers materials, they typically leave the shingles on the roof–ready for install.  If there is even a little frost, they will not deliver to the roof. This adds more time for the crew to move shingle boxes from the ground to the roof for install.
  • There are multiple pieces of roofing equipment that freeze up or quit completely under cold conditions:  compressors, nail guns, etc. Often a crew will take 10+ nail guns on a job because they freeze up and quit so frequently, and they don’t want the job to be stalled.  A new nail gun in the winter will sometimes only make it one job. Whereas, that same gun would have lasted all spring and summer and probably into the fall.
  • Being employed during the winter months is frustrating because crews will sometimes spend two hours shoveling snow off of a roof to only have four hours of good daylight to actually work.  And after shoveling the snow, they are exhausted and cold. January and February are not profitable months for roofers.
  • The expansion and contraction of materials is a big concern.  Vinyl siding, shingles, rain gutter, and metal roofing all expand or contract based on temperature.  Materials installed in the winter can/do buckle, curl, warp, and ripple in the heat of the summer. It is difficult to install materials in cold temperatures and account for the way they will grow in the heat.  Many winter jobs will inevitably require summer repairs/maintenance.
  • Some companies use an enclosed trailer with a heater to heat vinyl siding in the hopes that they can avoid excessive pitfalls of installing vinyl in cold conditions.  It’s an okay fix, but by the time the material is unloaded, cut, and properly installed it has lost a lot of the heat they worked to give it.
  • When the roof is cold and the ambient temperature is cold, adhesives are not only thick and hard to apply, they also won’t adhere to the roofing surface at all.  It’s almost like they lose their stickiness.
  • If a dump trailer that is full of materials is exposed to moisture, rain, snow, it often freezes and then it cannot be dumped until the whole trailer thaws.  
  • Most roofing materials are warranted as long as installed above 40°F.  When it’s cold, roofers cannot guarantee the viability of the product or install.

Winter Roofing Solutions

Many roofing companies have come up with their own creative methods for working in winter weather conditions.

  • To keep materials such as shingles and adhesives warm, some roofers will build a makeshift box that can house a heater in order to keep materials at a workable and warranted temperature.  This box may be a place to keep equipment warm as well.
  • Another solution for warming materials is to have a large enclosed trailer that has a heater. In this case, it is imperative to have proper ventilation if using a gas powered heater.
  • Tarping a roof a few days prior to starting a job will ensure easier snow removal and safety for employees when the job is started.
  • A frozen dump trailer, if warmed overnight in a heated shop, will enable dumping the next day.  You will have a giant puddle in your garage, but you will also have use of the trailer.
  • Powerblanket manufactures hot boxes, propane warmers and caulk warmers that can all prevent delays on the job.

 

Spray Foam Insulation: Properties and Benefits

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Polyurethane spray (spray foam) is an excellent option for building insulation. The r-value for spray foam 3.2-3.8 per inch for open cell polyurethane foam and 5-6.5 for closed cell which means it provides impressive thermal resistance properties. Additionally, polyurethane spraying provides moisture protection and soundproofing properties.

Person using polyurethane spray foam insulation to insulate building structure.

What Is Spray Polyurethane Foam?

Polyurethane spray, or spray polyurethane foam (SPF) is a chemical product comprised of isocyanate and polyol resin; when these two components are combined, the chemical reaction causes the mixture to expand up to 30-60 times its liquid volume.

Polyurethane spraying is often used as an alternative to traditional insulation (i.e. fiberglass insulation) in building and construction. It can be sprayed directly onto roof tiles or concrete slabs, into wall cavities or into holes drilled into walls. Most commonly, it’s used in roofing and wall insulation applications.

R-Value for Spray Foam

Long Term Thermal Resistance (LTTR) of spray foam is measured in r-value. Put simply, r-value demonstrates a material’s ability to resist heat flow. The higher the r-value, the better the thermal resistance. The r-value of spray foam ranges from approximately 3.2 to 6.5 per inch and is heavily dependant on the type of spray foam being used.

(R-Value SVG Image)

The formula to determine the r-value for spray foam

Two Types of SPF

Spray Polyurethane Foam falls into two categories: closed cell and open cell.

Medium-Density Closed-Cell Spray Foam

Medium-Density Closed-Cell Spray Foam (ccSPF) otherwise known as 2 lb foam is dense and rigid. It boasts some pretty impressive properties and benefits. For example, its r-value (thermal resistance) ranges from about 5-6.5 per inch. By comparison, the r-value of traditional fiberglass insulation is about 3-4 per inch. Additionally, when installed at a thickness of at least 2 inches, it becomes a barrier to both air and vapor transfer. This prevents heat transfer via air and mold or mildew issues that can arise from unwanted moisture. Also, closed-cell spray foam rigidity makes it an excellent option or exposed walls or other exposed applications. It’s durable enough to hold up against regular wear and tear without needing repair. The drawback is that ccSPF can be difficult to work with. After the insulation process, it can be difficult to make any changes.

Light-Density Open-Cell Spray Foam

Light-Density Open-Cell Spray Foam (ocSPF), commonly referred to as ½ lb foam, is semi-rigid; while it holds its shape extremely well, it’s sponge-like after installation and can be crushed in your hand. As it expands and dries, it creates small open cells that fill with carbon dioxide. While its r-value isn’t as high as closed-cell foam, it still has great thermal resistance properties with an r-value around 3.2-3.8 per inch. When applied in a thickness of at least 3 inches, it acts as an air barrier. Unlike its closed-cell counterpart, ocSPF cannot become a vapor barrier. While not quite as thermally resistant as closed-cell foam, open-cell spray foam is more sound-dampening. Because it’s less dense and applied more thickly, it effectively absorbs more sound waves.

Benefits

Building frame with some spray foam insulation.

Because spray foam has such great thermal resistance properties, it provides some pretty impressive benefits. The pros of using spray foam insulation over traditional fiberglass insulation include:

 

Save on Energy Costs

According the the US Department of Energy, 40% of home energy loss happens via air infiltration through walls, doorways, and windows. Spray foam creates an air barrier that minimizes this air permeation.

 

Better Insulation

Spray foam insulation insulates up to 50% better than traditional insulation. It blocks conductive, radiant and convective heat transfer; this makes it easier to keep rooms at comfortable temperatures. As mentioned earlier, the r-value (thermal resistance) of spray foam is approximately 3.2-3.8 per inch for open cell foam and 5-6.5 for closed cell.

 

Moisture Protection

Because spray foam can fill in every nook and cranny of the space into which it’s sprayed, it provides excellent moisture protection. Moisture protection prevents expensive issues and damage such as mold, mildew, and rotting wood.

 

Noise Reduction

Polyurethane spray  provides an effective barrier to airborne sound. When used as wall insulation, it hinders sound movement from room to room.

Getting the Most From Your Spray Foam

 

When spray foam materials and equipment get either too hot or too cold, product waste and equipment malfunctions can easily occur. Spray foam cylinder pressure fluctuates with temperature; when the pressure gets too high or dips too low, the cylinder will stop working optimally. Cold conditions can be especially frustrating. Pressure drops as temperatures go down and even though it seems like there is plenty of product remaining, inadequate pressure will render it unusable.  Keeping things at ideal temperatures helps to make polyurethane spray go as far as possible.

Powerblanket spray foam heaters help eliminate temperature and pressure issues with your equipment. They cover the entire spray foam cylinder which maximizes the effectiveness of temperature maintenance. If you’re interested in maximizing the yield of your spray foam equipment, give us a call at 888.316.6324.

Hot and Cold: Melting Points for Common Baking Ingredients

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When you think of molasses and honey, you probably think of Memaw’s cookies over clogged pipes and industrial concrete blankets. Well, welcome to Powerblanket, where new applications for our electric blankies pop up like daisies. Customers including…bakeries? There is a long list of common baking ingredients that congeal, harden, thicken, freeze, or crystallize as temperatures drop. Coming from a perspective of manufacturers, packaging, and shipping, this can be a problem. They need heat to keep them liquid and transportable. Check out some of the melting points of common baking ingredients.

Runny Honey: What is Honey Made of?

Honey is made of different complex and simple sugars, water, vitamins, antioxidants, enzymes, and minerals. These different parts lead it to eventually crystallize, which is an issue in bulk. To help you visualize, imagine having a 55 gallon barrel full of honey you have to bottle and ship out. If that entire honey drum has crystallized due to cold weather, are you going to scoop it out with a spoon and hand-squish it into every bottle? That would be both sticky and inefficient. The same goes for other products that harden or thicken and aren’t liquid enough to be poured or pumped.


Melting Point of Honey, Honey

Honey becomes almost impossible to spread or work with when it crystallizes (you’re probably familiar with the ole’ “pop the honey in the microwave” trick). When honey is crystallized, it’s melting point ranges between 104 and 122 °F (40 and 50 °C). This range accounts for the fact that the chemical makeup of honey will vary due to differences in bees, impurities, climate, flower supply, and geographical location of the particular hive.

Raw vs. Processed

Honey must undergo extremely minimal straining to be considered “raw” by the FDA. This indicates how important it is to heat honey with great care. Processed honey on the other hand, is blasted by high heat (161 ºF and higher!), straining, and pasteurization, which process destroys helpful yeast cells, enzymes, and antioxidants in raw honey.

Overheating honey destroys the properties of honey that are most nutritional for our bodies. Around 200 components, including antibacterial properties, are lost if honey is heated over 98.6 ºF (37 ºC). Higher than 104 ºF (40 ºC) and valuable enzymes are destroyed. In short, the danger of just sticking honey in a manufacturing microwave is denaturing, devaluing, and scorching it. Heating solutions for crystallized honey include generic electric heating blankets. However, these run the risk of scorching the honey, or overheating it. Because of this, it is crucial to heat and decrystallize raw honey carefully.

If you heat honey above 104 ºF (40 ºC), it will caramelize. For those apiarists and manufacturers that want to preserve their raw honey and still be able to bottle it, they need a specialized solution. The BeeBlanket has been engineered to the temperature of a beehive, which preserves the valuable raw aspects of the honey, while warming it enough to liquify it.

Coconut Oil : Put the Heat in the Coconut

Coconut Oil is used for a huge variety of purposes, not just for food. Depending on the makeup of your specific coconut oil, it melts at a temperature between 76-78 ºF (24-25 ºC). The melting point depends on how pure the oil is. Impurities spark crystallization. The purer the oil, the lower the melting point. Overall, at average room temperature and below, coconut oil is solid. Since coconut oil applications range from hair products to treating eczema, it is important that manufacturers package their coconut oil properly and accurately in a liquid state. Luckily, heating coconut oil back into liquid doesn’t affect the oil’s quality at all. The biggest issue is heating it slowly and evenly, so it doesn’t scorch.

Molasses Assets

Memaw and I appreciate molasses for its sweet, smoky flavor. Molasses is usually made from boiled down sugar cane, and can also be made from sugar beet juice, dates, pomegranate, and sorghum. It will crystallize due to lowered temperatures or condensation. Molasses doesn’t freeze in any industrial grade freezer due to the sugar acting as an antifreeze to the water molecules. The water will evaporate out, leaving crystallized, grainy molasses. The key is to keep it at normal temperatures with light heat. Molasses is made primarily from sucrose, depending on the source: sugarcane, sugar beets, and sorghum are all sources from which molasses is made. The more sucrose, the more likely crystallization will occur. Slow, even heat will solve any crystallization problems. After fixing any problems with heat, molasses crystallization is less likely to happen again by adding citric acid or pure fructose.

Melting Point of Vegetable Oil

Believe it or not, oil congeals as it gets colder as well. The melting point of vegetable oil varies greatly depending on the type: sunflower oil and safflower oil (2 ºF, -17 ºC), canola oil (14 ºF, -10 ºC), olive oil and sesame oil (21 ºF, -6 ºC), peanut oil (37 ºF, 3 ºC) are just a few.

One company we work with ships vegetable oil overseas. They said, “in the winter, the oil congeals to a white residue because of the cold temperatures onboard the ship.” Like most problems with heating, they needed a solutions that would “heat the totes gently to get the oil back to its original consistency…” Keyword being gently. Uniform heat is important for warming oils just like other food products as to not scorch them or damage their chemical makeup.

Shortening: The Big Short

Shortening is solidified, hydrogenated vegetable oil. When it comes to shortening (think Crisco), customers we’ve worked with are more concerned with softening it than melting it. With a melting point of 117º F, it is almost always in its solid, fluffy form. However, semi-vehicles will ship the product in cold weather, where it will freeze and become rock hard. In order to get it ready to sell, it needs to be warmed with a slow, uniform heat to about room temperature (68-72 ºF).

