solarenergyandbeyond

This is the place for any magazine-related discussions that don't fit in any of the column discussion boards below.
milners
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solarenergyandbeyond

Post by milners » Fri Dec 16, 2005 6:25 am

The house is too cold. I want to be proactive. Always wanted to be a pioneer of sorts. Anyone interested in exploring new energy resources. Implimentation, making the existing ones better, finding new inroads to heating and cooling residential homes? It would be cool to start a commune business of sorts. A think tank of geeks committed to finding a sustainable energy answer. What do you think? Any developers, inventors, electrcians, free spirits, out there who might want to share the dream with me? I'm located in Charlotte, NC

jimandy
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Re: solarenergyandbeyond

Post by jimandy » Fri Dec 16, 2005 7:48 am

I have a little weekend getaway place on a mountain that requires I drain pipes, etc in the winter because it is too expensive to leave heat on during the week. During winter months it regularly dips into the 20's at night.

Was talking to someone on how we could cheaply keep a low level of heat in or under the cabin to protect the pipes and she suggested I consider subterranean heating/cooling, (SHC) the idea being you lay sub surface pipes, force air through that result in a flow about 50 – 55 degrees year round. To that you add conventional supplemental heating. Investigating it on the web I found there is a lot of science on the subject, mostly involving projects to equip greenhouses at nurseries. Some of the tech briefs go into the physics of "phase change" which make SHC highly efficient if properly designed. The techno part involves careful control of the blowers and, for residential use, tying it together with existing installed legacy systems. I didn't find a site that spoke directly to residential SHC, but there is probably one out there.
"if it's not another it's one thing."

josmith
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Re: solarenergyandbeyond

Post by josmith » Fri Dec 16, 2005 1:39 pm

If you burn fuel in some type of engine and use the output power to generate electricity you get a very efficient return on your fuel. Most engines waste around 80% to the exhaust and cooling system. That heat can be recovered to heat your house. The electricity can be used in the house and ultimately it's energy will also heat the house.

This is not a new idea it just hasn't been made practical on a small scale like a home system.

Enzo
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Re: solarenergyandbeyond

Post by Enzo » Fri Dec 16, 2005 4:41 pm

Passive solar can be useful and cheap. Years ago, I made a 6x20 ft lean-to frame of old 2x6 boards on the south side of my Michigan home. It covered the bathroom window and the kitchen/basement door. I coverd the outside and inside with large sheets of visqueen. (clear film)

On a sunny day, this greenhouse got very warm inside. Even on overcast days it threw off heat. I put a box fan in the window to circulate my free warm air into the house. Even if it was only 10 degrees outside, it if was sunny, it was hot in the thing. And my furnace did not come on during the entire day because of it.

There are more commercial versions of this, including the wall panels. But a well insulated place that is made warm during the day by solar might well stave off the pipe freeze of the following night.

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Externet
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Re: solarenergyandbeyond

Post by Externet » Fri Dec 16, 2005 8:51 pm

Hi.
Drool here:

http://www.sheclabs.com/SolarConcentrat ... trator.htm

One of those or one made with a backyard C-dish, can heat water to 200ºF into 50 gallon storage drums to heat your home day and night.

Miguel
- Abolish the deciBel ! -

babel
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Re: solarenergyandbeyond

Post by babel » Fri Dec 16, 2005 10:21 pm

I was thinking about a similar subject the other day. 20 years ago (can't believe it was that long ago already), someone I went to college with had a little Honda. CRX maybe? Anyway, the thing had no power, but got 45 miles to the gallon on the highway. I can't believe in the 20 years since no one has invented a hootenguter valve or something to boost the effeciency of internal combustion engine. And where are the flying cars? We were supposed to have them by now too.

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jwax
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Re: solarenergyandbeyond

Post by jwax » Sat Dec 17, 2005 9:58 am

More to the point, solare, what is your point?
I think we all agree alternative energy sources are great, but there are plenty of groups that specialize in them.

jimandy
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Re: solarenergyandbeyond

Post by jimandy » Sat Dec 17, 2005 10:41 am

I think solare may be snowed in without power.
"if it's not another it's one thing."

