Designing and building a solar power station

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Re: Designing and building a solar power station

#81  Postby theropod » Sep 26, 2017 6:31 pm

Good stuff Jesse!

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Re: Designing and building a solar power station

#82  Postby The_Metatron » Sep 26, 2017 10:42 pm

theropod wrote:Good stuff Jesse!

RS

Thanks, man.

I can tell you, that chilled air that thing can produce will feel very nice indeed next summer. That mechanical room is off of the kitchen. All I really need do is put some big louvers on the door to that room to get the cooled air from the water heater's heat pump into the kitchen, typically the hottest room in the house.

Still, I will build the ducting to vent the heat flow how I need it. For the heat pump intake, from the unit to a tee, one side of which is vented through a manually operated damper to the outside, the other side of which is connected through a similar manually operated damper to a warm air return grating in the kitchen.

I'll need a similarly configured stack for the water heater's heat pump cool air exhaust, only I'd just let the cool air fill the mechanical room on its way out the louvers on the door.

If I'm clever, I can devise a physical means to interlock the dampers so it's not possible to take outside air in and vent it after taking its heat away into the living space, or to intake warm inside air and exhaust it, chilled a bit, to the outside. That would create a negative pressure differential in the whole house, in winter, to suck cold outside air into the building through the cracks. Sure, clear labels are one thing. But, stupid-proof is better.

As it's now installed (no ducting), the heat pump removes a good deal of waste heat from the mechanical room, including the waste heat from an upright freezer. From an energy perspective, I'm a little better off now than I was with that old water heater. I can make that better with clever ducting.



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Re: Designing and building a solar power station

#83  Postby theropod » Sep 26, 2017 11:07 pm

Such a sweet machine! Our propane fired water heat works exactly opposite yours and pumps heat into the house continuously. Seeing as it is stupid hot here right now, and our AC is running, we are fighting fire with gasoline. Perhaps when we expand our solar array we can get one of these. Envious!

It sounds like your plan is coming together nicely. A simple Arduino micro controller and a temperature sensor on each side of that door to the room housing the water heater could control opening and closing a duct. Coding would be simple as all you would need to do is set parameters under which the duct is open or closed. The Arduino can operate from 3.3 volts DC and a simple low voltage/low current latching solenoid could operate the duct flap.

Again, good stuff Jesse. Good stuff!

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Re: Designing and building a solar power station

#84  Postby The_Metatron » Sep 27, 2017 7:55 pm

I'm reading a self published book now written by some guy who summers in Montana about solar power on the cheap. He cooks, heats his house and water, and refrigerates with gas, though. While that is off grid, it isn't energy independent. I'm trying hard to make each step count toward energy independence.

I wonder if anyone sells a wind survey dynamo. Something that would work like a weather vane keeping its nose to the wind, but equipped with an impeller of known performance, and a known load. If I had such a thing that would log the power it generates, I'd stick it up on a pole this winter to see if it's worthwhile to add a few hundred watts of wind power to my plant.


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Re: Designing and building a solar power station

#85  Postby The_Metatron » Sep 28, 2017 8:18 pm

All this physical work isn't without consequence. While installing that water heater, I must have been using gripping force on tools I don't normally use. My god damned forearms are killing me today. My grip strength is dramatically low now.

I was demonstrating throwing a rock with a sling to Primus, and the force of that rock swinging around really zinged my forearm muscles. I should pay attention.

But, this afternoon, it's supposed to be the warmest day this week, maybe for the rest of the year. I still need to rotate that drain pan underneath the new water heater, so I think today I'll simply disconnect power at the disconnect box on the wall, isolate the water heater from the plumbing, connect a hose and drain that hot water. Maybe treating The_Metatrix to a hot bath with it would be better than dumping it.

I can use the cooling in the house, as the water heater heats another full 60 gallons (227 liters) by taking some of the heat from inside my house later this afternoon when it's heating up.

I have no ducting installed yet on it, but all I need do is open the door to the mechanical room to get it to cool the kitchen.
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Re: Designing and building a solar power station

#86  Postby theropod » Sep 28, 2017 9:38 pm

Tell me about it! I have been attempting to get my 1937 Allis Chalmers model B tractor to run, and it hand crank only. My right arm from shoulder to wrist is a mass of knots that hurt.

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Re: Designing and building a solar power station

#87  Postby The_Metatron » Sep 28, 2017 10:41 pm

theropod wrote:Tell me about it! I have been attempting to get my 1937 Allis Chalmers model B tractor to run, and it hand crank only. My right arm from shoulder to wrist is a mass of knots that hurt.

RS

I'm not 40 years old any more, apparently.


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Re: Designing and building a solar power station

#88  Postby The_Metatron » Sep 28, 2017 11:10 pm

Success draining the new water heater to let me position the drain pan underneath it properly:

Image

I wanted to show off my new appliance disconnect box, in operation:

Image

How about that lock, eh? It enables me to disconnect power to the water heater right there at the appliance. Further, it lets me lock it out after I do so. This positively prevents a dry fire of the water heater while I empty it and work. Dry firing an electric water heater is usually fatal to it.

And, it keeps me from dying while I work on the wiring connections to the water heater. Bonus.

The rest of this project requires holes in my house. I dread crawling around under there to plumb a drain pipe from that water heater's drain pan to someplace outside the building's foundation. I'll need a Tyvek hazard suit and some elbow and knee pads. I have the particle filter mask. It's a goddamned expedition just to make two elbow connections on PVC pipe.

I'll finally need two HVAC exterior vents through the exterior wall, one interior vent, and all of the rigid ducting in the mechanical room to make that work (tees, dampers, elbows, etc).

More to this project than I realized. And, I can neatly tie that idea into the topic title. I bet it's a good idea to factor a percentage of underestimation into the solar station installation phase of the project.

I've found with this water heater project, that there exist new materials and techniques which I've had to learn as I needed them. That's the main contributor to adding significantly to my build time. This ducting problem, for example, will take some time to solve. I have an idea in my head what I need it to do, and I have to match that against what is available at the local hardware stores to see what I will actually build.

Having never done ducting, I sort of have to engineer it from scratch. Takes a long time. Back to those six "p"s, eh?




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Re: Designing and building a solar power station

#89  Postby felltoearth » Sep 29, 2017 1:30 am

Good work! That's a pretty amazing water heater.

You were asking about a mechanical engineer. Hugh McB is one though he doesn't come round much anymore.
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