Even though all of the products we’ve mentioned are different in composition and chemical makeup, they have something in common: food! To finally get to our table, it is important that manufacturers are able to transport them, and that means finding proper temperature solutions.  

Sources:

Lindberg, Barbara. “The Bee Journal.” Why Does Honey Crystallize? January 01, 1970. Accessed November 19, 2018. http://thebeejournal.blogspot.com/2011/12/heating-and-freezing-honey.html.

Wrapping and Heating Valves in Dangerous Locations

No workplace would be complete without its own hazards. Whether it’s slippery floors, loud noise or dealing with harmful chemicals, there’s always something that employees need to be careful of in order to stay safe. Companies are expected to establish worker safety in these environments, as well as maintain proper care of equipment and products.

Keep Valves Protected

Valves are a critical piece of equipment in any work environment. They are  literally the “off-and-on” switch to efficiency and productivity. Making sure valves are heated to prevent freezing stiff in cold weather is critical for proper use. When a valve is inoperable, progress can come to an immediate halt, creating potentially dangerous situations.

Preventing valve freezes isn’t difficult to do. In fact, there are plenty of products out there that can help. The trick is to find a solution that won’t be compromised by the hazards of your work environment. For example, it’s probably a bad idea to use a warming system that utilizes incandescent heating elements where the air is filled with ignitable vapors. It’s also unwise to use a rigid heat wrap on piping that change shape due to thermal expansion.

Warming Wraps

Powerblanket warming wraps allow for efficient methods of valve heating without compromising safety. Each wrap is self regulating, so there’s no need to constantly monitor if the wrap is working or not. Certified to UL/CSA safety 

standards, Powerblanket wraps are safe to use in virtually any hazardous environment and can be custom fitted to any valve size. They’re also incredibly easy to install, which means less time winterizing and more time doing what you do best.

Using Warming Wraps in C1D2 Environments

Working in an environment with ignitable vapors is one of the most dangerous places to operate equipment. In a C1D2 workplace, one small spark from a light or heating element can lead to catastrophe. Regardless of the danger, equipment still needs to be handled and used to get the job done, even in cold weather.

Warming wraps are critical to keeping equipment warm and operable, but how do you know which wrap product is safe to use in a C1D2 environment? ETL certified to UL and CSA safety standards, Powerblanket’s warming wraps meet the strict safety requirements demanded in areas where the air can ignite at any time. That’s why businesses that use warming wraps call on Powerblanket for help.

In addition, warming wraps allow for quick and easy installation, taking away little time from daily operations. The warming wraps are self regulating, so there’s no need to constantly check up on them to see if they are maintaining the correct temperature.

When you need a specialized warming wrap to keep your valves, containers and pipes from freezing, turn to Powerblanket for the solution. No matter what size or material, or what type of vapor is in the air, Powerblanket’s Warming Wraps will ensure that your safety and efficiency needs are met.

Bananas: Grocers Worst Nightmare

What is the worst fruit of all time?

In terms of its ability to waste, Food and Wine magazine rates bananas as the worst. A February 13, 2018 article said bananas are the biggest source of grocery store waste.

Bananas are not the only produce products to rot before it gets to consumers: food is wasted at every step of the supply chain. But bananas stand out because consumers tend to only purchase bananas that they perceive are ripe, which in most cases are a spotless yellow or yellow-green.

What consumers don’t understand is that bananas are ripe and edible while green all the way through until black. The darker the banana, the more sweet it is. The lighter the banana, the more starchy it tastes. Bananas can be eaten alone, used in baking, mixed in a smoothie, as a topping for oatmeals and ice cream, and even fried. How they are used is determined by the fruit’s starchy or sweet consistency.

However, a significant amount of banana waste comes from the transportation of the fruit. Ash Ngu, an expert of banana transportation, described on Quora how the process works.

“Bananas that Americans eat are imported from countries like Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Panama. They’re harvested green and unripened so that they can last the 3-4 weeks it takes to get them into grocery stores. During processing, they’re broken up into bunches, labeled with those little stickers and boxed up in order to protect them during shipping.

Source: Costa Rica Daily Photo 

“The bananas are transported across the ocean in temperature-controlled ship holds. Once they get to their destination port, a ripening manager inspects the bananas. They’re visually inspected, their temperature is taken, the peel is peeled, banana flesh color and texture is evaluated. Then they go into pressurized rooms which force air through the banana boxes for consistent ripening. The temperature of the room can be controlled to quicken or slow the ripening process. After they are ripened appropriately, the bananas are sent on their final journey in trucks to various grocery shelves across the nation and into your hands.”

Some producers use chemical gases to speed up the ripening process of bananas. This chemical is called ethylene. A small hydrogen gas, ethylene is a naturally occurring byproduct of ripening fruit, including bananas. Producers will often use ethylene to encourage the ripening of bananas to time their peak “fresh appearance” with the date at which consumers will see them on store shelves.

One conclusion that can be gleaned from learning about the process it takes to get bananas from tree to store is that doing so is very expensive. There are a few items out there that can help with bringing more fruit to the customer, but refrigeration and ethylene are the main methods used by producers and grocers today.

OCTOBER POWER MANUFACTURE AWARD WINNER: HARVEST RIGHT

 

This month’s Power Manufacture Award goes to an innovative company that has found a way simplify the freeze dried food industry, reaching the masses with  an affordable solution: Harvest Right.

Based in Salt Lake City, Harvest Right manufactures freeze dryers that can fit inside of one’s own home kitchen. Harvest Right spent four years in R&D trying to figure out how to downsize hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of freeze drying equipment. Out of that came an assortment of freeze dryers, including variants for pharmaceutical, scientific and home use.

Before Harvest Right, freeze drying technology was around $30,000 to $100,000 and only available to commercial companies, the US military, and NASA,” said a Harvest Right spokesperson. “It took years for Harvest Right to engineer and manufacture a freeze dryer that was affordable, small enough for a home, and automated enough to make it easy to use for the home consumer.”

Due to Harvest Right’s unique, home-based approach to freeze drying appliances, the market for its products has taken off internationally.

“We are most proud of being able to provide an affordable freeze dryer to those that want to freeze dry on their own,” the spokesperson added. “Harvest Right freeze dryers are now being used in Australia, India, Europe, South America and all over the United States. Instead of canning and dehydrating, the world has discovered that freeze drying is the better solution when it comes to food preservation.”

It’s that kind of innovation and focus on the needs of the consumer that led Powerblanket to first be attracted to Harvest Right, and ultimately beat out the competition to become the October 2018 Power Manufacture Award winner. Those qualities are found throughout the company from bottom to top.

“The founder of Harvest Right has a passion for both helping people and food preservation [which] led him to create a home freeze dryer that people could use at home,” the Harvest Right spokesperson said. “Our advice to future entrepreneurs would be to make sure that you are first passionate about whatever you are pursuing.”

With companies like Harvest Right leading the way in manufacturing quality, consumer-focused needs and innovative products, the future of Utah manufacturing is in good hands. For more information about Harvest Right, visit www.harvestright.com.

Honey Chemistry: What is Honey Made Of?

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The difference between raw honey and pure honey is lost on many. Runny honey? Rock hard? “Who cares! Just pop it in the microwave!” Well, hypothetical person, honey is actually more complex than that. Honey is made of delicate sugars, water, vitamins, antioxidants, enzymes, and minerals that can be damaged when overheated.  Let’s take a proverbial “Magic School Bus” dive into the honey pail. It’s time to get educated on the chemistry of this ancient ambrosia, how to keep it from pasteurization, and why.

The Sting: A Bee’s Process for Makin’ Honey

So why do bees make honey in the first place? Turns out we’re not the only ones who like honey on our toast. Bees eat honey and save it to live on during the winter. Forager bees collect nectar from flowering plants and take it back to the hive in their honey stomach (also known as honey crop), and transfer it over to house bees. Over a 20-minute period they will process the nectar in their crop, absorbing the water and breaking down the larger sucrose sugar molecules into smaller glucose and fructose sugars. No, honey isn’t “bee vomit,” or “bee-barf” as my coworker likes to call it. This is because regurgitation is voluntary, and never passes through the bees central digestive system. The bees will then deposit the nectar-turned-honey into honeycomb, and will fan it with their wings. This helps to further dehydrate the honey, which gives it preservative qualities. The low water content in honey, below 20%, also makes it uninhabitable for bacteria. This low water content and acidic properties gives honey antiseptic qualities too, good for topical use and health treatments, like for a common sore throat. 

What is Honey Made Of? A Sticky Situation

Honey is made of different sugars, water, vitamins, antioxidants, enzymes, and minerals. Raw honey comes straight from the hive, after being lightly filtered by hand to remove any debris. This preserves the nutritional qualities of the honey. Processed honey is heated at 70 degrees Celsius and then rapidly cooled, killing and destroying beneficial bacteria, enzymes, pollen, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. This, and intense straining “purify” the honey and is done mostly for aesthetic reasons. All in all, processed honey is significantly less beneficial for your body just so it will look pretty on the shelf.

Crystal Clear: Decrystallize Raw Honey

When apiarists and beekeepers remove honey from the hive, they usually keep it in pails. Hive temperatures average between 89º to 95º Fahrenheit. If the weather is cold enough, depending on the type of honey, it will begin to crystallize. A honey bucket heater or honey drum heater is a great solution to decrystallize raw honey without heating it enough to pasteurize it and helping preserve its nutritional value. 

Check out this infographic for more information on what honey is made of!

Sources

Charlotte, Beekeeper, Pete Jones, and Beekeeper Charlotte. “What Do Honeybees Do With Pollen?” Carolina Honeybees. October 15, 2018. Accessed November 13, 2018. https://carolinahoneybees.com/why-pollen-is-vital-for-honeybee-survival/.

Common Disease Problems. Accessed November 13, 2018. https://www.uaex.edu/farm-ranch/special-programs/beekeeping/about-honey-bees.aspx.

“Honey, Recipes, Research, Information.” National Honey Board. Accessed November 13, 2018. https://www.honey.com/faq.

https://www.livescience.com/4255-oldest-bee-fossil-creates-buzz.html

http://www.chm.bris.ac.uk/webprojects2001/loveridge/index-page3.html

https://www.compoundchem.com/2014/08/21/chemistryofhoney/

4 New Products in Roofing Industry

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Roofing can get rough. You run the risk of cuts, injuries, falls, and impact shocks. That doesn’t even include everything that can go wrong with your shingles, product, or roof. Whether you have residential or commercial needs, check out these new products in roofing that will make your project safer and easier.

1. Nailed It! Nailgun

A nail gun will make fast work out of a slow job. With the highest reviews and reliability, the Hitachi NV45AB2 is awesome for contractors and homeowners alike. It’s precise due to its carbide tipped nose; intuitive, easy to use, and weatherproofed so you can use it in difficult weather. It has a rubber grip to prevent fatigue, and is light and easy to carry with one hand.

2. Gloves

Gloves that protect your hands without slowing you down or cutting back your dexterity are a must. MaxiFlex Ultimate gloves, at a reasonable price, are high quality, super thin, flexible, and breathable. They are 100% silicone free, which is impressive for a durable roofer’s glove. These are made of a micro-foam nitrile and a seamless knit nylon.

Their breathability is a unique feature for roofing gloves, since they have airflow on the front and back of the hand. This will keep your hands from sweating.

3. Get a Grip: Automatic Safety Grip

Safety is obviously a top priority when roofing. Safety lines and harnesses are crucial to prevent falls. One recent product is making a difference for productivity in roofing safety. An Automatic Following Rope Grab made by DBI-SALA follows the roofer as they move along their safety line. This product is awesome for carrying supplies to other parts of the roof. It also comes in manual options where the worker would grip the device to move it along their lifeline.

4. Bulk Material Warmer

In cold weather, roofing shingles and adhesive can be negatively affected. Between 100º and 120º Fahrenheit, Hot Boxes, or Bulk Material Warmers can keep your roofing products from freezing with a uniform, evenly heated core technology, for optimal use all year. This helps prevent any voided warranty for roofing in cold weather. They also cost less to run than keeping materials in the cab of a warm truck. This is because the cost for electrical is much lower than the cost of burning fuel to run a vehicle. They even have remote temperature control options for specific contracting needs. Whatever the roofing emergency, Hot Boxes can help solve problems year-round.

Whether you’re a professional roofing company or DIY homeowners fixing your garden shed, these new roofing products can help you most comfortably and effectively in your roofing projects.

