Monday, September 28, 2009

Heat Distribution For Solar Heating Systems

I added a section on methods of heat distribution for solar heating systems.  The new section provides links to a number of ways to distribute heat to a house for a solar heating system with an emphasis on DIY approaches.

Distribution of heat for solar heating systems is complicated by the fact that solar heating systems are more efficient when producing water that is not hot by boiler standards -- that is, boilers can easily produce 160F (or more) water, while solar heating systems are going to be more efficient when producing 120F (or less) water.  This makes the heat distribution more challenging, and makes some of the conventional systems difficult to use  because of their reliance on high temperature water.

If you have any additional ideas, please let me know. 

The new section is here....

A rather neat homemade radiator for heat distribution at the Dawson Creek, YT Visitors Center.

I also updated and added some material to the Heat Exchangers for Solar Heating Systems section...  Again, the emphasis is on DIY approaches.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

A well designed compost furnace for space/water heating

Marc has worked out a what appears to be a very nice design for extracting heat from a large compost pile for space heating.


Marc's design includes a blower and air supply manifold system to aerate the pile, a pipe network to add water to the pile as needed, a pipe network to extract heat from the pile, insulation to increase the efficiency of the composting process, and a nice containment and cover system.

Link to Marc's blog entry on heat from compost...

Other heat from compost schemes on Build-It-Solar...

Judging from the emails I get, there is a lot of interest in using compost to generate heat, but there is not a lot of detailed information out there on how to actually build such as system.  I think Marc has taken a good cut at it.  What do you think?


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Solar Dinosaur

OK, I suppose its a little bit of a stretch to call this a SOLAR dinosaur, but it does have a solar powered Dino Horn and a rotating Dino Beacon!

This is a dinosaur theme play structure that we built for the grand kids.  If you should be unbalanced enough to want to duplicate it, the picture plans and construction details in agonizing detail are here...   (free as always)



Sunday, September 6, 2009

Installing Your Own Grid-Tie PV System

Guy Marsden goes through the whole process of designing, building, and installing a grid-tie PV system for his home. 

Solar panels installed.jpg
Guy and friends finishing the install.

The system uses the new Enphase micro inverters.  In this scheme, each PV panel gets its own inverter, which is installed on the back of the PV panel.  The output from the inverter is 230VAC.  The 230 VAC outputs from the inverters are tied together and hooked to your circuit breaker box via a regular circuit breaker.  Each inverter is UL certified for a grid-tie connection, so this is basically the all there is to it.  Power generated is monitored and reported by the Enphase Envoy unit.  The Envoy monitors and reports on each microinverter, and provides troubleshooting and power output reporting on the Enphase website.

Details on Guy's PV system...

Much more information on doing your own PV system...

While this system does simplify the installation, it is still a big job, and there are serious safety issues to be understood and deal with -- so, if you plan to do your own installation -- do your homework first!


Energy Fairs

This is the season for a lot of the annual energy fairs, so check around and see if there is a good one to go to in your area.

The fairs are a great way to learn about renewable energy projects, go to workshops, meet some renewable energy people in your area, and find some deals.

I keep a list of all the Energy Fairs I know about here...

If you know of others that are not on the list, please let me know...


Saturday, September 5, 2009

Collector Fins from Tom's Super Press

Sometime back Tom built this super press for making the grooved fins for our homemade solar water heating collectors. Tom has indicated that time and material permitting, he is willing to make plates for others -- details here...

Tom is a long time friend of Build-It-Solar and has contributed plans for several very well done projects.


These appear to me be to be very well formed plates, and very likely will perform better than commercially made heat spreader plates.

If you are wondering what in the world this is all about, see this entry on construction the solar water heating collectors that use these plates...


Friday, September 4, 2009

Another very detailed "How-To" on Building PV Panels from Cells

On his website, Hange provides a very detailed set of instructions and pictures on how to build PV panels from individual PV cells...   The site covers finding cells, laying cells out to make a panel, soldering instructions, and glazing instructions...  


Several other articles on building your own panels...


Gordon's "$1K" Solar Water Heating -- From New Zealand

Gordon has provided details on how he built his version of the "$1K" Solar Water Heating system.  These systems are high quality, high solar fraction, all climate solar water heating systems that you can build for about $1000 in material costs.

Gordon's system adapts the design to his situation, his changes include:
- A well made, high tilt angle roof mount for the collectors.
- An all copper, single pass heat exchanger that pre-heats water before it gets to his existing hot water heater


Full details and build instructions on Gordon's Solar Water Heating System...

More examples of the "$1K" type solar water here...


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Home Build PV Panels and System

In this new article, Hans describes in detail the solar electric (PV) system he built from the solar cells up.  The system includes 3 homemade PV panels, as well as the balance of system components to make a full functioning solar electric system. 

Full description of the PV system ...

Hans maintains a web site that provides more information on the project as well as other renewable energy projects.

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