Dean Huster
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Re: solarenergyandbeyond

Post by Dean Huster » Sat Dec 17, 2005 3:45 pm

The trouble with a lot of alternative energy, especially solar, systems is that the design has to get past the wife. Even though we lived in the boonies, mine wouldn't consider a satellite receiver until the dishes got down to DirecTV size where they weren't noticeable. And you can forget about putting ugly solar panels, whether PV or passive, on the roof, let alone taking up yard space. Now, if you can make a solar system look like a tree, a flower bed or a pet dog, then you may have something.

On the ground-source idea, I'd think that smaller plumbing and passing water or antifreeze through them would be a more efficient method of heat transfer. The down-side of ground-source systems is the migraine headache of leaks. Digging up an entire field to find/replace pipes is a looming nightmare. Then systems also tend to be less-efficient during long periods without precipitation.

Dean
Dean Huster, Electronics Curmudgeon
Contributing Editor emeritus, "Q & A", of the former "Poptronics" magazine (formerly "Popular Electronics" and "Electronics Now" magazines).

R.I.P.

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jollyrgr
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Re: solarenergyandbeyond

Post by jollyrgr » Sun Dec 18, 2005 8:56 am

Originally posted by babel:
<SNIP> And where are the flying cars? We were supposed to have them by now too.
They are almost here. See this site:http://www.moller.com/

They have done tethered flights and are close to moving to FAA certification. If all goes well they expect production to begin no later than December 31, 2008.

I'm not holding my breath. Even though reading about this inspired me to get a pilot license, I am not holding much help of ever owning one. When I first started reading about the Skycar the expected price was somewhere around $60K; about the price of a very high end luxury car. Something I could afford to rent or buy as a shared toy amoung by brothers and myself. Now the flying car will probably sell for about one million dollars.
No trees were harmed in the creation of this message. But billions of electrons, photons, and electromagnetic waves were terribly inconvenienced!

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Externet
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Re: solarenergyandbeyond

Post by Externet » Sun Dec 18, 2005 10:30 am

The Moller stuff is a refined scam, the guy makes his living from investors and downpayments since the seventies, has never delivered anything, and will never deliver anything.
Every time something is about due, starts all over again "because the technology has changed" or by any reason to keep him going on the same game.
- Abolish the deciBel ! -

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philba
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Re: solarenergyandbeyond

Post by philba » Sun Dec 18, 2005 10:42 am

Originally posted by Dean Huster:
The trouble with a lot of alternative energy, especially solar, systems is that the design has to get past the wife. Even though we lived in the boonies, mine wouldn't consider a satellite receiver until the dishes got down to DirecTV size where they weren't noticeable. And you can forget about putting ugly solar panels, whether PV or passive, on the roof, let alone taking up yard space. Now, if you can make a solar system look like a tree, a flower bed or a pet dog, then you may have something.
In general the Wife-Acceptance-Factor (aka WAF) is a huge issue for many things. Like Home Theater and Home automation. You've got to get good at spinning the bene's...

josmith
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Re: solarenergyandbeyond

Post by josmith » Sun Dec 18, 2005 5:00 pm

man "it can't be done"

woman "it must be done"


It get's done!

zotdoc
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Re: solarenergyandbeyond

Post by zotdoc » Mon Dec 19, 2005 1:18 pm

Externet is right about this moller thing. I remember looking at it about 20 years ago. Then it was an eight engine contraption that had emergency hydrogen peroxide drives in a power out situation. They were "close to FAA certification then and for only $50,000.00 I could be a ground floor investor. Fortunately I was a broke dreamer at the time!

Mike6158
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Re: solarenergyandbeyond

Post by Mike6158 » Tue Dec 20, 2005 4:44 pm

Originally posted by jwax:
More to the point, solare, what is your point?
I think we all agree alternative energy sources are great, but there are plenty of groups that specialize in them.
Sounds like he's looking for investors to me.
"If the nucleus of a sodium atom were the size of a golf ball, the outermost electrons would lie 2 miles away. Atoms, like galaxies, are cathedrals of cavernous space. Matter is energy."

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