Sources:

https://bestroofingshoes.com/best-gloves-for-roofing/

https://toolsfirst.com/nail-guns/best-roofing-nailer/

https://pksafety.com/blog/the-best-fall-protection-for-roofers/

Roofing Repair: Put the Proof in Your Roof

Roofing repair is a common, annoying necessity. With the sun’s heat, shingles (and a roof in general) will expand. This leads to nails popping out, which can leave holes for leaks. If you’re new here, leaks = bad. Read on for some basic steps on replacing a roof.

Nailgun

Nailed It

When you are repairing roof tile, consider renting a nail gun. Nail gun rental can cost around $20 a day, which can save you the time of hammering. Worth it!

Pro contractors, Georgia Pacific, released this video for specs and detailed instructions on laying sheathing and spacing for nails. This can differ depending on the spacing of your rafters. Also take into account nail length you will need to pierce through the necessary layers. According to IKO, “Roofing nails should be long enough to penetrate the roofing material and go 19 mm into OSB, solid wood, plywood or non-veneer wood decking, or through thickness of decking, whichever is less. To determine the nail length, you should consider the number of layers of shingles, shingle thicknesses, underlayment and flashings (installed on eaves, sidewalls and valleys, etc.).” Long story short, you still need to look into specifications for your particular roof.

1. Repair Your Sheathing

Begin by clearing any debris or leaves from your roof. Depending on your issue, you might need to repair or lay down new sheathing. Lay down your sheathing (also known as decking), which is usually half inch thick plywood, 8 feet long. This is standard. Obviously every roof is different and you might have to cut your sheathing to fit your roof’s measurements. Once you have your sheathing measured and cut, nail it to your roof’s rafters. Lay your sheathing in a brick pattern; this will give your roof extra strength. See Figure Below.

2. Lay Down Felt Paper

Felt paper is what sits between your shingles and your plywood sheathing. Staple your 6 inch starter strip of felt paper at the bottom of the roof, near the gutter. Leave 1 inch to overhang over the roof. This helps weather elements to drain off the roof into the gutter. Just like you will do with your shingles later, overlap the felt paper with about two inches over the piece of felt paper below it. Make sure to reinforce the tar adhesive strip on each piece of felt paper with nails.

3. Install Shingles

You can’t reshingle your roof without shingles! Figure out if you are repairing roof tile (usually clay, ceramic, or wood), asphalt shingles (also known as composite or 3 tab), or architectural shingles (also known as laminate). Lay your shingles starting at the bottom corner of the sloped roof with your starter course. Work your way to the top, overlapping the top shingles over the row beneath them. This will make it so precipitation doesn’t penetrate the roof and lead to damage. Work out from the bottom corner in a pyramid shape. Six nails along the tar strip of each shingle should be adequate for utmost performance and hold. Work from the bottom up, building from your original pyramid shape.

If you are doing roof shingle repair for an isolated part of your roof, perhaps a part where the shingles were damaged, don’t remove the old ones, just nail the new on top of them. This leaves a consistent, smooth look.

If you’re trying to do roof repair in winter, read this article for some extra tips. If not, still read it!

Sources:

https://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/rooms-and-spaces/exterior/how-to-repair-a-damaged-roof

Ultimate DEF Reference Guide

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Diesel Exhaust Fluid 

DEF is a key factor in making sure our trucks run smooth, efficient and clean on America’s highways. This liquid is used in nearly all diesel-fueled vehicles in the United States, from pickup trucks to ambulances to 18-wheelers. With something so commonplace, you’d think that most people have heard of DEF. But that’s not the case. Do you know what DEF is? Join Powerblanket as we explore DEF in why it’s important, how it’s used, and what to look out for so you use it correctly.

What is it?

DEF is a mix of synthetic urea and deionized water. Urea is naturally found as a byproduct in urine, but urea in DEF is created in a laboratory. (On that note, it’s a good opportunity to mention that if you run out of DEF, under no circumstances should you urinate in your DEF tank. But more on that later.)

DEF is most often seen as a clear, odorless liquid. When it dries, it solidifies into white crystals.

Why is it Important?

DEF is a critical part of the exhaust system in diesel engines. The Environmental Protection Agency has been limiting nitrogen oxide emissions since 1994, with additional reductions in 1998, 2002, 2007, and 2010. According to the web-based science, research, and technology news service www.phys.org, “Nitrogen oxides (NOx) are poisonous gases derived from nitrogen and oxygen combustion under high pressure and temperatures…[it] can cause breathing problems, headaches, chronically reduced lung function, eye irritation, loss of appetite and corroded teeth. Indirectly, it can affect humans by damaging the ecosystems they rely on in water and on land—harming animals and plants. In Britain alone, known NO2 emissions have been estimated to kill 23,500 people every year, according to aerosol science professor Ian Colbeck of the University of Essex, southeastern England.” The World Health Organization classified NOx as being a cause of cancer in 2012.

NOx diesel exhaust fumes also emit particles that are too fine for human lungs to filter, which can harm one’s ability to breathe in ways such as asthma and other chronic breathing problems. Those same particles are also causes of lung cancer and, according to www.phys.org, “premature death in people with heart or lung disease.”

Before the 1990s, exhaust systems were not regulated. Beginning in 1994, diesel regulations limited the amount of NOx pollution released by diesel-fueled vehicles. Since then, DEF has become a staple in virtually all diesel trucks on American roads in their Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) system, where exhaust is treated in the exhaust system instead of the engine itself. As the exhaust leaves the engine, a mist of DEF is sprayed into the exhaust. The two mixes into ammonia and NOx, which then goes through the SCR catalyst, which changes both into nitrogen and water vapor. This final result is harmless.

Applications of DEF

Nearly all diesel-fueled vehicles in the United States use DEF. This includes ambulances, fire trucks, and wildland firefighting engines. Powerblanket met with the Madison Fire Department in Rexburg, Idaho, to discuss the uses of DEF within its firefighting fleet.

In Rexburg, winters can drop outdoor temperatures well below -20°F. In order to make sure the temperature doesn’t affect DEF quality, all Madison Fire Department vehicles are equipped with internal heating devices to ensure DEF does not freeze. Several vehicles, such as the ambulances and pickup trucks, have internal DEF tanks equipped with heaters.

Standard fire engines and wildland fire engines, on the other hand, use external DEF tanks.

The nearest DEF pump station is located 30 miles away, so fire crews have to purchase DEF locally in 2.5 gallon containers to fill both internal and external DEF tanks.

The U.S. Military also has a large vehicle fleet that consumes diesel fuel. However, DEF is not commonly used in bases across the world. With the exception of vehicles used for local travel, heavy-duty vehicles such as tanks and work trucks are exempt of NOx reduction regulations. This is due in large part for lack of high quality, low sulfur diesel fuel in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan, whereas jet fuel, that has a high sulfur content that would quickly clog filters that use DEF, is plentiful. In the U.S. Military, being able to take a tank brigade and armored truck division out of Louisiana and send them into combat zones across the world is paramount. Using jet fuel, which negates the need for DEF, is essential to that mission.

DEF Pump Stations on the Rise

As federal government regulations increase the demand for quick access to DEF, gas stations are rising to meet that need, particularly those that cater to long-haul truckers. DEF refilling pumps can be most often seen next to diesel fuel pumps. Such pumps are clearly labeled with “DEF” on them, and most DEF tanks are fitted to not allow diesel fuel to be accidentally pumped in.

A Word of Warning

DEF is probably one of the least dangerous chemicals in your vehicle, though that doesn’t mean it should be treated lightly. There are a few things to keep in mind that will help you maximize the effectiveness of DEF:

  • Running out of DEF: When your vehicle is low on DEF, a warning light will come on to alert the driver that if the DEF tank is not filled soon, the vehicle’s performance will undergo a sudden change. When the DEF tank is completely empty, the vehicle will slow to a maximum speed of a mere five miles per hour. This is so the vehicle is preserved until the DEF is refilled. Once the DEF tank has been replenished, vehicle performance will resume as usual.
  • DEF expires: DEF has a very short shelf life. In fact, purchasing DEF that has been sitting on the shelf for more than a year and pouring it into your exhaust system will cause damage to the vehicle. If stored away from sunlight and between 10°F and 90°F, DEF’s shelf life can last up to a year.
    • How do you know if your DEF is expired? All DEF containers that are purchased at automotive supply shops have an expiration date on the package, not too dissimilar from food expiration dates. DEF pumps at gas stations do not have a labeled expiration date due to the constant cycling of DEF into the pump.
  • Never mix: Though DEF itself is also harmless–spills can be simply wiped up with a rag–it should never be poured into the fuel system. In addition, other liquids, such as additives, should never be added to the DEF tank.
    • Some people think that because DEF is made up partly of urea, it’s acceptable to urinate into their DEF tank when they’re low on DEF. This is not true. DEF uses a synthetic urea not derived from biological sources, and is made to have a highly purified solution of urea. Agricultural urea fertilizers should also never be poured into a DEF tank.
  • Keep it heated: DEF freezing in your truck will not damage the SCR system. Operating a vehicle with frozen DEF is fine, but less effective than if it was thawed. Many vehicles use internal heating equipment or the engine heat itself to keep DEF thawed enough to use. However, if DEF is stored in bulk in an external tank, a heating source will be required, such as a hot box. Keeping DEF at a regular temperature between 10°F and 90°F is critical to ensure quality DEF.

DEF is an important part of diesel-fueled vehicles. Though not part of the drive system, DEF is essential to making the world a better place by lowering vehicle exhaust and smog. It’s a key part of the trucking industry, and will continue to be as the EPA’s NOx regulations are in place.

September Power Manufacture Award Winner: Stealth Gear USA

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In what seemed like an underserved market, one business has been leading the way in quality gun accessory manufacturing. That’s why the September Power Manufacture Award goes well-deserved to Stealth Gear USA.

 

How it all Began:

Based in American Fork, Utah, Stealth Gear USA was created on the idea of a better gun carrying case. According to the company’s website, founder Paul Laemmlen, it all started with a mishap with his handgun while shopping at a local store.

“It all started the day my loaded handgun fell out of a poorly-designed IWB holster and onto the floor of a busy retail establishment,” he says on the company’s website. “That holster (manufactured by a major US holster company) was retired that day to the reject holster pile. After an exhaustive search for a better IWB holster, I was disappointed with the poorly-conceived and over-priced offerings on the market.”

It wasn’t long before Stealth Gear USA was born, bringing quality and practical gun holsters and accessories to the world.

 

The Product:

What truly sets Stealth Gear USA apart from its competitors is their carefully-crafted, award-winning, American made VentCore® holster. The product was one of Laemmlen’s original creations when he first designed the product out of his garage in 2012. With 30 individual components handmade to order, including parts that utilize rust-free metal and breathable fabric, the holster serves citizens, military and police forces in more than 50 countries.

Not your Average Gun Accessory Maker:

Stealth Gear USA isn’t content in participating in the latest trends in accessory manufacturing. According to a company spokesman, Stealth Gear USA seeks to be on the cutting edge of what’s next in the market.

“We don’t release a product unless its innovative or better than what’s currently available on the

Market,” the spokesman said. “Too many companies ‘pile on’ and just copy their competitors. With our Research and Development Department, Market Research Committee, and New Product Development Committee structure – which is composed of team members with significant engineering and product education experience and backgrounds – we believe we are capable of bringing a more robust and cross-disciplinary product development process to our products.”

 

Creating a Proud Legacy:

Getting into an industry market can be tough in today’s environment for small businesses. Stealth Gear USA knew this to be a fact, and strove to regulate its growth in ways that would allow its top-quality employees to be the drive of expansion and profit.

“Early on, it was very challenging trying to keep up with the overwhelming demand while building an underlying business that could support the demand and grow to meet market needs,” the spokesman said. “It didn’t take long for us to discover that our industry is subject to  hyper-competition, political realities, and knock-offs and imitations. Through all these challenges we focused on what we could control – the quality of our products and our customer service.

Looking to the future, Stealth Gear USA says it’s well prepared to face a world where the market is ever changing.

“We are extremely proud of the team we’ve built and the processes we have refined over the past five years. We’re in a position now to aggressively pursue new and exciting products not only within the concealed carry market, but beyond.”

Powerblanket is proud to award the Power Manufacture Award to Stealth Gear USA due to the company’s excellence in manufacturing a quality product that puts them above the competition. Fore more information on Stealth Gear USA and its products, visit www.stealthgearusa.com.

