Sunday, January 24, 2010

Tom's Larger Solar Heating System

Tom sent in the final update on his new solar space and water heating system.  This update covers the storage tank, controls, heat exchanger and integration with the boiler.


This is a really interesting project.  It includes all of the following:
  1. Design and construction of a 336 sqft solar collector -- including some new wrinkles on fin fabrication and installation.
  2. Building the 410 gallon heat storage tank that doubles as a workbench.
  3. Details on the solar  domestic water heating system that utilizes a heat exchanger made from about 200 ft of 3/4 inch rigid copper pipe. 
  4. Details on implementing the radiant floor heating system that pumps hot water directly from the storage tank and requires no heat exchanger.
  5. Details on adding heat input to the tank from a nearby wood boiler in a very simple way.
  6. There is even a way to make use of solar heat on seasonal refills of a hot tub.
Tom's system integrates all of these functions in a simple, straight-forward and cost effective design.

Wood boiler heat source as alternative to solar.

Full details on Tom's space and water heating system...

Many other solar space heating projects...

Tom's other projects on Build-It-Solar....

Thanks again to Tom for taking the time to document this project!


Saturday, January 2, 2010

A New Year -- Where to go?

2009 was a good year for Build-It-Solar.  4.2 million people visited over the year, and (more importantly) many stayed and read a lot.  I used to get excited when 200 people visited the site in a day, and now its well over 10,000 almost every day -- amazing!

I want to thank everyone who visited Build-It-Solar over the year, and sent in comments or questions.   And, thanks especially to those who took the time to send information in on their projects -- its these projects that make the site work.

I'd like to make the site better during 2010  -- do you have any suggestions?

   - What do you like most? 
   - What areas do you find the most useful?
   - Where would you most like to see new content added?
   - What do you not like?
   - Any ideas for improvements format or presentation?
   - Any new areas you would like to see covered?
Some new areas I've been thinking about:
- The algae to oil area -- any chance of doing this on a DIY scale?
- A new area on solar/renewable for "home and garden" (solar tractors, mowers, lights, ...
- Adding an detailed "introduction" to each major area (Space Heating, PV, ...) that goes over the basics, covers some of the Physics, provides some design information,  and ties into the links and projects for that area.
- Doing a heat from compost trial.
- Working through the Passive House Institute software -- providing some pointers on getting started with it.

Perhaps building (with Nick and Nathan) a working version of Nick Pine's design for a "Deployable Doubt Dispeller" -- a small (e.g. 8 ft cube) "home" that would maintain a 70F inside temperature all winter here in Montana with simple active solar heating only.

Have a great new year.


Wind Power for Dummies

There is a lot of interest in residential wind power -- the Wind page on Build-It-Solar often gets the most visits of any page on the site other than the home page.   There is LOTS of interest in wind power. 
But, successfully planning and installing a wind turbine is hard -- the hardest of the common renewable energy projects.  You really need to do your homework carefully to achieve a successful wind turbine installation.

Wind Power for Dummies is the best book that I've found to get across all the things that you need to consider to do a wind turbine installation, and the concrete information to help you pull it off. 

Ian Woofenden has been doing residential wind power for many years.  He conducts wind power workshops from his wind powered home in the San Jaun's, and he has been the wind expert and editor and author for Home Power for many years -- he knows his stuff, and he writes well.

One area the book does not cover in depth is building your own wind turbine, there are other good books for this... 

If you want to know whether wind can work for you, and how to go about pulling off a successful installation, this is the book to start with.


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