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SteveGerber

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I'm thinking about doing a small solar heating project in part of my home. I have one of those common blue plastic 55 gallon barrels and was thinking about placing it in a corner of a small bedroom (~100 ft^2) and heating water in it with a solar panel in order to keep the room warm after dark. What I'm wondering is whether or not 55 gallons is a useful amount of thermal mass for warming a small room. Also would it make sense to insulate the barrel lightly so that it gives off heat more gradually over a longer period of time?

stmbtwle

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Reply with quote  #2 
Whether it's "enough" depends on a lot of other variables, but it's certainly worth a try. I'd do it in stages and start with an uninsulated drum, this will give you a baseline for reference.

Rather than insulating the drum directly I'd build an insulated cabinet around it, with louvers that can be opened/closed to regulate heat output. Maybe even a fan.


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SteveGerber

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Reply with quote  #3 
Thanks for the suggestions. I like the idea of putting the barrel inside an insulated wooden cabinet with insulated louvers or doors for controlling the rate of heat transfer. A nicely built cabinet would be more asthetically appealing than just the barrel and could serve as a solid pedestal for a lamp or a sculpture.
Rick H Parker

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With one 55 gallon drum, Approximately every 11°F in water temperature will provide the same quantity of heat as running a 1500W space heater for one hour.
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Rick H Parker
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SteveGerber

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Reply with quote  #5 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick H Parker
With one 55 gallon drum, Approximately every 11°F in water temperature will provide the same quantity of heat as running a 1500W space heater for one hour.


Thanks Rick, that's a helpful comparison. It seems that if I could heat the barrel of water to around 140F-150F, then it should contain enough energy to make a useful contribution to the night time heating needs of a small room.
gbwillson

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Reply with quote  #6 
Steve-

Does this bedroom have any heat at all? I would think if you had an electric space heater running during the day for several hours with the door closed, the room would become quite toasty as all objects within the bedroom absorb the heat and slowly release the heat into the evening and overnight.

A basic 4'x8' solar air heater gives you roughly 4-5,000 BTU's per hour(same as an electric space heater) could easily accomplish this as well, and be much easier to build. 

Greg in MN
stmbtwle

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Reply with quote  #7 
True, compared to air heaters, water heaters ARE an expensive PIA to build (been there).

The whole idea here is time shift. A problem with running an air heater (or an electric one) during the day is that the room MIGHT get unbearably hot. However if the bedroom isn't used during the day this may not be an issue.

The drum-in-a-cabinet idea might work with an air heater. Instead of heating the room directly during the day, the hot air could be routed through the cabinet instead to heat the drum. There's a lot of mass in that drum of water, and you can heat it to a higher temperature. I could get the water in my insulated plastic drum to 160F (using a water tube collector); you certainly can't heat the air in the room to that...

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SteveGerber

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Reply with quote  #8 
I already built a solar hot air panel which heats this room when the sun is shining on the panel, but that's only useful for about 6-7 hours max. I'd like to store up heat to use the rest of the time when the air panel is offline but I also realize that solar water heating systems are more complicated to set up correctly so that they continue to function properly in subfreezing weather.
stmbtwle

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Reply with quote  #9 
MUCH more complicated (and expensive). You can do it, but I doubt you'll save any money.


What you might look into is the ARETHA MOLINARI. It's basically an air collector, with a remote heat exchanger to give you hot water for storage. ARETHAs are easier (and possibly cheaper) to build than a water-tube collector, and the molinari version eliminates the risk of freezing.

https://simplysolar.supporttopics.com/post/show_single_post?pid=1304727175&postcount=92&forum=268123

With some creative duct work and plumbing, you might be able to use the same fan and heat exchanger for both heat capture and distribution.

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Solar is like the wind. It may be free, but putting it to work isn't!
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littlecreek

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Reply with quote  #10 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick H Parker
With one 55 gallon drum, Approximately every 11°F in water temperature will provide the same quantity of heat as running a 1500W space heater for one hour.


Is this every 11°f above ambient room temperature?
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