LET IT FLOW: HOW TO CALCULATE VISCOSITY OF A LIQUID

Viscosity is the measure of a material’s resistance to motion under an applied force. There are several formulas and equations for viscosity calculation.  If youwant a simple science experiment, measure the speed of a metal ball dropped in a container of liquid. The velocity of the ball, combined with the relative densities of the ball and the liquid, can be used to calculate the viscosity of liquids.

TRY THIS OUT

Calculating the Density of the Ball

  1. Measure the mass of your ball, using your balance. For instance, suppose the mass of the ball is 0.1 kilograms (kg).
  2. Find the radius of the ball by first measuring the diameter (distance of a straight line through the ball at the widest part). Divide the diameter by 2; this gives the radius of your ball.
  3. Calculate the volume of the ball by plugging the radius into the equation for the volume of a sphere. Suppose the ball bearing has a radius of 0.01 meter (m). The volume would be:  Volume = 4/3 x pi x (0.01 m) ^3 = 0.00000419 m^3
  4. Calculate the density of the ball by dividing its mass by its volume. The density of the ball in the example would be:  Density = 0.1 kg ÷ 0.00000419 m^3 = 23,866 kg/m^3

 

Calculating the Density of the Liquid

  1. Measure the mass of your graduated cylinder when it is empty. Then measure the mass of your graduated cylinder with 100 millilters (mL) of liquid in it. Suppose the empty cylinder had a mass of 0.2 kg, and with fluid its mass was 0.45 kg.
  2. Determine the mass of the fluid by subtracting the mass of the empty cylinder from the mass of the cylinder with the fluid. In the example:  Mass of liquid = 0.45 kg – 0.2 kg = 0.25 kg
  3. Determine the density of the fluid by dividing its mass by its volume. Example:  Density of fluid = 0.25 kg ÷ 100 mL = 0.0025 kg/mL = 0.0025 kg/cm^3 = 2,500 kg/m^3*
  4. 1 mL is equal to 1 cm^3 *1 million cubic centimeters equal 1 cubic meter

 

Measuring the Viscosity of Liquid

  1. Fill your tall graduated cylinder with the liquid to be tested so it is about 2 cm from the top of the cylinder. Use your marker to make a mark 2 cm below the surface of the liquid. Mark another line 2 cm from the bottom of the cylinder.
  2. Measure the distance between the two marks on the graduated cylinder. Suppose that the distance is 0.3 m.
  3. Let the ball go on the surface of the liquid and use your stopwatch to time how long it takes for the ball to fall from the first mark to the second mark. Suppose it took the ball 6 seconds to fall the distance.
  4. Calculate the velocity of the falling ball by dividing the distance it fell by the time it took. In the example:  Velocity = 0.3 m ÷ 6 s = 0.05 m/s

 

Calculate the viscosity of liquid from the data you have collected:

  1. Viscosity = (2 x (ball density – liquid density) x g x a^2) ÷ (9 x v), where g = acceleration due to gravity = 9.8 m/s^2 a = radius of ball bearing v = velocity of ball bearing through liquid.
  2. Plug your measurements into the equation to calculate the viscosity of the liquid. For the example, the calculation would look like this:  Viscosity = (2 x (23,866 – 2,500) x 9.8 x 0.01^2) ÷ (9 x 0.05) = 93.1 pascal seconds

 

Viscosity Calculation Formula:

viscosity = shear stress / shear rate

The result is typically expressed in centipoise (cP), which is the equivalent of 1 mPa s (millipascal second).

 

Powerblanket Solutions

Powerblanket makes it easy to lower viscosity of many industrial fluids. Powerblanket offers various ready-to-ship products, from bucket and drum heaters to ibc tote heaters. We can also produce custom solutions for most applications. If you need better flowing fluids, Powerblanket has you covered.

DOWNLOAD THE GUIDE

 

Predicting the Weather

The Fine Art of Inaccuracy:  Predicting the Weather

I wake up, rouse my children for school, then check the weather.  The weather app on my iphone helps me make a lot of decisions about my day and week ahead–especially what kind of outerwear my kiddos need before they walk out the door.  My husband checks out the local forecast online when he gets to work. Some people watch the news while other obsess over what the weather channel has going on. However you get your information, there are numerous methods for coming to similar weather conclusions.

You may criticize the weather man’s accuracy, but he has already recognized his limitations.  Weather forecasters accept the fact that they cannot be perfect. Even with all of the resources available to them, they respect the fact that they are but mere mortals attempting to predict something as dynamic as the earth’s ever-changing weather.  Meteorologist rely on data from satellites, ships, airplanes, weather stations, buoys, and devices dropped from weather balloons, along with their experience, local trends, and history. And according to Nate Silver who wrote “The Weatherman is not a Moron” in the NY Times Magazine, “The one area in which our predictions are making extraordinary progress, however, is perhaps the most unlikely field, [weather forecasting].”

How do meteorologists forecast the weather?

Meteorologists and climatologists use several methods for predicting the weather:

  1. Climatology
  2. Analog
  3. Numerical Weather Prediction

 

Climatology

Climatology is a simple forecasting method that takes data/statistics collected over an extended period and then averages the results.  Meteorologists predict the weather for a specific day and location based on the weather conditions for that same day for several years in the past.

A forecaster could examine the averages for Halloween in Utah, for example, to predict the weather for the upcoming Halloween. The climatology method works when weather patterns remain in place, but in situations where outside factors change the weather frequently, the climatology method is not the best choice for predicting the weather, as it will more than likely not be accurate.

Analog

An analog is a thing seen as comparable to another thing.  The Analog Method is a slightly more complicated method because it involves examining today’s forecast scenario and remembering a day in the past when the weather looked very similar (an analog). The forecaster would predict that the weather in this forecast will behave the same as it did in the past.

For example, suppose today is very warm, but a cold front is approaching your area. You remember similar weather conditions happening last week, also a warm day with cold front approaching. You also remember how a heavy thunderstorm developed in the afternoon as the cold front pushed through the area. Therefore, using the analog method, a forecaster would predict that this cold front will also produce thunderstorms in the afternoon.

The analog method is difficult to use because it is nearly impossible to find a perfect analog. Various weather features rarely align themselves in the same locations they were in the previous time. Even small differences between the current time and the analog can lead to very different results. The argument in favor of analog is that as time passes and more weather data is archived, the chances of finding a “good match” for the current weather situation should improve, and so should analog forecasts.

 

Numerical Weather Prediction

Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) relies on supercomputers to predict the weather. Massive supercomputers, complete with software forecasting models, help meteorologists make weather predictions based on multiple conditions in the atmosphere such as temperatures, wind speed, high and low pressure systems, rainfall, snowfall and other conditions.

Meteorologists review the data to determine the weather forecast for the day. The forecast is only as good as the algorithms used by the computer’s software to predict the weather and the data is overwhelmingly limitless. With advanced calculations and the ability to analyze numerous factors at once, NWP provides the best means of forecast the upcoming meteorological conditions when compared with the other methods.

 

Alternative Weather Predicting Methods

Did your mom ever say, “Red sky at night, sailors delight.  Red sky at morn, sailors take warn”? Mine did. Outside of the standard and more advanced methods used by professionals, there are numerous, less-conventional ways to predict the weather.

Here are a few signs to watch for when predicting a hard winter:

  1. Woodpeckers sharing a tree.
  2. Early arrival of the Snowy owl.
  3. Early departure of geese and ducks.
  4. Early migration of the Monarch Butterfly.
  5. Thick hair on the nape (back) of the cow’s neck.
  6. Raccoons with thick tails and bright bands.
  7. Mice eating ravenously into the home.
  8. Early arrival of crickets on the hearth.
  9. Spiders spinning larger than usual webs and entering the house in great numbers.
  10. Pigs gathering sticks.
  11. Insects marching a bee line rather than meandering.
  12. Early seclusion of bees within the hive.
  13. Muskrats burrowing holes high on the river bank.
  14. “See how high the hornet’s nest, ‘twill tell how high the snow will rest”.

The Persimmon Method

One particularly interesting method of winter-weather prediction comes via the persimmon seeds. According to folklore, if you crack op

en a persimmon seed from a ripe fruit and the shape inside (called a cotyledon) looks like a fork, winter will be mild; if you see a spoon, there will be a lot of snow, and if there is a knife, winter will be so cold it will “cut like a knife.”

Melissa Bunker of North Carolina, “The Persimmon Lady,” sends Farmer’s Almanac her winter predictions based on seeds she opens from the persimmon fruit grown on her tree in central North Carolina.  This year (her tenth year making predictions as a partner with Farmer’s Almanac), Melissa checked 100+ seeds and only two came out as forks– the rest were spoons, no knives at all.  In all of her years, she has never seen a prediction like this. She said, “This will be a winter for the record books in central North Carolina!” According to Melissa, “If you look back on the past years readings you can see the seeds follow 95% accuracy with the almanac.”

 

A Goose Wishbone as a Weather Predictor

Back before the turn of the last century and before the National Weather Service was in place, many looked to the breastbone of a goose for winter predictions.  Around Thanksgiving, a goose would be killed and cooked. The cook  would roast it, carve it, and serve it, always being careful not to cut the breastbone from the carcass.

After the goose had been eaten, they would carefully remove the breastbone and cut away all the meat and fat left clinging to it. Then they would take the bone and put it on a shelf to dry, keeping an eye out for the coloration that would follow. If the bone turned blue, black, or purple, a cold winter lay ahead.

  • White indicated a mild winter.
  • Purple tips were a sure sign of a cold spring.
  • A blue color branching out toward the edge of the bone, meant open weather until New Year’s Day.
  • If the bone was a dark color, or blue all over, the prediction was for a real bad winter.

An overall dark color meant that the goose had absorbed a lot of oil, which acted as a natural protection against the cold. The darker the blue coloring, the tougher the winter would be.

 

The Legend of the Wooly Bear Caterpillar

The Woolly Bear caterpillar has 13 distinct segments of either rusty brown or black. The wider the rusty brown sections (or the more brown segments there are), the milder the coming winter will be. The more black there is, the more severe the winter.

In the fall of 1948, Dr. C. H. Curran, curator of insects at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, took his wife 40 miles north of the city to Bear Mountain State Park to look at woolly bear caterpillars. He collected as many caterpillars as he could in a day, averaged the reddish-brown segments, and then forecasted the coming winter weather through a reporter friend at The New York Herald Tribune.

Dr. Curran’s experiment continued for eight more years and attempted to prove scientifically the weather rule of the Wooly Bear Caterpillar. The resulting publicity made the woolly worm the most recognizable caterpillar in North America.

While most scientist do not take the wooly bear research seriously, there is a Wooly Worm Festival in Banner Elk, NC every October that celebrates this mini forecaster.  After a caterpillar race, the retired mayor inspects the winner and then predicts what the coming winter will be like.

 

Be Safe this Winter

Whatever way you slice it, dry it, or count it, Winter 2018 it tiptoeing in.  All predictions are pointing to winter coming sooner, with more intensity, and with increased snow.  Powerblanket encourages you to take the necessary steps to prepare for the cold ahead.

CTA:  Download the Winter Safety Guide

Propane for Dummies: Frequently Asked Questions

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If you’re like me, you didn’t care about the chemistry behind propane, you just wanted to grill some burgers. That was until your tank started freezing up and sucking your wallet dry. We’re here to help unveil your mysterious propane tank and put money back in your pocket.

What is Propane?

Propane, a clean-burning fuel, is an economical source of energy. Also called liquefied petroleum gas (LP or LPG), propane is a part of the hydrocarbon gas family, along with others like butane and methane (“wasn’t me!”). This means propane occurs as a natural gas and can be bottled, making it convenient to transfer with the right safety precautions. Many homes, cabins, RVs, and even tiny houses use propane as their primary source of energy.

Are Propane Heaters Safe?

The answer is yes! When used correctly, propane is one of the safest sources of energy out there. Understanding the nature of propane, the necessary safety precautions, and the different functions of the valves on your tank will help you feel more comfortable using it (See figure below).

Like your ex, propane is so cold, it acts hot. Since propane functions at temperatures much lower than most natural environments, it can cause freeze burns on your skin if it makes sustained contact. For this reason you should always wear protective gloves if you are dealing with your tank or valves, and wear protective eyewear if possible. Propane is flammable, so never have an open flame around your tank. If you are interested in heating your tank, there are certified propane tank heaters that can help.

One thing to be aware of is that manufacturers add a rotten egg or skunk smell to propane–which is naturally odorless–in order to alert users if there is a leak. Since it is possible to have a leak so small you can’t smell it, you should definitely install carbon monoxide detectors in your home. Many fire alarms have CO detectors already built into them.

