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TNWillie

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Posts: 14
Reply with quote  #1 
I joined this evening with the goal of determining the best route to take with regard to building a small scale solar hot air collector. Based upon what research I have conducted, this forum appears to be the "Go To" place for helpful info.  Unfortunately, there doesn't appear to be too much traffic on it. I hope I'm wrong and will meet others with patience who are willing to provide me with the guidance I am searching for.
Happy Holidays!
Willie

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gbwillson

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Reply with quote  #2 
Welcome Willie!

While there may appear at times to be little traffic at times, many of us stop in regularly, if not daily. This is especially true if there is a new project for members to follow and comment on. Also keep in mind that the most of the solar heater projects are completed before the weather gets too cold. Tell us about what you are thinking of building?
Greg in MN[wave]
TNWillie

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Posts: 14
Reply with quote  #3 
Thanks for the welcome and headsup on forum traffic. The 1st project I'd like to attempt is to build 1 or 2 small (ie 2'x4') heaters as inexpensively as possible to use indoors.
The 2x4 size is due to my having (2) sheets 2' x 4' of plexi laying around. I thought I'd build the outer box and screen frame using boards and Luan for the back panel. I'll get those matls within the next day or 2.
I've begun looking for an adj snap disc thermostat, 5" axial fan and a small solar panel to power the fan. I sure would like someone to suggest the cheapest places to buy these items.
I have no desire to reinvent the wheel. Instead, I'm trying to learn as much as I can, settle on a particular design and build it. I will be grateful for any and all advice I can get.
Thanks again.
Willie in TN

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I believe that common sense has become so uncommon that it should be considered a super power. Funny, I agree, but pretty sad too.
solardan1959

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Reply with quote  #4 
Willie,
  I would just skip the 2x4 design and go bigger.  The two 2x4 heaters will generate a little heat but the effort of building the small box twice and then venting etc. probably is two much work for the end product.  
  Now if you put them together and make a 2x8 collector you can get a good output, it would be easy to make with standard 8' lumber or steel studs, and the one joint between the two pieces of plexiglass is  easily sealed and would not make hardly any difference.
  Things have been a lot slower on this site as many people like me have built too many and even have some laying around not being used but like Greg says, we monitor and like to help when somebody wants to build.

I actually am thinking real hard about moving to your location, somewhere around Johnson City, so I'm actually thinking more about remaking, remodeling, or removing some of my collectors to make the house more presentable for buyers.  I do worry they won't understand how things work or there may be code issues so I've been thinking long and hard about it.  But this may be a good thread to start and I don't want to take away from your project.
Dan
TNWillie

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Posts: 14
Reply with quote  #5 
Dan,
I appreciate your response and advice. I considered making 1 long collector vs 2 minis but liked the advantage of being able to compare mods I might try out between the 2 and wanted one to be the standard. Its the engineer in me. [smile]  None the less, I can appreciate the difference in labor and matls to build the 2x8. 
Your explanation for the slower site traffic makes sense. As usual, I'm late to get started on things. I attribute it to having too many projects and too little free time. Priorities determined by others continue to get in my way. [frown]  Its a good thing I'm retired and am physically able to get on them.
I'm still hoping that other members will drop by soon, read this thread and like yourself, answer some of my questions. Sources for the best prices on components is what I'm looking for now.
Thanks!
Willie
Also, FWIW, I'm about 15 min from JC, TN. I will send you a PM with a few ideas of my own.




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I believe that common sense has become so uncommon that it should be considered a super power. Funny, I agree, but pretty sad too.
gbwillson

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Reply with quote  #6 
Willie-

It's a great idea when experimenting with new collector designs to have a collector of know performance, such as the 2-screen. It's the only way to know if any changes or improvements are valid or worthwhile. But as noted, there would not only be little heat from such a small collector, but the heat gain, or delta, would likely be so small as to be immeasurable, due to slight variances in the building of two supposedly identical collectors. I still have a 4x8 2-screen collector that I keep around just for such experiments. That's not to say you can't work with small units for things like airflow, absorber variations, etc.