If you do start to smell something ripe and it’s not your dog or spouse, extinguish all flames, turn off the supply valve on your tank (if it’s safe), and leave the premises as soon as possible. Contact your supplier or a professional for assistance. If they are unavailable, call the police. Don’t try to handle propane on your own if you haven’t been trained professionally. Grab lunch and check out the new Marvel movie while things get cleared up!

Can Propane Freeze in Cold Weather? Propane Liquid Temperature

Just like how water boils into steam, liquid propane also boils into a gas. However, compared to water, the point where propane boils is much lower: it boils at -44 degrees Fahrenheit! When temperatures are below -44°F, propane gas condenses back into a liquid. Additionally, temperature change is tied to pressure change inside a propane tank: as temperatures increase, pressure inside propane tanks also increases. Thus the liquid propane expands as a gas. Decreased pressure also causes propane to condense back into a liquid. The colder the weather and lower the temperatures, the more dense and liquified propane becomes. This liquid state is inefficient: propane needs to be vaporized to pass through your supply lines!

 

Why is My Propane Tank Frosting Over? Can Propane Freeze in Cold Weather?

Many people are confused by the freezing point of propane because tanks will stop functioning in cold temperatures or start frosting over. Propane’s melting point is -306.4°F (-188 °C): below this point and propane will freeze into a solid. That is pretty bleeping cold. This means that, unless you’re in a research laboratory, liquid propane won’t freeze in any natural environment. It is, however, important to be aware that as propane vaporizes into a usable gas form, the temperature of the liquid left in the tank drops. If the heat of the weather outside is high, this will keep the pressure in your tank high and you’ll be good to go. But if temperatures outside are too low to keep pace with the cooling that is occurring inside the tank, frost will begin to form on the outside of the tank. This isn’t because the propane itself is freezing, but because its temperature is dropping below the temperature at which the water vapor outside freezes. This frost acts as insulation and resists any further heat from helping the situation. Frost can also form if there is a leak around your valves or lines, or if it is a particularly humid day.

How to Keep a Propane Tank from Freezing Up

Propane has a boiling point of -44°F, which means that in most normal climates propane is in a gaseous form. Like we mentioned before, this is important for the gas to be able to pass through the supply lines. As temperatures get colder and approach -44°F, propane gets denser and is less likely to perform at its maximum capacity. This, and the aforementioned frost that can develop on tanks, require some sort of insulation or heating. Without this, the life of the propane tank will shorten significantly, leading to pricy refills, exchanges, or even emergency visits from your propane distributor (accompanied by steep fees).

Gas Cylinder Blankets

No matter your tank size, Powerblanket® industrial-grade electric blankets provide you with a uniform barrier of heat across your entire tank. This heating solution lowers costs by optimizing temperatures and increasing your tank’s efficiency.

Powerblanket’s new residential product, Powerblanket lite, was released last year. With a few studies already in progress, we will have really powerful data in the near future on how these blankets help homeowners save big in the long run. Tune into this article toward the end of this season for an update on what we find. Powerblanket lite is an excellent and affordable option for homeowners who use propane. Stay tuned on how you can save money and increase the life of your propane!

For more information on your propane tank, download the free E-Book for homeowners and businesses!

Resin Curing Temperature

Resin curing + heat. This is something that isn’t discussed too much because, let’s be honest, it’s not a great selling point. The quicker and easier you can get your epoxy to cure the better, right? Resin curing temperature and curing time will vary depending on the mixture and manufacturer. While some systems are designed to ‘cure’ at room temperature, heat must be added for epoxies to reach optimal performance properties. Heat can be added via composite curing ovens, radiant heat, or epoxy curing blankets.

Types of Epoxy Resin Systems

There are probably several ways to categorize resin systems, but we’ll be focusing on two:

  1. One-part systems vs. two part systems
  2. Systems that cure at room temperature vs. those that require heat.

One-part systems vs. two part systems

While some systems are one part, most resin mixtures require two components. In one-part systems, heat is required to “kick-start” and maintain the curing process. More specifically, temperatures must be maintained around 250°F-350°F for a few hours (specific requirements vary).

Two part systems require the following elements: resin and a curing agent. Mixing the two initiates the chemical reactions necessary for curing.

Resin Curing Temperature: Room Temperature vs. Added Heat

As we’ve briefly touched on, heat requirements for epoxy curing vary from system to system. Quite often, all that’s required of two-part systems is mixing the resin and curing agent; the epoxy or composite is them able to finish curing at room temperature. However, some systems require additional heat. Again, the specific requirements of each system vary and can be obtained from the manufacturer.

Why Add Heat?

Knowing that room-temperature curing is an option, you might ask yourself “why would I want to go to the effort of adding heat during curing?” The key phrase here is “trade-off”. Adding heat usually means additional equipment and planning. However, epoxy mixtures that require heat boast the following properties:

  • Chemical resistance
  • Electrical insulation
  • Heat resistance

Hotter is Better!

It’s important to note that all epoxy mixtures (even those that ‘cure’ at room temperature) will technically not fully cure unless heat is added. Properly adding heat to systems designed to cure at room temperature will always boost the performance of the final product. However, curing at room temperature makes more sense when increased performance isn’t needed.

Let’s take a quick look at what this looks like in practice. Specifically, let’s look at how adding heat can increase the temperature resistance of a room-temperature cured system. Temperature resistance is measured by Glass Transition Temperature (Tg). Let’s say we have a room-temperature cured composite with a Tg of 100°C (212°F). When the composite is kept at 150°C (302°F), the Tg will increase by approximately 10-15°C (5-8°F). Keeping the product at the temperature for an additional 4 hours will increase the Tg by roughly an additional 5-8°C (1-4°F)

Post-Curing

Many manufacturers use heat in a “post-cure” to achieve desired properties. This typically follows two simple steps:

    1. The epoxy is first left to cure at room temperature overnight. This allows the mixture to “gel” before heat is added. When heat is added to early, it can affect the viscosity. Drops in viscosity can cause the mixture to “run” and can lead to uneven texture in the final product.
    2. Heat is applied for a few hours. A good rule of thumb is to keep temperatures 50-100°C above the Tg of the epoxy. This “post-cure” boosts the epoxy’s performance without disrupting the texture or consistency.

 

 

Heat: What Are Your Options?

There are a few effective options for adding heat during the epoxy curing process. Knowing the pros and cons of each can help you determine which is best for your needs. 1

1. Curing Ovens

Composite curing ovens are a highly effective option that allow for precise and even temperature control. Additionally, ovens come in a variety of sizes; whatever needs to be cured, there’s an oven that can fit it. However, this option can be expensive to install and cannot be scaled up or down. Additionally, lack of mobility means projects must be transported to ovens for curing. 

2. Radiant Heaters

Radiant heaters are a more versatile and mobile option. They are notably less expensive than composite curing ovens and can be scaled up or down depending on the size of the project. Unfortunately, radiant heaters can cause uneven curing which leads to discoloration, bubbles, and brittle patches.

3. Heating Blankets

Heating blankets provide all the mobility and scalability of radiant heaters with significantly more precise and even temperature control. Unlike ovens, composite curing blankets allow the heat to be brought to the project (vs. transporting the project to a curing oven). This can save significant time and headache. For example, when repairs are done on wind turbine blades, rather than disassembling the turbine and transporting the blade to a curing oven, repairs can be done on the spot.

 

Powerblanket Epoxy Curing Blankets

Powerblanket Epoxy Curing Blankets utilize top-of-the-line heating technology to ensure even heat distribution throughout the curing process. Additionally, Powerblanket offers custom options; whatever your curing needs, we can help you develop a solution.

Pipeline Packaging: A Powerblanket® Partner

You’ll find heavy-hitting distributors like Pipeline Packaging are at the top of Powerblanket’s asset list. When it comes to getting our products to the people who really need them, companies like these are worth recognizing.

Pipeline Packaging: A Powerblanket Product Provider

A frontrunner in commercial and industrial packaging, Pipeline Packaging pushes everything from eye droppers to giant totes. Servicing an enormous range of industries, including HAZMAT, spill containment, health, beauty, food & beverage, paint, automotive, janitorial, pet and veterinarian, Pipeline has newly expanded their product line to Powerblanket heating and cooling solutions. (link to http://pipelinepackaging.com/pipeline-partnership-expands-reach-powerblanket/#sthash.hJEc7Lyw.fflMwM0P.dpbs)  “We’re thrilled to expand our offering to include Powerblanket products,” says Tim Winings, VP of Marketing and Sales at Pipeline. “Our footprint inside the industrial and food markets makes this arrangement exciting for both companies.” Powerblanket affirms the sentiment.

 

Founded in 1988, Pipeline has spread to 8 states and 10 offices, and over $100M in sales. With their people-centric vision they always consider “Customer First.” Servicing countless businesses in the United States, Powerblanket is excited to work in tandem with Pipeline Packaging. With its reputable history, reach, service, and variety, Pipeline Packaging is an invaluable partner for Powerblanket heating solutions to both of our customer bases throughout the country.

Powerblanket Heating Solutions at Pipeline Packaging Include:

  • Bucket Heaters
  • Tote Heaters
  • Barrel/Drum Heaters
  • Bulk Material Warmers
  • Cooling Solutions

Wind Damaged Shingles: What’s Really Wrong With My Asphalt Roof?

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Asphalt shingles are the most used roof covering in the U.S. because of their affordability and versatility. However, there are many issues with asphalt roofing shingles that are misattributed to wind damage (Marshall, 2010). What some would call “wind damaged shingles,” are actually results of poor installation, natural aging and weathering, roofing in cold weather, contaminated glue, and expansion and contraction due to changes in climate. Read on to find what qualifies as wind damage and what doesn’t.

Wind Damage to Shingles

If you think you have a wind damaged roof, it could be helpful to know what actual wind damage to shingles look like and how it happens. For a shingle to be wind damaged, an uplift force from the wind has to occur. This causes a pressure dissimilar between the front and back faces of the shingle. The more the shingle lifts off the roof, the more surface area is exposed between the shingle and the roof, leading to a greater uplift force and faster degradation.

Wind Damaged Shingles

As wind blows, it will cause inward and outward pressures on the walls and roof of a building. Any force, including wind, will seek the path of least resistance. This means that when wind hits the side of a house it will move up and over the roof to continue flowing. As it passes the ledge it will create a suction force on the face of the roof, similar to what occurs with an aircraft wing. This is understandable since an aircraft is able to fly due to this uplift force; granted, with a smooth metal wing. On a roof, textured shingles begin to lift because of this turbulence and can cause issues over time. If any problems of faulty manufacturing, climate, or installation occur, this is especially true.

Wind Pressure on Asphalt Roof

A Note to Contractors

The highest uplift pressures on a roof are in areas of change, such as along corners, eaves, ridges, and rakes (Marshall, 2010). This means that it is particularly important to add additional anchoring in the areas of the most uplift.

Wind Damage Map of Roof

Climate Effects on Shingles

We can’t blame all roofing repair on the wind: some problems stem from environmental temperatures. When shingles start lifting in a uniform, diagonal stairway pattern, they are known as “racked.” When they lift in a straight-up line like a zipper, it is known as “zippering” (go figure!). These are usually a result of climatic expanding and contracting. This is self-evident, since wind blows in all directions, and wouldn’t lift shingles in a uniform fashion. In this case, the line where they lift typically follows the way the contractor installed them. If new roof installation happens in extreme conditions of cold or heat it won’t last as long either.

Other uniform roof anomalies include cupping and clawing, where shingles curl up around all edges of the tab (cupping), or suction downward on all edges (clawing). These most likely have to do with the uneven absorption of water and not with the wind.

Natural Wear On Shingles: How Long Does a Roof Last?

One study by the University of Florida revealed that lifted shingles were more likely due to “a systematic failure of the shingle’s sealant strip” than some other external factor (Dixon, 2013). This is because the sealant strip naturally loses adhesion over time. This natural occurrence leaves the shingle partially unsealed and susceptible to the uplift force of wind and rain. Dixon et al. (2014) observed that asphalt shingles typically stay sealed for 4 to 5 years, and then begin to naturally deteriorate. The average manufacturer’s estimate for an asphalt shingle roof lifespan is about 20 years. This number obviously fluctuates depending on location and weather conditions.