About few years ago I ran quite a few tests using this 2-screen collector against various designs, including the ZeroPass collector, shown here:
http://simplysolar.supporttopics.com/post/gregs-zeropass-collector-6598879?&trail=10

While both performed well, I noticed the ZP did much better at higher, more efficient velocities. So I built a 4x16 ZP the following fall, shown here:
http://simplysolar.supporttopics.com/post/gregs-new-zeropass-collector-7234542?trail=10

A short way down the page is a spreadsheet showing the increased performance of the ZP at higher velocities compared to the 2-screen collector. Hopefully the engineer in you will enlighten all of us DIY weekend tinkerers. 

Make sure to start a new topic of your build under the members project tab. I look forward to seeing your progress. 

Greg in MN
TNWillie

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Posts: 14
Reply with quote  #7 
Greg,
THANKS for responding with such great advice. The pics of the ZP collectors you built were awesome and inspiring!
An idea I've been mulling over is to build a ZP with a couple of layers of screens. The difference in my design would be to attempt to build one w/o an inner frame for the screen. Instead, my idea would be to position each screen such that they end at the slotted opening to the collector. If successful. I'm hoping that incoming air will be "directed" to travel equally between each passageway created by the screens. I'm going to put pen to paper and see if my design is feasible. If so, I'll build it. I will most definitely start a new thread in the Projects section and provide details and pictures.
At this point, based upon your comments and those of Dan, I'm leaning towards building a 2' x 8' box. Another reason I wanted to build 2 smaller units is that they'd be easier to position in the sunroom of my house. Speaking of the proposed location, unfortunately, the windows face West. I don't have any windows facing South but intend to look into the feasibility of building an outside collector for the South side. 
Thanks again,
Willie

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I believe that common sense has become so uncommon that it should be considered a super power. Funny, I agree, but pretty sad too.
gbwillson

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Reply with quote  #8 
Willie-

You mentioned that the collector you're building will be located inside a sunroom. Will the captured heat be utilized in another room of the house besides the sunroom? 

Greg in MN
TNWillie

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Posts: 14
Reply with quote  #9 
Greg,
Yes, the collector is going into my sunroom. It has the only door in the house that faces South. My thoughts being to open the door and position the collector in the doorway behind the glass storm door. That is, of course, when I'm at home. Otherwise, I'll be leaving it in the sunroom facing West in the same location I'll move it to in the afternoon when I am home.
As for using the heat generated in another room..... I had planned on having the ceiling fans on to stir up the air in the room and to rely upon a box fan or two to blow the warmed air into the master bedroom.
If it was feasible and practical, I guess I could hook into the heating duct that supplies the sunroom and blow the output of the collector into the rest of the house. However, I think that's rather presumptuous of me to think I'll get enough warm air to make it worthwhile.
Willie
PS
Having read a few other posts on the forum, I see there's another member by the name of Willie. I don't mean to cause any problems and will use a different handle if asked.

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I believe that common sense has become so uncommon that it should be considered a super power. Funny, I agree, but pretty sad too.
solardan1959

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Reply with quote  #10 
TNWillie,
  Multiple Willies is something we can deal with.  I am failing to see any benefit from having a solar collector in the doorway as the sunlight coming in the door way will heat just as much as the panel will.  I do have a collector in my sunspace the was there before the sunspace.  It is mounted on the wall and has vents that goes into the garage and still does produce pretty good heat.  I also mounted a ceiling fan and turn it on when sunny.  It circulates the air and heats up the gravel on the floor.  If I am home or sometimes if there is going to be a good sunny day I'll lock the glass storm doors and open the garage door with the ceiling fan on.  It can go a long way towards heating up the garage.  Is your sunroom bright as in painted white or is there a darker back wall that could absorb heat better?

If you were talking about putting the collector behind an inside door, (not in the sunroom but inside the house), the same could apply but the panel then can also provide some type of insulating barrier.
Dan
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