Wind Damaged Shingles

Faulty installation & Human Error

The study by Dixon et al. (2014) also found that unsealed shingles can occur from poor installation. 70% of roofs studied showed errors including debris in the sealant strip, under-driven nails, and release tape that was accidentally stuck to the sealant strip from packaging mistakes. These roofs all had a distinct pattern in their damage, meaning they didn’t result from wind (Dixon, 2013). Sealant for roofing needs to be handled properly to ensure an optimal seal when installing shingles. Contamination to a shingle’s sealant strip can also happen in industrial areas where exhaust or chemical residues are abundant. This can affect a roof even more than weather conditions (2014).

If you’re trying to verify your roofing warranty, it is important to know whether the weather, contractors, or manufacturing are the culprit behind your roofing damage. Don’t let lack of knowledge keep you from having a reliable, economical, and overall good roof!

Resources

Craig R. Dixon. “The Influence of Unsealing on the Wind Resistance of Asphalt Shingles.” Journal of Wind Engineering and Industrial Aerodynamics. Vol. 130. Elsevier. 2014. pp. 30-40.

“Procedure for an Evaluation of Wind Damage to Shingles.” Prugar Consulting, Inc. Accessed October 11, 2018. http://prugarinc.com/shingles/procedure-for-an-evaluation-of-wind-damage-to-shingles/.

RCI. “Misconceptions of Wind Damage to Asphalt Composition Shingles.” RCI, Inc. June 07, 2018. Accessed October 09, 2018. http://rci-online.org/misconceptions-wind-damage-asphalt-composition-shingles/.

T.P. Marshall, S. Morrison, R. Herzog, and J. Green. “Wind Effects on Asphalt Shingles.” 29th Conference on Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology. American Meteorological Society. 2010. Hyannis, MA. p. 11.

“What Roof Lasts the Longest?” What Roof Lasts the Longest? – Roofing Southwest. Accessed October 12, 2018. http://www.roofingsouthwest.com/blog/what-roof-lasts-the-longest.

August 2018 Power Manufacturer: Grip6

August 2018 Power Manufacturer: Grip6

Out of Draper, Utah, Grip6 is making a name for themselves through revolutionary, minimalist, recyclable belts. After speaking with Founder BJ Minson, it’s clear to see why. Their ingenuity in the manufacturing process and inventive design makes them Powerblanket’s winner for August’s Power Manufacturers Award.

Origin Story

Grip6 began as BJ Minson’s desire to get design experience after completing his engineering degree. He started making products for himself, including a belt that shed typical notch and buckle conventions. After giving them as gifts to friends and family, word spread quickly. As a result, he created a kickstarter project and soon had over 10,000 orders.

Initially, Grip6 wanted to outsource domestically to US manufacturers, but high prices led Minson to continue producing the belts in-shop. This was even more possible due to his engineering background, which led him to design his own production machines. Swarmed with positive feedback, people began asking, “Where’s your website? I want more.” Minson decided to take things to the next level.

The Belt

Image result for grip6Without bulky buckles, pins, prongs, or screws, Grip6 belts redefine minimalism. They use a reinforced, anodized, aluminum buckle and a Nylon 6,6 strap. According to Grip6, “Nylon 6,6 is more rigid [than traditional Nylon 6], has better tensile strength, has superior abrasion resistance, and can withstand higher temperatures before melting.” With an almost indestructible product, Grip6 gives a lifetime guarantee (or “guaran-damn-tee”). Clearly, long-lasting quality is top priority for Grip6, along with style and function.

Unique Manufacturing

Economically-minded and future oriented, Grip6 feels strongly about local manufacturing. After four years of working with various manufacturers in the US, they were left wanting: from slower delivery, to lower product quality, they determined they could do better. With custom-created manufacturing equipment, they efficiently quadrupled their production using the same number of employees. They created better quality products at a lower cost than anyone else, producing close to what a Chinese company would turn out if they were to outsource. In addition, Chinese import tariffs don’t affect Grip6, giving them an edge on the competition.

Powerblanket appreciates Grip6’s process and philosophy as they challenge the status quo. They have taken success into their own hands. Though BJ Minson wouldn’t say so; his humility surrounding the company’s success is heartfelt.

How Many Gallons of Propane in a 100 Pound Propane Tank?

It probably goes without saying, but a 100 lb propane tank is designed to hold 100 pounds of propane. Because propane is stored and delivered as a liquid, it can be helpful to know what this looks like in terms of gallons.  While there’s a fairly simple answer, there are a few different factors that can affect how many gallons are in a 100 pound propane tank.

The Simple Answer

To put it simply, there are 0.236 gallons per pound of propane (at 60°F).

So, 0.236 gallons x 100 pounds = 23.6 gallons

A 100 lb tanks contains 23.6 gallons

Other Factors

Additional factors don’t add a significant difference to the total volume of 100 pounds of propane, but are interesting to consider.

Water Capacity

Each gas cylinder will have a water capacity number stamped on the collar (it will be something like WC 240). This is the total mass of liquid, stated in pounds, that a cylinder could hold if filled entirely with water.

However, when filled with propane, gas cylinders can only be filled up to 42% of the water capacity (this is to accommodate for the fluctuations in tank pressure as temperatures change)

For this example, 240 (water capacity) x 0.42 (max. capacity)= 100.8 pounds

So our tank can actually hold a maximum of 100.8 lb.

As stated above, we know that each pound of propane is 0.236 gallons.

0.236 gallons x 100.8 pounds = 23.789 gallons

Again, this doesn’t make a huge difference, but is still a factor to consider.

How Temperature Affects Tank Pressure

The examples above assume an ambient temperature of 60°F. At this temp, a “full” tank would produce a reading of about 40% on a tank gauge. When temperatures drop, however, that reading will go down. This is not because there is less usable propane in the tank, the propane has just become more dense or compact and the volume has decreased. The reverse happens as temperatures rise; the tank gauge reading will go up, but it’s still the same weight of propane in the tank– the molecules have just become more spread out.

What Happens When Tanks Get Cold?

While there is still the same usable amount of propane in a cold tank, the lower pressure can cause tanks to stop working properly. Keeping tank pressure up may require more frequent refills; even when there is still “usable” propane in the tank, the volume is not high enough and additional propane must be added to bring tank pressure back up.

Heated propane tank wraps can keep you from having to make time consuming and expensive refills by raising your tank temperature and, consequently, your tank pressure. If you frequently use propane during cold weather months, they’re definitely worth checking out! (Give us a call at 888.316.6324 if you have any questions!)

How Does a Ground Heater Work?

If you participate in projects that require digging or pouring concrete during cold weather, you’ve probably used or considered using  ground heaters. Ground heaters can extend working seasons into the winter and make tasks otherwise complicated by low temps a bit easier. They can be used to thaw frozen ground, cure concrete, and even to warm up surrounding air temperatures. How ground heaters work depends on which type of ground heater you’re using; the most common are hydronic heaters and heated blankets. Hydronic heaters work by heating a propylene glycol mixture and pumping it through long loops of hose that are placed over the area to be heated. Heated blankets work via heating elements that run through the blanket and distribute heat over the surface of the blanket.

Why Use Ground Heaters?

As mentioned earlier, there are a few good reasons to look into using a ground heater.

1. Thaw Frozen Ground

Even with power tools, digging through frozen ground is unnecessarily time consuming and labor intensive (and without power tools, it’s pretty much impossible). Not to mention, most specifications prevent teams from placing concrete on frozen ground. Without ground heaters, that could mean pushing pause on all concrete projects for months at a time! Using a heater will make digging a (relative) breeze and keep operations running all winter long.

2. Cure Concrete

Concrete curing involves a chemical reaction that requires fairly specific temperatures. When temperatures aren’t high enough (above 40-50°F), the necessary chemical reactions will slow down and the concrete can essentially stop curing.

According to the American Concrete Institute (ACI), when concrete is poured at or below 42°F, there must be heat protection for an adequate cure.

Ground heaters can keep concrete at ideal temperatures during the entire curing process and help achieve max cure strength.

How do Ground Heaters Work?

Hydronic Heaters

Hydronic heaters are portable and can be rented out for projects or bought (a better option if you’ll be using a heater frequently). They use a propylene glycol mixture to heat large areas of ground. Here’s how they work:

  1. A boiler heats the propylene glycol mixture (this mixture effectively conducts heat).
  2. The heated mixture is pumped through a length of hose that is laid in loops over the area to be heated.
  3. A vapor barrier is used to cover the hoses and to keep moisture from escaping.
  4. Typically, Insulated blankets are also laid over the vapor barrier.

Heated Blankets

Heated blankets offer all the portability and convenience of hydronic heaters and then some — they take less time to install and remove and, because they take up less space, are easier to transport.

Instead of long loops of hose and a propylene glycol mix, heated blankets use electric heating elements that run through the blanket and heat the ground surface.

  1. The blanket is spread out over the area to be heated and plugged in.
  2. Electricity powers the heating elements that run through the blanket.
  3. Heated blankets typically include an insulating top layer that traps heat and keeps the blanket working even more efficiently.

Powerblanket provides ground heating blankets including ground thawing blankets and concrete curing blankets. If you’re interested in these heating options, please give us a call at 888.316.6324.  We’d be happy to answer any questions!

May 2018 Power Manufacturer: Black Rifle Coffee Company

May 2018 Power Manufacturer: Black Rifle Coffee Company

Black Rifle Coffee Company, from the heart of Salt Lake City, UT,  is May’s Powerblanket Power Manufacturer. We have featured companies in the past who manufacture taffy, rustic doors that double as art, composites and custom bikes. Now the spotlight shines on a company creating the bitter brilliance that most people rely on to get them out of bed every morning. Coffee.

HOW IT ALL STARTED

Black Rifle Coffee Company is a veteran-owned coffee company that produces some of the highest quality coffee ever made. CEO and founder, Evan Hafer, started BRCC in order to provide a high-quality roast to the pro-2A and veteran communities. He worked between deployments to create the perfect roast and also improve his firearm skills. After over a decade of researching, refining and drinking coffee, he decided to combine his two passions. Thus, Black Rifle Coffee Company was born and coffee has never been the same.  “I take pride in the coffee we roast, the veterans we employ, and the causes we support,” said Evan Hafer, CEO.

STANDING OUT

Over the past three years, Black Rifle Coffee has grown from a basement-run business to a 30 million dollar company. How? BRCC not only takes special interest in the quality of the coffee they roast, but also to their customer base. THey have expanded their roasting and distribution operations in order to be closer to the customers. This way they ensure high quality, roasted-to-order coffee that is delivered as quickly as possible. BRCC customers enjoy the freshest brew possible. BRCC has every kind of roast, from light roast to extra dark and even cold brews.

MORE THAN A GOOD CUP OF COFFEE

Coffee is not this company’s only priority. At Black Rifle, they strongly focus on supporting veteran employment and helping veteran entrepreneurs succeed. Mohammad Wali Tasleem and Evan (CEO) met years ago in Afghanistan where they worked together for over a decade. When Wali moved to the United States, he went from being a dedicated Commando to a gas station cashier working very hard to support his family of seven. Not long after, Evan heard about Wali’s situation and that Wali was coming to Salt Lake City for a tour. Evan knew before Wali got there that he was going to offer him a job.  THey welcomed Wali with a steady income and a fully furnished house.

GEAR AND APPAREL

From shirts, hats, and hoodies to mugs, tumblers, and top-notch coffee makers, Black Rifle Coffee Company is going above and beyond to guarantee their customers have everything they need to enjoy the perfect brew. All of their shirts are printed in-house to maintain quality product outcome.

COFFEE OR DIE MAGAZINE

BRCC produces a publication called Coffee or Die Magazine where they post articles that are “rich with content”.  Marty Skuvland Jr., executive editor of Coffee or Die Magazine, guarantees that the stories in this magazine are “original, compelling and well-written”. When reading Black Rifle’s online magazine, the reader will enjoy interesting and honest stories.

 

ADVICE FROM BRCC

BRCC is all about teamwork. When it comes to building a strong and driven environment, Black Rifle suggests, “Build a team of leaders in their specific expertise, and find mentors who are willing to help you succeed and charge forward without fear.”. So far, that seems to be working very well for them as they continue to grow as more than just a coffee roasting company. Not only does Black Rifle earn this award because of their manufacturing abilities, but also because of the amazing culture they have and continue to create.  

 

 

April 2018 Power Manufacturer:  Fezzari

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April 2018 Power Manufacturer:  Fezzari Bicycles

Fezzari saw that buying a good bike at a good value was an ordeal. Chris Washburn, Fezzari founder, repeatedly saw that people were improperly fit for their bike, or simply riding a bike that was the wrong size altogether for years without even knowing it. The industry was in desperate need of change..  In April, Jordan Washburn, Fezzari Sales/Marketing Experience Engineer, shared some insight into how Fezzari addressed this issue within the bicycle industry and what qualities make this Utah bike manufacturer a power manufacturer.

Who is Fezzari?

Active, passionate people excited to help others experience and love cycling make up the Fezzari team. Based in the heart of some of the best biking in the world, from the Utah slickrock trails in Moab to the  pine-filled peaks in the Wasatch Mountains, the team actively rides the trails and roads. Fezzari supports biking, adventures, the outdoors, and healthy lifestyles. Making the world a healthier place through fitness, fun, socialization, healthy living, and getting back to nature is a major focus. They support individuals and people who push their limits and overcome obstacles to achieve their goals, and are an active supporter of grassroots biking clubs, like high school biking leagues.

How It Started

Fezzari wasn’t founded by a Tour de France champion or a massive company. Chris Washburn was a successful attorney and businessman, but was traveling non-stop. He missed his kids’ soccer games and family time. One day he said, “There’s got to be more to life than this.” He stopped everything and changed course, going back to one of his passions and with the desire to have a positive impact on the world. He started Fezzari in his garage with the vision that quality and experience come first. It has quietly grown to become one of the largest rider-direct bicycle brands.  

Fezzari Changed the Bike

Fezzari  made it personal. The rider comes first. With the Fezzari experience, every bike is custom built and personally fit to each rider’s body measurements and riding style. Fezzari also decided to sell rider-direct (consumer-direct) to ensure the best service, quality, and attention to detail, and then passing the savings on to the rider. 

A Better Biking Experience

“Once you own a Fezzari, you are part of the family.”  From choosing the right bike with the support of their expert team, to custom building the bike to each rider’s measurements, Fezzari makes satisfaction a number one priority.  They also provide post-sale support with the No Risk Just Ride Guarantee and Lifetime Warranty. 

Every Step Counts

Fezzari is proud of their engineering, design work and actual bike building. Every step, from birth to real riding, takes place within Fezzari:  

  • Bike idea
  • Rough sketches
  • Nailing the geometry numbers so that the bike rides well
  • 3D drawings
  • Alloy prototypes and 3D plastic printed frames
  • Real working prototypes,
  • Production and building and shipping

 

Fezzari is excited about wo new carbon bikes that will launch within the next couple of months that went through this exact process over the course of the last two years!

Get out and ride this spring

 

“With each new design and concept we don’t want to make it best bike we’ve ever made, but we shoot for building the best bikes in the industry.  We are proud of that and also the fact that we started selling bikes out of our garage, and now ship thousands of bikes around the world each year.  Ironically 68% of our business is repeat and referral business, which in this industry is insane. We focus on making amazing product and providing amazing service so that the customers are just as proud of Fezzari as we are and naturally spread the word.”

Staying Relevant

The key to maintaining and evolving in the industry is to make sure Fezzari products are always evolving. Luckily, Fezzari was ahead of the curve when it comes to selling consumer-direct, because many have followed their lead. But in an age where other companies are now jumping on board, they distinguish themselves by offering a complete experience that no other company can touch through programs such as:  best-in-class bikes, customer service, Love it or Return it Guarantee, and Lifetime Warranty on all frames. . Fezzari strives to make the buying experience as seamless as possible and provides bikes that riders will enjoy for life.

High Praise

Fezzari has received praise and great reviews from industry experts over the years, which has only fueled their growth and popularity. More importantly however, they pride themselves on the great reviews they get from customers, that’s what drives and motivates Fezzari.

 

Power Manufacturer AwardFezzari Bicycles is our fourth winner of the Power Manufacturer of the Month Award. Check out some of our other winners for great examples of the manufacturing culture and diversity we have here in the State of Utah. Have a small manufacturing company in mind that you think would qualify as a Power Manufacturer? Let us know in the comments!

 

March 2018 Power Manufacturer: Rock West Composites

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Power Manufacturer AwardMarch 2018 Power Manufacturer: Rock West Composites

From taffy to custom barn doors, we now move on to the world of composites.  Manufacturing is a broad and diverse industry, and through the Power Manufacturing Award, we hope to represent the many different industries that demonstrate manufacturing excellence.

Rock West Composites

Rock West Composites, our Power Manufacturer of the Month for March,  operates from a 66,000 sq. ft. office/manufacturing facility located in West Jordan, Utah. Rock West fabricates stock and custom composite tubes, plates, rods, angles, shapes, and connectors in addition to offering a variety of complementary products. They are a full-service supplier for composite products. Rock West offers services from initial engineering and product development to prototyping to low and high volume production.

Rock West manufactures products made from advanced composite materials such as carbon fiber, fiberglass, and aramids and have expertise in every imaginable composite fabrication process, including but not limited to roll wrapping, filament winding, bladder molding, silicone expansion molding, and vacuum bagging. composite material laminates for power manufacturing award

Employee Owned

Their highly experienced and entrepreneurial team is growing fast, and yet is still small enough to be nimble and maintain streamlined cost structures. Rock West’s motto is “Aerospace expertise. Commercial pricing.” They are proud to deliver daily on that motto.

Rock West is employee-owned, is self-funded, and has been growing at over a 20% year-over-year compounded growth rate. They re-invest in the business each year by expanding, purchasing new equipment, and hiring new talent to make sure they stay on the growth curve.

Industry Leader

Rock West is an industry leader because of their custom work, and they also have a thriving Ecommerce business selling manufactured product and other complementary merchandise: tubes, plates, panels, materials and manufacturing supplies. Industries such as aerospace and defense, industrial, scientific, oil and gas, consumer products and sporting goods all benefit from Rock West products.  They are proud to be AS9100D / ISO 9001:2015 certified. manufacturing equipment in warehouse

Advice from Rock West

Rock West CEO, Jim Gormican said, “Make sure you have a product that is differentiated in the marketplace. Hire great people and reward them for their performance. Monitor orders, sales and profit monthly and adjust as needed. Focus on innovation and solving your customers’ problems.”  This is great advice for anyone looking to find success–products and people are what make manufacturing happen and solving problems makes customers happy.

In addition to Rock West Composites in Utah, they have a composites manufacturing facility in San Diego. Rock West Solutions in Santa Barbara, CA, develops high-fidelity sensor systems.

 

Our Company Culture

A company’s culture is the values, practices, and beliefs held by its team members. Culture is demonstrated in the words, actions, and decisions made by each member of an organization. Some companies may have a culture of teamwork and open communication while others have a culture of competition and hierarchy.

Manufacturing Company Culture

At Powerblanket, we’ve worked hard to analyze and clearly define our company’s values and beliefs. We’ve taken time to consider our business’ focus, the organization of our business, the “why” behind what we do, and, finally, we’ve determined what our most important values are. Doing so has brought out the creativity, critical thinking, and passion within each of our team members and fostered an environment of motivation and collaboration.

 

The Shingo Model

Shingo Model

The Shingo Model is a business organization method that keeps company culture at the center. It provides organizations with guiding principles to use as they fine-tune their current systems and tools to achieve desired results. This model recognizes that a business is made up of people and that a company should be organized with them in mind. We’ve utilized the Shingo Model at Powerblanket with great success.

 

Guiding Principles

Shingo Guiding Principles

The following are the guiding principles of the Shingo method that we’ve used to refine the systems and tools we have in place.

 

  • Cultural Enablers- Lead with humility, respect every individual
  • Continuous Improvement-Seek Perfection, Embrace Scientific Thinking, Focus on Process, Assure Quality at the Source, Flow & Pull Value
  • Enterprise alignment- Think Systemically Create Constancy of Purpose
  • Results- Create Value for the Customer

 

(You can get more info on the Shingo Model and Shingo Guiding Principles here)

Systems and Tools

 

At our company, we’ve established the following systems and tools that achieve our desired results while keeping our organization’s culture a top priority:

  • Pull System- our products are made as our customers need them
  • Standard Work- We have established best practices for each manufacturing process
  • Cross-training chart- we use skill charts to identify any areas of improvement for our staff
  • Problem solving/brainstorming tools- when an issue arises, we work together to refine our system
  • Value streams- we map out each step necessary to create our product so we can eliminate any wase and ensure the highest value
  • Quality programs- we utilize programs that help us monitor the quality of our work.

Results

The results we’ve achieved by following guiding principles and utilizing our tools and systems are remarkable. Our sales have increased by 19% year over year. Our cost of goods sold as a percent of sales has decreased by 4.6, and our direct labor as a percent of sales has decreased by 0.7%. We reduced our OH by 9% and RMA from 0.75% down to 0.25%.Our success has earned us the Utah Manufacturer of the Year as well as the 2017 AME Manufacturing Excellence Award.

 

Focusing On the Why

A powerful tool to help fuel a strong company culture is to focus on the “why.” At surface level, Powerblanket is a small company making heated blankets to keep things from freezing. Not too exciting, huh? It’s when we dig into the “why,” however, that we really give our employees something to get passionate about. At Powerblanket, we help save jobs! We help our people discover, develop, and share their strengths! When we focus on this and not just heated blankets, we give everyone at our operation a familiar idea to rally around.

 

Focusing on Culture

Company culture starts with leadership. An organization’s leader can talk the talk, but if he or she doesn’t walk the walk, others will follow suit.

Frequently, values define a company’s culture. At Powerblanket, our top three values, clarity, trust, and passion, drive each of our decisions and help us create goals and plans that move us forward.  

 

Powerblanket’s Top Three Values

Clarity

 

 

“Clarity is power- the more clear you are about exactly what it is you want; the more your brain knows how to get it” (anonymous). We strive for clear communication among team members. We take time to define our goals and plans and to ensure that everyone is on the same page. By clearly communicating and reviewing our goals and expectations, we are better able to meet them and enjoy shred success.

Trust

 

 

At Powerblanket, we foster an environment of vulnerable trust. We want each of our team members to feel comfortable asking questions, admitting when they’ve made a mistake, and asking for help. Each person recognizes the value of help from others. We realize that we can accomplish much more together than we could individually.

Passion

 

 

We go out of our way to hire passionate people and believe that everyone can be a high performer. Everyone can be a creative, critical thinker. If one of our team members is struggling to find their passion, we encourage and help them.  

 

“We are changing from the year of customer service to the year of the employees. If you have happy employees, you then will have happier customers. “ Forbes

Powerblanket Today

Our values, “why,” and “True North”(desired destination) influence every decision we make at Powerblanket. They are apparent in the actions of each of our employees and move us in the right direction. By making strenuous and deliberate efforts, we’ve created a business culture that inspires greatness within each of our team members and allows us to enjoy shared success every day.

Lessons Learned

Working to develop a company culture that inspires passion and critical thinking is not an easy process. Here are just a few lessons we’ve learned along the way:

  • Everyone in the company needs to be incentivized; financially and with exciting activities.
  • It’s important to work out your performance problems immediately.
  • Management has two jobs: set the vision and remove obstacles (and then get out of the way!)
  • You have to “hire” your culture.

 

What is Shortening in Baking?

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What is Shortening?

While technically shortening is any fat that is solid at room temperature, “shortening” typically refers specifically to hydrogenated vegetable oils. Shortening gets its name from the effect it has on gluten production; the fats shorten gluten strands, making baked goods tender and flaky.

 

How Shortening is Made

Vegetable shortening is made via a hydrogenation process. An extra hydrogen atom is added to vegetable oils which creates a solid fat.

Why Shortening is Great for Baking

Because shortening is 100% fat (butter is only 80% fat) it typically produces the most tender and crumbly results. Shortening can be melted or softened and creamed into a dough or batter (think cake or cookies). It can also be kept solid and cut into mixtures like pie crust for flaky results. It has a higher melting point than butter and doesn’t require refrigeration; this is great news for cake decorators who want frosting to hold up in warmer temperatures.

Shortening Substitutes

Vegetable shortening can be replaced by just about any other solid fat. Each option, however, will slightly affect the taste and texture of baked goods. Butter adds delicious flavor to pastries and other baked goods. However,  if mixtures become too warm the water in butter can toughen the gluten in your batter or dough. Lard is another great substitution option but may add unwanted flavor.

 

Shortening and Temperature

When baking pastries, it’s typically best to keep shortening at room temperature (68-72°F).  For home bakers, this often means finding ways to keep shortening cool; ovens can heat up a kitchen significantly during the baking process. For commercial bakers who use large, unheated storage rooms or who need to soften large amounts of shortening, a heating option might be required.

 

Powerblanket Hot Boxes

Powerblanket Hot Boxes can be a great addition to your commercial baking equipment. Whether you need to keep shortening from getting too cold in storage or soften a large quantity, hot boxes allow you to uniformly heat your bulk materials. They are installed quickly and effortlessly and are easy to remove and store. Call us today at 888.316.6324 for more info.

 

 

February 2018 Power Manufacturer:  Rustica Hardware

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February 2018 Power Manufacturer: Rustica Hardware

Power Manufacturer Awardwooden doors for rustica hardware in a living roomRustica Hardware, of Springville, UT–the Art City, is our featured Power Manufacturer for February. Rustica is the second manufacturer to win the Power Manufacturer of the Month Award by Powerblanket. Although they seem to have little in common with our first winner, Taffy Town, Rustica Hardware shows that manufacturing is not a stereotypical industry. We started this campaign to spread the word about the manufacturing industry and the businesses who are making an impact in it, regardless of the specific industry or business model. Rustica Hardware is definitely making an impact, and are doing some very exciting things to set them apart as a Power Manufacturer. 

Like many companies, Rustica Hardware began with a wish and a dream.  The founders, Kate and Paul Alan, loved cabins and rustic furniture and decor.  As they created and explored their options, they found that beautiful doors and hardware were the niche that fueled their fire.  Eleven years from it’s conception, Rustica Hardware is a thriving manufacturing business with a very bright future.  Ben Lewis, Chief Marketing Officer, spent some time helping us to become more familiar with Rustica Hardware and their specific vision.

It’s Not Just a Door

If you were to walk into any mill or metal shop typically they will tell you, “We make doors, cabinets, hardware, etc.”  That is the product base at Rustica; however, if you were to ask what they do, they would say, “We make functional art that brings soul to people’s living spaces.” This one-liner puts into perspective how they are different and reminds them why they are successful. They envision, create, and manufacture functional art, not doors. So if the product prepared for shipping isn’t inspiring, it doesn’t ship. Rustica Hardware promises quality, speed, and an artistic aesthetic with every single product–that’s what makes them different. 

handsome brown haired engineer drawing at table in warehouse

Mass Customization 

An idea that they have built their facility around is “mass customization.” Because they offer so many different options and to ensure the product will bring soul to the intended living space, they had to create a machine unlike any other in the market to accommodate totally custom requests with short lead times. “We will proudly turn around a totally custom door in two-three weeks, and a totally custom hardware set in just three-five business days,” said Lewis.  The facility’s layout accommodates huge quantities of this speedy customization every single day, which is something they are very proud of.

What Keeps Rustica Hardware on Top

Their approach to business, creation, and manufacturing really hasn’t changed much since they began. Their primary focus has always been to create products that move and inspire people.  The only difference now is that they have expanded to meet the huge demand for their products. Moreover, they value their people and have scaled up with the most talented people in the industry to ensure they can create products quickly and of the highest quality imaginable.

Award Winner

Rustica Hardware has received numerous trade/home show awards.  They are a Utah “Best in State” company for the door and hardware industry. They have been honored as as Best of Houzz and many others. On top of that, their products have appeared on many home improvement shows featured on HGTV, DIY network, and FYI. Their products have also made the big screen as parts of sets for major motion pictures.

Rustica Hardware Headquarters in front of mountain

Advice from Rustica Hardware

Lewis said, “Find a lane and stick to it. There is always the temptation to try to be something to everyone, but when you do that you risk being nothing to no one. Avoid the call to offer your products below their value. It will be a longer road to success by maintaining your standards, but it will build your company on a firmer foundation to cultivate customers who are actual fans of your brand.”

In the Future

In fact, Rustica Hardware has recently been filmed to potentially get their own renovation TV show on the A&E network. According to Lewis, “Nothing is set in stone yet, but it’s looking very possible that millions of viewers, from all over the US, could be tuning into the Utah manufacturing scene weekly.”

 

Checklist for Winterizing Your RV

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or brand-new RV adventurer, you likely take time to make sure your mobile vacation home is in tip-top shape.  During winter months, this means properly winterizing your RV (including winterizing RV water lines) to prevent thousands of dollars in damages. Even if you’re opting out of season-long storage and taking your RV on cold-weather adventures, it’s important to keep your RV properly protected against freezing temperatures while it’s not hooked up. The following RV winterizing checklist will keep your RV stored safely or running smoothly through the winter so it will be ready for fun summer adventures!

Before you begin winterizing your RV, make sure you have the following items:

RV Antifreeze

  • Non-toxic RV antifreeze. The amount will vary depending on the length of your plumbing lines, but 2-3 gallons will typically get the job done.
  • Wrench to remove drain plugs.

The following steps should apply to most RV makes and models; however, consult your user manual before winterizing to familiarize yourself with any specific requirements your RV has.

Click here for a printable version of this checklist!

Step 1: Draining Your RV

  • Remove and bypass any inline water filters.
  • Drain fresh water, black and gray holding tanks.
  • Flush black and gray holding tanks with built in flushing system or use a cleaning wand. Lubricate termination valves with WD 40.
  • Drain water heater by removing the drain plug and opening the pressure relief valve. NEVER drain water heater when it’s hot or pressurized.
  • Open all hot and cold faucets (don’t forget outside shower and toilet valve!)
  • Open low point drain lines (there will be one for both  hot and cold water lines.) You can use a water pump to help move water out– turn it off as soon as the system is drained.
  • Close all faucets and recap all drains.

RV in Snow

Step 2: Winterizing RV Water Lines with Antifreeze

  • Bypass the water heater. (If a bypass kit is not installed, the water heater will fill up with antifreeze before it goes through the water lines; this wastes 6 gallons of antifreeze!)
  • Install a water pump converter kit or disconnect the inlet side of the water pump (the line coming from the fresh water holding tank) . Connect tubing from the water pump inlet into a  1 gallon container of antifreeze.
  • Turn on the water pump and allow system to pressurize. Starting with the closest faucet, gradually open hot and then cold valves until antifreeze trickles out. Replace the antifreeze jug as required. Repeat this step on all faucets from the closest to the farthest away (including the outside shower, if applicable).
  • Flush the toilet until antifreeze appears in the bowl.
  • Turn off the water pump and open a faucet to depressurize.
  • Pour a cupful of antifreeze down each drain and a couple of cups in the toilet bowl and flush into the holding tank.

Step 3: Preparing for Storage

  • Make sure any electric heating elements are turned off. This will protect the heater if the unit is plugged in while being stored.
  • Double check that all faucets are closed.
  • If your unit contains a washing machine and/or ice maker, consult your user manual for winterizing specifics.

RV on road in front of snowy mountain

Click here for a printable version of this checklist!

Winter RVing

As mentioned earlier, it’s important to be familiar with proper winterization steps, even if you plan on using your RV through the winter. Longtime RVers recommend traveling with water lines winterized when temperatures will be below freezing and using jugs of water for cooking, drinking, and showering. If temperatures won’t be too extreme, you can bypass full-on winterizing and add about a quart of RV antifreeze to black and grey holding tanks.

 

Winter RVing with Propane

propane tank cylinder heated blankets

If your RV relies on propane tanks for heat, winter weather poses a special challenge. Cold temperatures will affect your tank pressure and cause you to go through propane fairly quickly. This means you should either camp close to a propane refill station or bring extra tanks with you. Alternatively, you can utilize a safe tank heating option such as PBL30 from Powerblanket. This saves significant time and resources by keeping your propane tank functioning at optimal pressure and minimizing refills.

 

Using Propane for Cabins

Propane for Cabins

For remote cabin dwellers, finding a dependable energy source can be tricky. Electric service can be unreliable and generators lack the necessary power to keep lights, heaters, ovens, etc. running at the same time.

 

Enter propane.

 

Using propane for cabins or remote homes is safe (for you and the environment)and convenient! While some folks choose to use propane as an energy backup, others have successfully used it to live 100% off the grid.

 

Safe

Some people may be wary about using propane due to safety concerns. However, as with any other power source, it’s perfectly safe so long as it’s used properly. For propane, this means propane tank storage should be outside and using propane appliances that ventilate to outside the cabin/home. Furthermore, it’s recommended that carbon monoxide detectors be installed in living spaces that use propane for power or heat.

Convenient

A single propane tank can effectively power everything you need for comfortable living at the cabin. It can power any home appliance or other accessories as long as the appliance is designed for propane. Propane-powered appliances include ovens, stovetops, refrigerators, freezers, clothes dryers, central heating, water heaters, outdoor grills, room heaters,  generators, and more.

How Long Does a Propane Tank Last?


Figuring out how long a propane tank will last is pretty simple; you just need to know how many pounds or gallons of gas are in your full tank and the BTU/hr requirement of your appliance(s).

 

For example, 20 pounds of propane could keep a stovetop burner with a BTU of 7000/hr going on full blast for 62 hours. (20 x 21,810 BTUs=436,200 BTUs, 436,200 BTUs ÷ 7000 BTUs/hr= 62.3 hr)

 

It’s recommended that you use a commercial propane tank (100 lb or more) if you plan on heating and/or using multiple appliances powered by propane over an extended amount of time. Larger propane tanks will run more smoothly during temperature changes and will minimize propane tank refills, making things much easier for you.

 

Does propane have a freezing point?

If you’re planning on using propane as an energy source during cold winter months, this question may have crossed your mind.

 

Propane can freeze… at -306.4°F.

 

So, it’s not really something you need to worry about. You do, however, need to worry about propane’s boiling point, -43.6°F. Under this temperature, propane will stop evaporating, which means your propane tank will completely stop working. Even when cold temperatures aren’t quite that extreme, propane tanks might struggle to keep up (this is especially true with smaller tanks). Cold weather will affect the pressure of propane tanks, causing you to go through propane quickly or for your tank to become faulty. When it’s cold outside, it’s smart to keep the snow from accumulating on top of exposed propane tanks and allowing the sun to help warm them.

Propane Tank Heaters

When using propane for cabins, tank heaters are a reliable option for keeping your propane tank operating smoothly. Powerblanket offers top of the line, maintenance free gas cylinder heaters that will keep your tank running efficiently, even when ambient temperatures are less than ideal.

If you’re looking for an effective solution to warming your cabin’s propane tanks, we recommend you check out the PBL 420, PBL 500, or PBL1k 1000. These products from the Powerblanket Lite line feature a less expensive price tag without losing much performance. Call us today at 888.316.6324 for more info. We’d love to help answer any questions you have and help you find the perfect heating solution!

Taffy Town, January Power Manufacturer

Taffy Town, January Power Manufacturer

Introducing the first ever Power Manufacturing Award from Powerblanket. Here at Powerblanket, we are passionate about a lot of things, but the one thing we are most passionate about is manufacturing. We love it. And, it just so happens that we are very good at it. After years of hard work, failure, success, and industry recognition, we have learned just how important the manufacturing industry is to not only the economy at all levels, but the quality of everyday life.

With that, we believe that it is important to spread the word about the power of small business, manufacturing, and the dedication that drives this industry that makes the world go ’round. So each month, we will be spotlighting a manufacturer who is mastering the principles and processes that makes manufacturing so great. We encourage everyone to support these businesses that help create jobs, make everyday life just a little better, and inspire future generations to carry on the mantle small business and manufacturing. So for the inaugural Power Manufacturing Award, we’d like to introduce you to Taffy Town.

From Mining to Manufacturing

Taffy Town, formerly Glade Candy Company, started as a means to raise supplemental funds following the birth of  founder James Vernon Glade’s second child.  Just a few months from those first candies, James left mining and began delivering candy by bike to several accounts.  Little did he know, the pocket change used to buy the ingredients for some peppermint chews would blossom into a company that is now over 100 years old.

Four generations, two names, and many candies later, Taffy Town has established itself as a premier purveyor of taffy, offering over 70+ different flavors.  

In 2016 Taffy Town was awarded UMA’s Manufacturer of the Year award. In this same year the company moved into its new 43,000 square foot facility in West Jordan, UT.  There the company manages around 50 employees and produces over 20,000 pounds of taffy a day. Taffy Town distributes in all 50 states and internationally.  

Traditionally Un-traditional

Taffy Town does not use the traditional taffy-pulling process that some may remember seeing in store windows.  Instead, they use a whipping process and 24 hour-long batch conditioning process to produce a soft texture taffy that melts in your mouth. Their products contain no peanuts and no tree nuts, and they are gluten free and kosher dairy.

Powerblanket is excited to honor Taffy Town as the January 2018 Power Manufacturer.  They are a fantastic example of manufacturing excellence demonstrated throughout their four generations of ownership.